Saturday 15 March 2014

Interview with Neven Udovičić

Neven Udovičić of Zagreb, Croatia, is a recently graduated graphic designer, who has experience designing movie posters.

I used some of
Neven's poster designs on the blog. When I met him on Twitter and discovered that he writes excellent English, I took the opportunity to ask him some questions.

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?

I was born and grew up in a small town in Istria, Croatian's biggest peninsula where people mostly live from agriculture and tourism. The sea is near and that's always a great thing! The town is called Žminj, and its Latin name is Geminianum, which is also the name of my design blog and the name I sometimes go by online.

What kind of a family did you grow up with?

A pretty normal family, I'd say. Parents, one older sister with grandparents and relatives all living pretty close (which means full tables at Sunday dinners). I can't say there were any artists in the family that influenced me, but they've always been supportive of all my hobbies.

When did you first take an interest in poster design?

I started doing things that could be called graphic design somewhere around the age of twelve. At the beginning, I was more interested in creating my own magazines, encyclopedias and books, especially when my parents got me a printer which was a big thing to me because suddenly I could get anything I created on the screen out on a piece of paper. My first serious attempts at poster design came some years later, in high school, when I designed a poster for an astronomy summer camp organized by a local astronomical society (which I was a member of). At that time I wasn't really familiar with graphic design as a field and was still figuring out the tools on the computer. But I knew I enjoyed doing it, and wanted to get better at it.

Where did you go to school?

After classical high school in Istria I moved to Zagreb to study at the Zagreb University Faculty of Graphic Arts where I got my masters. I did my thesis on movie poster design, so that was fun.

Who was the teacher who had the biggest influence on you?

My Croatian teacher in elementary school. At that time I was into writing (especially science fiction stories and made-up travelogues) and although it had nothing to do with visual arts, I did create something out of my own imagination which felt great. That teacher was really supportive and took time to help me polish my work. I loved writing and even got a story published in a collection of short SF stories, but soon after design took over and I haven't written anything since. Sometimes I get some ideas for a screenplay, but it seems like too much work and I'm scared to even start, so I just stick to design.

What was your first paying job (in any field)?

Waiting tables over the summer in an rural tourism restaurant near my home. There was a group of of us waiters dressed in traditional Istrian costumes and we would perform traditional dances for the guests.

You’ve completed a number of “alternative“ posters. Which is your favourite?

There are a few I could call my favorites, but I'm always most proud of the last poster I do. At least until the excitement wears off, that is. But if I had to choose something from my archive, it would be a series of movie posters called "A Life on Film" that I did with my friend Lucija Šilić. It's a project where we took the photos from our old family photo albums and put them in a movie context, turning our parents, grandparents, uncles and others into movie stars. Making alternative movie posters can sometimes feel like participating in an overused trend, but I'll always love the intimacy of that project—the photographs we used are a truly personal element.

Are you tempted to move to Hollywood and try your luck there?

That would be a pretty bold and expensive change to make. Luckily, the Internet allows amazing things and collaborations to happen regardless of geography so I guess I'll try my luck by making more work and getting better at it.

Not many people know that film personalities ranging from Eric Bana to Jenna Elfman to Cary Elwes to Alida Valli are of (at least partial) Croatian descent. How would you describe the current state of the Croatian film industry?

After the 1950s and 1960s—I must mention H-8 from 1958, which is probably my favorite Croatian movie—the 1990s didn't really bring us much to be proud of. You could say that the last decade or so marks a new golden era of Croatian cinema, bringing lots of new authors and getting a good amount of awards at festivals around the world.
    Making a movie in a country with a population of less than five million won't make you rich. Getting audiences to go see a domestic movie can be a hard task, especially considering the ticket prices and the 3D Hollywood-produced competition. Comedies are usually the only ones that have a chance of getting a bigger audience (meaning something around 20,000 viewers).

Could you suggest a few representational examples of recent Croatian cinema we might be able to find on DVD?

To be honest, I don't really have a habit of watching Croatian movies (I've only watched a couple in the last few years), so I'll have to go with what others recommended to me. A Wonderful Night in Split (2004), Armin (2007), Metastases (2009), Mother of Asphalt (2010), Halima's Path (2012)—these were very well recieved by the critics.

If you had to suggest just one poster design book to a newbie designer in Adelaide, which one would it be?

I have lots of books on graphic design, but only one on poster design—The Poster in History, by Max Gallo. It features posters from the French Revolution to the present and can be a great source of inspiration.
    I'm planning to get the new Saul Bass: A Life in Film and Design book, as he is, along with Toulouse-Lautrec and Anton Corbijn, my favorite artist.
    Of course, there's also lots of good stuff on the Internet on posters and graphic design in general—I must recommend a blog called Movie Poster of the Week by Adrian Curry.

What are your ten favourite (favourite, not ‘best’) movies of all time?
The Tree of Life (2011) - USA
The Cranes are Flying (1957) - Soviet Union
Control (2007) - UK
Heat (1995) - USA
There Will Be Blood (2007) - USA
Betty Blue (1986) - France
Pulp Fiction (1994) - USA
Oldboy (2003) - South Korea
Before Sunset (2004) - USA
Once (2006) - Ireland

What’s next for Neven Udovičić?

Well, it's hard to predict, but I'll keep doing what makes me happy and hopefully become better at it, as there's always room for improvement. I'd love to do work for a magazine, make a poster for a new movie, or—what would be my dream project—get the chance of doing a Criterion cover. I think they make the best designs and find great inspiration in their catalogue.
    At the moment I'm working as a UI/UX designer at a nice little company in Zagreb, making websites and mobile applications. It's a different world from poster design, but also very interesting, has its own rules and I'm learning a lot everyday.

    Also, for the past few years I've been running a brand of tote bags with my friend Karin Milotić, called "Themebags," which mostly feature my movie-themed designs and we have lots of cinephiles as customers. We really enjoy doing it so I'm sure that will continue, as long as we have time to do it. 
Where should people contact you if they are interested in obtaining a Themebag?

This is our Facebook page where most of the action happens. For any questions we can we contacted at: 


1 comment:

Unknown said...

Neven Udovičić sounds like he loves graphic art in all its forms. I would love to see a movie poster made with the same verve as the tote bags.