Interview: Nina Štajner


Name: Nina Štajner

Where do you live: Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Known for:
Illustrating tender, whimsical, usually furry creatures in a delicate manner.

Currently working with:
Doing some concept art for children’s mobile application, preparing for a group show and doing some self-exploration. I try to experiment with different media in my spare time, learn and improve. I would say I’m in my experimental phase at this very moment.

When did you realize that you were going to work with this?
Probably somewhere around high school. I always liked drawing but I thought you cannot make a career out of it. So I enrolled in Visual Communication program at a local University.  But I ended up solving most of my design problems with illustration. Whenever I could I drew. Mostly cute, tender creatures and lovely girls. Although some of my professors really weren’t impressed with this kind of work it is my bread & butter so to speak.

If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why?
Somewhere near the forest or the ocean. Or possibly both. I like taking walks and spend time outside. It is where I recharge and feel free. Big, dangerous and polluted cities aren’t my thing.

How would you describe your creativity?
It is present, almost always there. Especially when I have tons of work.

How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner?
Probably already while I was studying. I was eager to start earning some money for my travels and I was thrilled if someone was prepared to hire me. One thing lead to another and it has been around 3 years since illustration and also design at some point became my only sources of income. I hope it stays that way.

What do you do at the moment?
Preparing for a group show, renewing my website, doing some concept art for new children’s mobile application and I am probably going to do a commissioned piece for a nursery.

A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business?
Be hardworking, kind, humble and do great work. Never satisfy with an average output. Always strive to grow and improve. Have some self-criticism and also learn to fail. But don’t give up. And also be nice to people – they are the ones who hire you.

Tell us how it all started.
It started when I decided to study at Academy for Fine Arts and Design. I had to prepare for an entrance examination so I started taking drawing, creating and designing more seriously. It was when I was 17 or so. I was mostly drawing from life first few years. Than it became a bit boring for me so I’ve started drawing from my imagination. I knew that was it and I still enjoy every step of the process.

What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you?
A window with a view. I need lots of light. And flowers and a lot of art supplies.

What is your favorite film?
I don’t have a favourite film, I am not really a film buff. Although I have to say I really liked everything directed by Tim Burton.

Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why?
My best friends. We don’t see each other as much as we used to because of our busy schedules.

How do you like to spoil yourself?
I like to go somewhere nice with my boyfriend. To take some time off, travel and explore this wonderful world of ours.

What is luxury for you?
To be able to pay my bills and occasionally go somewhere. And to be able to do that with doing only illustration work.

What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom?
I get a lot of support from my friends and family and also social media. I found a few younger artists copying my work to learn. I was really flattered by that. Or people tattooing my artwork – these were probably the nicest compliments so far.

What do you fear most?
I am afraid to get sick or lose the people I love. From a creative’s point of view I am afraid I will someday have a stressful job and would have to stop drawing. To not have time for doing what I love (even it is just personal work).

What is a happy life to you?
To have a good relationship with the one you love, live comfortably, staying healthy and doing what you love. And grow, as a person and a creative.

What does a regular day look like for you?
My days vary one from another. Sometimes I work in a studio where we do children’s mobile applications called Toonia. It is great fun. Other days I do some freelance projects from my home office, or do some personal work. I like this variety, so my day is actually not repeating itself. I don’t have a regular day to be honest.

Tell us about your dream project.
My dream project would be to create a personal brand (and an online store) with prints, stationary, wall stickers, fabrics and other lovely things. It would consist of critters like squirrels, raccoons, rabbits, deer, bears, foxes and such. Probably for children’s rooms and nurseries.

Who is your professional role model/inspiration?
A lot of artists. But I wouldn’t say I draw like them at all. I just have an artist crush – like for example Oliver Jeffers, Renata Liwska, Dinara Mirtalipova, JAW Cooper, Amy Sol, Teagan White, Rebecca Green, Hazuki Koike, Isabelle Arsenault, Wylie Beckert, Lieke van der Vorst, Jessica Roux, Victo Ngai, and many many more. Their work is really different, but I think they are top notch. Each in its own way.

How would you describe your work style (academic field or fashion style, or both, or something entirely different)?
Probably adorable, dreamy, tender and lovely. It is still changing a bit, sometimes more realistic sometimes more simplified. I like trying different things and I don’t have just one approach. Although I hear a lot of times I should stick to only one style, one approach. But for now, discovering new things is a priority.

Which is the one thing you can’t live without?
Without the people I love. And in order to be happy I have to create. Illustrating and drawing is a way I entertain and challenge myself.

What inspires you?
Nature, travels, picture books and sketching itself. I often start scribbling and immediately get ideas. And when I draw I usually have the idea what I want to draw next.

A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life?
I think there were more than one. I am talking about my childhood picture books. I had a lot of them and they had outstanding illustrations. They still inspire me.


Follow Nina on Twitter @niiina & Instagram @ninastajner
Visit her website
Check out her profiles at Behance & Tumblr
raccoon bunny maker model mouse pig rabbitsquirrel

One Comment

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  1. Wonderful art! I love how she captured kindness in facial expressions of those beautifully drawn critters. So much love projected through simplicity! Great work!

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