Senka Vlahović: „On illustrating poetry books: history, theory, practice"

In Serbia, modern designed illustration, besides many centuries old medieval illumination of parchments and other manuscripts, has been created for several hundred years. Since then, a large number of illustrations of Serbian books has been published and nowadays many illustrators collaborate with foreign publishers, but the theory does not fulfill adequately a huge practical work of Serbian artists. There are no magazines about illustration, about the individual authors, fields of illustration, periods and other topics and thousands of expert separate texts were printed and “scattered over” these non specialized periodicals and there are many catalogs and monographs that deal with segments; and during the last two centuries ONLY ONE SERBIAN THEORETICAL BOOK was entirely dedicated to this graphics discipline. This is “Serbian Illustrated Press for Children” by Vesna Lakicevic Pavicevic, which was published in 1994. It has only 96 pages!

This is only the second Serbian author`s book that deals with this topic.

Its author is Senka Vlahovic (1985), a theorists of art, an illustrator, a graphic designer and a multimedia artist. In 2007, she graduated from Novi Sad University at the department of applied photography. In 2011, with the help of her mentor-professor Bosioka Dorua, she acquired specialization on the topic “Illustration of Poems”. While this book is being published, she is finishing her master studies at the Academy of Arts in Belgrade.

In her work, the author first leads the reader through general history, theory, and practice of illustration, by using our and foreign sources and literature. She then makes a review of this graphic discipline, which was applied only to poetry, in Serbia and abroad, and finally she abandons the overall plan in order to write about the separate plan. Through the example of her own work in the book of poetry “An Evening Nudity in Lenka Dundjerski`s Bachelorette Room”, she showed in vivo all stages of creation and dilemmas that she encountered, like all illustrators.

She pondered over the very nature of illustration, as well as its semantic implications, because she had painted classical paintings (large format, acrylic on canvas), inspired by reading poetry, first for herself, independently, and afterwards these paintings were exhibited in galleries. Then, she made a circle, digitized these paintings, added them to the lyrics and made an independent model of a book. After that, she developed her idea further. She used image projector and projected her digitized paintings on the bodies of male and female models, she made photographs of them and she finally applied them to the second printed version of the book mentioned above. Her text led the reader through all practical phases of work, such as: the way of impregnation of a canvas, the selection of the brush, the computer program for processing, the type of paper for printing and the type of printer.

And it is understandable and applicable for everyone!

Slobodan Ivkov, editor