Mateja Kovač is an illustrator from Croatia, who firstly illustrated our last year's Christmas Card, which we love so much that we're continue using it as a Thank you card.
After that we decided for a new collaboration with this talented lady - we invite her to create a design for our Organic Cotton Sweater (you can shop it here).
To get to know her better, here is an interview with Mateja. Enjoy reading it.
1) Etui is a collection of romantic and feminine art interpretations that are inspired with everything that fulfills the everyday life and occupies the imagination of almost every women. When it comes to work, as a female illustrator, what are things inspire you in your daily life?
Considering the highly feminine character of my work, the tendency towards the female audience came naturally. I have many sources of inspiration but they change as I evolve as an artist. On the other hand, as a professional, I am in the position where I have to accomplish equally successful solutions no matter how I feel. The projects I work on are various and they all demand a different emotion. You could say that I tend to surround myself with sources of inspiration that awakens a necessary emotion in me, depending on the project I’m working on. For an example, if I’m working on a fashion editorial then the inspiration would be the old masters of fashion illustration. If I’m working on the illustration of a city then it would be old photos or vintage postcards and posters. Sometimes I’m inspired by trends or other people’s work of art from different areas of art and design. And sometimes it’s very personal, my emotions and experiences. There are no rules in it.
2) We notices that most of your illustration looks beautifully “light”, and it arises the feeling of winter. What do you think? What atmosphere do you want to create?
I believe that the ambience in my work is much more important than the content. I could even say that my choice of motives and color is made considering the ambience I’m trying to achieve in my illustration. The first thing I experience in other people's work whether it is an illustration, painting, photography or any other media is ambiance. Even though my choice of media is digital work, I’ve never liked the illustrations that seem unnatural and like it was made digitally. Until today I have specialized the water color technique that reflects my sensibility the best. It’s a very subtle technique. Its character is very lively and unpredictable when it’s performed manually and because of that it is very hard to achieve her full effect in Photoshop. For the last year I was mainly focused on working for clients and the theme of my work wasn’t my choice so it was very hard to achieve the ambiance I imagined, but I do my best that my work is always translucent and clean with a lot of white in it and a lot of light with bright and lively colors.
3) Your work is done exclusively digital in Photoshop. Is there any specific reason that you are more comfortable with digital tools?
As a student at the Art academy I couldn’t afford lots of working materials. Quality papers, canvas or paints were too expensive and you had to really be sure in what you wanted to do before you began. That was very restricting and I was afraid to experiment especially with big formats. That was the reason I started to make computer sketches for the paintings. It took a long time for me to find the right technique that will seem more natural and look like the old painting techniques to set the ambiance right. I would later on manually transfer on big formats. With time I’ve discovered the love for the digital process and the boost it gave to my creativity. For me it was always important that during the creative process I can change my mind, change colors, composition, rearrange the elements and always expect the unexpected. In a manual process you can only assume the best solution but in most cases you won't have the time or the energy to try it out long enough to be sure. For some artists that isn’t the even the point but for me my process is more like designing than painting. I like to try out different styles, go into different directions before I conclude the solution. On the other hand, the digital process sometimes lacks of spontaneity and the charming coincidence that is characteristic for individual painting techniques and materials.
4) Could you talk about the illustration “Behind the Curtain”? Where does the inspiration come from? What were you thinking when creating this work?
On the internet I often find very caricatured and grotesque illustrations of the female figure whose sexuality is shown on a very explicit way or just the opposite a very infantile way. It is always a challenge to represent a woman's sensuality without highlighting her sexual attributes. I’m not sure if I have succeeded in it but that was the main guidance thought.
5) Are you sensitive to the changes of the seasons? Could you describe the scene of the winter in your country Croatia? How the scenery would change and what activities people would enjoy in winter? How do you feel personally in winter and would it affect your work?
I’m extremely sensitive to all the weather changes including the four season’s exchange. Winters in Croatia can be very cold and dark. Personally I don’t like winter because the days are short and the sunny periods are rare, what makes me slightly depressive. I go out less, hang out less and generally feel and act more isolated from people. My energy level is low and I feel constantly tired. On the other hand, in that time when I withdraw into myself I turn to my needs, my work and creativity and my productivity goes up. I think that you can sense the winter melancholia in my work.
6) As an artist sells the prints of your work, you can reach the customers by yourself. Could you share with some experiences? For example, who your clients mostly are? What kind of work would be the most popular?
My clients are as you assume mostly women. That is as much accurate as I can get, because I mostly work with people online and I rarely get the chance to know my clients in person, even though I would like to know more about them. All my works are equally accepted. I could maybe single out the collection “Eternal beauty”, and the illustrations; “Silent journey”, “Eternal beauty”, “Whispers in the wind” and “I love Octobers” that are best sellers.
7) It is now almost the end of the year, could you share with us how you feel about this year and how you wish for the next year?
This year was really successful for me. I have worked on variety of interesting projects. Even though I am generally satisfied with the results and the direction in which my carrier is going to, I always think I can do better. There are still some aspects of my style and technique of work that I want to improve. Next year will be even more demanding. I think that the biggest challenge will be to find and to get used to an associate because it’s getting harder and harder to respond to all the requests alone.
For the end we asked Mateja to create a wallpaper background for a phone and a computer. You can download it bellow.