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Zdenko: What I can personally say is that I have been lost in this world as well as everyone else who claims they are not, but I have chosen to professionally deal with stories and fairy-tales and at the same time find answers and directions for my own path within them. As for the rest, it is all written in my biography.
ZIYP: In our guide, we have prepared a brief presentation on Croatian fairytales. Can you describe how your fairy-tale stories The Northwest Wind and The Moon Shadow have been written, in which you have interpreted elements of Croatian tradition in an original and entirely new way?
Zdenko: All these stories had found their way to me through my grandmother, with whom I had grown up with. In any case, they are not just stories that belong to Croatian tradition because they were in a sense, real for those people. A world that spoke of the relationship between man and nature, ultimately the relationship between man and what is hidden and unexplainable in nature, but also of life. What is magical in them is that they speak in the same way to a child as to an adult because they deal with what is outside of our common mind and ego, and this is what intrigued me. The experiences of life and our ancestors are stored in them, the roots of our blessings, but also the curses which determine the subconscious of our present time, as well as the future. That is why these stories are sometimes very scary for people and they want to forget them.
ZIYP: As children, we all read fairy-tales by Andersen and the Grimm Brothers. Are those also your favourite childhood stores? Which of the Croatian fairy-tales did you grow up with?
Zdenko: Yes, they are. I enjoyed the stories and illustrations in Andersen's and the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales, but again my favourite Croatian stories were those connected to Pesiglavci and Nevidinčići and yet they could not be found in books. They were told verbally during hot summer nights, outdoors under old walnut trees, or during winter by a fire whilst watching the fog descend.
ZIYP: What types of stories and authors would you like to work on as an illustrator? What inspires you most and motivates you to work?
Zdenko: In that sense,I do not have any specific wish because I do not function as a classical illustrator. I approach topics that interest me in my own individual way and I tell my own story with it, the story I am obsessed with. So, in that sense, I am less bothered of whether I will be making an illustration, an animation or a movie. It then depends on that particular story. And in that case, I myself am its author.
ZIYP: A significant part of your creativity belongs to the world of animated film. What do you deem most important to present to viewers?
Zdenko: The story itself! And sometimes its best via pictures,other times through music or movement, costume or scenes that carry a storyline; then at times it is the text itself. What I always look for is the atmosphere and feel in expressing it. This is where I individually find and contemplate this inner world that I then recount to the viewer.
ZIYP: Are you preparing a new project? What are you working on as we speak? Which Croatian fairy-tale would you recommend to our foreign guests to take back home as part of experiencing our culture?
Zdenko: Currently, I have just completed the picture book Zlatarovo Zlato (The Goldsmith's Gold) in collaboration with Tanja Komfort. It is based on one of Šenoa’s classical templates. Soon enough, we are preparing a Christmas exhibition of illustrations from picture books which will be held at the Klovićevi dvori Gallery. This is certainly something that anyone visiting Zagreb could find interesting and can experience a certain kind of Zagreb story.
In addition to all that and what really brings me joy, is what I’m working on at the Turopolje Museum. We are preparing Perun Božić (Perun Christmas) – a magical Advent of forgotten stories and folk tales combining exhibitions, workshops and stories that revolve around a costumed set design that will depict the world of Christmas; that being a traditional Christmas, but taken from stories and legends that have become almost forgotten in this contemporary world of buying and selling. So I'm looking forward to preparing all of this for Christmas, and I truly believe that all the ‘little children’ will enjoy it, as well as those who still know how to be ‘little’.