A vibrant universe during the PIC featuring artist Viki Mladenovski

During PICelectroNIC, Viktoria (also called Viki) will be at Rotondes to showcase her colourful world during a live drawing concert.
© Viktoria Mladenovski

Viki, for those who don’t know you, tell us more about yourself!

I’m a multidisciplinary illustrator and artist from Luxembourg, now based in Berlin. Most of my work for clients is done digitally, focusing on editorial, advertising, and publishing. Some of the companies I’ve worked with include Cosmopolitan, Doc Martens, Berliner Zeitung, Jacobin, Missy Magazine, Rainbow Center Luxembourg, and Casino.

My illustrations are contemporary and joyful, with bold and colourful designs. I would even go as far as to describe them as whimsical and fantastical. For me, it’s important to convey (serious) messages in a playful manner. To balance out my time spent on screens, I also work with clay. I’m part of a wonderful ceramics studio in Berlin, where I get to be more hands-on and connect with people in person.

How did you discover your passion for art, and what does your art mean to you?

This is a bit of a cliché, but my journey into art began in childhood, long before I could articulate my thoughts or take my first steps. Drawing and painting were innate passions from the outset, and even then, I harboured dreams of becoming an artist (although, at that time, I envisaged myself as one of those street artists selling portraits, so my perception of it changed quite a bit!).

I had a period where I was less active with my art, during my studies. After high school, I studied English literature and even have a Master’s in Modernist and Contemporary English literature. It was around that time that I began to reconnect with my artist identity, in fact, it was the first time I started calling myself an artist. Following my studies, I worked in publishing and the art gallery and museum sector, only to realise that my true calling lays in creation.

For me, art serves as both a reflection and a reinterpretation of the world around me. It offers a simultaneous escape from reality and a deeper understanding of it. When life becomes overwhelming, art becomes my refuge – a means of expressing and processing my emotions. To me, it’s a way of living and approaching life.

Do you see your art as a way of addressing important topics and raising awareness among your audience?

Absolutely! It’s important to speak up about the issues that we care about. I see my illustrations as more than just reflections of our world; they strive to present a vision for a better way of life. Even when my art isn’t explicitly addressing a political topic, everything we produce and create holds political significance, whether we want to acknowledge it or not.

Among other subjects, you use your art to express intersectional queer feminism and eco-consciousness. How do these themes appear in your creations?

It’s essential for me to portray a wide range of social issues to raise awareness and to ensure my characters are as diverse as possible. In addition to identifying myself as an eco-conscious, intersectional queer feminist, it’s crucial to me that my clients have a basic understanding of these issues and are willing to learn and understand them.

I love working with Missy magazine in Germany, a queer-feminist publication focused on pop culture, because they are dedicated to education and advocacy on topics that resonate with me personally.

Your art also focuses on identity, memory, togetherness, and joy. What significance do these themes hold in your artistic expression and how do they influence your art?

I think a lot about my own identities, since I believe that we are ever-changing and fluctuating and never the same in different situations or periods of time. In my most recent exhibition – and first solo show – What are Memories but Empty Shells? in Berlin, I delved deeply into the theme of memory. In fact, I would describe my exhibition as an installation of memories. Memories personal to me, memories as a conceptual theme, and the meaning that they hold in our lives.

As an artist, I place a high value on community and strive to depict characters who embody love and compassion for one another. Expressing love, joy and vulnerability is powerful in a world that predominantly values financial worth, hustle-culture, and exploiting marginalised groups. In my art, I want people to feel like children again. Filled with joy, excitement, and a sense of adventure to explore this world that can sometimes be distorted from reality but also a commentary on it.

Your artistic portfolio encompasses illustrations, ceramics, paintings, packaging designs, and more. How do you perceive the breadth of your artistic output across such diverse mediums?

I love experimenting and trying out different mediums and techniques. I believe that one medium informs the other and the best way for me to avoid artist block is to have multiple outlets for my art. After all, art would become stagnant and boring if we only stuck to one thing and repeated it throughout our lives.

Taking breaks from digital drawing, which is most often for client work, and going to my ceramics studio to create something with my hands makes my digital illustrations better. The skills I acquire in different mediums complement each other, and I find inspiration in all the creative activities I engage in. The child-like curiosity that first made me want to create is something that should be valued and nurtured to maintain a healthy and sustainable career in the art field.

Where do you find inspiration?

From many different aspects of life. It really depends on what I have been doing. It can be as mundane as everyday moments. My illustrations are an expression of experiences, thoughts, and feelings that that have struck me at a particular moment in time and space. For instance, I get inspired by culture and art, such as visiting art museums and going to gigs, or watching films, and reading books. Leonora Carrington and Claude Cahun have had a significant influence on me. Another big one is the fashion world! I love dressing my characters in outfits that I want to see on the street or that I want to own myself. Clothes are a form of self-expression and oftentimes I get comments that I look and dress like my characters.

Your illustrations have been featured in various publications and projects. Is there a project that stands out as particularly meaningful to you? If so, why?

Wow, it’s so hard to choose! I go into every project with my whole heart, so I’m quite passionate about most works and projects.

However, one project that I am very proud of is my mural for Doc Martens. It’s the largest illustration I’ve ever undertaken, standing over 3 meters tall and spanning over 6 meters in length. I got my first pair of Doc Martens in high school, so I have been a fan of the brand for a while now. Being approached by them meant a lot.

During the PICelectroNIC, you’ll be drawing live to Napoleon Gold & Klein’s music! How have you prepared for this exciting experience?

Artistically speaking, the way that I have initially approached the live drawing is to listen to the music and then sketch ideas that spontaneously enter my mind. That way my ideas can flow as naturally as possible. It’s a lot about what mood I feel and what images are summoned through the music. As an illustrator I am a very visual person, so sounds evoke certain colours and feelings.

After this initial stage, I have to make sure that my illustrations are timed correctly with the music and that they’re as polished as possible. During the live event, I’ll aim to recreate my envisioned illustrations in real-time.

There are also technical things to consider. I am going to be drawing digitally during the event, so I need to make sure I prepare my equipment correctly. I am also creating additional illustrations that I can incorporate during the concert, to make it more complex and exciting. It’s my very first time doing live drawing to accompany a live concert, so I couldn’t be more thrilled for this wonderful opportunity!

What emotions do you hope to convey to the public during the live performance at Rotondes?

Joy! Awe! A sense of adventure and intrigue. My goal is to leave the audience wondering what comes next.

I see my visuals and Napoleon Gold & Klein’s music as a symbiotic relationship, where each influences the other to create emotional responses in the spectators.

I honestly cannot wait to see what happens and how the audience will react – it’s something that will always be an element of surprise for us artists, since every individual viewer brings their own stories, backgrounds, and emotions to the experience. Every emotion they feel is valid and adds to the richness of the event.

After the PICelectroNIC, we know you’re getting ready to unveil a new surprise for our audience. Can you give our readers a small hint?

Let me see, how do I do this without giving too much away… You’ll catch a glimpse of some of the characters from the Concert dessiné in a large-scale project I’m collaborating on with Rotondes. It’s something tangible that even children as young as two can enjoy, but it’s also designed with adults in mind.

Thanks for the fun interview. I truly appreciated it!