Andreja Brulc's Blog

About

Who / I am //

I am a freelance creative graphic designer, illustrator, photographer, art maker and exhibition curator, as well as a children’s creative workshop creator and facilitator. I have 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 //

Since 2007, I have been working on both print and digital products for book publishers (adults, children’s, educational), and also for charities and social enterprises (arts, educational, community interest) and small businesses (arts). My clients are based internationally.

After studying 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 (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. I read nearly all of these books to generate design concepts and worked closely with authors, editors and translators. 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).

Another major long-term publishing engagement has been working on two school textbooks for Caribbean Educational Publishers, Trinidad: CAPE Geography Unit 1 (2016–19) and CAPE Geography Unit 1 (2013–14). I designed all book elements, laid out more than 1,500 pages, and created over 700 artworks.

I also have a great enthusiasm for children’s books. I designed and illustrated a children’s picture book of poetry, Barvice (2010), that is now widely discussed in art classes in schools. The book was produced in conjunction with Maribor 2012, EU Capital of Culture, and was given the Slovene Highest Funding Award for Illustration (2010). I am working independently on two children’s picture books – one about Mexico, and the other based on a sketchbook project (Brooklyn Art Library, New York, 2011).

In addition, I have a substantial 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 many 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 of exhibition making gave me the 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 substantial experience of working with children of various ages in different situations – from 3 years of professional childcare to creating and facilitating a number of children’s creative workshops.

How / I do it //

The creative freedom given to me by Beletrina along with working on a broad range of national and international titles, both classic and contemporary, 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 from both the European and non-European cultures that I have encountered through travel and which are reflected in my visual diaries. My major study trips were to India (2004, 2008) and Mexico (2002, 2012).

Why / I do it //

As a keen practitioner of 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, particularly 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 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 for the older generation. Under the supposed social equality of communism, in the public domain women were supposed to contribute equally to household income, but they were also perceived as the main homemakers and thus, 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 embraced a more modern worldview. 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, which has not only become my ‘homecoming’ by reconnecting me to the roots of earlier generations but is also very ‘welcoming’ as a valuable set of 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 value beyond just being a skill my female ancestors needed to perform as daily chores. My use of 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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  1. […] Andreja Brulc is a freelance graphic designer and illustrator. She completed an MA in Art History at University College London, and worked in the Exhibitions Department at the Royal Academy of Arts for nearly ten years. She won a public competition to become the principal cover designer for a major literary imprint of the Slovene book publisher Študentska založba, for whom she has now created nearly 200 titles. […]


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