I've always had a soft spot for illustration. It all started with the obsession with the mothership of cool blogs - Garance Doré and her drawings, followed by an amazing fashion illustrator Cate Parr, and the list could go on. Have I ever tried to illustrate anything myself? Oh, puh-lease. I can't even draw such a basic thing as an outline of a damn cat. Anyhoo, my latest illustration obsession started not that long ago when I spotted this crazy talented girl Anja Šlibar. Seriously, I was just staring at her drawings for a couple of days, releasing sounds of admiration like "aaaah", "oooooh", "woooow" ... I instantly knew I've got to arrange an interview and present her to you. What I like the most about her work is the fact that she prefers the use of organic pen and paper while staying true to the usage of somewhat basic colors - red, black, and white. She says that she's inspired by small, unimportant everyday moments, girls with long hair, and cats.
Hi Anja, wassup? Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello! Well, I'm a soon to be a 27 year old lady with hard working habits and a lust for a joyful life - trying to find a balance between those two! Plus I love cats, horror movies and pretty girls with long hair. And if you ask my boyfriend I probably have too many shoes.
How did you get into illustration?
I think I was always a part of it. I slowed down when I thought it would be more convenient for me to study graphic design. Soon after I started working as a graphic designer I learned how little possibilities it offers. You always have to adapt and change styles. That's when I realized something was missing for me. I started to do things for myself again, I made prints and stickers, T-shirts and bags. Just for myself, you know? And for my friends. Everything else came later.
Which three words best describe your work?
Red, black, and white!
Most of your work features the coolest girls with long hair; what do you enjoy the most about illustrating them?
Please take us through your design process, where do you start?
I start unintentionally with the daily web browsing ... If I see something I like or something I would like to have or someone I would like to look like or hang out with, I save the photo. Later on I observe the photo and try to find out what was the thing that caught my eye. When I do, I try to find as much reference as possible!
Would you define your work as more conceptual or decorative?
Decorative for sure! I like keeping things simple and avoiding conceptualism. The world is too much complicated as it is, I want to help make it more simple.
Do you think an illustrator needs a distinctive style? Why? Any tips on developing it?
Only you can see things like no one can, so take advantage of that and use your eyes and thoughts! I think someone gets to be an illustrator only when he develops his own style. Because when you find it, you also find yourself enjoying doing what you do. And that's why you do it - for your own pleasure or need. And when you start enjoying what you do, people will start noticing your work. If you work only for pleasing others, you'll sure get lost! Tips on developing a distinctive style ... For starters, try out many different styles you can find, even try to invent your own. Quickly, you'll realize what suits you best and bring you most joy while doing it.
Do you sometimes get blocked when searching for ideas? How do you overcome that?
Usually I get "hand blocks" instead of ideas blocks :). Even if I have an idea, if the day isn't right I won't be able to do it ... On some days my hands won't follow my mind. There aren't many days like that, but it happens! And when it does, I put away the pen and paper and do something completely different.
What are your favorite tools to work with and how do they help you to work better?
Tools that help me work are pretty simple: a piece of paper + pencil and eraser + black and red pens + super duper hi res scanner + the latest version of Photoshop. Usually everything is drawn on paper, scanned and "cleaned" in Photoshop. I try avoiding full digital illustrations.
When are images better than words?
Always! I hate words!
Where should a person start if they want to pursue a career in illustration?
I'm not someone who knows this path very well, but I think it should go like this: find the motifs where you can lose yourself in and enjoy doing it. Make stuff for yourself. DO IT A LOT! Like "don't go out, work till you're sleepy, work even if you're too tired" a lot. Get feedback from your sincere friends. Let people find your work, get yourself out there. Make a web page. Make a portfolio. Don't forget about the CV. Be short and effective! Find as much magazines as possible, send them your work. Wait. Wait for a long time. No reply? Do it some more! Send your stuff to blogs, do competitions! Don't be afraid, just enjoy it.
Do you think the internet has made the visual culture a vital part of everyday life?
Yes, absolutely! And as much as I hate the internet and the social media sometimes, deep inside I'm grateful to live in this age! The world literally is in our hands and I love it.
What's currently on your playlist?
This is gonna sound weird but I'm a kind of a person who listens to a song on a weekly basis. When I find a certain song I like, I play it over and over and over again! Usually this lasts for a week or maybe even longer if the song is good. I can listen to one song for eight hours or more a day! So previous week was dedicated to: Battle of Hernani - 1982.
What would be your ultimate goal as an illustrator?
To have my own exhibition and be able to showcase anything I want. And I mean anything!!!
Anja, thanks so much for your dose of inspiration, I really appreciate it!
So guys, what do you think, isn't her work just the best? I can totally see these illustrations hanging on the walls of my apartment. God knows I'd even hang them in my bathroom! If you're also fanatically in love with her work like myself, check out Anja's web page and get your illustration groove on!