How would you describe yourself in three words – who is Bratislav Milenkovic?
Coffee obsessed illustrator.
What’s your interest about illustration and design? When did you start?
I love everything about visual communication, the way it’s present in our surrounding and how it enhances our everyday life. I like the fact that you can tell stories through symbols and images and that you can find joy in the most unexpected places.
I’ve graduated at the Faculty of Applied Arts in Belgrade where I initially started my studies in a graphic design department but quickly switched to illustration – and I’ve been playing in that field ever since.
How would you describe the ‘Bratislav Milenković identity’ that is visible in all your illustrations?
I guess it’s safe to say that it’s a combination of bold shapes and colors, usually heavy saturated with details. A bit of humour when possible.
If you could be any colour, which colour would be?
Hmmmm… somewhere on the scale between blue and gray.
Can the creativity be learned later, or is it a feeling that is always within the human being?
Well, I think that everyone has that spark within, but it takes a lot more to make the fire out of it. Learning often comes as a result of being creative, but I guess it can also go the other way around, those two seem to be quite intertwined.
What does a typical day look like for you? Do you have any daily routines?
Being a dog owner, the day usually starts by taking Vito for a walk around the neighborhood – we go to my favourite coffee place, have a chat with friends who work or hang there and then head back home to do some work – I work from the home studio now, so it’s all cozy and warm. Work usually goes up until 6 pm and then we wait for my girlfriend to get back from work and pick us up for a long walk around the city and lovely Kalemegdan fortress. I think that best part of being a freelance illustrator is the opportunity to go out during the day and meet all the lovely people from the area we live in. Having a chat or meeting friends from the neighborhood sometimes provides the energy boost that keeps you going through the work hours, so I tend to make short breaks as often as possible during my working day.
How do you keep yourself inspired?
I love going through the archives and collections of vintage illustrations. I believe that software makes us lazy, so we all end up going with the flow and using the set of the tools that are offered in the applications that we use. So in order to avoid to produce the generic looking illustrations, I spend lots of time looking at the old illustrators and artists, trying to understand their logic, away from the options available in apps we use nowadays.
Is there any designer/artist /illustrator from the past, you appreciate a lot?
Oh yes, so many – Alexander Girard, Mary Blair, John Alcorn, Vladimir Lebedev, Brian Wildsmith, Jim Flora, Paul Klee, Jean Tingely… I could go like this for days. :)
Is there a book which opened your eyes about design/ illustration?
I’d say that Design As Art by Bruno Munari is the one. Also Inside the Rainbow and Toys of the Avant-garde are the timeless source of inspiration.
What are your top five songs on your playlist?
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree
Frank Ocean – Nights
The Gun Club – Mother of Earth
Anohni – Crisis
Carla dal Forno – Fast Moving Cars
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love being part of ever-growing and inspiring illustration world and the opportunity that it brings – to meet or discover so many amazing artists and to be surrounded by beauty on a daily basis. I also love the diversity of subjects and topics that job brings in – one day you’re into some political subject, the next day you’re drawing a map of the city you’ve never been to. It’s challenging, but as a result, you learn so many things and, the most important part, you’re having lots of fun while doing it!
If you weren't an illustrator, what would you be doing?
I would probably run my own bar, with proper selection of whiskey. :)
Finally, Is there something you wish interviewers would ask you — but never do?
Hmmm, I’ve been asked once about my favourite kind of coffee, so I think that with that one everything is pretty much covered.