Portrait of Saša Ostoja

6 Questions with illustrator Sasa Ostoja

How and when did you start drawing?

I graduated as a fine artist, around 2009 I believe, from the HKU (Fine Art School in Utrecht), where I focussed on painting. I created abstract, geometrical and precise work. To pay my rent I decided to make drawings to earn more money. The drawings would take less time since my paintings took weeks, mostly months to finish. I never thought I would fall in love with drawing eventually. Drawing enables me to awaken the stories in my head. My love for nature and her diversity in flora and fauna can get a stage. To my drawings, I can add sounds and movement and motivates my imagination endlessly.

Saša Ostoja

Where do you find your inspiration?

A combination of documentaries of ancient tribes (a.o.), biking trips through nature with my girlfriend, digging in old-world music on YouTube, observing my cat, and all the weird things that show up in my head – waiting to get mixed up and come out on paper.

Saša Ostoja

What is the hardest part of working on your own?

I must say that I, luckily, own a lot of discipline and perseverance (thanks to mom). I love to work on my terms and conditions, like deciding my schedule, time to talk with the cat and going out for a good sandwich in my neighbourhood. The only thing I have to watch out for is that, when I’m absorbed in my drawing and inspiration, I sometimes forget to get some fresh air or even to organise a proper meal (my studio is at home so it wouldn’t be the first time I would spend an hour or 72 inside). Luckily work meetings (and also social meetings) are inevitable and help me to not become an enormous nerd completely sunk into his reality 😉

Saša Ostoja

How do you find work/life balance?Planning enough of the fun! Besides drawing, I love to play football, renting forest houses, discovering good places for food with friends, bike touring to other countries or finding weird villages in The Netherlands. Also, I DJ now and then under the name Sultan Botanico with friends such as Palo Santo – with whom I also played at a lot of festivals and venues before under the name Eaglemen. (You can find a lot of our mixtapes at mixcloud.com)

Saša Ostoja

What is your path? How did you end up where you are now?

As an illustrator, the question on how to balance autonomous work and commissioned work is I think inevitable. I love to work for and with other companies since they give a platform to your work and space to grow – but also, I want to stay close to myself as an artist and keep that as the source of everything that evolves. I am now in a place where I focus on balancing these two worlds more by finding more time to improve and to experiment with my autonomous work. I am finding a way to work towards an exhibition every year where I present a new series of large-sized prints within a specific theme (inspired by those vintage school posters from primary school in biology class). The Amsterdam Fund of the Arts helped me with realizing this new way of working, in which I found a lot of joy.

The best jobs are the ones where these two worlds merge into one, like the 9x6m mural I did for Wetransfer and one for Nike’s office. I don’t have a ‘year-plan’ or anything or work towards goals. I just work hard, intuitively and most important: I make sure my work keeps me motivated by refining my path where needed.

Saša Ostoja for Nike

What is your end goal? What do you want to achieve in your career?

I hope to be like nature. It just goes and grows, sometimes in acid rain, sometimes in bright sun, without an end or beginning or an ‘end goal’. But of course, I got some tiny ’goals’, such as making interior items, sculptures, more and better animations, expanding my own-made light box collection and directing obscure cult movies (or Pixar Animation Studios).

I hope to be like nature. It just goes and grows, sometimes in acid rain, sometimes in bright sun, without an end or beginning or an ‘end goal’. But of course, I got some tiny ’goals’, such as making interior items, sculptures, more and better animations, expanding my own-made lightbox collection and directing obscure cult movies (or Pixar Animation Studios).
The road was sometimes bumpy and grumpy, but I would not have done it differently and cannot wait to see how this future will evolve.

I hope to be like nature. It just goes and grows, sometimes in acid rain, sometimes in bright sun, without an end or beginning or an ‘end goal’. But of course, I got some tiny ’goals’, such as making interior items, sculptures, more and better animations, expanding my own-made light box collection and directing obscure cult movies (or Pixar Animation Studios).

The road was sometimes bumpy and grumpy, but I would not have done it differently and cannot wait to see how this future will evolve.

www.sasaostoja.com
@sasa_ostoja

Portrait picture by Caecillia Rasch

Published by

Timothy Helmer

Designer, curator of Let's Talk Design and founder of Creative Network.