HELLO, IVA, TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF…
There are several different answers to this one 🙂 There is my background (I grew up in Eastern Europe during the last decade of communism and was raised by an oncologist mother and a technician/winemaker father with passion for football and fishing); my profession (something to do with art, design, identity, teaching, culture, psychology, history and everything in between or what it says on my many diplomas, all a mighty confusing soup); and all the places I’ve called home during the adult part of my life (USA, Sweden and now UK). There is also that whole story about my work. I’ve worked in advertising for iconic brands, had a very exciting career as a design manager, founded 5-6 companies, including a fashion label and a publishing house, done research and dreamed of a phd at some point in time and am now living in the UK with an art practice that has taken on a life of its own.
But there is also a narrative that only makes sense to me and a few close friends. That one is very basic and has a lot to do with being a parent, working long hours, constantly trying to make sense of the world and the people in it, having food and sleep whenever needed and the occasional exercising of one’s right to at least one decent vice so that sanity can be sustained.
WELL, THAT’S A RICH AND VARIED CAREER! WHAT ARE THE HIGHLIGHTS FOR YOU?
My career has actually made a full circle, which to me is a highlight in itself. I signed up for a career in the arts early on (at 13-14) because I was accepted in one of those wunderkind schools for talented children. That plan changed when I became a mother at a young age and had to find a way to support myself and my baby son in a place that was new to me and thousands of miles away from family and friends. Sweden changed most of the plans I made before I moved there and that remained a fact until recently when I moved to Brighton and decided to make an u-turn back to what I was originally meant to do. It wasn’t a conscious decision entirely, it was something that had to happen.
That said, I cannot imagine painting full-time, It’s not how I function. I have questions, you see, and those cannot all be answered by art alone. There is science and there is life and whatever lies here, there and everywhere. There is also design which is something I see as a mere expression of all that other stuff I just mentioned. To me design rhymes with research just as much as art does. And I never joined the cult of technology although I am obsessed with gadgets, software and taking things apart just so I can put them back together. That’s because I don’t see it as an isolated thing. I believe in science and everything rooted in science. Artists are often viewed as some kind of spirituality gnomes that indulge in flaky self-discovery and long conversations with their muses, heads left open hoping that some kind of genius lightning will strike. That’s just silly. Most artists that I admire are intelligent curious people that very often do more than just one thing.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR DESIGN MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE
That story has a funny start. It was some time in the late 90s that I had this epiphany that created problems for me in what my dad called ”the world of fancy pants advertising”. It was the realisation that all these titles ”art director”, ”creative director”, ”new media director”, etc, all referred to one single profession which was of course Design Manager. I started referring to myself as a design manager instead of my many confusing titles (and I’ve had them all and many more). It turned out that this was news to everybody else and some of my colleagues saw it as an act of war. I was handed a new set of business cards with something like ”New Media Innovator Sultan Clan Chief Of The North” on top and the whole thing went mad. I knew that hierarchies were a big thing in that world but that was just too much and I started wishing myself out of there.
Not long after I was headhunted to IBM Nordic to lead a design team in their new Innovation Centre. I ended up becoming obsessed with learning everything I possibly could about systems, business components, the thinking behind it all and what do people mean when they say words. I was lucky to be in a team with the best possible leader, Yvonne Lörstad, who immediately recognized this as a skill much needed in a world where tech and creative didn’t talk to each other because they didn’t know how to. Not long after I was in charge of a network of professionals pursuing user-centricity and doing a lot of research that was swiftly translated into creative solutions for brands such as CocaCola, Volvo, Mercedes Benz, GoreTex, Sony Ericsson and Nokia. Design was of course a big part of it and having a background in traditional arts, illustration, typography and printmaking helped a whole lot.
YOUR ART IS TRULY AMAZING! HOW DID YOU GET INTO THAT?
Thank you 🙂 As I was saying before, I started early but took a long long pause. Going back to making art was a trip over a very rocky mountain. I know that I made it look easy but believe me it was not. It basically meant reexamining everything I’d learned during the past 3-4 decades and relearning a lot of things. One thing that made it particularly difficult was the fact that I was from a foreign country and went to a school that to most people in the Western world sounded like something out of Harry Potter. It is amazing to me that institutionalization is still a thing. It is also amazing that my gender somehow matters (not in a good way) and the art world is still addicted to people not being paid in the same way it was back in 1910.
WHAT’S HAVE YOU GOT COMING UP IN YOUR ART WORLD?
I have a show in Beaux Gallery in Bath, UK right now. That is until end of August 2019.
I am right now working on a show that I consider to be a milestone of a sort. It is for a gallery in LA called Dark Art Emporium and the place as such inspired some thoughts that later resulted in a much bigger commitment on an emotional level. What happened was I moved into a studio above Presuming Ed’s Coffee House in Brighton and met some very interesting people (including Pleece & Co) that shared my views in many ways. Somehow conversations and collaborations happened and in that process many of the stories I’ve been carrying around started to materialise in the work I was doing for the LA exhibit. I am really looking forward to continuing in this direction, not only because I enjoy the work and the company but mainly because the conversation carries such promise.
WHAT WILL YOU BE DOING WITH PLEECE & CO?
I sort of started answering that question from my point of view but moving towards Pleece & Co and your point of view, the way I understand it, I can honestly say that my skillset fits right in with what you have created already. I come from an innovation cluster in the middle of a global arena where I learned to do the work and keep my mind open but structured. It is something I hope to never unlearn.
Regarding the type of work I will be doing… that depends on what needs to be done and I’m more than comfortable with doing many different things, from business development, strategy and management to hands-on design work if the team needs assistance.
One thing I know to be true is that the company you keep is as important as the beliefs you have and the work you do. And I know I’m in good company.