Art, in whatever form, portrays the real lives of the people or individuals who create it. It is a powerful and entertaining way to get someone else’s perspective on something and it allows for the expression of vision in different, authentic, and unique ways. No matter who we are or what part of the world are we from, art is such a powerful tool that is connecting us, when we think about it. There is something about sharing the way we experience the world with others as art steps in to complete pieces that cannot be truthfully portrayed by words alone.
This time, we had an opportunity to speak on the topic of art with recognized and awarded Croatian artist, Luka Duplančić. Luka, an artist and graphic designer born and raised in Split, majored in graphic design in 1994 from the School of Fine Arts in Split. He continued his visual education in Zagreb, at the Academy of Fine Arts, where he graduated as a painter and a graphic designer in 2000. Behind him is a series of projects and exhibition collaborations combining visual arts and visual communications design.
Behind the visual identity of The Daltonist (logo and its following illustrations) that are so loved by our guests, is Luka himself. We often receive compliments for the artist and his work, so today we are bringing you this interview to get to know this talented and fascinating artist better.
1. Let us start (not so) simple: Why art?
In a way, it is impossible to answer this question because you do not choose art, the art chooses you. Very early on, you start to realize that this is something you are better at than any other thing. Already as a child, you realize that you have a space where you can express yourself and later on you see art as your communication channel with the world; it develops more and more, and you just find your way.
2. When did you know that the artistic path is the one you would like to follow? Do you remember that moment?
Yes, I remember the moment exactly. It was on the playground in Mali Lošinj (a town on the Croatian island of Lošinj) in the fifth grade of elementary school. Why then and there? I do not know.
From kindergarten, I remember, kids usually wanted to be something like astronauts. I wanted to be a garbage collector. That held me until fourth grade which is when I decided I wanted to be a dentist. In the fifth grade already, I remember thinking to myself “you will be a painter, for sure”. And that was it. From high school onwards, my education began.
3. How would you describe your art?
More or less as applied arts. What I do and what I live on (most of it at least) is applied art. Everything has its purpose, and this has its application. However, it is always correlated with the client. Which is the basis of graphic design.
4. How did being born and raised in Split influence your style?
Perhaps it did influence it, but indirectly. I would say that people around me had more impact. In former Yugoslavia, my father worked in, perhaps, one of the largest propaganda houses. His colleagues and friends who worked with him were designers so that world became very close to me. In a way, I fell in love with it because it has been available to me since the ‘80s. There were a lot of graphic catalogs at home, both domestic and foreign, and all of my attention was drawn to that. That is what affected me and my style more; the city as a city, more indirectly, more subconsciously perhaps.
5. I am not going to ask you “Where do you find inspiration generally?” as I believe that finding inspiration is not a linear path. Instead, I would like to ask you to tell us about one real-life situation that inspired one of your art pieces?
First, a distinction needs to be made between assignments and works of art that are not given to me as tasks. In my last exhibition, for example, I was inspired by the concept of home. What is home, and what is identified through the notion of home? These are some ideas that interest me in my work at the moment.
6. We get a lot of compliments on the art you created for The Daltonist. What inspired those creations?
These are assignments that I was mentioning earlier. You give yourself the task which needs to be inspiring. In this art, more precisely, we draw some parallels with Victorian art, graphics, and some marketing communications of that era. The visual identity of the brand had to be taken into account as well. The way these illustrations are presented might be familiar to people somewhere, but The Daltonist illustrations contain my artistic identity.
7. Could you describe to us your process of creating?
If we talk about applied art, we have two parts which are research and collecting part. In the first part, when we set a clear task in front of us, I collect visual code from all sides. I try to see what is there today on this topic. I am always trying to find out what is in the minds of all of us, I look for the heritage, and that is where I am building that creation. Here I have to refer to something in us that is already known.
8. How do you know when your piece is done?
I am afraid of that. I am afraid to think that the piece is done. I do not like that feeling at all. For most of the things I have done, when I look at them in some time lag, I see some things I could have done differently. It is really never over. When I happen to have time to “perfect” something, it is usually not good in the end. Therefore, I believe it should be left to have that dose of imperfection.
9. In your opinion, what is integral to the work of an artist?
It must have authenticity. We all live together from communication within the visual code, but what will intrigue us and draw our attention to something to start communicating willingly and eagerly is that moment of intrigue, and that is only achieved if that communication is authentic. Or at least if some segments are authentic; then we learn something new right away.
10. Who are your biggest artistic influences?
There are a few of them. A German painter and graphic artist Horst Janssen, American graphic designer Saul Bass, French artist Jean Giraud, and Japanese manga artist Jiro Taniguchi.
11. What role does the artist have in society?
An artist can have multiple roles. And it all depends on the context of the times we live in; simply said, some things are needed in the society, and artists are supposed to be people who feel the world around them. What is needed today is an artist-activist. Someone who will open the topics of a society that lives terribly fast and does not see things around them, artists are here to point out things in society that matter, hence, artistic activism is needed.
In everything we do, there should be a dose of that activism so that we do not see art for the sake of art and the sake of aesthetics only. It does not matter that everything is nice and pretty anymore, we finished with that 150 years ago, or at least we should have.
12. Is there something you dislike about the art world?
There is always something that can be better. But something I do not like is maybe us, artists. Sometimes, we know how to be a little arrogant and too closed within our circles. We do not want to spend time communicating with people who do not understand. However, I think art needs to be available to as many people as possible today and that patience for people is needed.
13. Is there a funny story you can share with us? Something that happened while working?
Oh here is a story. When we did “a mural of the largest small slug in the world” for World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) last year we did it on a high building with at least 10 or 11 floors. And I have a fear of heights. When I climbed to the 7th floor, I could feel my knees shaking. I asked the team to give me a safety cable and with it, I went up and down feeling really safe. I went to the top floor, and everything was okay. When I finished with my work, I finally realized that all that time I was tied to myself, not to the scaffolding.
14. And last, but not least, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and would you like to share it with us?
Well, I do not know where I got it, but I definitely did not invent it myself.
It goes something like this: When you work, make sure to work focused and directed. Do one thing at a time, not two, three, or five things at a time because you are actually going to be a lot faster, even though it does not seem that way. When you are focused on one thing, you are much more efficient. Believe me, things will just fall into their place.
15. Is there something you would like to add in the end?
Yes. Death to fascism, freedom to the people!
There is a reason why Luka received a significant number of awards for his work. He is most definitely one of those artists that care about things that matter, one of those who express important societal issues through his work. He is an active member of several cultural and art associations and if you happen to see one of his exhibitions, make sure to take your time and take it all in. It will amaze you more than you think as it seems that there is nothing Luka cannot do.