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Guest blog: the delightfully frightening artwork of Vladimir Stankovic

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The Barrington Stoke team first fell in love with Vladimir Stankovic‘s artwork when he agreed to illustrate the chilling horror story Jon for Short by current Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman for us. We were blown away by his portrayal of the story; he captured the darkness and uneasy state of the characters perfectly. Vladimir’s since illustrated Jenny’s Choice by Catherine MacPhail (part of our very low-reading age Acorns series), Annie’s Choice by Catherine MacPhail (for 8-12s), and Klaus Vogel and the Bad Lads by David Almond (due out this May, for teens). We were delighted when he agreed to let us interview him for our blog and we hope you all are fascinated (maybe slightly frightened…) by his artwork as much as we are!

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your work?
I am from Serbia, but have been living in Finland for three years where I received my MA in graphic design. I mostly do illustrating work for books and websites, but also for other mediums as well. Currently I’m illustrating a series of animals for a short wildlife documentary where the illustrations will be animated in between the scenes, and I must say I’m very anxious and excited to see the result!

Sketches by Vladimir Stankovic

Vladimir Stankovic’s sketches for one of his projects.

What is your background as an artist? Did you always want to be an illustrator?
My background as an illustrator is very interesting as I have studied graphic design both in my country and in Finland, but as illustration was always my biggest passion, and as it’s an important part of graphic design I guess it was not a problem for me to tackle both fields at the same time and try to integrate illustration as often as possible within all of my design assignments. Clearly, after completing my studies, I chose to make illustration more prominent in my work, both personally and professionally.

Loch Ness Monster by Vladimir Stankovic

Loch Ness Monster by Vladimir Stankovic. This illustration was part of Vladimir’s master thesis project at the University of Lapland. View more illustrations from Stankovic’s thesis project here.

Do you have a favourite medium you like to use? 
Any traditional medium, mostly watercolours, markers and coloured pencils ”“ I just love the feeling of hand drawn illustrations, although I do use digital and software programs too as it is easier to get the needed results in a shorter time frame.

Welcoming the Omniscient Ones

Welcoming the Omniscient Ones by Vladimir Stankovic.

Where does your inspiration for your illustrations come from? Do you have any unusual stories that inspired an illustration?
My inspiration comes from all sorts of things ”“ nature and science on one hand, and on the other fantasy and fairy tales. I grew up reading folk tales and fantasy stories, watching horror movies and TV shows, so I guess it all kind of fused inside my head and is a source of inspiration still.

An interesting story is the creation of the “Cephalopodoptera” animated gif series. Ever since I was a kid I collected insects and sea shells and have been fascinated by squid and octopus species, so one day I just got an idea to do a combination of insects and mollusk. I started making sketches and in about a week I completed the whole series and put it online and in the next few days I got such great feedback, and the series was even published on the Huffington Post website. I was really surprised as the whole creation process was very easy and happened naturally, and was one of those “how come I haven’t thought of it sooner” moments.

Cephalopodoptera by Vladimir Stankovic

Part of the Cephalopodoptera series of animated gifs by Vladimir Stankovic.

Do you have a favourite illustration of yours?
I guess it would be the already mentioned “Cephalopodoptera” series, but also the illustrations I’ve done last year for the Grimm’s Fairy Tales pop-up book because while I was working on the images I kind of went back in time when I was a kid. It was truly a ”˜’dream come true’’ kind of project and a lot of fun as well! (You can buy the amazing pop-up book illustrated by Vladimir Stankovic here)

Gretel and the Witch by Vladimir Stankovic

Gretel and the Witch by Vladimir Stankovic. This illustration is from the amazing pop-up book, The Illustrated Grimm’s Fairy Tales: Eight Sinister Tales from the Brothers Grimm.

How would you describe your style? What kinds of things do you enjoy drawing?
The right description would be detailed, subtle and bizarre. The ”˜detailedness’ is perhaps the result of hours spent looking at tiny insects and sea shell forms and their patterns with a magnifying glass. Therefore, I really enjoy drawing animals and strange alien creatures in great detail using dreamy colours and adding a vintage and scientific vibe to them. Although I’ve already made quite a number of illustrations on the theme, I still have so many ideas which I hope I will put on paper soon!

Entomology series by Vladimir Stankovic

Entomology series by Vladimir Stankovic

What is your work method like?
Usually, I make numerous very rough and unimpressive sketches, and after I see the potential in one of them, I then start to develop it further on. Based on that final sketch I create the final image ”“ though sometimes it may happen I work directly on the final illustration, with no detailed plan or previous drafts.

Stankovic's work in progress.

Vladimir Stankovic’s work in progress.

We’d like to send a big THANK YOU To Vladimir Stankovic for this enlightening interview and all the amazing pictures and illustrations he provided. Please visit Vladimir’s website for more information about his artwork and current projects. Prints for Vladimir’s work are also available on his Etsy site, as well as at Atelier Olschinsky online art store and at Posterjunkies online shop.

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