Freelance 2d artist Živko Kondić tells us about his unique project "Alterslavia," how he creates his painterly style and some exciting developments in the future...
3dtotal: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?
Hello! My name is Živko Kondić, on the Internet I go by Zhillustrator, and I am a 2d artist now mostly working on personal art and any client work that comes my way. I live in a peaceful, laid back town of Novi Sad, in the northern region of Serbia.
This "Alterslavia" image was inspired by a lot of rivers in the region freezing over, and Serbia not having enough icebreakers, so I made one
This "Alterslavia" painting was one of my first ever images set in wintertime. I had so much fun painting it. It was inspired by Russian landscapes
3dt: Tell us about your creations and the type of work you love to make.
I dedicate a majority of my creative output to personal artwork, mostly 2d painterly-looking, almost pastoral landscapes in an alternate-universe of mine. I love just sketching on paper, filling up pages using ink directly to loosen up, get rid of anxiety and get better at drawing. I also enjoy making little paintings, thumbnails, preliminaries; it's so loose and fun for me!
This was a random idea, and I used it to play around with color from grayscale. This is also a part of "Alterslavia," set somewhere on the Croatian coast
3dt: Which artists inspired you to get into creating art? Which artists inspire you today?
My first significant encounter with art was comics like Dylan Dog
and Martin Mystère. When I was a kid, we also had an edition of Akira
and Conan the Barbarian
with some great art, so I got into art via comics initially. Today, I am inspired by a lot of 19th century art, as for modern artists, I love Simon Stålenhag and similar reality-rooted 2d fantasy and concept artists.
This image was made live on a Twitch stream
Apart from art, where to you draw inspiration from?
You can say I draw additional inspiration from my lived experience, memories, nostalgia (even though I am not a nostalgic person), and things I am familiar with, which are part of my visual library now. Photography and cinematography are also a source of ideas. I take a lot of photos with my phone wherever I go, so I can use something sometimes, and I dream of being able to buy a proper camera.
An image inspired by a common sight in my part of the country, a Danube shoreline - Part of "Alterslavia." The truck is an ex-Yu TAM
3dt: What has been the most exciting project you've worked on?
To be honest, I've been the most excited working on my own personal series called Alterslavia
, figuring it all out over the few years, giving myself direction. I don't get much work and I've never worked on a big project, so what I make for myself in a quest to become a better artist is my biggest project!
A spoof on a cult Yugoslavian movie, with some familiar characters and the iconic "Krstic i sinovi” bus from "Ko to tamo peva”. I made it a part of "Alterslavia”
Tell us more about your project Alterslavia. What's the idea behind it? When did it begin? Where do you think it might go in the future?
began in 2016 with a single painting, almost out of nowhere. It's very representative of me back then! One day I painted a flat Pannonian landscape and put a huge spaceship in the background for fun. It received such good feedback from people that I was inspired to think about it more, thus the series began!
I always get asked if I will make Alterslavia
into a comic or something. It will become something more cinematic, something more narrative, as I learn to paint people and scenes; but the onus will be on landscapes mostly. I would be so happy if I could afford to make an Alterslavia
artbook, with paintings, sketches, stories about the project, little tutorials or hints.
This "Alterslavia" image was also an experiment in the grayscale to color approach. I so loved how it looked that I've decided not to refine it too much!
Your art ranges from quite romantic pastoral scenes to the genuinely surreal, and you frequently blend the two together; what stimulates those decisions? How do you decide which elements to include in a piece?
Nowadays I try to include more storytelling, something that would make people think their own stories. I love to kind of mix time periods, not to set my world into something fixed. The sci-fi elements are still a bit random; I usually add something in just because I think it looks cool. Because Alterslavia
is basically alternate-universe Yugoslavia, I like adding old cars and trucks (Yugo, TAM, "Stojadin", "Fica") made in Yugoslavia, tractors like IMT and Rakovica too!
This is a fun painting in which I mostly focused on some different, vibrant colors and atmosphere. Pictured is a Yugoslavian Rakovica tractor
3dt: When do you feel most productive making art? Are you up with the lark, or are you a night owl?
I live alone and work at home, so I can always find some time to be productive, but I am more of a night owl. It has something to do with my street, which can get very noisy during the day. Sometimes I am indeed up with the lark, but I mostly use that time to relax, prepare for the day, I am rarely very productive in the morning.
This was inspired by night photographs of certain parts of Belgrade. One of my first paintings where the majority of the work was done using ArtRage
3dt: What software and plug-ins do you use in your usual workflow?
My main tool is Photoshop
, but I use several other pieces of software, first of which is ArtRage 5
, which I enjoy very much. I also love Paintstorm Studio
and Clip Studio Paint
, and sometimes I paint in Krita
. My usual workflow involves making smaller thumbnail in often a different program like Artrage, finishing it all and preparing for print in Photoshop.
Newest revision of this "Alterslavia" painting. I often rework my paintings as I learn new things! In the picture you can see a hover-tractor based on IMT539, a common machine you see here. This one is evocative of my childhood rides on the side of my grandpa's IMT tractor
3dt: Are there any techniques that you like to rely on? Or do you like to experiment?
I like using abstraction to find useful shapes, so techniques that use abstraction are my favorite to rely on. My favorite is thumbnailing using blending modes, blocking, shapes and blobs, value painting etc. I like to extract things from "nothing". I often start by just putting big blobs of pretty colors on the page. I like to experiment too, find efficient and fun ways I can do something better!
One of my fan favorites and most sold prints, this one was inspired by Simon Stålengag obviously, but I try not to rip off anyone, so in the end I think it sets a personal tone after all
3dt: Is there any advice you could give to someone who wants to make a living from art?
1. Do personal art
. It is very important to discover yourself, don't just "die for others' ideas," make your own! It will inspire you further on the way to your own products and intellectual property!
2. Please, take care of your mental health.
Don't be too hard on yourself, don't overwork, it's not worth it. Rest and relax when possible! You're not an art robot.
3. Be positive about your art journey.
Have fun! That matters so much.
Another of my fan favs and most sold paintings! It has a unique vibrant and positive mood which a lot of people take a liking to in my images. This one is one of my favs too, even now when I see that I could've made it better!
3dt: What are your artistic ambitions?
My ambitions for now are to become a better artist through working on both client and personal projects. I would love to increase my Patreon income; it would make me very happy to live off my art. Those things are connected so I have hope and patience. I would love to develop Alterslavia further, make it my recognizable thing!
One of my "painty period" paintings. In this one I've started to realize that I love doing painterly things and not obsess over details. I love to focus on pretty colors, and more and more on story behind it. In this one, a father takes his kids to light the streetlights, something symbolic, in this world of for example big spaceships in the background!
If you weren't an artist what do you think you'd be doing?
I come from an agricultural village family, but I was never too keen on farming, ha! My English was quite good for my age when I was entering high school, so if I hadn't gone to the School of Design in Novi Sad, my other choice was a language school, as I realized how useful English is, and that I am quite good at it. I would also probably be much more involved in music, as it's "only" a hobby for me now.
I also love doing old school SF-inspired paintings. This one, still untitled, was painted with Artrage. Again, I focus on the fundamentals, colors, composition, contrast, value, scale
3dt: What can we expect to see from you next? Any cool projects we should look out for?
You can expect more Alterslavia
paintings, more sketch pages, more hovering kittens, dudes with hats, colorful thumbnails... At one point it will turn into something bigger! I would love to make an artbook or a sketchbook soon; that would be one thing to look out for if I manage to fund it. Also, a new round of prints will be available soon, with all the newest images!
Head over to Živko Kondić's website to see more of his fantastic art
Support Živko's art on Patreon
Follow Živko on Instagram
Keep up to date with Živko and his art on Twitter
Buy Živko's prints at his Etsy shop