SAN: Completing both undergraduate and graduate studies and earning a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Graphic design respectively at the Metropolitan University in Belgrade, allowed for the education and a career that brought you to Toronto. Can you tell us something about these programs and the knowledge you acquired there?
Ever since I was a little girl and saw my dad designing a poster, I wanted to create art myself. As a matter of fact, I have always been attracted to painting and design, and then I became aware of the possibility that I could bring my ideas to life through the digital medium. That’s how I decided to apply to the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade – at the Department of Graphic Design. There I learned different painting techniques and got familiar with typographic as well as traditional graphic design.
After my third year at the Faculty, I realized that I wanted to try my hand at some other fields of design and I decided to enroll in the Graphic Design course at the Metropolitan University. Even though the name of the program is the same, the subjects were completely different. I switched from painting nudes to an entirely different world – that of digital design. My favorite subjects were “Web Design”, “Interaction and User Experience Design”, and “Digital Illustration.” After completing my fourth year, I decided to get a Master’s degree in New Media Design. That’s when I was acquainted with 3D modeling, design of interactive installations in space, as well as film and video compositing.
SAN: Besides being educated and keeping pace with the latest trends and technologies, a young person has to be proactive and connected in order to succeed. Can you tell us a bit more about your activism and working for the international organization JCI in Serbia?
Junior Chamber International (JCI) is an international organization of young leaders and entrepreneurs, with more than 5,000 local branches in 115 countries around the world. Its mission is to offer development opportunities which will encourage young people to make positive changes.
Right after the first meeting I decided to become a part of this big JCI family, and becoming its member was
definitely one of the steps that had a great impact on advancing my career and coming to Toronto.
In JCI I met new, ambitious, and proactive people from every part of Serbia with whom I still keep in touch.
After only a couple of months volunteering, I got an opportunity to do something completely different, so I was appointed Secretary-General of the Belgrade office.
SAN: Apart from being a member of a charitable organization, you also managed to get a job in England, and that’s something that significantly impacted your entire career. How that happened and what’s your perspective on that experience?
Even during my studies, I dreamed of working for a company in which I would be able to continue learning and acquiring new knowledge and skills. As JCI allowed me to meet both young and experienced professionals and entrepreneurs from different parts of the world, I decided to get in touch with them in an attempt to become a part of the organization that fit the bill. After only a couple of weeks, I managed to connect with a man who, luckily for me, runs two big companies – one in England and one in Canada. I sent him my job proposal and portfolio and waited for his answer. A couple of weeks after that proactive step, I was invited for a trial work period in England, which would, if everything went well, take me to Toronto.
As that was my first time away from Serbia for a longer period of time, I was scared and insecure. I didn’t know whether I would fit into another culture or how the other employees would accept me.
Although it was tough in the beginning, in time I adjusted to the new environment and people who did everything in order to make me feel comfortable and a part of their team.
SAN: New technologies allow for many jobs to be done remotely from home. Tell us how that functions, and how it’s best to organize your day and be efficient?
Working from home is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it requires serious work and commitment even though I’m not at the office surrounded by my co-workers. Being proficient in English and good communication skills play an important role. In order for me to do my job and be successful in project realization, good organizational skills are a must. On the other hand, this kind of job comes with a flexible schedule that can be adjusted according to my needs and tasks.
SAN: Your illustrations are in one of the most famous books in England – Visit Heritage, which is published once a year. What are you working on at the moment, and what would you like to do within your profession and generally in the field of art?
Many people say that I’m a versatile designer, and I agree with them. I enjoy every type of design – from print, digital, all the way to web design. I’m good at, work with, and combine different tools that are indispensable today, and I’m no stranger to grabbing a pencil and putting my ideas to paper.
Before starting university, my dream was to be a painter because conveying emotions to canvas is what fulfills me, maybe most. However, in order to satisfy the needs of the market, and satisfy my own needs, I started doing digital illustrations that are in demand today.
So, getting the best of both worlds, concrete and yet abstract, is what I aim for.
One of my latest projects was illustrating a children’s book “The Albert Dockhounds” which has already been sold in a few hundred copies.
As for my future career, I’d like to continue combining digital design and illustrations. Also, my goal is to have a solo exhibition of my paintings in Belgrade, Toronto or some other city in a few years’ time.
SAN: Besides your regular job, you also have side gigs. Is it something necessary these days to ensure a better standard of living or is it something that fulfills you and allows you to try your hand at different design adventures?
I started with side gigs back while I was a student. Some of the platforms that I applied for different jobs are 99designs, BrandSupply, and Upwork. It was a great opportunity to gain work experience and expertise, as well as build a decent portfolio which later helped me to apply for a full-time job.
Even today, besides my regular job, I get side gigs, but this time for much bigger companies and on more serious projects. You can see some of my works my online profile.
SAN: Do you plan to stay in Canada? What do you like here and what are your favorite spots in Toronto? How do you spend your free time?
Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities I’ve ever seen. I’ve liked it since day one, although it was winter – my least favorite season.
What impressed me the most was the nature. When I have some free time, my partner and I like to visit nearby woods and parks that are only half an hour’s drive from downtown. On Saturday morning we always go to St. Lawrence Market to buy fresh fish and bread, and after the shopping, we have a coffee break in a nearby coffee shop. One of the places that left the strongest impression on me are the Toronto Islands.
In a very short time I met a lot of interesting people, grow both personally and professionally, and at the moment the life I have here suits me, but I can’t be sure where it will take me in a couple of years.