“I love 60s and 70s, vintage things and I really try to incorporate that into my paintings. I’m also very much inspired by nature and museums and obviously by travelling and seeing new things.”

Alja Horvat is an award winning illustrator based in Slovenia. Alja has created and designed illustrations and patterns for a wide selection of clients, such as Urban Outfitters, Anthropology & Causebox. Her bold, colourful works are both joyous and daring – envoking a sense of femininity, freedom and strength.

Hi Alja, how are you doing? Especially with the lockdown at the moment?
I’m doing well and I must say, nothing has changed much for me, I always work from home and barely go out (to the grocery store and on walks and to visit my friends) haha. This current situation is now just a great “excuse” for me to do things more slowly and I’m loving it!

Can you tell us where you’re from and where you’re living now?
I’m from Slovenia, Maribor and I’m also currently living there. I lived in Ljubljana for a few years while I was studying, but just recently moved back to Maribor where my whole family is. I still have an art studio in Ljubljana which I visit regularly though.

How did you get into illustration?
I always loved painting and doing crafts with my mum, so it was kind natural for me to end up in the creative field. I always knew I wanted to be an artist. When I was studying Graphic Design I really missed traditional drawing and decided to buy myself some art supplies and this is how it all started.

How would you describe your style and what inspires you?
Whimsical, nostalgic. I love 60s and 70s, vintage things and I really try to incorporate that into my paintings. I’m also very much inspired by nature and museums and obviously by travelling and seeing new things.

You’ve designed for big names such as Urban Outfitters, Anthropology & Causebox. Can you tell us about your most exciting project so far?
One of the most exciting projects was definitely Causebox, because this was my first big project and they also flew me to Los Angeles to spend two weeks with them. Causebox is a hand-curated box, that contains products from  socially conscious brands, that are delivered each season. Every season, they hire an artist to illustrate their box and I had the honour to be their 2019 Spring Artist. Currently I’m also working with one of the biggest brands in Slovenia and I can’t wait for this project to come out.

What are your preferred materials or techniques for your creation process?
If drawing digitally, I usually do my black and white sketches on Procreate app on iPad and then color them with brushes on my graphic tablet on Photoshop, but if painting traditionally I love using oils. I started with acrylics, but when I tried oils for the first time I realised this is it! I love how you can change things after a day, where acrylics dry really fast!

What’s your favourite Illustrator hack or tool that you think anyone using this program should know about?
I love using different brushes in Photoshop and way back you needed to download them from the internet, but in newer versions of Photoshop these brushes are already incorporated in the program, so no need to download them.

What do you do when you get a creative block?
If my creative block is really bad, I try to take time off and watch a movie/go for a walk/spend time with my dog. If it’s not that bad, I push myself even harder to get past that.

You’re part of Forbes 30 Under 30 Art & Culture 2020 and also received an Elle Style Fashion Award for Young Talent in 2019. Amazing achievements. What were the most memorable parts of these events for you?
I went to Elle Style Awards with my boyfriend and two friends (who were also nominated) and we had a great time! We didn’t have any event for Forbes yet due to Covid-19, so I can’t speak about that unfortunately, but I was so happy to be featured on the list among all others super talented creatives.

Do you have any experiences or tips you’d like to share with other creatives that are doubting whether to start their own business?
If your heart is telling this is the right thing, you should just go for it!

UT Final Five…

Favourite book or movie?
I don’t have a favourite book or movie, this changes every time I watch or read something new.

Style icon?
Stevie Nicks

Best way to unwind?
Listen to the music

Life lesson?
You are what you think about

Insiders tip to Slovenia?
I would recommend visiting Bled, I bet you have already seen the photos of it on the internet. You can also drive 15 minutes from Bled to Bohinj where you can swim in the lake, it’s gorgeous! I love Poštna street in Maribor, and we have festival Lent every summer with musicians from all over the world and great food. We don’t really have museums, but we have Museum of Illusions in Ljubljana and it’s worth visiting. If you are in Ljubljana, also go to the castle by foot from the city centre, the view of the city is amazing. 

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