31 August 2014

Artist Around the World Blog Hop

I can't thank my fellow artist Antoana Oreški enough for all the pushes and coverage she's been giving me. Not letting me fall asleep. She even gave me the privilege to join into the AATW Blog Hop, awakening my blog from a 6 months sleep. Thank you Antoana!

Antoana Oreški

Antoana is a freelance illustrator currently residing in Croatia. Yes, we do live in the same country, a 3 hours drive away from each other, yet met through MATS Bootcamp created by the amazing Lilla Rogers. I could continue my intro about Antoana describing her fabulous talent, but will not. Not meaning she lacks talent, just meaning she has so much more to offer. I'm not even going to post an excerpt of her CV, to read that simply go to her website. I'll try to put down into words what's I see in her art. Firstly, Antoana has the power to create and share warmth and beauty in everything she does. Her characters spread true innocence and playfulness into the world recreating childhood memories we all want to live in forever. The two of us share the same passion for creating and developing characters, hers being upgraded with breathtaking textures and details. I'm a true minimalist deep inside, but Antoana bought me with her intricate details. Let me show you just a small outtake of her huge eye candy portfolio. Enjoy it!

Antoana has a remarkable learning curve as well. In her modesty she will call herself a pattern rookie, just starting to evolve. But, hey, if these patterns are only her starting to grow, we'll better fasten our seat belts and get ready for a pure joyride in her new creations.

I must say, I've gotten pretty fond of this Lady and her secret corner filled with adorable creatures. To see more of her recent art visit her facebook page and blog. Warning: huge addiction factor involved. Beauty overload!

According to the AATW Blog Hop structure, here are some questions for me to be answered.


The last few months I've been working on my first trade show, the Brand Licensing Europe Show to be held 7-9 October in London. Not only boosting my portfolio with new art, reworking old pieces, yet thinking of all the little details that go into making a show debut: booth design, promotional materials, press contact, product design, paper work, etc. Most of my time and energy went into creating and developing a brand for my signature ladies (brand name, brand message, brand signals, collections, etc.) I will launch this week. Why did I create a brand for my little girls? It has much to do with my background in the branding world, as well with the show I've chosen to exhibit at. Brand Licensing Europe is a more character and brand oriented show and in the last year I've gotten great feedback on those girls of mine. Creating a brand and world just for them, I had to take them out of my Antonija M. licensing portfolio, meaning I had to create new characters and patterns to substitute that whole in my portfolio (and a mighty whole that was). MATS Bootcamp running from January to August came in just handy with its amazing briefs and assignments to fill my portfolio up. The same goes for a wide range of competitions I've been taking part in (GTS, Fabric8, Tigerprint, etc.) and the MIID summer school. I'm a very competitive spirit, but this time around it was really more for my portfolio than for the grand prizes.


I have this style of mine I call Sophisticated Cute. Japan meets Sweden. I was thinking a lot about this question when analyzing my own art trying to specify its place in the market. That's something I do on a daily basis when evaluating clients' brands and solving their communication problems. Maybe, that's also a factor that sets my design apart, I can't help it, yet to think of the products I can see my designs on. Actually, I don't even see myself as an artist, not even as an illustrator, more of a visual storyteller (that's what branding is all about as well). I love to tell stories, send out good messages and vibes. That's why characters always pop up in my work, I suppose. Oh, btw., I believe minimalism is one of my key features as well. You'll rarely find textures in it. I've been trying really hard to incorporate elements like that into my work, but it always felt wrong. It's a huge trend right now, supported by the technology on hand (talking about digital artists), but so not me. You have no idea how many times I've drooled over my fellow artists' work creating in such a lush manner. Hand drawn, hand painted, vector textured. I would get seduced into trying out those techniques, which would end fairly good in its execution since I'm a trained designer, but loosing the charm of its original. For that's the key to being different. Be original, even if it means just to be myself. So I decided to do it my way. Where that way is going to lead me is till to be seen. The only thing I know for sure, I'm already having a lot of fun along the way.


What kind of a question is that? I create for I have this crazy head of mine filled with pictures, characters, magical worlds, smart words, and they all want to get out. Right here, right now. I've been channeling this flow for a long time into creating and developing brands for clients, taming them to fit a campaign's message. With time they got wilder and wilder, harder to be put in line. One day I realized that maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing to let them be the way they are. That's how I started to create under the Antonija M. brand, letting all those creatures and stories to run freely out, into the world.


Everything starts with a concept. A rough idea. This can be triggered by a brief, assignment or something I saw or heard. It can be line from a song I've been listening to or a book I've been reading. Or the inspiration can be more practical - I couldn't find something in the shops I was looking for, so what else is there to be done by a creative person, then to create it. I always carry my sketchbook and a pen with me. I can't tell you how that habit change my perspective on waiting in line. I have no problems with it anymore (it was a huge issue for me being an impatient person as I am), for as soon as I sit down to wait, I take out my sketchbook and wander off. The sketchbook is some kind of a idea catcher for me. Sometimes it doesn't even start with a drawing, only with words. An internal brainstorming put down on paper. From there, characters and other graphical elements evolve. Those pages hardly can be of any use to anybody than me. Multilayered and chaotic. They are my goldmine of ideas. Sometimes the pages get filled with more structured drawings, but sometimes they remain just that - my ramblings on paper. Usually I scan those more graphical pages into my computer and use them as a base for my designs. I'm well trained in PhotoShop, but almost never use it in my art. I'm a vector girl. I like the clean aesthetics of it. All ideas and concepts are fixed in my notebook and mind before I start working at the computer. I never ever sat in front of it without having a clear idea set. Even when working as a Creative Director I ask of my colleagues to show me their thoughts in sketches before getting any approval from me to proceed the idea digitally. Why? Because you'll miss the opportunity to get inspired by yourself - I scribble you made on paper can trigger an idea and take you somewhere you've never imagined. That hardly ever happens at the computer. The digital softwares often seduce us with their endless possibilities, jumping immediately into execution, not thinking through the concept or idea. That's how beautiful work without substance (not to call it soul) is created. Oh, I sidetracked. Let's get back to my work process. As said, I use my sketches as a background layer in Illustrator, redrawing them, tweaking and adding details, working as a stylist to make them fit my taste. I know, this doesn't sound very artistic, no paint, no canvas, no mess (except the one in my head) included. Of course, while creating digitally the design very often goes its own way, straying away from the sketch. Sometimes a new, even better idea pops up or out of it. As structured as my creative process may look, I often get surprised by what I end up. One recent example of this would be my GTS submission.

Enough has been said about me. Let me introduce two artists I admire greatly. Jill Howarth and Miriam Bos. I met both through the Make Art That Sells classes last year. Entering Lilla's school was like entering a candy store. There were so many great artists taking part that I had to pinch myself from time to time just to make sure it's for real, me working alongside such talented people. Please, don't think of this as an soap opera line it kind of sounds like (the ones accompanied with fake kisses). I'm not an art critic, I can only make comments through my heart and soul, staying as true as possibly to what I see and feel. Jill's and Miriam's work always made me smile. I would often say: Wow, why didn't I think of something like that (no envy included, only huge admiration).

Jill Howarth

As said before. I met Jill through MATS classes and she was my GTS semifinalist buddy last year. She's an artist I can often relate to, having a similar corporate background. Jill worked as a Senior Designer and Art Director for Hasbro. No wonder she creates the cutest contemporary children characters in the world. She herself summed it up perfectly with her blog's title Shamelessly Cute. Don't let her fool you with her cuteness, for she has an amazing brain and down to earth comments I love reading. They always made me fill less odd in this artistic world. We also share our love for vector art and our mighty mouses, paint and wall art being our mutual nemesis. This intro about Jill's creations is just a scratch on the surface. You've got to take a look at her lettering. She's an absolute master. The King and Queen of it. I'm not exaggerating, in no way! Take a look for yourself! I believe my words won't do justice to her work, so let her work speak:

Follow her most recent creations through her FB page. Jill and 5 other artists I admire a lot created the Happy Happy Art Collective spreading their joy. Do beauty and brains go together? Oh, yes they do, take a look at their blog.

Miriam Bos

Is one of the most hilarious persons I know. This personal feature reflects in her art as well. Her art is bursting with joy and colors. It's hard to list all things she accomplished so far, successful spoonflower shop, Fabric8 finalist, etc. I even had to share featuring her on this AATW blog hop with the talanted Sabine Reinhart - that says it all, what a hot commodity Miriam is. So many links you could and should follow her work: web, web, FB, blog. Isn't she a superstar?! I almost forgot, she exhibited at Surtex this year with her fellow artists from the Forrest Foundry Art Collective. It was a journey I followed on a daily basis eagerly awaiting what's next to come. Each post she makes, makes my day brighter. The world is in desperate need for more persons and artists like this. Let her colors and creativity jade you:


  1. What a fabulous post Antonija! I've admired your work from afar. Wishing you much success with your ladies in London! I'm sure they'll find great homes! Antoana is a gem! Jill is awesome! They are multitalented and wonderful people and I am a big fan of Miriam's. Such gorgeous work! Thanks for sharing!!

  2. What a great post - I enjoyed reading every bit of it. I love what you said about staying true to yourself and resisting to follow trends if it doesn’t feel right.
    Best of Luck to you and your girls!

  3. Lovely read! I really enjoyed reading your answers to the questions! I feel like I know your work so much more now! :)