Vjekoslav Zivkovic: Featured Artist
Illustrator, animator, designer for characters and backgrounds
Home: Born in Karlovac
Vjekoslav was kind enough to answer questions for November’s Featured Artist Interview.
I’m amazed at all the projects you have been involved with, some with teams and others by yourself. What first sparked your interest in illustration or animation?
A far as I can remember I’ve had an interest in drawing and coloring. I used whatever “tools” to tell my own stories. It was a way of playing for me. Every child does that. It is natural. While you cannot expect a five year old to write novels, with a pencil or color, that child can tell a story. It is human nature to express one’s thoughts and feelings through visual art. Children grow and find different ways of expressing themselves. For me, I stuck with what was natural for me.
I understand you attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. Was that your plan growing up?
As a child, I learned a lot from watching cartoons, especially Hanna-Barbera productions (So, watching TV is not always bad for kids, ha). I attended classes in drawing and painting and learned a wide variety of skills.
Here is a painting of my home town, Karlovac. This is a view of the old center of town. The town is situated on four rivers and this old part was a Renaissance fortress (founded on the 13th of July in 1579) built as a defense post against the Turks.
I planned on going to the academy to further study in drawing and painting, but fate had something else in mind.
Then one day I went to an animation class. That is where I learned that animation was my true love. I focused on that, and had many mentors, but it still left me open to any challenges along the way. During the last two years of the academy we had a great deal of flexibility to focus on our interests. I learned a great deal from challenging myself.
Before you talked about using a variety of “tools.” What do you mean by that?
For about 8 years now I’ve gone completely digital in all I do. I use Wacom Cintiq 24HD and Wacom Cintiq Companion for all my work. For those who might find that repulsive, do not worry, I do not press “enter” and let the computer do the rest. I still need to hold the pen to do all the work. All that digital technology does not keep me from neck and back pain – ha.
How does the digital work influence your art?
I thought it would be interesting to show the process that I go through while working on an illustration or some character design. You can see step by step how I did this crazy lumberjack. The software I used here is Photoshop.
It is clear how each layer makes such a difference in your final product.
I understand you participate in a community as an artist that is similar to the community I participate in as a writer. We have #FP Friday Phrases where we post 140 character stories. What community are you involved with?
I’m involved in a Twitter group called “Colour Collective” where artists from all around the world post their work in the same time (19.30h) every Friday and each week a colour is set as a collective theme. Doing this weekly gives me lots of joy. When I do my illustrations I always try to tell a story. If there can be drama, that is even better. Here is an example of something I posted.
I can see the drama in this picture. I think this is one of the first pictures I saw on twitter from you that caught my imagination. I think it is what urged me to follow you.
I understand you are comfortable working alone or with large groups of people.
Most of the time, I’ve worked as a freelancer on all sorts of projects (animated short, music videos, animated feature, story books, collectible stickers, web games and apps, animated TV series, etc.).
There were other projects that were bigger and I am a part of the team. In the last year and a half I became a co-founder and member of a creative team called FooFoo. Most members of that team worked with me at another company, in the UK (an animation series). We understood each other so well that we became very good friends. We wanted to do a TV show of our own but pitching forums and TV producers like to work with studios that are already established in the industry. So we decided to do iOS Apps instead. In that way we could still be creative and tell our own stories, but this time directly to the customers. Here is the link: http://www.foo-foo.net/
We have been doing that for a year and a half now and at the end one of our Apps (Choro & Robin Adventure) is now opening a small door for us to make it a TV series. This is still in negotiation process so please keep your fingers crossed. Here is the app: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/phonic-school/id964811139?mt=8
I would like to share with you a trailer I did for our very first App we did in Foo Foo. It is a bedtime story book for kids. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ySvtcF-iWE
I understand you also work with children, being a mentor to new artists.
I hold animation workshops for kids. I’ve been doing that for over 10 years. Two years ago, I held an animation workshop in Pilsen (Czech Republic). It had about 10 to 15 kids in the workshop and we had so much fun. At the end, the organizers gave kids paper with a few questions about the workshop. I still have those pieces of paper, and every time I`m down or am struggling on some project, I read what those kids wrote. You cannot get a more honest answer or feedback than from a child.
Indeed. I’m glad you kept those papers. What kind of dreams do you have for the future?
We all have dreams and wishes. I think we all should dream big, but to set up smaller goals (dreams) along the way to help us reach that “big” dream, the ultimate goal.
When we were in the FooFoo animation company’s first meeting and talked about what we wanted to do, we kind of all had similar goals – to have an animation studio of our own.
We have been working very hard on our projects for the past year and a half and now we are very close to achieving that goal. If the idea for a TV series gets the go ahead from a TV company, we will definitely establish our own animation studio.
If that goes well, we will have a similar meeting as before and put our bigger goals on the table, and make a plan how to achieve that one. Dreaming and achieving is a never ending process.
Here are two quotes that keep me going.
“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”
“If you can dream it, you can do it.”
Thank you for sharing your experiences and your dreams for this interview as the featured artist for November.