August 2, 2011

big noses, dandies and forest animals

I am very, very honored to host an interview of Danijela Dobric, a very talented Croatian/Swedish illustrator.
Here is her website and blog.
Read and get to know why Danijela likes to draw big noses, how does her working day look like, what is behind the singing with the old ladies and much, much more.

1.Hi Dani! How are you? Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Hi! I'm a freelance illustrator based in Stockholm, Sweden. I was born in Split, Croatia and moved with my family to Sweden when I was five years old. In 2001 I went to London to study graphic design and illustration, graduating from London College of Communication in 2005. Two years later I moved back to Stockholm where I now share a studio with three other illustrators/designers. When I'm not drawing odd characters with big noses I usually like watching films (especially those made by Wes Anderson), searching for vintage treasures at flea markets, dancing to old tunes, eating pancakes with blueberries on and singing karaoke with old ladies.

2.When and how did you start your way as an illustrator?
I've always been drawing - growing up with a stepdad who worked as an art director really inspired me from an early age. I would go with him to work and borrow his expensive color pens and use up the huge drawing pads that they had at the office for doing storyboards. At school I drew these little stories in all my note books, even after solving a math problem I would draw a little character underneath. I just wanted to draw all the time! So when it was time to choose education I naturally applied to art college. After graduating I asked a friend to help me get a website together and started sending it out to a long list of potential clients. I was lucky enough to get some fun projects and have now been working as a freelance illustrator for six years.

3.What is the current project that you are dealing with?
At the moment I'm doing book covers for Novellix, a Swedish book publishing company. I'm illustrating four short novels that will be released later this year.

4.How does your average working day look like?
I arrive at the studio around 10 am, make myself a cup of coffee and then go through my e-mails. If I'm the first to arrive I put some music on (at the moment it's mostly Belle and Sebastian, The Narcoleptic Dancers and Little Dragon) and continue working on current projects. If it's something new I usually look through some books and magazines to get some inspiration before I start drawing. It varies from day to day but I usually stay in the studio until 7 pm.

5.How do you promote yourself?
I continuously e-mail my website to a long list of clients, both those that I've already done work for as well as new potential ones. A few times a year I design cards that show samples of my illustrations and send those out to designers, advertising companies, book publishers, fashion companies and anyone that I can think of who might need some quirky illustrations. Some of the projects that I've completed I put up on my blog that's also linked to my website. I'm also a member of Illustratörcentrum, an organization that helps to promote illustrators and designers based in Sweden.

6.If you are drawing just for yourself, what do you usually draw?
I usually draw real or made-up characters, both people and animals. It usually starts with me finding a picture, shape, pattern or color that I like and that gives me an idea for an illustration. I like exaggerating my characters by drawing legs that are too short, feet that are too small or noses that are too big. I prefer it if the character is not perfect, it's much more interesting if he or she has one eye that's much smaller than the other. I can't always do that if it's a job for a client because sometimes they want the characters to look more 'normal' or 'pretty' so when I draw for myself I try to make them look a bit more ugly and quirky.

7.I've noticed that you love to draw forrest animals, how come?
Well, I'm very fond of animals in general and enjoy drawing deers, owls, foxes, birds and trees. I like combining the outside nature with inside environments like I've done in the illustration for Fika - creating a magical woodland in the living room!

8.On your website you are saying that you love singing with the old ladies, could you tell us a bit more about that?
That's a funny story actually.. There's this very pretty and cute little antique shop in Stockholm that's owned by a sweet old lady. One time when I visited the shop we started having a conversation and all of a sudden she brought out a karaoke machine(!). She then put a very elegant wig on hear head and handed me one of the mikes. We sang a few songs and had a blast! There was no one else in the shop at that time so we just continued singing. Since then I've sung karaoke with a few other ladies, mostly my friend's grandmother.

9.Which of your illustrations are you most proud of?
I'm quite fond of some of my 'dandy' characters, such as the one smoking a pipe and the one sitting in a tree in 'Fika', as well as the two dandies I drew for an event at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. I also like the drawing I did of Spock from Star Trek for the Stockholm based People Magazine. 'Pianopals' is another favorite - I was very happy when it was chosen to be included in the Lürzer's Archive '200 Best Illustrators' 2009/10 book.

11. Who are your role models?
I'm influenced by a lot of talented people -some of my role models include Joan Miró, Miroslav Sasek, Jockum Nordström, Maija Isola, Karin Mamma Andersson, Yoshitomo Nara, Michel Gondry, Wes Anderson, Astrid Sampe.. to name a few!

12.I got to know that you've moved to Sweden when you were a little girl, did that influence your work in some way? Do your memories on your birth country have any impact as well?
I have lived most of my life in Sweden but still have family and relatives in Croatia that I visit every year. Even though I draw a lot of inspiration from both countries, I would still say that my work is mostly influenced by the Scandinavian culture and visual aesthetics. Traveling is something I love to do and am constantly inspired from visiting various places and meeting new creative people.

13.What is the process of drawing an illustration from beginning until the end; what are the stages that each piece goes through and how long does it usually take?
I always begin by doing a quick sketch of how I imagine the whole illustration to be. I usually have the whole image in my mind with all the elements and bits that I then put together as a collage. When I draw a character I always draw the nose first, the nose kind of decides what he or she will look like. When I've completed my pencil drawings I scan them onto the computer and see if I need to 'clean' them up a bit in Photoshop, then I start putting the illustration together. Instead of always coloring with pens I usually use paper or fabric for the character's clothes or for the background to give it more texture. The time of drawing varies but it usually takes me a few hours for each character. When I'm not happy with the result it can sometimes take me a whole day to just do one drawing!

Danijela, thank you so much and I hope we will find some more fun collaboration like this in the future!

btw: if you didn't know what is fika.


  1. Oh, svet je en mali Tween Peeks...Danielin blog sem odkrila pred leti preko "nevemkoga"...že kake slovenske kreativke in sedaj jo najdem pri tebi:) Lepo.

  2. I like most the forest animal. And also i am very happy to hearing your ideas. Thank you for your wonderful post here.College essay reviews writing