Vera the owner and designer of VeraMeat works very closely with artist and illustrator Anja Slibar. Here is an interview between the two. Talking partly about a new T-shirt collection they're doing together!
Anja can you talk about what first sparked your interest in illustration?
Anja: I was studying graphic design and noticed that graphic design always adapts to a specific client. But with illustration the artist is in control of the style and therefore it always stays true to itself. So I liked that idea.
Do you feel like you’re going to stay with the style you have now for a while?
Anja: I hope so.
Vera: Ha. It’s really cool because you like that style and it compliments Verameat’s style, so it’s perfect.
Let’s talk about how we met, it was a crisp fall morning & I was looking at your submission for our monthly illustration competition & couldn’t believe my luck. Yet I thought I had seen your name before. How did you hear of VeraMeat?
Anja: I found it while I was searching for my daily inspiration. I found the sweet tooth necklace on @anotherloves and I just had to get it!
What made you want to apply to the illustration competition; did you see it on Instagram?
Anja: Yes! Instagram was my only creative news channel I was looking at, at the time. I actually applied twice!
Vera: So I’m hearing this for the first time, I didn’t realise you had applied twice! Well perseverance pays off cause I did not see your submission the first time. But when I saw your strong lines and very expressive characters full of story I was hooked. I felt like I was reading a novel about very developed characters that knew what they wanted. I felt like I wanted to know more about the people you depicted in your illustrations.
Some of your characters have a dangerous edge are you attracted to youth culture?
Anja: More people in general. I like to draw things I want to have or people I want to be.
Vera: Well working with you for the last 3 years has been very inspiring, particularly while seeing artistic renderings of famous faces like those of the Wes Anderson characters or your Bill Murray drawings you did for our new T-shirt line.
Can you talk more about what drew you to the selections you made for each character on our T-shirts?
Anja: Interesting question. I usually start with inspiration images. Since I know I’m going to make a pattern I search for images of many different shapes and sizes of characters or objects and connect them to fill the space in a unique unexpected way.
How do you know what’s going to be interesting to people?
Anja: I don’t, I simply pick the stuff that I like and make something I’d like to wear.
Vera: We have that in common as I am also our customer and make stuff I’d want myself. I guess that’s one of the unique things about our VeraMeat family. We are young hip chicks.
Anja: Yes, we just like to wear nice things with flattering cuts made out of quality materials with art on them. And because it’s so hard to find that we just have to do it ourselves.
What's one of your favourite projects you did at Verameat?
Anja: I liked drawing the temporary tattoo's we sell at the store. A lot of people even got my illustrations as a permanent ink on their skin, including an illustrator friend that used to work for Verameat before too. My favorites are also all the hand drawn t-shirts we made! Being a horror movie fan made Too busy to fear my favorite Verameat tee.
Can you tell us about your work in early life?
Anja: How early?
Vera: As early as you can think back
Anja: I was always drawing when I was a kid. I was drawing real life situations. No fairy tales, more characters from school or things I’d like to have happened. I did more research in college where I found Polish poster designs that inspired me to go from Graphic Design to Illustration.
What about your education, what was your favorite thing you’d like to share?
Anja: It’s funny because in Slovenia we only have one main college and they only accept 15 people per year. But still they don’t offer much. If a student wants to learn something, he or she has to learn it him or herself. The illustration courses didn't offer me much so I had to go look for them in Finland. The atmosphere amongst students was more relaxed there. We didn't see each other as competitors but respected each other as artists.
You use very simple tools. Can you talk more about that?
Anja: Yes I do, I like simplicity.
Vera: We both want to preserve the hand drawn lines that form the art and not make yet another computer generated thing. The final product is an art piece you can wear. Same goes for Verameat jewelry, we want to create wearable art to go with the rest of the brand.
So what can we look forward to seeing from your imaginative brain in 2016?
Anja: I’m excited about our art show for this late Sept. Showing some of my personal artwork for our New York fans, check my illustration instagram @luckygirlmotel or anjaslibar.com for updates and of course @verameat on insta. I'm also excited about the new clothing you have to watch out for on verameat.com.
What about New York has made you want to make it your new home?
Anja: It’s funny because I always dreamt of NY. I was always watching movies filmed in NYC. I felt I’d never get a chance to come here but when I finally made it here walking down the streets it felt like home. We’d joke about it with friends from school about how we’d move here one day. It didn’t seem real at the time though now it feels right.
What are your favorite things you’ve done in NY in 2015?
Anja: Mochi Ice cream is one of the highlights of my experience that truly made my life sweeter. I enjoy walking around in the summer just enjoying everyday life and every new experience New York has to offer. Some of my personal drawings we used for the limited Secret Weapon series were inspired by New York!
What's your favorite NY restaurant and menu item? What strange exciting tale can you tell us about your time in NY so far?
Anja: Favorite NY restaurant would be Radegast Hall in Williamsburg, just because I secretly love their sweet potato fries, wursts and tap beer. I like strong food, what can you do!
The strangest tale about my time in NY is definitely seeing a guy being hit by a car, just lying in the middle of the street in a puddle of blood. More shocking was when he woke up confused and started fighting the police that wanted to help him.
Do you have a top favorite artists list going?
Anja: Cleon Peterson, Charles Burns and Tom of Finland.
Is there anything else you’d like to add or maybe a tip for success in an artistic life?
Anja: Just try to work hard on the things you love to do. Don’t be afraid that if one day you wake up and don’t feel like holding a pencil because it’s always going to be in you. That will never disappear.
What is Slovenia like? Tell us some secret shocking tales!
Anja: Slovenia is actually very beautiful. The nature is amazing there, so pure! Everything is tiny and there aren't many people so you can drive anywhere and just enjoy the view.
The most shocking Slovenian tale I ever heard about was about a bachelor's party. They have pretty intense "rituals" there, the guys take it seriously, it's like they wanna punish the lucky guy getting married. So apparently one time, a bunch of friends got drunk and made the future groom wear high boots and filled them with liquid concrete. After a while the concrete got solid and completely crushed the guys feet. He lost his legs. I don't know if he ever got married after. Who knows!
What's your favorite place you've ever visited and why?
Anja: I was always really attracted to big cities. Maybe because I have never experienced them in real life so I idolized them through movies. Visiting Berlin and NYC for the first time was very special to me. Being afraid that the dreams I had were gonna be crushed by reality, then positively experiencing each city as they are really inspired me. Of course I still have my quiet places in Slovenia that keep me happy when I think about them.
Tell us a funny story about childhood or a traumatic one, we'll take either!
Anja: I don't really have any traumatic stories. My childhood was a pretty chill childhood, filled with cartoons, playing with Barbie dolls and drawing with crayons (ugh - I hate crayons now)
One of the funniest things I did when I was a kid was when I threw a rock at another kid's head! By accident, that is! I'm still so bad at throwing anything really. My judgment of hitting the main target was so off that I threw a really big rock into a kid's face. Man he cried! I felt so bad!
What inspires you the most in your life so far? Do you have a catch phrase?
Anja: Simple real life things inspire me the most. Like listening to your inner self, what you wish for, what you feel, and with who you wanna feel that with. And my catch phrase would be: "Treat me as good as your leather."
Favorite weapon: I think knuckle dusters look very appealing.
Book: Madame Bovary
Song: Currently John Maus: Hey Moon