Tell us about Karlas Arts, what do you do?
I’m Karla Fehir, on Instagram as @karlas.arts; I’m 21 years old, a computer science student, and I do digital drawing. I’ve loved drawing since kindergarten, but it wasn’t until 2018 that I became more serious about digital illustrations.
How and when did you start, and where did the inspiration come from?
When I was little, I watched my mom draw, and that inspired me to start mainly drawing cartoon characters. At school, I always drew in my notebooks; it was just a hobby and something I enjoyed. But after a while, I stopped until 2016, when I came across several profiles of artists engaged in digital art on Instagram. I fell in love with the digital style and started drawing using Photoshop on my laptop. On paper, my favorite was the realistic black-and-white style, while on digital media, I prefer the “cartoon” style. The combination of these two styles led to a semi-realistic style that is now my favourite. Two years ago, I started using the iPad as my primary medium for drawing, which drastically affected the progress, drawing speed, and appearance of the illustrations.
What was it like to start such a business in Vukovar? What were the main challenges?
It took a long time to find my style and clients who were interested. I didn’t have a client for the first 2-3 years until I began to take the potential of digital illustrations more seriously. The key was daily practice and finding my style. I tend to be a perfectionist and found myself in many blocks where I could not progress, but I continued until I was satisfied with the final look of my illustrations. Eventually, I found my voice in the Beauty Logo area. My clients are mostly young female entrepreneurs from the USA and Canada. After the first client advertised my work on her profile, other clients from the same area started coming. And that’s how things developed. One of the biggest challenges of drawing was the cost of materials; that’s why I switched to a digital medium where all the colours, brushes, and backgrounds for drawing are readily available. These days I enjoy drawing with pencil and watercolours, which is something I would like to devote more time to and improve.
Does the fact that you are in the east of Croatia affect your work and art?
Initially, I thought it would have an impact, but since we live in the era of social media and online payments, we can reach clients from any part of the world. I have had a lot of clients from Croatia, but it still took place online. The final product is an illustration that can be printed on any medium, and I give my clients the freedom to use that drawing.
Are you satisfied with how your business is developing? What is the outlook for the future?
At the moment, I am satisfied with the progress, although, at some points, I have not been as active as I planned, which has a lot to do with finding clients. But I believe that in the future, it will be even better; I am planning different projects and to one day combine my professional work with digital illustrations.
What opportunities are there in our city and region?
I believe that it is much easier to “breakthrough” in our city than in bigger places due to the smaller population and fewer people who are engaged in art on a serious level. But on Instagram, it is much more difficult to gather an audience on a global level, as in every field of illustration and art, thousands of artists see each other as competition.
Are you connected with other artists in town? What’s the scene like?
I am connected with several artists from our area who are also engaged in digital drawing. We share illustration tips and techniques. Each person I meet has their unique style, illustration look, and specific client group. The relationship is friendly, and we do not see each other as “competition” as one might expect.
Finally, tell us about life in Vukovar. What do you like most? What would you say to potential visitors?
Vukovar is the city where I grew up, and it will remain in my heart forever, even though my career and education temporarily moved to Osijek. When I have time, I like to walk along the promenade along the Danube or cycle to Adica, and during the summer, I also go to Vukovar Ada. Vukovar is a small town, but it has many attractions and ways to spend quality time.
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