Mirko Ilić was born in 1956 in Bijeljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as by the time he reached 30 he was in New York City, making illustrations for cover pages of the important American press. His original illustrations for the covers of Time are today part of Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. He graduated from the School of Applied Art in Zagreb, gained prominence with the comic group Novi kvadrat, as a reformist of Polet’s new visual format. He designed covers for a series of New Wave albums, including the one for Prljavo kazalište’s first album which will maintain a symbolic value and remain remembered, as well as the poster for the film Who’s Singin’ Over There? “My first ever job,” he says, “was the position of Time magazine’s art director.” He spent six months there and then he was offered a job with New York Times, “on the pages that are important, written by politicians, writers, philosophers.” He worked “in the domain he wanted, with letters and text forms.” Comic books taught me how to tell a story, how to frame it. My framing experience is very visible in my design work.” An acclaimed designer, displayed in many museums, Ilić remained permanently close to the book format, the change a book brings as a sign and the value it can convey. With Steven Heller and Milton Glaser he co-authored many books on design and in his monograph on Ilić Fist to face, Dejan Kršić refers to his rebellion: “Only a rebel can achieve something.” The American business world called him “a man firing his clients”. He cares about immediate transfer of knowledge and realisations. In addition to launching successful businesses, Ilić also lectures, by himself or by invitation. He is particularly engaged in spreading the culture of tolerance – and he succeeded in his intention of getting important designers from all over the world make an original poster with the message of tolerance.
(Photo © Robert Gojević)