12 Questions: Meet Jelena Mirkovic Jankovic (Serbia)

In our 12 Questions blog series, we feature interviews with someone from the crowdSPRING community. For these interviews, we pick people who add value to our community – in the blog, in the forums, in the projects. Plainly – activities that make crowdSPRING a better community. Be professional, treat others with respect, help us build something very special, and we’ll take notice.

We’re very proud to feature Jelena Mirkovic Jankovic (crowdSPRING username: JMJ) today. Jelena lives and works in Belgrade, Serbia.


1. Please tell us about yourself.

When I think a bit, my name is mom. Most of the day I respond to IT: Moooom, come to see this!!! 
Moooom, why are turtles bold? 
Mom, will the people on clouds fall down on us one day? 
Mom, why are there no woman pirates? 
…and so on and so forth. 
Seventhousandandeightynine times a day!
And the rest of the day – when I’m not dressed in the magic “mom” costume – I’m simply Jelena. I got Mirkovic from my father and I greedily snatched Jankovic from my husband. And thus we got JMJ (Jelena Mirkovic Jankovic).

Oh, I forgot to tell you. 
I am actually a sculptor. Deeply involved in painting and arts. And again – in momhood.NegativeColorVertical

It all started a long time ago – almost 38 years ago, when everything that could be drawn – was drawn, when all that could be colored – got colored. And that “disease” remained incurable in my case. I was born in Bosanski Petrovac, a small town in Bosnia (ex-Yugoslavia), where I blissfully lived the best and most magnificent childhood on earth.  This was a childhood ample with smells of earth and sky, full of colors, bare feet, animals and freedom. Following my “artistic urge”, which is more powerful than orientation (what I would be when I grew up), I left to attend the High School of Art in Novi Sad (Serbia), where I graduated from the Department for Interior and Industrial Design. I never wondered what I would do later. Nor did I have any compromise. I wanted to study painting. Alas, all the teachers who saw the drawings that I prepared for the entrance exam said – you’re born to be a sculptor. And it took me just few days to make five portraits (plaster cast) and take them, still “hot”, to the exam. This is how I became a graduate sculptor and art professor. In spite of my fingertips being enamored with the tactile world of sculpture, my ontological need for painting, drawing and colors never ceased, it was rather simultaneous. Following this urge, I finalized my Master at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade, Department for the Theory of Culture, and I defended the thesis entitled Color and Culture (from myth to postmodern culture).

2. How did you become interested in design?
Huh, entirely by chance!
By the end of my studies, I visited a friend and colleague in a marketing agency and their design studio. At that moment, they sought a junior designer, which was not me, of course. I had zero experience. And no designer portfolio whatsoever. The only thing that I always had with me was a bunch of drawings. And yet, almost the same day, I found myself before a Wacom tablet, exploring the world of design from a completely different perspective – a creative one.
Almost 15 years have lapsed since then, and for the past seven years I have been employed as art director in several marketing agencies. I am currently working for an international company as consultant at the position of art director for several projects.

3. Tell us about your avatar – what medium did you use?
The avatar was made at the time when I drew, drew and only drew, but did not always manage to find a JMJ-Avatarmodel. However, what every drawing fan always has at his/her disposal is, of course “him/herself”, mirror, paper, pencil, black ink and ink pen. And that’s the answer.

4. Who/what are some of the biggest influences on your design work?
I can say that “everything” around me influences my work. Magazines, advertisings, TV commercials, packagings, texts, stories, children’s illustrations, absolutely everything that surrounds me. But, there are several superlative world designers/artists whose work I immensely admire and whom I always return to. These are Neville Brody, David Carson (maestro of typography) and my favorite Saul Bass.

5. How do you come up with ideas for concepts after you read a creative brief?
What you learn after many years of working for marketing agencies is certainly how to work with briefs and briefing itself, which is preceded by hours and hours of discussion, ideas, sketches, suggestions, discussions, conflicting opinions, and again discussion… and so on until you reach your goal. I am immensely grateful for that “skill”.
What is the most important for the development of any initial or preliminary concept is of course a “thorough” brief. When a brief is good, concise, precise and clear, it is easier to work with it. On the other hand, I always strive to “wear my client’s shoes” and take a walk in them. This is the only way for me to find out how comfortable and beautiful they are.  And after that, there are no rules. An idea may strike at once. Alone. Suddenly. Bam! And sometimes it’s a fruit of heavy work, corrections, additions, deleting and restarting.

6. What software and tools do you use?
I’m a fan of Adobe. In all forms. And that’s it. There’s nothing more I need. Except for, ALWAYS AND ONLY, pen and a paper :] (old school).

7. What is your dream design project?
It’s a difficult question. Although I’ve already made many graphic design manuals and brand books for several brands, I still very much enjoy working and building them for each new client. I believe they are a very important design project which requires deep knowledge, time, patience and diligence. So, a graphic design manual. Always.
On the second (and maybe even the first) position there are book “dresses”. I love to read. And I love books. And I love book covers. So, there are books.

8. How do you promote your work?
I don’t! :]  I am very lazy for such things. In my language there’s a saying – a shoemaker’s kids are always barefoot. That’s how I’ve been preparing a web portfolio (for design) for years now and I still cannot make myself to start! The only thing I do have is a web page with my art portfolio (which needs to be updated, naturally) – www.jelenamirkovic.com

9. Please describe your typical work day.
I don’t think it is much different from those of other moms with “small” kids, meaning it starts waaaay before than the designing tools are up. At 6 am!
10. Which of your designs are your favorites and why?
One of my favorite works is, of course, the first-prize winner logo on cS (crowdSPRING). This is the logo for ClassActArt (Internet Sales of Iconic Multinational Wall Art). Why? It’s not simple to answer this question, but this is one of the logos that I really enjoyed creating and whose aesthetics is on the borderline between pure art and design. [See image earlier in post.]

There is also a cover for the Serbian translation of the book by Edgardo Vega Yunque – http://www.amazon.ca/Matter-How-Much-You-Promise/dp/0374223114. This book is a wonderful saga which is full of jazz, creation, forgiveness and reconciliation, and since I am a huge fan of jazz, the work on this cover was more than pleasure.


DesingOvation (home décor company) – realized also on CS. And again in concordance with my affinity for colors, simplicity and iconic trend.


The book The Referral Tsunami is the best example of what may be called “my style” – respecting a minimalistic approach, affinity to pure and clear typography with symbolic, almost iconic visual expression.


I indeed enjoyed working on the book Madlemsside Manualen (http://www.cammillarysgaard.dk/medlemsside-manualen/) by an excellent author, because of a clear idea, simplicity and whiteness that I love.


Then there’s a cover for the book Paid to THINK (http://paidtothink.com), which is one of my favorites. When you’re holding a good book, the work on its cover is more than simple.


I think this is more than enough for works.

11. If you weren’t designing, what would you be doing?
I would be a detective!

12. What do you do with your free time?
I respond to endless questions of a four-year old, I paint, I’m an excellent cook, I read, read and again read, I listen to jazz and hang out with people.


Hvala Jelena!