One of the books that Serbian artist Maja Veselinović says she’d most like to illustrate is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. But even without Douglas Adams, she’s circumnavigating the universe. Maybe not the known universe, precisely, but one populated by bunnies in backpacks, watermelon trees, brightly colored underwear on a laundry line, and buoyant, hand-drawn sentences—as plump and loopy as though they were made of dough—everywhere you look. Veselinović, a native of Trstenik, Serbia, has degrees in graphic design and art teaching from the Faculty of Design and the College of Fine and Applied Arts, respectively (both in Belgrade, where she now lives). She works as a freelance illustrator and designer, but her comics might be the most bewitching stars in her creative galaxy.
Where do you usually draw? I draw everywhere and all the time, but I get the most pleasure from drawing at home at my desk in the corner of my living room. That corner is also my studio, very small, but mine. That’s where I have everything I need: paper supplies, pens and pencils, erasers, inks—there I keep my sketches and ideas for comics written in notebooks and on pieces of paper scattered around. Some of them I stick to the wall above the table for inspiration. The computer is also my studio, but a slightly different one.
What’s your most essential tool? I couldn’t do without black ink, a pen, and white tempera, and since I started coloring digitally a couple of years ago, I cannot live without Photoshop anymore.
What do you first remember drawing? Since early childhood, I have thought of myself as someone who creates things. I remember that colored pencils, chalk, and pieces of fabric were my favorite toys and a source of absolute joy and happiness. I used to draw on everything I could reach: wallpaper, furniture, newspapers, even toilet paper. I still have some of the drawings from that time. The main themes were people, children, animals (mostly cats, birds, and rabbits), and also some imaginary beings. All of them still appear in my comics and illustrations, and I am glad they are still here.
What do you like most about being an illustrator? I love everything about it! For me, work on comics and illustration is pure emotion and joy, a way of communicating with the world. Although they have their rules, comics and illustration are a very flexible and powerful way to express yourself. I am inspired by the opportunity to tell any story in my own way by doing what I love to do.
Do you think your work is characteristic of the country you come from?
If I had to choose, I would say my work is Southeast European. My comics have that distinct Slavic overtone—the choice of topics, narrative, visual style, typography. Of course, there is also a pinch of that irresistible Balkan madness from which I simply cannot escape.
If you could collaborate with one other artist, who would it be? I would like to work with a talented writer. Although I do enjoy writing scripts for my comics, I plan to focus more on drawing in the future.
What’s the last song you played? I was just listening to “Anana Arena” by Senén Suárez y su Conjunto del Tropicana Night-Club, on the radio.
What’s your favorite museum in the world? There are many important museums around the world that are worth a visit, but I don’t have a favorite one. I prefer small, personal, everyday collections and museums that we all create and carry inside ourselves.