Interview | 18. Jan, 2018 - 6 min read

Nenad Cizl

“Design always needs to tell a story, and illustration always needs to explain an idea”

Nenad Cizl is a renowned graphic designer and illustrator from Slovenia. At fourteen, it was the snowboarding and skateboarding that inspired his art but then he bumped into Picasso and… the rest is history! One of the things closest to his heart is winning the merit award presented by the Art Director Club New York: it’s easy to understand once you learn why. Make sure he doesn’t quit his New Year resolution - the “Daily Instagram Illustration post” challenge - by checking up on his progress!

In what way does Slovenia influence you and your design aesthetic?

Everyone is in some way influenced by their immediate surroundings. But now, Internet is what influences me the most. It is the same as if going to book library, back in the days, and having an unlimited number of books in front of you.

You have been honored with design awards in Slovenia and in the USA. Can you highlight the ones that mean the most to you?

Being awarded is great. And every award is special in some way. But of course there are some that stand out. An Art Director Club New York Award is among them. Even though it “only” won a merit award it meant that much more to me, because the piece was in the past completely ripped apart in Slovenia by one of my former professors at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design.

What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into illustration?

I started out really early. By the age of 14, I made a few bucks by designing some business cards, stickers etc. But what influenced me and drove me to illustration even more, was the snowboarding/skateboarding aesthetics of that time. There was one particular artist that caught my attention - Barry McGee. He was my “idol” for quite a long time… Until I discovered and dug into Picasso’s works and he has been above everyone else in my books since then.

How does the creative process differ between your individual projects, collaborations, and client work?

During the years of my professional life I managed to, somehow, “merge” individual projects with collaborations/client work. It sounds funny but I am always trying to find a way to do the work my way. It is a cliche but working the way you like brings so much joy that working any other way seems dull.

“It is always a journey where you have to try to merge clients wishes and needs with yours. The outcome always depends on how good you have collaborated.”

Your art often takes a step into the dark side. What does the expression of darkness mean to you and does it represent your take on actual happenings in the world or around you?

I wouldn’t say dark. Of course I use dark colors and there are maybe some odd creatures, but whatever the motif, the playful kid is always hiding somewhere inside the illustration. I see my illustrations as quite joyful, but of course as with any art form, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.

Can you tell us more about your recent projects and what have you been up to recently?

As one of my New Year resolutions, there is a “Daily Instagram Illustration post” challenge going on. I will post one Illustration per day for the next year. I hope I’ll be able to pull it off.

Logo and packaging design is a familiar ground to you. What is your approach when creating art for festivals and brands?

Creating art for a client is like closing your eyes and dreaming a dream in which you are in control. It is always a journey where you have to try to merge clients wishes and needs with yours. The outcome always depends on how good you have collaborated.

Being a graphic designer and an illustrator, what speaks to you more and how is it possible to successfully manage both?

Illustration and design are, in my opinion, connected. Design always needs to tell a story, and illustration always needs to explain an idea.

What do you feel was one of your biggest struggles in pursue of art?

Was? :) There still is. I don’t know anything. Getting older and more experienced makes you realise that you have so much more to learn.

“Even though it “only” won a merit award it meant that much more to me, because the piece was in the past completely ripped apart by one of my former professors at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design.”

Can you explain “Burden”, one of your art pieces?

The motif shows the struggle nature has with humans. Although we hurt it, it still has the heart to protect us.

View this post on Instagram

The Burden. #illustration #saving #city

A post shared by cizl (@cizl) on

If you would be a sculptor, what would you create and where would you place the sculpture?

I adore sculpturing and it is one of my hidden passions. If I happen to become a sculptor, I’d be happy, if the people who would buy the sculptures, would put them in their “life”.

How have Instagram and other social media affected your business?

Social media affected my business in many ways. It is quite easy to reach out and show people what you are doing. These communication channels are much more effective than the classic ones: TV, print… You can communicate to everybody or just to the ones you want.

We are very happy you became a part of Lake. What made you go with us?

Thanks! And so am I. Here, I have to thank my friend Urban L. who made this connection possible. He “showed” me your app and I was impressed what it does and how good it looks. Congrats on that.

Who is Lake for?

I think you have managed to find a spot in this “app world” that is unique. The app is meant for everyone. Kids, teenagers, adults… everyone. It is an app where you can clear your mind and somehow meditate.

Any final thoughts for those who are also starting to make their way as artists?

Work hard. It is the only way for you to realise that you don’t know anything yet.

Nenad’s art pack is now available in Lake.

Intrigued to know more about Nenad Cizl? We got you covered.