Relatable Greatness Series: Lucija Mrzljak

Lucija Mrzljak shares how war shaped her thought and career and how she discovered her tribe.

Job Title: Illustration artist and animation film director

Age: 29

Location: Tallinn, Estonia

What do you do in your job?

I work on different projects as a freelance artist, mostly I illustrate books, design posters, and I make animated films.

What do you like about your job?

I like the unpredictability and challenges of creative processes.

What is hard about your job?

The fact that there are no strict working hours for a freelancer, sometimes some projects can turn into a 24/7 marathon. Over time, you learn to balance the priorities.

Client isn’t always right. As I grow, I feel more secure in what I’m doing.

It’s good to be a little flexible and they some times forget to tell you something which leads to trashing a whole month’s work. Now a days I ask more questions in the beginning to avoid such mistakes.

To prevent burnout I take advantage of flexibility in my work. Like Yoga, walks, cycle and meditation about twice a week. I also play violin and I cook.

What’s something that you did recently that you’re proud of?

Just recently I published a children’s book with my illustrations in collaboration with an Estonian writer.

What are your two values?

  • Passion – have some fire inside
  • Open-mindedness – avoid tunnel vision

Where do you come from?

I grew up in a poor farming family in Croatia.I started working early at around 16. I went to work in Zagreb, the capital city. While at Zagreb, I got an opportunity to travel abroad and I was forced to survive. That’s when you learned to take chances.

From the childhood I have always wanted to be an artist. There was never a single eureka moment. I didn’t know if I could survive as an artist but I knew that’s what I wanted to be.

Family was supportive while growing up. We lived in the country side. When I was born, there was a war with Serbia. We were in a relatively safe area but we were always hearing of death and tragedy. I only saw destroyed cities.

Due to this experience, my parents had this attitude that Life is Short and that you should do whatever you like though you may not earn a comfortable living. As a child, I was shielded from the horrors of war but war did have an affect on my environment.

I think it’s best to live through war as a child.

My brother is also into art, he’s a designer. So, growing up, we were each other’s support.

Where are you going?

I want to do more Illustrations and Films.

I don’t like to repeat myself. With each experiment you have a chance to open a new window and learn a new style. So I like trying out new techniques but not too big that you can’t recognize. So when some one goes through my works, they can still recognize that these are by the same person.

Who is your tribe?
I studied at EKA (Estonian Academy of Arts). This is where I met some of my fellow artists like Milly Yencken from Australia.

Why Estonia?
It was an accident. I was just looking for art schools and when a friend suggested that I apply to EKA, I remember thinking ‘Eastern Europe should be affordable too’. Estonia is a small country but it’s famous for animation. After Hiroshima and Annecy, Zagreb has one of the oldest film festivals. Estonia has great entries there every year. That’s how I discovered the Estonian animation scene.

What is one setback/challenge that you faced?

Every new day with it’s new challenges and every blank page waiting for ideas.

But you’re taking life with full lungs

Where can people find you?

This article is a part of Relatable Greatness series where we explore greatness in everyday people as expressed through their values and actions. We believe that there are many great employees behind the success of companies and they have beautiful stories. If you want to get featured (you probably should 😉), fill out this form –

We try to publish every submission.

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