Hello Zeljka, please tell us who you are
I am a full-time artist inspired by geometry, architecture and nature. I am a graduate of both the Academy of Fine Arts (2015) and Faculty of Architecture and Civil Engineering (2011).
When did you know that you wanted to dedicate yourself to art professionally?
I attended art classes since I was 12 years old but I decided to be a full-time artist when I was 27 after finishing my studies at the Academy of Fine Arts. Before the academy, I studied architecture and was working at an architectural firm. I left the firm to be an artist. Creativity in architecture is limited because of laws, rules, finances, team work, investors, and many other factors. Art gave me more freedom to express my imagination in full capacity.
So you are working full time on your art?
Yes! First, I was very active on different online galleries which helped me to sell many artworks internationally. But the fact that I am living in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the main reason I can live from my art. We have very affordable apartments, and the cost of living is generally low. Sometimes, it is difficult but I’m able to manage it.
Are you happy with your current situation as an artist?
I am very happy with my current situation. Yes, it could be better but I am trying to enjoy the fact that I have my own studio, painting material, and time to do what I love the most. The exhibitions, awards, and recognition are important but I am aware that the art world is not a world of justice, logic, and predictability. So, being constantly anxious about “where I am now?”, “what’s going to happen?”, “Is this okay?” is not helpful at all and not productive (for me). At the same time, it is good to be open to new opportunities and more knowledge. At the end of the year, we all love to see some improvement. 🙂
Your thoughts on your style?
My style is mostly geometric but geometry for me is not just about math and good proportion, it is about expressiveness, the same way as the free brush stroke can make. It is about emotions, thoughts, communication and energy. That’s what I love the most.
Why geometric art?
I use geometric principles to give the structure to my paintings, drawings and collages. It seems to me that every artwork needs some connection in composition. Geometry is there to make that happen.
What good advice do you have for emerging artists?
- Patience is everything. Patience in the process of creating an artwork and also patience in waiting for your work to be recognized, eventually sold, promoted etc.
- Always give your best in presenting an artwork through photos, descriptions, exhibitions. Try to imagine yourself as a viewer and what information would you like to have about the artwork when you see it for the first time.
- Live your dreams and be brave so you can inspire others and attract new opportunities you didn’t see coming.
Do you have any feedback from collectors and galleries on your paintings?
Collectors usually say that my artwork looks much better live and we usually have a great communication. Some of them became my friends. It really means a lot to me. I love how artwork can connect us with its own language. Galleries say that my artwork is not just a story for itself but it also gives a different impression about the exhibiting space because of the artwork’s perspective and deepness. So, they noticed that there is a strong connection between my paintings and interiors.
What setting do you need to make great art?
As I am getting older, my studio is the main place for making art. When I was a student at the Academy of Fine Arts I could make art everywhere. Just give me a pencil and a small piece of paper… For instance, I drew portraits in cafes and that was very funny, but now I care about materials, tools, the size of an artwork, and a peaceful surrounding for making art.
Are there certain artists that you admire?
I have a very long list of artists that inspired me but it is hard to choose one. In general, I admire artists who were brave to do things differently and were able to take a huge risk. I don’t like artists who play safe all the time, it doesn’t make any sense in the art world and it is boring.
What kind of project would knock your socks off?
It would be a combination of architecture, installation, sculpture, and painting but at the same time very simple. I hope the galleries will recognize my potential and talent in the future and support me more (and not ask for money all the time). 🙂
What did you learn from the past and would you change a thing if you could?
Somehow I accepted my mistakes and failures as a part of my life and my strength. If I am happy now why would I need to change the past… Learning from our own mistakes could be an asset.
Do you need motivation to work from time to time?
Basically, most of the time I am highly motivated to work but if not then I am probably tired. After getting rest I can’t wait to continue working again.
Which of your works do you like the most?
The artwork ‘Introspection’ is one of my favorites now. I was thinking about the fact that a painting does not have any opinion about the viewers, but it is exposed to the opinions of others. So, in the painting ‘Introspection’ I came to the idea to keep the geometric form and space but this time to change the central point of perspective with the mirror that reflects the viewer in the center who is suddenly a part of the painting. That makes the viewer being exposed the same way as the painting. I find it very interesting.
Are you into collaboration with other artists?
There are some projects where I collaborate with fellow artists and it is always a pleasure.
What is your experience with art exhibitions?
Yes, my first group exhibition in a gallery was in 2005 when I was 17 years old (still in high school). It was the main gallery in my hometown Prijedor (Gallery 96). The other exhibitors were the students at the Academy of Fine Arts and we were selected as the future of art in Prijedor City. That was a huge motivation for me to continue working in the art field. Soon after I had many other group and solo exhibitions. I started to exhibit internationally in 2017.
Your personal goals?
I presume most artists strive for worldwide recognition, being in demand, and a steady increase of the value of their art, but in the art world, it’s very hard to achieve goals exactly how we have planned. In the past, some things were much better than I expected, and some were much worse. I believe that the more we try to control things, the more we prevent potentially better things coming our way.
If all galleries and art institutions were like Hardedger, looking for true art and values, supporting artists, this world would be a better place for artists. Thank you so much, Hardedger!
Wow, thank you too Zeljka!
Zeljka Paic ★ Artist resume
Zeljka Paic was born on December 20, 1987 in Prijedor, former Yugoslavia. She is a graduate of both the Academy of Fine Arts (2015) and Faculty of Architecture and Civil Engineering (2011). Zeljka Paic has garnered multiple accolades including the award for best printmaking at the University of Banja Luka in 2015. Her work has been exhibited as far and wide as New York and Amsterdam. She was featured in The Guardian’s Future of Art – in Pictures article and picked as one of the top artists by Art Aesthetics Magazine for The Other Art Fair in London in 2017. Her artworks are collected in the US, Canada, United Kingdom, Holland, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and many other countries.