November 24, 2016

Based in Belgrade, Serbia, Milica Golubovic has a BA in Graphics and and MA in Illustration and Book Design. She creates poetic digital imagery with a focus on texture, colour and atmosphere and tells us why she loves the sea-side, what she learnt from art school and gives us some inspiring advice on being creative.

UO: What made you decide to focus on illustration and book design after completing your degree in graphics?

I’ve always felt I wanted to be in the art field professionally, but I had a really hard time deciding which path I wanted to take. It wasn’t a decision that came quickly or easily. At that time I knew nothing about illustration, even less that it can be a profession. Aside from art I am into literature, theatre, and film, and I thought that production design is something that combines all of that. However, after initially choosing it I switched quickly to graphic design as I’ve realized that afterwards I’d have a wider range of possibilities. It gives you a good base to go from and specialize further. After completing a degree in graphics and after a few graphic design related commissions, I’ve realized that I wanted to do something less limiting and less determined by general trends, something through which I can express myself and my interests more freely, and illustration seemed to be a perfect fit. It still can be implemented in all fields that graphic design covers, and it allows you to have integrity through visually processing the assignments.

UO: What was the best lesson you learnt whist at art school?

I can’t say that there’s one particular lesson, but the one that sums all up may be: even though throughout your art education your interests may change, one thing that has to be constant is hard work. Whatever you do and regardless of the obstacles you come upon, hard work will always get you somewhere. Quality over quantity – yes, but only quantity will lead to the quality.

UO: Who are your artistic influences?

There are many artists whose work I find inspiring, but if I have to name a few, first that come to my mind are: Henri Rousseau and Paul Gauguin. I’m not sure in which amount they’ve influenced my work directly, but when I look at their paintings I feel like I really want to transmit myself in surroundings they made, and live in the kind of world they created. That aspect of art is so important to me, even in my personal work where I always somehow try to create settings that I find more appealing than the reality we’re living in. To name a few more, I admire a lot the work of James Jean and Kustaa Saksi. In addition, I like nostalgic and still atmosphere of Japanese woodblock prints and I love the narrative aspect and compositions of Persian miniature art.

UO: What are the three main things that you are inspired by?

I was born and grew up in a small town on the Adriatic coast and I used to wake up every day having the sea outside my home’s window. I wasn’t aware how much this was important to me before I moved to Belgrade, where I currently live. I would say that generally Mediterranean life is a big part of that well from which I draw inspiration. It’s not so easy to explain the exact thing I find inspiring about it, but it is present as a general feeling in my life and work. The second thing I find visually stimulating are different textures and patterns. The third thing are experiences that I gather both directly from my life and indirectly from everything that surrounds me, in everyday life as well as in literature and music.

UO: Talk us through your creative process.

It’s pretty simple. If it’s commissioned work research comes first, then the sketches. I usually come to the general idea quickly so most of the time I make only a couple of sketches. I always do the detailed ones as I think it saves both art director’s time and mine. After the approval, goes the coloring part, which is the part that generally sets the atmosphere. All my work is digital, I draw everything using a graphic tablet. When it comes to my personal work it’s pretty much the same process, I have an idea and go through it until it’s finished.

UO: What advice do you have for aspiring illustrators?

Learn from observing. It’s fine to be influenced by other artists, but try to find what it is in their work that you find appealing, apart from their style. Having your own style can help you a lot in getting more work that meets your interests. However, don’t be too stressed about it, because it’s not a definitive thing, it’ll always evolve. It’s important to draw every day, but having some time off from it is equally important. However, days you don’t feel like drawing, read something new about your field of interest. Read books and articles on design, art and illustration; explore; browse works of colleagues from all around the world and learn from them. Be curious and eager to learn something new every day and from everyone. If you don’t know where to start I suggest trying to learn everything you can about contracts and law and business terms for the illustrators, you’ll find that tremendously important in the days to come. Be always aware of your legal rights and don’t feel bad asking for them. Creative business is not less of a business because it’s creative. Get rid of envy, anger, and negative emotions, they won’t lead you anywhere good. Respect your clients and people you work with and educate them when necessary.

UO: What has been your career highlight so far?

Rather than choosing a particular piece of work from my portfolio I’m more comfortable saying that the whole path I’ve crossed so far in my creative process is the thing I consider as the most important. When I reflect on my work from a year ago and now, I can see that it has changed a lot and is continuing to evolve and I’m very excited to see where it’ll take me. I believe that career highlights become apparent over time, when you reflect back and can comprehend how much you’re satisfied with all that you’ve done.

UO: What do you listen to when you work, if anything?

In the first part of the creating process, while brainstorming and doing sketches, I find myself getting too distracted by music, as I need complete concentration and focus. But, when I’m doing the coloring part, most of the time I listen to some electronic/ trip hop/ downtempo artists, as listening to that kind of music goes with the meditative state I’m in when working. Bonobo, Glass Animals, Superpoze, Son Lux, Darkside are some musicians whose music I enjoy listening to.

UO: How long did it take you to define and settle upon your style of drawing?

It took me a year and a half after graduating before I realized that I needed to work on my style of drawing. During that time I did a few educational commissions, mainly illustrations for textbooks and I didn’t feel really into doing illustration work which was so much art directed by the editors, even though I understand why educational commissions have to be done in that way. Those few experiences were the starting point for me in making a decision to define my own style of drawing. I’m still exploring it and mingling around it, it’s always an ongoing process.

UO: Do you have any exciting future projects that you can tell us about?

For some time now, I’ve wanted to explore further my affection towards different patterns, bolder colors, and playful shapes, and to find ways to implement my visual style into more commercial part of design like fashion and textile design. So, my future projects will be exploring that field of work. Furthermore, there is an upcoming collaboration with a colleague on a project that is science related, but that’s all I can say at this moment.

Follow Milica on Instagram: @phosphenes_