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Tuesday Q&A

Tuesday Q&A: Marko Djurdjevic

The artist discusses organizing the upcoming first-ever Berlin artists symposium, uniting creators from all around the world

By Kevin Mahadeo

Like an apprentice without a master, Marko Djurdjevic never got a chance to learn the ways of the pencil from an experienced professional growing up. Instead, the then-fledgling artist taught himself everything he needed to know about drawing and creating. And although Djurdjevic's skill at shaping the page became inarguably remarkable, the artist still admits he regrets missing out on a chance to learn from some of the best. Thus, when asked to help organize the MADE Symposium-a joining of artists from around the world for a four-day creative extravaganza-the German-born creator jumped at the chance.

"When I was young and just starting out, I would have killed to be able to attend something like this," says Djurdjevic. "Just the idea of being able to bombard people with questions about art and their careers would have

Art by Marko Djurdjevic
probably helped me become more professional far earlier in my own career. I'm coming from a complete self-taught background; it wouldn't be until my 25th birthday that I had real contact to artists that inspired me.

"What I've learned from other artists in the last five years outclasses everything that I learned on my own in the 20-something years before that. On top of that, being an artist is a solitary job. Most of us sit at home or in a studio by ourselves, left alone with our ideas and our insecurities. Being able to break out just for a while and see that there [are] others like you out there, is one of the most profound experiences one can make. Seeing everybody's use of tools, their tricks and their unique approaches gives you inspiration to suck from for years."

Between organizing the fine details of the event, contacting his fellow artists and bringing them on board, and of course his duties at Marvel, Djurdjevic still found some time to talk about what attendees can expect from this first-ever unique event and what exactly went into making MADE.


Marvel.com: First off, what can you tell fans and attendees about this event that you're putting together? What are some of the specifics you can share?

Marko Djurdjevic: The MADE Symposium is an event in Europe that has been created as a platform for young and aspiring artists to come together with top industry professionals from across multiple art-forms and learn from them over the course of four days. The unique part is that the Symposium itself is not specialized to cater to a certain art-form, but rather give the attendants the chance to become familiar with stuff they might not really know about. We have classical illustrators present, storytellers and comic book artists; fine artists and concept designers. All fields of art play together to a certain extent; what you can learn in one field might be very helpful in another. To be able to have such a concentration of sheer talent in one room and to be able to pick their brains or watch them work live is an invaluable experience for beginners and veterans alike.

Marvel.com: Why did you decide to organize this artist workshop? How did the whole thing come about?

Marko Djurdjevic: I wanted to throw a symposium like this in Berlin for over a year now, but finding the right spot [had] been causing some trouble until MADE came around. MADE is a unique space in Berlin that just opened its doors this March. It is a venue created by pop artist TadiROCK, and supports artistic diversity and experimentation. The space is multifunctional, with movable and retractable walls and a light system that can instantly change into every color, hue and temperature, allowing atmospheric changes of light across different work sections. MADE is a creative lab that offers the space to really venture out into new territory artistically. Without a space like this, the art world would be a less exciting place to be in.

And the owners of the venue have been nothing short of amazing in supporting our symposium, without their help all this wouldn't be possible.

Marvel.com: I understand there are a lot of professionals from the comic industry coming in as guests. Who are some of the artists coming and how has the response been from them so far on this event and idea behind it?

Marko Djurdjevic: Yes, we invited a couple of powerhouses from Marvel to spice up the event: Joe Quesada, Esad Ribic, Alex Maleev, Giuseppe Camuncoli, and more. But each of them was chosen for a purpose, since all of them have entirely different approaches to storytelling and art. For example, Joe, who combines his traditional skills with modern tools like Sketch Up, in comparison to Esad, who is an entirely traditional painter, shows just two sides of the entire spectrum of how comics can be produced nowadays. What every artist should know about is the availability of mediums, so he can choose the right tool for himself. And the best way to find out about the different tools is to see them being used in front of you. Also, taking all these comic book artists and storytellers and putting them into a room with concept designers and fine artists is going to give the professionals a chance to learn amongst each other as well.

Marvel.com: What are some of the panels and classes you are looking to put together for the workshop?

Art by Joe Quesada
Marko Djurdjevic: The final curriculum will be announced in May on our site, www.sixmorevodka.com/made, but I can already give you some insights. The panels and individual workshops will cover everything from traditional to digital painting, life drawing with awesome models, storyboards, character and creature design, lectures on composition, contrast, cover and marketing art, business and much, much more. We're filling up the schedule so that there are multiple things happening constantly across the entire venue. It will be a blast to see all the attendants wandering around, participating or just watching art evolve in front of them. Some of the stuff I'm looking forward to the most is hearing Joe Quesada telling people about his two-decade spanning career from freelancer to Editor in Chief at Marvel. Another personal highlight will be Coro Kaufman, Art Director from Massive Black, who's a brilliant concept designer and a fantastic entertainer, being able to slap a witty comment across every line he puts down on paper. Truly a sight to behold. But you can't say there is any one thing people need to see, since everything is inspiring. The most important part is to be motivated and open-minded to soak it all up like a sponge.

Marvel.com: Digital media has become a fast-growing area of art. How big of a presence will digital drawing have at the workshop and what are your thoughts on the move from traditional penciling to computer-generated?

Marko Djurdjevic: I'd say something like a 50/50 ratio. Digital art is a valid medium, especially in production art where cruel deadlines dominate. Also, what matters most is the end result, not what tool was used to achieve that, so I find the discussion to be quite unnecessary. People still have aversions toward it because it's still such a young and new medium, but I find its importance in production art to be growing by the day. It would be anachronistic to deny a medium just for the sake of traditionalism, and it's important people understand that. It's already hard enough for the young artist to break in and make a career, why make it harder on him by cutting away the tools he might be able to use to generate better and more consistent art for his portfolio?

Marvel.com: How taxing has it been so far putting together an event of this magnitude? I imagine the excitement of it helps balance out the long hours.

Marko Djurdjevic: The organization has been eating us alive but we're still happy that everything is running smoothly so far. But yeah, our excitement about this event knows no bounds, everybody involved sees the countless possibilities and the chance to finally meet and hang out with each other. The fun thing is that I'm the only person at this moment in time that actually knows each of the invited instructors in person, but some of them have never met in real life, so it will be a pleasure to watch how this will play out and how much each individual instructor will take out of this. Also, having all these people, who I consider dear friends, together in my home city is something that I can't wait for. Normally I'm the guy who has to travel the globe to be able to hang out with them, this time they're all here with me, and we're going to do our best to give them the most amazing time possible. Besides that, the MADE venue in Berlin has played a major role in how well everything has been running so far. I just want to use a few seconds and throw some shout outs towards them, since they were nothing but generous and helpful with our demands and this event probably wouldn't turn out such a success without them; check out their blog, www.made-blog.com.

Marvel.com: I understand you taught yourself how to draw when growing up. Is a workshop like this something you wish you had when you were learning how to draw as both a teaching tool and a way to help encourage emerging artists?

Marko Djurdjevic: Absolutely. Nobody knows how to break in or start out. You need help and input from people who know so you can actively build your career step-by-step. I wish somebody had given me such knowledge when I was at the beginning of my freelancing days. Maybe the period of

Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli
eating tuna and toast would have been shorter then. Art schools aren't teaching the same valuable knowledge that real professionals can offer. The industries are constantly changing; contracts, demand and supply, the value of your own work, it all needs to be calculated and put to best use. With all these professionals in one room we're able to offer the broadest spectrum of knowledge possible.

Marvel.com: As an artist, what does an event like this mean to you? I can imagine you and your fellow artists don't get a chance to get together like this often.

Marko Djurdjevic: For me, it is possibly the most effective way to learn something valuable myself. I love watching other artists solve problems and learn a chunk from each of them. But also, the chance to see happy attendants who are getting inspired and going home to create good art is wonderful to me. Another thing is the prospect of finding young and emerging talent who are already good enough to be working in the business and pushing them into the right direction.

Marvel.com: Any last comments to fans and attendees before we close out the interview?

Marko Djurdjevic: We're just a handful attendants away from selling out the first 100 limited seats for the symposium. That means people should hurry up if they still want to reserve one of the total 200 limited seats. To sign up you can write straight to antjetaiga@sixmorevodka.com or sign up on our site, www.sixmorevodka.com/made.


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      Really enjoyed the article! Fantastic art! Keep it coming!


      Good on ya Marko! Always been one of my favorite artists!