For many artists, the digital sphere has been a necessary tool in reaching larger audiences and sidestepping possible gatekeeping from institutions. Instagram, with its emphasis on all things visual, has been particularly helpful.
Since the 2018 rollout of a feature that allows users to share other peoples’ posts in their Instagram stories, profiles on the social media platform have become reminiscent of the blogs on LiveJournal or Tumblr, with personal posts placed between music suggestions and images meant to boost an imagined aesthetic. Queued after videos from, say, a hike or a meal, you may catch the work of an unknown artist your old friend or little cousin admires — and find that, after visiting the artist’s profile, you admire them, too.
ALL ARTS has always been a platform meant to bolster the work of artists through a supportive community that transcends genre, and the ALL ARTS Instagram is no different. Every week, we feature posts from creators in the digital space on our Instagram stories. And now, with the aim to foster our arts community, we’re talking with a new artist every week in our new series: Artists of Instagram.
Meet Virginia Kraljevic (@virginiakraljevic), a 39-year-old illustrator and designer based in New York City. Kraljevic didn’t dedicate herself to a creative career until a fruitless search for something else as fulfilling came up short. But since returning to her dream, she has been drawing intricate line illustrations that you may have seen through her Etsy shop or product designs for IKEA, West Elm, Vans and more.
We spoke to Kraljevic about her work, her inspirations and what art means to her.
What does art mean to you? How does it fit in your story?
After high school, I lived abroad, studied at different universities, switched majors, returned home to New York to intern and then work for numerous companies, all the while searching for the career path that I was “supposed” to follow for the rest of my life. It wasn’t until I sat down with myself and did some inner-work that I realized I was chasing society’s dreams instead of my own.
I had wanted to be an artist when I was a young child and that creative connection somehow had been lost along the way. Reconnecting with it was one of the biggest and best decisions I ever made. That which gives you depth, joy, love and expression must be recognized, encouraged and allowed to flourish. Simply put, I became an artist the moment I chose to be one and quickly put myself to work.
How would you describe the type of art that you create?
My work largely represents the inner-workings of things racing through my mind. The intricate and elaborate line work ranges from being minimally abstract to playfully whimsical, with interjected messages of love and positivity whenever possible.
How has social media and the digital sphere helped you with your art career?
The internet has been truly instrumental in connecting me with clients across the globe. What a delicious time we live in.
How has the current global climate (and isolation) affected your art?
This moment in time has been an emotional rollercoaster on so many levels, but it’s also given my family an opportunity to reconnect and focus on what’s most important — each other. And with that new focus, art has given me a channel to express that love.
What other artists inspire you?
There are so many fine artists and illustrators out there whose work I truly adore, but right now, I’m just really digging the art of my two young kiddos, scribbles and all.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m often asked for advice on how one could get “into” art and become an artist. I think it only takes a strong, determined decision to be one, and then to continue honing your skills and achieving your unique style. I think the internet has neutralized formal education with “self-learned” — any barriers you have are just within yourself.
You are capable of creating so much beauty, you just need to give yourself permission to go for it and get rid of the excuses. You can do it! The world needs your art now, more than ever.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Top Image: Photo of Virginia Kraljevic, layered over her artwork; images courtesy the artist.