Serbian visual artist Davor Gromilovic caught my eye after seeing his surreal art featured in the Festival Animanima (below). The excerpt he created includes floating serpents hovering over large bear rugs and walking castles. Often creating multiple pieces in the same series, he molds original realms out of thin air. Galaxies of their own, with each creation becoming a canvas of the unreal. I interviewed the talented visionary and we discussed everything from his beginnings to his environment to his upcoming plans.
[Note: below the video, be sure to check out four exclusive pieces from Gromilovic's upcoming Bestiary series.]
How's it going? Can you describe your surroundings for us?
I’m really good, thank you. I am currently working on a new series of drawings, and I am happy to finally have enough time to work on my artwork, after few months of traveling. Right now I am in my studio/living space, which is full of art materials and supplies and my 13-year old record collection and a gramophone on which I like to play nice music while I draw.
One of the reason why I’m feeling so good is because I will soon be moving to a three times larger art studio that is made to measure, so I am excited about that.
When did you begin your history with art?
This may sound like a cliché, but even as a little boy I preferred spending my time at the desk with a paper and pencils in front of me. While the majority of my friends were playing football/basketball I was dreaming about becoming an artist. From that period I have managed to save thousands of drawings, which is of enormous value for my today’s art.
In 2012, after finishing my master studies in drawing, everything became more serious and today it is my only job.
What's the art scene like in Serbia?
Well, I belong to a younger generation of Serbian artists so I will construct my answer around that fact. The scene is mainly focused in/around the state’s capital – Belgrade, but there are interesting artists in other cities, too. I think that there are many great conceptual and painting artists, as well as some great designers, some of whom managed to get an international recognition and following. There are many artists with different sensibilities and styles of art, but on the other hand, there is plenty of those trying to make it in the art world, but are not offering quality material. That being said, it is not easy.
Were you born and raised in Serbia?
I was born in 1985 in a country then called Yugoslavia, and now my hometown belongs to a northern part of Serbia. I live in Sombor, which is rather small, but very green city, not so fast and dynamic, but here I can find my peace and time to dedicate myself to my art.
Have you traveled to other countries for your art?
Sometimes I travel for work, but mostly I combine work with leisure, so I get to see the both worlds. For example, my last trip to Austria and Belgium was both professional and touristic. When I get the chance to travel for my art, I make sure to maximally use the opportunity and learn more about the country/city that I'm in because it is a great chance to get inspired.
What's the future looking like for you?
Soon I am moving into a new studio. I have invested a great part of my income into a new work space in order to have better work conditions for producing better artworks. In the future I will definitely be able to dedicate myself to the upcoming projects. So far, there's an idea to publish the drawings from the Bestiary series as a book. The publisher would be Symposion, just like it was for my previous book - Wrong Time Wrong Place, but the book itself will have a completely different concept.
I am also working on a new series of color drawings, and I will probably be finishing it in a new studio. There are some other plans as well, but this is what the near future holds.
How long was your book in the works?
Well, all in all it took about a year and a half from the first idea until the final product was made. It took me a couple of months just to go through the archive of my artworks and make a good selection out of it. There was about 10 persons working on a book, and all texts were translated into two more languages. So you could say it was a rather complex and time-consuming project.
Your content seems to have its own version(s) of mythology and folklore. Are you inspired by certain eras?
Since my work has a narrative character, it allows a great space for exploration. When I look at my art from the past couple of years I see how my content reflects my experiences and thoughts, so one can easily notice the influence of travels, different types of architecture and folklore, which is why my art seem so fairy-tale like. This could be a reason why my work often seems like it's full of its own mythology and folklore.
You said you've been taking it seriously for seven years. Has your style/vision changed?
Yes, my style and vision have changed. I think it was all part of a natural process. It is impossible for me to make the same art I used to make during my studies, simply because I used to be interested in other things and I didn't have the experience, that I have now. As I have grown and developed as a person, so has my art.
What can you tell me about your Bestiary series?
The story is actually rather interesting. I had a lot of ideas, that I never used in other series before, so here I've collected them all and brought to life rather spontaneously, so to say. It is a combination of different elements, which come together to create one specific meaning. For example, in the ex Yugoslavia, there was a very famous car model called "Zastava 101", and the dog breed Dalmatian has its roots in the ex-Yu as well. So I have combined these two elements and drew a car, that has a paint pattern on it, like those of a Dalmatian dog, and the work is called "Zastava 101 Dalmatian", which is also a kind of a word-play.
I've only known about your work for about half a year, but one of the first pieces that really caught my attention as the Animanima trailer/animation. I guess the question is: when you have a blank canvas, how do you brainstorm ideas? Or do you freestyle it? What's the process like?
I always brainstorm my ideas. It doesn't matter when or where. Sometimes it is when I'm taking a walk, sometimes when I'm in my work space or when I travel. I make notes in form of words or tiny sketches that I later use for my works. That is why my "blank canvas" doesn't stay blank for too long. Some brainstormed ideas are transferred onto a canvas/paper with minimal or no adjustment, and many ideas are freestyled.
What are some studio essentials?
I need some sort of a music player, so I have my record-player running at all times. I like to have my books and a computer close at hand, because they come in handy during my work, whenever I want to further research some ideas. And from time to time I like to indulge in playing some of the classic beat 'em up or adventure games on Nintendo.
Do you have any advice for artists working on their craft?
All I can say is - do what you feel is good and not what others expect from you.
Any final words of wisdom? Thoughts, shout-outs?
Thank you for taking an interest in my work and thanks for a great interview! I hope we managed to provide a better insight into my art. If anyone is interested in seeing/hearing more for me, you can always visit my website or contact me for any inquiries. I appreciate your support.