Winner of the 2018 edition of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair – Fundacion SM International Illustration Prize, this year the illustrations of her book “La casa de fieras” were exhibited at the children’s book fair. Vendi Vernić is a talented young woman, curious, with a sensitive soul, a lover of stars, coffee and of the universe that she still dreams of knowing and exploring.
How was your feeling about this award and how is your life changed?
It was a great surprise, already just being selected for Illustrators Exhibition in such enormous international competition was exciting and rewarding in a way. The award really gave me opportunity to focus on illustration work, which is important, and unfortunately rare, thing for a young author.
How and when did your passion for illustration begin?
I have always been drawing, since I was a kid, and with time I gained artistic education – after art high school, I earned BA and MA degrees in Fine Art at the Academy of FineArts in Zagreb. I have studied and worked in various artistic mediums, but I always had some kind of story behind what I did, no matter was it abstract or figurative. Because of that I got more interested in illustration, finding it as a fitting challenge, that offers combination of various fields of interest and expression.
What kind of technique do you use for your illustrations?
I draw and paint on paper, I use variety of materials: pencils, ink, watercolors, tempera and acrylic colors, collage, pastels ballpoint pens and highlighters… I really don’t limit myself, but again, sometimes I will use all of mentioned, and sometimes just one material, story and what I want to tell with the illustration is what dictates medium, not the other way around.
What has inspired you to create the book La casa de fieras?
Working on an illustrated book was part of the Fundacion SM Award I received for my illustrations at BCBF 2018, and the idea was to choose an author from my country; Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić is best Croatian children’s writer, so I didn’t have to think much about that. “The Menagerie” (“La casa de fieras” in Spanish) is her short story, that proved fit for this occasion. It is a story about five children, brothers and sisters, who decide to turn their pets into wild animals and make a menagerie (zoo) for play, and of course, that doesn’t go as planned. Since story is focused mostly on actions, and events, I was left with much freedom for visual interpretation, and I decided to incorporate some elements from writer’s life, like her education and life in early 20th century upper-class family, surroundings she lived and worked on…
In the video near your work in exhibition I saw that you has draw a lot surrounded by the nature. Is it a fundamental inspiration for you?
While nature really is a great inspiration for me, this was the first time I did something like that, partly because it was summer and weather was just too beautiful to stay indoors, and partly because I tried to find my equivalent to ambient of writer’s work – her favorite place to write was terrace of her summer house. I used some details from Ivana’s life, but completed them with similar significant moments from my own surroundings.
Do you have artists that inspire you for your designs?
My favorite artists are Paul Klee and Cy Twombly, in their works I can recognize kind of meta-narrative moment, that resonates with me both visually and mentally. I think that is of greater influence on my works then some straight-away visible resemblance; however, I always try to learn from various forms of art, I think that formed my approach to illustration a lot, and I can in big part thank that to my professor at Academy of Fine Arts, Svjetlan Junaković, who also greatly influenced me and my work.
In this historycal period how much do you think is important for you be an exemple of young women indipendet who is following their own dream?
I had a great luck to be raised by parents that never ever gave me idea that being a girl/woman would be an obstacle to achieve whatever I want. Sadly, there are still many people who wouldn’t agree on women’s value and rights. Although it is hard to think of myself as an example, if what and how I work, while being comfortable with my identity, can inspire some other girl or woman, that would be wonderful.
What is the freedom for you?
Possibility to be sincere, authentic in front of yourself and others, in who you are and what you want, to live without fear. (Of course, while keeping in mind freedom and well-being of others).
Three words to describe yourself.
Observer, day-dreamer, coffee-lover.
If you hadn’t decided to be an artist, what would you have wanted to do in life?
My other great interest are astronomy and astrophysics, so that would probably be my other choice. I still want to be an astronaut when I grow up!
Do you believe in something?
I believe we are all made of star-stuff, as Carl Sagan would’ve said. I am not religious, but I believe in kindness, compassion, understanding as core human values. For me, mere look in the night-sky, sense of being part of universe it gives, is enough miraculous and full-filling.
What book are you reading now?
“Theory of Everything” by Stephen Hawking.