In 1975 Mirko Ilic started with his illustrations in Studentski List, Polet, Pitanja, Start and Danas and in 1977 he started working for foreign magazines Pardon and Panorama. In the period from 1976 to 1979 he headed Novi Kvadrat comic strip group.
In 1986 he left for New York where he started to work for numerous prominent papers and magazines such as Time, The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, Washington Post, L. A. Times and Wall Street Journal.
During 1991 he worked as an art director of the international edition of Time magazine and in 1992 he became an art director of The New York Times' Op-Ed Page.
In 1995 he established Mirko Ilic Corp. Studio for Graphic Design and 3D Computer Graphics. He is the author of many credits and casts, the most remarkable being those of You've Got Mail, Zen Stories and EZ.
He teaches postgraduate students design and illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York. He is coauthor of the books like Genius Moves: 100 Icons of Graphic Design, Hand Written with Steven Heller and Design of Dissent with Milton Glaser, as well as of the recently published book Anatomy of Design in association with Steven Heller.
On this occasion, Mirko Ilic, a graphic designer esteemed throughout the world, illustration, author of books, recognized by his multidisciplinary work, represents himself here with his drawings, a basis of his work, his sketches, preliminary drawings, fragments of documentation and final creations. Some 400 drawings shown here give us insight into a part of his production during last 10 years.
Recognized as a first-class designer from his very first works, in the beginning of his career and gravitating toward drawing perfection, Mirko Ilic tried to eliminate even the feeling of the hand's presence. Though he used to work with pen and ink mostly, Mirko is not known by a specific technique. Still, the author's strategy is always recognizable. Today we are aware of big experience demonstrated on Mirko's computer illustrations as comprehended in the conventional sense, experience of a draftsman who learned to draw by observing only, but a computer still remains a device to express a certain idea in the best possible way.
Drawings of Mirko Ilic keep the energy of modern cultural scene; they conceptually sum up the essence of a theme in such a precise way that the ideas are clear even without words. His illustrations show contradictory integral deviation from the text, as the illustration must act as an independent work, too. They are understandable even without text. Even when he disagrees with the opinion from the text, Mirko expresses his view of a problem from the "off" position, the view which often overpowers the text itself.
However, hundreds of drawings exhibited here, placed on the floor and walls with the intention of their final destruction after the consumption of works during the exhibition, reveal us the usual perception of a drawing as an ephemeral discipline. Directness of media on these works shows us changes occurring on a drawing with the passage of time, periods of work and phenomenon of destruction inspired by the conception of the exhibition itself which is based upon the tension between fragility of a drawing and striving for duration. The game of the concepts, time, space and character of media help us to understand the need for the resistance to the pressures of modern art system, market and institutional demands for the works to be physically alive for the purpose of their valorization and legitimization of their importance and status.
A drawing here is sometimes just a part of a process, beginning, sketch, autochthonous and full entirety. Still, it usually demonstrates the very development of an idea, records activity and documents an art process.
This is certainly not a usual form of exhibiting drawings and paper works. The gallery becomes a temporary storehouse for drawings, it becomes the author's studio full of drawings scattered around, raw material disappearing during the exhibition itself. This is a drawing which vanishes in the course of time, like a memory suggesting time limits.
We in most cases associate work of Mirko Ilic with a direct and uncompromising social intervention. At this exhibition, the intervention makes an indivisible part of the author's strategy and for the first time it also with its concept suggests the author's often hidden intimacy.
Opposite to subtlety and delicacy of the drawings so easily destroyable, these drawings have been stored for ever in the electronic form on monitors, thus satisfying our striving for eternity and at last changing a deeply intimate act into a public product.
Translated by Maja Zauner