Building a career in Art Direction—A chat with IKEA’s Marko Cvijetic

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What’s it like to be an Art Director for a huge multinational brand? Today we chat with IKEA’s very own Marko Cvijetic to learn more about his role, creative passions, and career as an Art Director.

Tell us about who you are and what your background is.

Hi, my name is Marko. I’m a Visual Designer & Art Director from Zagreb, Croatia who currently lives in Copenhagen. My design career started really early on. During my second year of design college, my friends and I started working at one of Croatia’s best agencies.

After that, I explored many different aspects of being a designer—from co-owning a small boutique studio, moving to another city, quitting a job, being a freelancer, to now ending up at one of the biggest brands in the world.

How did you break into Art Direction?

I would say it happened naturally. I’ve been always interested in overlooking the entirety of projects and passionate about setting the visual concept, style, and expression. I think my interest in other creative fields and constant search for new inspiration sources helped a lot. It took many years to learn the craft and how the creative world really works, because there’s a big difference between creativity and creativity that solves business goals.

What kinds of projects do you work on at IKEA?

I currently work as an Art Director at IKEA with a focus on Product Pictures & Films. That means that together with a really diverse team of Photographers, 3D Artists, Interior Designers, and Retouch Artists, we produce content for IKEA’s global website but also for many other channels.

I’m passionate about storytelling and forward-thinking concepts, but also about improving everyday life at home…

The most interesting part of my job is coming up with fresh and delightful ideas that over 3 billion people have to understand. I’m passionate about storytelling and forward-thinking concepts, but also about improving everyday life at home with our products or solutions.

Since I’m not doing any visual design at IKEA, it’s now become my hobby—I spend a lot of free time exploring some new ideas just for myself and for my Dribbble followers 🙂

  1. Artist Profile — Website

  2. New Balance – Magazine Layout

  3. Product Presentation — Type & Layout

  4. Golf Course — Header

What else are you passionate about design and how does it influence your work?

I’ve been always passionate about concepts where design is just one part of the bigger solution—where you have the opportunity to merge many different creative fields into one concept and apply the same methodology despite the final output. I like when design becomes a part of the much greater story or experience.

With more practice, your senses get sharper and even more precise..

When it comes to micro-elements, I’m really passionate about typography and layout. Currently, I’m inspired by exploring solutions that contain minimum elements but provide perfect balance and composition. It’s really interesting how with more practice, your senses get sharper and even more precise.

What advice would you give to designers interested in an Art Direction career?

First of all, be patient. I think Art Direction should be a natural step after many years of working as a designer and not only knowing how you work but how the creative industry works too.

For me, a great Art Director should be able to tackle two main aspects of a project—creative and emotional. Being a talented designer who is attracted to details and trends is great, but the other half is being a people person who knows how to handle different clients and build bridges between the expectation and the solution.

A great Art Director should be able to tackle two main aspects of a project—creative and emotional.

Other than that, having an interest in other creative disciplines such as photography, video, illustration, and copywriting is a big plus because you’ll have to work with many people in these roles and they will expect proactive and precise inputs from you.

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If you weren’t a designer what would you be doing?

I would probably be a musician or film director. If I wasn’t in a creative field, then I’d be a psychologist—I like to understand people’s behavior, habits, and ways of thinking.

Fast facts!

  • Favorite design tool or software: InDesign, Photoshop, Sketch
  • What you listen to while you work: A lot of Brent Faiyaz lately. Slow RnB/Hip-Hop and Electronica suits the best.
  • Coffee or tea? Coffee always. I’m a really big coffee lover.
  • Name a Dribbbler who inspires you: Anyone with sharp typography, composition, and layout skills.

Want to keep up with Marko? Find him on Dribbble and at ashleyhohnstein.com.


Find more Interviews stories on our blog Courtside.
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