This interview is part of our Designers We Love series, crawling inside the heads of wonderful illustrators, photographers, photoshoppers, doodlers, and generally super talented artists that we’ve had the pleasure of working with. These folks are the ones who help you make The Book of Everyone beautiful.
There’s a reason I’m so fixated by Vladimir Stankovic’s captivating, creepy-crawly illustrations.
I was that kid who dressed up as an entomologist for Career Day. I love bugs. Arthopods, arachnids, myriapods, and crustaceans: I don’t discriminate. I love the way they move, the way their segments fit together: grotesque elegance in miniature.
Vladimir’s a Serbian artist living and drawing in Denmark. His half-hand-drawn, half-digital creations bridge the gap between detailed realism and psilocybin fantasy. He makes GIFs that glow and hum and buzz their way into your retinas. Serious talent.
The “New Life” page in our book is unmistakably Vladimir’s. I interviewed him to find out more about the man behind the thoraxes.
Describe your style in three words.
Detailed, colorful, and whimsical!
Your work fascinates me, intertwining colourful innocence with textured anatomical details that verge on the uncanny. Who are your influences?
Different illustrators, directors, artists in general, as well as scientists and explorers… I studied art history, which was part of my high school and university curriculum, so I kind of have a favorite artist from each era. Some of them are Jan van Eyck, Da Vinci, Botticelli, Joan Miró, Dali, etc…
Also, there are many natural history and children’s books illustrators whose work fascinated me while I was growing up – Zdeněk Miler, Bob Zivkovic, Maria Sibylla Merian, Ernst Haeckel, Charley Harper, and so forth.
What was it like working on your pages for The Book of Everyone?
It was so much fun working on the ”New Life” pages! I especially liked that the artistic freedom to tweak the species a bit more quirky and strange-looking. There are some projects which make your heart bounce a little when you receive the offer, and the three pages for TBOE is certainly among them!
What’s the coolest place your work has ever been displayed?
It was an old city library in my hometown of Nis. There, I exhibited some of my fairy tale paintings and sculptures I used to make many years ago. The overall atmosphere was very archaic and fantasy-like.
You’re currently working on a book on animal species for Penguin Random House. Tell me more about that. What’s the most exciting thing about it?
It is literally a dream-come-true project, and I can’t wait to have the printed copy in my hands. The author of the book is Matt Simon, a science writer with an incredible writing style. He wrote about the bizarre ways certain animals solve problems regarding mating, finding “housing,” hunting for prey, and so on. It was a big pleasure for me to illustrate those species and their peculiar “deeds.”
What do you think of Where The Wild Things Are?
How do you balance commissioned work with the artistic drive to create what you want to see in the world?
In the last few years, not that easily, only because I can’t seem to find enough time for both commissioned and personal work. Luckily, some of my commissioned projects are very inspiring and challenging, so that works great too.
Question from Daniela Carvalho, who designed the horoscope pages in our book: What was your favourite toy growing up?
I had several favourite toys, mostly action figures, and one of them was a Godzilla toy. The others were mostly “Masters of the Universe” figures, such as Man-at-Arms, Hordak, and Orko.
Name somewhere you’ve travelled that you think more people should know about.
Perhaps the island of Madeira, which I visited a few years ago. I was mesmerized by its flora and beautiful volcanic beaches. Oh, and lizards are everywhere. Definitely worth the visit for all the nature lovers.
I got curious about your insect art for the noise album Konchuuki and gave it a listen. WHOA. How did your visual art interact with Merzbow’s aural composition?
The publisher already had an idea of having lots of insects on the cover, and after hearing the album, I visualized it and sketched the cover in a day. The final illustrations turned out pretty well, but I must admit, I didn’t have the album on repeat while working on them ;).
What do you do for fun?
Watch documentaries on many different themes, mostly nature and art, then… hmm… hiking, playing with Lulu (our Pekingese dog), cooking…
Besides your own, what’s your favourite page in our book? Got any questions for that artist?
I really like the drawings of Karen Klink, they are a strange mixture of fantasy and nature and are very inspiring! My question would be – what kind of music is she listening to while creating?
Karen Klink did a fabulous spider monkey design for our launch party, and we’re already scheming up what she might sketch for upcoming editions of the book.
Big thanks for the interview, Vladimir! Keep creeping, keep crawling.