Stuart Kolakovic graduated with a BA Hons in Illustration from Kingston University in 2007; and created quite a buzz in the industry with his ambitious and award winning 'Final Major Project' : an 80 page comic about his Serbian Grandfather.
Since then he has worked consistently to a high standard and has an impressive client list that includes: 'The Guardian', 'Dazed and Confused', 'New Scientist', 'The Telegraph' and 'Nobrow' (it was through the 'Nobrow' publications that I first became aware of his work).
For a while now, he has been one of my biggest inspirations: I love his way of portraying people, his simple and yet highly effective use of colour and shape; and the way that his work also manages to communicate his Eastern European heritage.
So, last week I sent him a questionnaire and he was kind enough to reply with answers that are thoughtful, informative and helpful:
cheers for the compliments. I'm uber busy at the mo, so you'll have to excuse the short answers to your questions. On another note; I've been doing a few talk/lecture things and workshops at a handful of different universities recently; so if you want me to come up to Stockport at some point, hassle your tutors!
· Can you tell me how you began as an illustrator?
Studied BA Hons at Kingston Uni, and began milking friends I knew who worked at skateboard magazines, skateshops, etc for bits of work. It was a good way or learning how to be an illustrator without massive amounts of pressure. Then did the hard slog and tried to show as many art directors as possible my portfolio.
· What are your inspirations? Are you influenced by any artist in particular? Is there an artist you aspire to be like?
A lot of comic book artists, like Chris ware, Seth. Some of the tutors that taught me at Uni, like Jonny Hannah and Geoff Grandfield. Friends like Amy Brown and Ben Newman.
· How do you come up with ideas for set briefs? How do you get started?
In this order: Panic. Procrastinate. Panic. Read the brief. Procrastinate a bit more. Read the brief again. Make sure I'm on the same page with the art director. Start thumbnail sketchs.
· How do you solve a creative block?
A bowl of cereal, play an instrument, go skateboarding, listen to music, read, or go to bed.
· Could you describe your working method?
Pencil sketches then it's black ink, 00 brush, cheap A4 copy paper, scan in, colour on Photoshop.
· How do you divide your working time between personal and professional work?
I don't, I just take it as it comes.
· Where do you work? Are there any advantages/disadvantages to this?
Home. Advantages; being surrounded by all my books, equipment, kitchen, not having to get up at 7:00 in the morning.
Disadvantages: Going days at a time without speaking to someone, Batdog, not knowing when to stop.
· What kind of promotional work do you do?
I have an agent, Heart agency, who promotes my work via mail outs and emailers.
· What is your opinion of the illustration industry at the present time? Is the industry in a good place? Is now a good time to be an illustrator?
I don't think it's ever a good time to be an illustrator! In the short time I've been an "illustrator", I've seen a decrease in the costing of particular jobs (especially book jackets). The competition is rife!
· Is there any advice you could give to a student trying to make it in the illustration industry?
Don't do it! And if you do, try not to do work for free!