Duration: One year.
Location: Los Angeles, California.
Education: BFA in graphic design from ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena, California.
Career path: I was born in Zadar, Croatia, a small town on the Adriatic Sea. I come from a family of actors, so as a child, I spent a lot of time in and around the theater. I’d observe the actors practicing for months, going through their lines and choreography with the director, who would fine tune everything until the actors delivered the exact kind of emotion that the story required. Then came the audiovisual process: writing original music, constructing sets, tweaking lights and positioning props until everything was just right. Having a front row seat for the entire process—even the ugly parts—had a big impact on me. Later on, I got involved in making music and DJing, which—if done correctly—can have a large narrative component. Ending up in design seemed almost accidental, but looking back on it now, I can see that I was always headed for this career. Now, I use the knowledge I’ve accumulated throughout these seemingly disparate art disciplines whenever I interpret a film director’s vision. I can see the small and big pictures at the same time; using my craft, I polish each detail, while anticipating the sum of their parts.
Another deciding factor in my career was moving to Los Angeles. I relocated to the States to attend the ArtCenter College of Design. On my nineteenth birthday, I flew across the Atlantic with nothing more than my acceptance letter to the college, a single suitcase and some spare money in my pocket. Success felt far beyond my reach at the time, but my desire to become good at what I liked to do kept propelling me forward. Dealing with culture shock, language barriers, emotional and financial burdens—all the while attending one of the most intense design programs in the world—taught me a lot about myself and the perseverance I had to acclimate myself to in order to get where I wanted to be. I’m still not quite there yet, but the lessons I’ve learned have helped me get closer to my goal every day. And Los Angeles is a great place for a young artist to grow, with awesome opportunities around every corner—as long as you seek them out.
Favorite projects: One is my tribute title sequence for the movie There Will Be Blood. I was still a student when I made it, but it taught me a lot about the process of making a piece from start to finish. Completed close to my graduation, this project got noticed by the Santa Monica, California–based production company Elastic—where I now work as part of the team under our talented director Patrick Clair—so it helped me get my foot into the industry.
Another project is the title sequence for HBO’s Westworld, produced here at Elastic. It was the first major project of my career. Working on it was surreal—I was working with all these people I had looked up to throughout my college years and folding a bit of my own voice into the sequence. It was a bit overwhelming at times, but watching them take some of my frames and ideas and elevate them to another level of quality and finesse was incredible.
Cultural influences: Growing up in two places that are complete polar opposites of one another had a large role in shaping my approach. Zadar gave me the tempermental Slavic honesty, and Los Angeles taught me how to channel it into something productive. Being an outsider allows you to see your surroundings from a different perspective than others, so I soak up as much of it as I can.
Lately, I’ve been more and more inspired by film and photography rather than graphic design, which is becoming more evident in my work. I also document and maintain a reference folder religiously—I collect everything I find inspiring and put it in its proper place, so I can use it for idea fuel later. Some creators I’ve looked up to the most in recent years are Aphex Twin, Burial, Chris Cunningham, David Fincher, Romain Gavras, Hideo Kojima, Nicola Samori, Yuri Shwedoff, Simon Stålenhag and the film director Denis Villeneuve—and, of course, my fellow creatives at Elastic.
Aspirations: My end goal is to become a director and work on film and TV title sequences, commercials, and music videos. Eventually, I’d love to write and direct my own feature film. No matter what I end up doing, I’d love to split my time living between the United States and Europe, chasing interesting projects and never getting too comfortable staying in one place.
Philosophy: Struggle is a vital component of growth. Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. Use that as fuel to propel yourself forward. Work hard, and the rest will follow—things have a way of figuring themselves out if you strive to do your absolute best.