Monday, 7 January 2008

Because I wanted to talk to...Stuart Kolakovic (Part Four)

You only graduated relatively recently, but already you seem to have had success and gained quite a bit of exposure. How's that been for you? Too much, too soon or just fine?

I graduated six months ago, and I've managed to get by working as an illustrator.


It's horribly depressing because no matter how hard you work, illustration pays peanuts. Comics even less. It's difficult keeping your enthusiasm and stamina up, especially if you're doing a real bland/poorly paid job. I have to constantly remind myself that I'm making a living drawing pictures, which is what I've always wanted to do.

Which other comic artists, self-published and otherwise, are, in your opinion, worth checking out?

There's so many! And what's exciting about comics at the moment is that there's always new stuff popping up all the time. I love the simplicity of Ron Rege Jr, and reading his stuff has really turned me on to loads of other Northern American cartoonists. I recently came across Eleanor Davis' work, which I love. I think it's because she too obviously takes a lot of inspiration from folk stories. Actually, I read an interview with her a few months back, and she was talking about the comic course she was studying at college. That freaked me out a bit to think that people are being trained specifically to be comic artists. There're thousands of Illustration students being churned out every year, and now I've got to compete with hundreds of specifically educated comic artists too?

I also take a lot of inspiration from illustrators, writers and artists outside of comics. I've learnt a lot from Jonny Hannah's work and I've really started to get interested in naive and folk art from all over the world. I was really blown away when I went to the Folk Art Museum in New York City. Maybe it's because I feel empathy for these people that are just making art for the sake of doing it for themselves. Audrey Niffenegger's work is amazing. It's only because of the mainstream exposure of artists and writers such as Niffenegger that comics will ever have a real chance of being commercially and publicly recognised for what they are.

Other comic artists whose stuff I read again and again include Dash Shaw, Joann Sfar, Seth and Samuel Hiti. I bought a copy of White Rapids by Pascal Blanchet the other day, which was depressingly beautiful.

Please tell us about your latest projects, both in comics and the illustration.

Well, I need to start on a new book proposal, which I intend to do as soon as I get this pile of illustration work out of the way. Luckily I'm doing a job for Barclays at the moment, which should pay pretty good compared to what I usually work for. That means that I'll be able to work solid on the proposal for a good few weeks. The story follows on from some of the stuff I touched on in Milorad and is going to be about two brothers growing up in Serbia during World War Two. The mentality of Serbs fascinates me. They lived through four wars in the first half of the 20th Century alone, it's crazy. And if the worst comes to the worst and no one is interested in publishing it than I'll have to self-publish it, which will be a daunting task.

What are your plans for the future, both in terms of your comics and illustration work?

Keep on going and hope I don't go blind. When I get the time I'm going to start pestering other comic anthologies and maybe even some ‘Yewf’/culture magazines who are under the misconception that comics are cool. And they're really not.

But mainly I just want to start work on this book and see where it takes me.

Hopefully not the gutter.

Stuart Kolakovic, thanks for your time.


Jim Medway said...

Great interview of a great artist - good work Matt! I met Stuart briefly at his opening at Projekts, when he disappointed me by telling me he was moving to Stafford in a weeks time! Hopefully we can keep him as a Manchester creative, as I find both his work and productivity really inspiring. I'd like to rope him into teaching at some point too.

mightygosh said...

Yeah. To be honest I'd not heard of Stuart Kolakovic before but now I'm definitely anticipating seeing some of his stuff. Interesting background, installation and concepts, promising. Well done the both of you !
-andy luke

Sophie the Fourth said...

I pretty sure I need to buy his comics.

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