I’m a Slavic Illustrator – Here’s My Story So Far

digital illustrations of various folk themes, slavic folklore and mythology
Slavic illustrator art collage

The Start of It All

As you’ve probably noticed by now, I’m a Slavic illustrator! This is a (very) short story of how that came to be, and of what makes me what I am.

Having been born and raised in a rural part of northern Croatia, old folkloric traditions and customs have been a part of my everyday life ever since I could remember. Decorating our fence with greenery on st. George’s day, leaving offerings for the ancestors during the Day of the Dead, carving pumpkins on st. Lucia’s day, placing an apple and walnuts in a ball of wheat under a Christmas tree, seeking candy that birds left out on Valentine’s Day, dressing up in scary costumes and burning a ragdoll during carnival time… 

All the things I mentioned above make up just a small portion of the customs I grew up with. You can see all of those traditions are connected to Christianity, but they are, in fact, rooted in old Slavic customs and beliefs. All of that combined with folktales my grandma used to tell me all the time, and it’s no wonder I developed a deep, resurgent connection and fascination with the Slavic mythology and folklore.

Ever since I was a child I had two main interests – drawing and mythology. It all started with the basics of Greek and Roman mythology, though, and at a pretty young age, too. It was a bit strange for a 10 year old child to read and get so invested in those topics, but there I was, telling everyone that I want to know everything about mythology when I grow up. 

In regard to drawing, it always came naturally to me. I was a fairly quiet and shy kid, so drawing was a way of expressing myself. Unfortunately, that led me to taking drawing for granted. It was something I was kind of good at, but for the longest time I just never considered taking it seriously. Later on, I got transfixed by other stuff. Music took over as my main hobby and one of my biggest interests, aside from ones mentioned above. 

On Research And Similar Plights

It’s funny how most things come ‘round in life, though. I wasn’t always a Slavic illustrator, you see. As I was concluding my Teacher Education studies at the University of Zagreb, I rediscovered both of my old passions. I lucked out by meeting a professor who was very invested in Slavic mythology – just as I was – so it sparked my interest yet once more.

It wasn’t long before I found myself lost in the true depth and breadth of the rediscovered world of our ancestors – all it took was a tiniest bit of academic research, really! In fact, I got my Master’s degree on the basis of my writing about the influence of Slavic mythology on Croatian children’s literature. Ever since, it was my (secret) dream to become an illustrator of children’s books and mythology art. 

Becoming a teacher, I worked in school for about three years. I must admit those were the most difficult years of my life. I admire the calling, I truly do. But for an anxious introvert such as myself, working as a teacher was extremely difficult and draining. After a short while, I took up drawing as a way to escape. 

Pretty quickly, I decided to invest in a drawing tablet and started producing digital illustrations. Almost immediately, I began learning and researching more than ever before, both about the illustration industry and Slavic folklore. This all came to a head when I started posting my art online. I was very lucky to get a deal fairly quickly, and got the opportunity to illustrate my first children’s book! So far, I’ve illustrated half a dozen children’s books and I’m working on the next one already.

My biggest passion, though, is illustrating various themes and subjects that relate to Slavic folklore. The thing I like about being a Slavic illustrator is how mysterious, intriguing and rewarding the underlying mythology is. 

What Drives a Slavic Illustrator

People often ask me if I could recommend some books on Slavic folklore. It’s genuinely one of the most difficult questions to answer. There are actually very few reliable sources to learn from on the topic of Slavic mythology. Even then, they are of a speculative nature, rather than actual facts. I get my information from various books (mostly in Croatian), scientific articles, and some amazing indie-level websites. You can expect overviews of my sources in the future, so stay tuned for that. 

I truly enjoy researching our traditions and connecting them to those of our ancestors, and that’s really what inspires me the most. The ancient beliefs and feelings that got preserved thanks to people who recognized the importance and an innate sort of magic that surrounded the ancient traditions. I feel honored to breathe new life into these old traditions, and to educate people on their behalf.
My work resonates with people, which is amazing! After just a few short years of admittedly hard work, my Etsy shop has proliferated! Sometimes it’s truly hard to wrap my head around the fact that my artwork has been taken into homes all over the world. 

Even though I’m often my absolute worst critic, in this case I am proud of myself and of what I’ve accomplished. Thanks to my dedication to art and research, I can promote our rich culture through my illustrations. 

That really is what it boils down to, and what I’ve always wanted to do.