Nik was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Now living in Toronto, he was received numerous awards for his illustrations, sold out collections of work, exhibited internationally (including Tokyo, Melbourne, Los Angeles, New York, Madrid, Hong Kong and Barcelona), and is currently working on a new solo exhibition for early 2012.
Exploring a fictional history through fabricated documentation, Nik’s work merges the nostalgia of turn-of-the-century cartoons and illustrations with the familiarity of blemish-free draftsmanship.The characters are compositionally graphic from ten feet away and meticulously detailed from ten inches away, while the materials and attentive technique allow for a fluid — yet selective — narrative to emerge.
Q1. How do you approach starting a new project?
I hope for the best and expect the worst. I will usually create 2-3 quick sketches for client approval, then dive into the final image (with a few revisions here and there). Sometimes revisions aren’t even necessary (awesome), or they’re needed every two days for a month straight (awful).
My personal work for exhibitions is a completely different process. There’s a lot of initial euphoria, self-doubt, second-guessing and overall confidence/satisfaction that goes into every drawing. Then I hibernate for a long time. Eventually everything is framed and hung on a gallery’s walls and I’m smoking outside dreaming of a good night’s sleep.
Q2. Weapon of choice? (favourite materials)
Crow quills, sumi ink, microns and brush pens, photoshop, and my tablet. I’m also itching to try that new Wacom inklet.
There’s a lot of initial euphoria, self-doubt, second-guessing and overall confidence/satisfaction that goes into every drawing.
Q3. Do you have a favourite place outside the workplace that you go to sketch?
I usually can’t focus well enough to sketch in public, but will have my sketchbook close by just in case. The subway and the reference library probably result in the strangest and most productive doodles. Some of the sketches that have led to my best final drawings were conceived between the stacks at the reference library. Taking the subway to the reference library is a dream come true.
Q4. What’s your favourite procrastination pastime?
Playing ping pong.
Q5. What do you like to listen to while you’re working?
For some reason, I can’t relax too well when listening to music and working at the same time. I once drew an entire show while listening to only Dragonforce albums, and…well, that show looks like the diary of a psychopath.
I downloaded a lot of stand-up albums instead (George Carlin, Stewart Lee, Patton Oswalt, Bill Burr, Louis CK, etc). The last 10 minutes of Carlin’s “Life is Worth Losing” has to be one of the greatest bits of all time.
I know this will sound strange, but Joe Rogan’s podcast can be really good too, depending on who his guest is. The September 2nd interview that he did with Kevin Smith clocks in at almost 4 hours and is really worth listening to. Fascinating conversations.
Q6. What are some of your sources of inspiration?
Graphics, diagrams, processes, evolution, history, the brain (not mine), playing basketball, playing ping pong, cartoons, Tezuka, and all my friends who make really great work on a daily basis. And probably a hundred and seven other things.
Huge thanks to Nik for providing so many awesome photos and for taking the time to do this interview.
Dont forget to stop by Nik’s site to see more of his amazing work!
All images ©2011 Nik Dudukovic