“There’s no such thing as competition. There’s so much abundance out there,” said Virginia Kraljevic as our most ample conversation wound down. Her attitude didn’t surprise me. Her drawings reflect someone whose heart is wide open and flourishing.
Virginia is my first Instagram colleague. I enjoy her posts daily and reached out to her to learn more about her and her art. She graciously accepted my invitation to speak.
We talked for nearly an hour as she responded to my questions about her earliest memories as an artist, her re-entry after being a mom for five years, and ended talking about her current status a year into our changed world. She believes that everything ahead will be “deliciously new” and that “something good will come for the whole world.”
There was so much wisdom sprinkled throughout our conversation. She noted that, early on, she was one art teacher’s star pupil, then completely overlooked by another art teacher.
“She didn’t ever see me as an artist,” Virginia stated. But what mattered was that Virginia saw herself as an artist.
Her thoughts about college were not always positive. If you’re not going to be a doctor, lawyer or engineer, you can teach yourself most anything else, she came to understand. One fabulous year attending college in Paris gave her the courage of her convictions – to immerse herself in the real world. She left school and became a hostess at The Four Seasons restaurant where she spent her idle time doodling on napkins.
“Are you an artist?” patrons would ask. Many of her doodles went missing, then turned up on the walls of places she’d visit.
“You should pursue that!” she heard. She concurred and took a creative position at Anthropologie furthering her skillsets, but more often arranging other people’s creative work. She yearned to have her own art on display. “I wanted to be on the other side. I wanted to provide the art, not to merchandise someone else’s work.”
She gave herself a year to focus on that. Her art debut was at the Renegade Craft Fair. From there, she joined a team of newly emerging Etsy artists. It wasn’t until her mid-/ late 20s that her “1/4 century crisis” allowed her to write ARTIST on her business card. Her first up-level occurred when VANS, the sneaker brand, licensed her artwork for a line of shirts.
Virginia returned to college after awhile and got an assignment, “Do whatever comes to you. There’s no right or wrong.” When she submitted a large scale doodle, the professor reversed instructions and told her it “wasn’t enough.” This teaching moment made Virginia so uncomfortable that she walked away with the knowledge that it wasn’t what anyone else thought about her work; it was what she thought – a similar lesson to the one she learned in her early schooling. She left college again, this time for good.
Of course, my interview had to include the impact of the pandemic on Virginia, her family and her work. Now that her home-schooled children are a bit older, she finds that she is currently producing more work than ever including a large, personal piece she’s pleased with. Many of her beautiful line drawings have a phrase or piece of wisdom. Often these sayings came from her father. A new drawing includes words that feel completely her own. It says, “I just met myself.”
I can’t wait to see it!