A creative wild soul from the Balcans, we meet artist Valentina Brostean
Turin based Valentina Brostean was born in Novi Sad on the mighty river Danube, Serbia’s second largest city.
Valentine graduated from Faculty of Fine Arts Novi Sad, with an BFA degree in graphic design and MFA degree in Illustration and Book design.
We speak to her about her childhood, career aspirations and inspirations.
Please, give readers a little insight into your background.
Ever since my early childhood I’ve always been creative – always with a pen in my hands and my head in the clouds! My interest in illustration during high-school, continuing on into my time at university. It’s always felt a very natural passion and interest. My life is about it the visual, art!
You currently live and work in Turin, Italy. How do you find working there as a freelancer? Are there any particular places or hidden gems of the city, galleries or libraries, that inspire you?
I moved to Turin in 2012 when I met my husband. It was a powerful force that drew me to him that I couldn’t ignore so I realised I should just let myself “go with the flow”. I left my previous life and stepped into a new adventure. In the beginning it was quite hard but now I know it was the right decision, and I’m more than grateful for how things turned out. Turin is like an mysterious, elegant lady with many hidden treasures and interesting stories to tell. There’s a seemingly infinite number of hidden spots to discover.
My freelance work doesn’t tend to come from within Turin, or even Italy. Living and working in the era of internet, in a world that feels ever smaller, has made finding work a lot easier than it used to be, but I recently became represented by two agencies, and hope they will make my work even more visible, and help me get even bigger jobs in the future.
Most of my creations are expressions of who I feel I am. I am passionate, wild, very emotional and sensitive but also quite an anxious and energetic person.
You have an eclectic, rather quirky, characterful style. Can you describe your style and approach in your own words.
Most of my creations are expressions of who I feel I am. I am passionate, wild, very emotional and sensitive but also quite an anxious and energetic person. I have to love and have to feel everything that surrounds me, if I don’t feel it, if it doesn’t touch me – then I don’t feel like it even exists. Everything I feel, and that touches me, I try to translate into some sort of art. I love contrasts, opposites that create tension, in everything from food to human relations, to my art… It has to have strong flavour, it has to be vivid and spicy and to tell an intriguing story!
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working? Where and how do you find inspiration?
I love to walk my dog and enjoy nature, above all I love to travel whenever I can. I spend time with my family, especially because they now live so far away; moments together with them are precious. On a daily basis I like to go out, drink wine, eat delicious food, meet interesting random strangers from all around the world and share experiences. I find inspiration everywhere!
Can you give our readers some insight into your studio? What view do you have from the window? What are the 4-5 most coveted things in your studio or on your desk?
My studio is in a buzzing part of Turin called San Salvario, surrounded by many shops and locals. It’s a co-working space, shared with other creatives. It can be quite quiet which is great; I love to have my peace and to not be disturbed. My studio can be quite messy, especially because I collect all sorts of objects, inherited, bought or found…but I know my limits and when it’s too much of a mess I feel the need to re-organise and tidy; though it doesn’t last long! I always keep a small jewellery box on my work table with a little mirror from my mum’s childhood, and knitted elegant gloves inherited from my grandma.
What are the main challenges for you as a freelance illustrator working in Turin?
Turin is quite a hard place for a young creative; and is especially challenging when being a foreigner. Torinesi and Piemontesi are well known as being very reserved, and quite closed, not letting strangers in easily, which I found quite shocking when I arrived 5 years ago, expecting the place to be crowded with cheerful, welcoming Italians. I didn’t know the language back in the day, and most people didn’t speak english (but hey, long live the exceptions!) In time I learned Italian and am now fluent, which has helped me a lot. Another very complicated aspect has been understanding the “art market”. It doesn’t feel particularly well defined, and is mostly concerned with abstract and conceptual art, which is the opposite style to my own; I’ve never been a fan of the non-figurative arts. I’m still working on finding my way trough Turin, but my goals are more geared towards the international scene and market, than upon the local one. Turin is still a mystery to be solved for me I guess!
What is included within your designers toolkit? Why are they so important to your process?
I have some basic materials that I love to use. For drawings I love black & sepia ink, usually combining it with Faber Castel coloured pencils. The paper I use is quite special. It’s 100% cotton, with a beautiful texture, a heavy weight, but is so soft. I always buy it in the same little antique art store in one of the central streets. For painting I usually use Windsor & Newton acrylics on fine cotton canvas. For all my digital needs Photoshop is more than perfect.
I live day by day without much planning, hoping that life will bring me some unexpected gorgeous creative opportunities to embrace and show what I’ve got!
What are you aspirations for the rest of 2017. Do you have any specific bucket list ideas you’re itching to tick off the creative list?
I don’t have precise, firm schedule. I am trying to combine commercial work to bring in money, while leaving enough time to dedicate myself to personal projects that keep my spirit alive. I have to admit, I’ve been pretty lucky…even the last commercial jobs I’ve had have been quite creative, with clients that have given me the freedom to express my style freely.
I hope that in the future I’ll work with larger clients, enabling me to fire up my creativity even more and challenge myself. I would love to work on an illustrative project in collaboration with a big fashion brand. I also dream of working on a weird graphic novel to illustrate… I’m also on the look out for a good, decent gallery to exhibit in, that would perhaps represent me. I live day by day without much planning, hoping that life will bring me some unexpected gorgeous creative opportunities to embrace and show what I’ve got!