CF: when did you realize you wanted to paint/draw? why did you decide to attend the California College of Arts in SF?
Every time I get asked this question I wish I had a cooler answer besides the usual tired old “I’ve done it since forever” shtick most artists have, but I don’t and I have done it since forever. Like I was struck by lightning one day and all of the sudden I was possessed with this uncontrollable urge to draw! Nope, it runs in the family and I’ve decided to make it my career. Attending CCA seemed like a natural progression in the sitcom that is my life; I knew I wanted to go to art school at the end of High School and I threw fits and went on hunger strikes until my mother agreed to sign on to the student loans for it.
CF: it seems there is a story connecting all of your illustrations. where does your inspiration come from? do you usually come up with a story before starting a piece or does it evolve as you go?
There is a definite evolution in the narrative. The inspiration comes from cultures all over the world and my research is key to keeping my ideas and story lines fresh. Not only is there evolution in the stories, but I see it in the sharpening of my technical skills in each piece I do. The compositions and execution of the really finite details are only getting more and more honed as I create large bodies of work, like for a solo show. Practice makes perfect, right?
“I knew I wanted to go to art school and threw fits and went on hunger strikes until my mother agreed to sign on to the student loans for it…”
CF: tell us about the devilish, myth-like characters that you often paint. where do they come from? what’s the meaning behind them?
The large beastly figures originated from this old out-of-print book on Yugoslav culture and traditions I got after I decided to investigate my heritage more (my father is Croatian). It was an image of Istrian carnival costumes: long hairy pelts and masks hacked out of wood with frighteningly bizarre faces. That set me on the path I’m on now, only I’ve broadened my search and found many cultures, specifically Eastern European, have festivals and rituals that utilize full-on fur suits and horned masks. The Bulgarian Kukeri are mind-blowing. Google it.
CF: if you could soundtrack your work, what would you choose?
Oh man, that would be hard! My musical taste is all over the map. I would probably start with something nice and mellow like Cave Singers and Fleet Foxes (Seattle bands!) then segue with some trippy Julien Lynch into Washed Out, Nite Jewel and new Arcade Fire then bring it into something slow and durgey like Earth or Sleep and a little Sabbath and Talking Heads to round it out. There’s no real rhyme or reason to it; I can’t understand it myself.
“As for ten years from now, I don’t want to make any big statements yet, but you can bet I’ll own a pomeranian…”
CF: what is your favorite thing about living in Seattle?
The city itself is an incredible place; small enough to feel like you know the neighborhoods well and large enough to make you feel like there is always more to know. If I had to pick one thing above all else, it would probably be the amazing proximity to so many different landscapes. You can take a ferry to an island, you can go to snowy mountain ranges, you can go to North America’s only natural rain forest then see the coast, you can travel central and see the high plains and rolling meadows and orchards. With all of these vastly different terrains comes different history and traditions and that’s what makes exploring this city and state so exciting.
CF: what are your plans for the future? where do you see yourself in the next ten years?
Well, as of today I quit my job as a server at a restaurant to focus on my artwork and school. It’s scary and unsettling, this fear of the “unknown” but I have to listen to my instinct and trust that I made the right decision. So my plans for the nearer future is to keep up this momentum and work ethic and make a sustainable support system out of it. As for ten years from now, I don’t want to make any big statements about that yet, but you can bet I’ll own a pomeranian.