Andreja Brulc's Blog


What / I did //

I am a freelance creative graphic designer, illustrator, photographer, art maker, exhibition curator as well as children’s creative workshop creator and facilitator. I have a wide-ranging experience and technical skills in the field of contemporary art and design practice. In my work, I place a strong emphasis on the use of crafts.

What / I did //

For over ten years (2007–21), I have been working for both print and digital end products for various industries – from book publishing (adults, children’s, educational) through charities and social enterprises (arts, educational, community interest) to small businesses (arts). My clients are based both nationally and internationally.

After studying typo/graphic design, magazine and publishing design, experimental typography, illustration and printmaking (and more recently web design and 3D Maya) at the University of the Arts London (2003–06), I won a public competition to become the principal cover designer and illustrator for the major Slovene literary book publisher Beletrina Academic Press (Nov 2006). During the ten years in this role (2007–16), I created more than 300 book covers for the hardback Beletrina and softback Pocket Beletrina imprints. The hardback series was given an Award of Excellence at the 4th Biennial of Slovene Visual Communication (2009), presented by the Brumen Foundation at the National Gallery of Slovenia. The series was also given the Highest Funding Award for Illustration by The Slovenian Association of Fine Arts Societies (ZDSLU) (2010).

In addition, I have a significant knowledge of art history and relevant work experience in the art world. After completing both a BA and an MA in Art History at University College London (1993–96), I worked in the Exhibitions Department at the Royal Academy of Arts for over ten years (1997–2008). I was involved with a number of internationally renowned exhibitions: Summer Exhibition, Joseph Beuys, Baselitz, Philip Gaston, Monet, Rodin, Matisse’s Textiles, Rembrandt’s Women, Aztecs, The Genius of Rome, Russian Art, Byzantium, and so on. The direct hands-on experience in the exhibition making gave me later on not only an opportunity but also a great confidence and expertise to curate and design my two solo shows – Book Covers for Beletrina (London, UK • 2010), sponsored by the Republic of Slovenia, Office for Slovenians Abroad, and Sketchbook for a Journey(Ptuj, Slovenia • 2011), sponsored by the city’s library as well as to initiate and execute a high-profile UNESCO sponsored public art project Baptism at the River Savica(Statue of Prešeren, Prešernov trg • Ljubljana, Slovenia • 2010).

Finally, I have a vast scope of experience working with children of various ages in different situations – from 3 years of child caring to creating and facilitating a number of children’s creative workshops.

How / I do it //

The creative freedom given to me by the Slovene publisher as well as working on a broad range of international titles allowed me the opportunity to develop a distinctly personal visual style. I have a strong interest in typography, layout and colour, and in mixed media, combining illustration with photography, drawing, silhouette and traditional craft techniques (hand-printing, stitching, embroidery, patchwork, knitting, and crocheting), as well as using various papers, textiles and industrial materials (sandpaper and scrim tape) for textures and patterns. I experiment with different possibilities in which images are juxtaposed in a tense relationship to one another blended together through mixed media and thus creating different realities and perceptions through the interplay of natural forms, narrations, and emotions. The use of collage and photomontage enables me to bring together elements of the past with the latest digital technologies.

I have drawn much inspiration not only from European but also from non-European cultures, encountered through travelling and reflected in my visual diaries. My major study trips were to India (2004, 2008) and to Mexico (2002, 2012).

Why / I do it //

As a keen practitioner of using crafts in the making of my work, I strongly believe in their fundamental role in contemporary art practice. While at college in the early 2000s, I was especially encouraged by the illustration and experimental typography tutors, primarily as their reaction to the torrent of digital imagery, to concentrate on my skills gained from past experience. Their fresh approach to art education, which encouraged ‘art practice as research’, was based on the belief that creative inquiry is a form of research into the visual and cultural material in order to achieve a higher degree of originality.

When at school in the 1970s in the former Yugoslavia, there was a strong emphasis on learning various traditional handicrafts and technical skills as part of the national curriculum – skills that in the developed world at the time, and still now, even in Slovenia, were culturally perceived as a pastime activity for the older generation. Despite growing up in an environment of supposed social equality under communism, in which women in the public domain contributed equally to the household income, they were perceived as the main homemakers, and, in essence, unequal to their male counterparts. Due to such expectations, women had to learn certain skills for life from an early age, including craft.

It seems surprising that such expectations were deeply rooted in my culture when much of the Western world had by then already fully embraced postmodernity. It is a telling fact that as a young adult in the early 1980s, I was sent to a nunnery to pursue cross-stitching and knitting skills. Thus, the use of traditional techniques has, above all, a personal ‘lost and found’ element, that has not only become my ‘homecoming’ by reconnecting to the roots of earlier generations, but also very ‘welcoming’ as valuable skills to possess.

Bridging past and present in my work, I have been able to explore the possibilities of different techniques and materials. By reclaiming or reinventing them in another context, I can give them a different value than just a skill my female ancestors needed to perform daily chores or engage in ‘unproductive’ activities associated with the private sphere. My using crafts is thus a subversive technique and allows me to dissolve traditionally distinct categories of arts, crafts, and design. On the other hand, it enables me to explore, question and even challenge certain taboos and traditional values, related to cultural, political, social and geographical situations, that are often unseen, unquestioned, or even deliberately suppressed.

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