Computer Arts: Tell us about the project ...
Dragana Nikolic: The project for contemporary bilingual poetry books Trgni se! Poezija! (opens in new tab) is an ongoing process that started in 2009, alongside the International Belgrade Poetry and Book Festival. The project publishes poets in their original language and in Serbian. Every year we get to publish two or three poets in the series. The brief was to make a collection that would be minimalistic, elegant and distinguished to attract a wider audience to poetry. I like UV coating and for a long time wanted to use it creatively, to make it an independent element on the cover, not just to accent certain things, like text or picture, but to have a place of its own in the composition.
CA: How did you put the covers together?
DN: I generally use Photoshop, Illustrator and CorelDRAW, combining the digital with the handdrawn. For this project, after I read a book, I offered a couple of comps and work with the author and editors until we agree on the final piece. I like to work on something I really believe in. Poetry is always challenging. Especially contemporary. Because of the style, the imagery, the abstraction. I try to make one image that captures the particular atmosphere of the author's work, or it could be one poem that triggers me visually. Also, intuition is an important part of my creative process, as well as interaction with the author.
CA: How did you get into design?
DN: It started with the Art Highschool, then Academy of Arts and spontaneously I got turned on to culture and publishing. I guess I was lucky to meet the right people who give me freedom and had confidence in me and my work. I don’t think I have a signature style. it changes from project to project. It spans the illustrated and photographic, retro and modern. I try to fully understand the thing I am working for.
CA: Who or what inspires you?
DN: I'm inspired by everyday life, the city I live in, people. And I think that the best ideas come out from that interaction, the energy that someone can give you when your creating something, which I can recognise and answer. There was one Yugoslavian book cover designer who was always signing his designs: “Bole Miloradovi was dealing with the beauty of this book.” You can sense the love, care and importance he was giving to that part of the design. People who influenced my work are designers from Russian Avantguarde, Czech and Polish posters designers, 20th century and contemporary American and English book cover designers, revolutionaries, innovators like Tadanori Yokoo or Stefan Sagmeister, people who showed that design is powerful and can be used in various ways. It's important, for me, to show the designer can make a statement, the importance of the message that we're sending with our work and that our work, although it's made for a client, can transcend design and become art.
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