Put It in the Right Context and a Hobby Becomes a Job
In a sea of marketing agencies, we found two cousins ready to start their story and shake the existing standards when it comes to the company approaches… but also individuals who want to make their daily lives more interesting. Jovana and Nenad Sićević managed to bring their love for drawing, which they’ve cherished from a young age, to the office, and then to many other offices as well, thus merging their skills, job and hobbies. Today we have the pleasure of telling you their story about storytelling.
MF: How did you come across such a unique business idea?
Jovana: When we were children, Nenad’s and my parents literally had to be separate us from the paper. We loved to draw and that was our main source of fun, but also of spending time together. When we were growing up, I continued in the same direction studying design and later on architecture, while Nenad turned to marketing. Today, we are both employed but we both also miss this common time of creativity and drawing, especially Nenad who somehow got detached from that story. So we came across the idea to start our own business in which we could work and enjoy i.e. commercialize our hobby and skills.
Nenad: Alongside Jovana I learned how to draw. However, the influence of society and parents usually does not lead to art but directs you to the practical side of life which will bring you work and security. Throughout high school, I was constantly dragging the same notebook where I was drawing all professors, classmates, the situations I or other people were in… and then I graduated from the Faculty of Organizational Sciences and today I work in a marketing agency. I always felt sorry for neglecting that passion of mine, first because of my studies and then work, so this idea of two of us joining skills and turning the hobby into some source of income was a big excitement for me.
MF: What exactly is Storyline and what does it do?
Nenad: It all started when I caught myself making doodles on paper during a meeting (which wasn’t the first time). It occurred to me that doodling really can serve a purpose – if used properly – it can create a beautiful symbiosis with the classic work of an agency or organization. Jovana and I discussed this idea first and then made a research online. We found many people engaged in the so-called graphic recording i.e. story tracking with drawings, but none from the area – and this is where we saw our opportunity.
Our slogan says – “Art in business” – and we are trying to make business more interesting by using art. Specifically – we make drawings that accompany a business story, be it presentations, infographics, business cards or greeting cards, and we try to bring this idea closer to business people.
PowerPoint presentations are quite outdated, and slideshows and infographics tend to be boring – especially when it comes to special occasions, such as trade shows or conferences, when you want to get the attention of a large number of people.
Jovana: This was also a great opportunity for Nenad’s and my skills to combine and complement each other. I am a graphic designer and a visualist while he works in marketing and knows how to sell this story to companies. But it’s not just about the companies either. We have many ideas and creations designed to brighten your everyday life – motivational posters and mugs that remind you of the uniqueness of the moment and the opportunities around you.
MF: What have you learned by creating your own agency?
Nenad: As Jovana said, we teach one another – she brings me back to drawing, I teach her how the product is marketed and sold, and that is the greatest value of this “collision of worlds”. We are still at the beginning but we can see many directions we can go. Initially, by watching the online tutorials we have learned how to do the so-called graphic recording professionally. We have also studied foreign authors and in that way come up with examples that we can rely on. We have also learned a lot about cooperation with our clients and how important communication with them is in this business.
On the other hand, it is also important to be open for collaboration and new ideas that can bring you closer to the market and lead you to the customers. Until now they have been companies, but we also plan to start collaborating with restaurants and cafes which will use personalized coasters for cups and plates – if some of them like our work on a piece of paper, they can imagine what happens when the drawing incorporates their own story or their company’s story. Holidays are coming too, so we plan to make video holiday greeting cards in our style – it is unlikely that the tradition of sending paper greeting cards to your home address will ever return, and the tradition is simply too beautiful to be broken.
MF: What does the creation of your work look like?
Jovana: First of all, we thoroughly discuss the client’s goals, wishes and motives, and then we think of the best way to present it. This is the crucial and longest process – everything has to be absolutely clear and we need to understand each other very well, because one small misunderstanding or disagreement can result in many new drawings, wasted hours and days. Since everything is done by hand, there is no undo-option that will save you one wrong move – each mistake means drawing from scratch. The first few (even a few dozen) sketches are there to determine the direction we are heading and the time when intense communication with the client is needed to bring us on the right track. Then, slowly, we switch from pen to felt pen. By the time we get to the final version, it is so different from the original idea that sometimes we have to go back to the beginning to incorporate some crucial elements, which again depends on the client’s preference.
Nenad: The best part is when we get to present the final product to the client. By now everyone was thrilled with what they were seeing! Even when a client has some objections, they come only after the first wave of happiness and disbelief that the piece in front of them is a work of human hand and creativity. The most recent example we had was a presentation we were making for the first Whiskey Fair in Belgrade, which was describing the whole event. We found it particularly interesting because the topic was specific and the event involved so many people. We also collaborate with the portal “Marketing mreža”, for whom we sketch stories and present data that matters to people in the marketing world, while retaining that creative touch. It is a collaboration that is particularly pleasing to us, from which we learn and develop greatly. And when we say “good collaboration” we mean communication and trust, which are of the utmost importance. The first step in the collaboration is making concrete and comprehensive arrangements with the clients to avoid mistakes – it takes a lot of love, skill and patience to make the drawing comply to both parties. And because we are the creators of this product, sometimes it’s necessary that the client lets us take the wheel and gives us freedom to express ourselves creatively, in accordance with their goals. This kind of cooperation brings the most beautiful and highest quality products.
MF: What are your future plans? Can you imagine Storyline becoming your main job?
Nenad: For now, both Jovana and I are working from 9 to 5 and then running to meet and do our other work that we enjoy so much – so it’s certainly our wish to make it sustainable and have it bring in more income. Until then, we learn, we gain new experiences and we strive to introduce ourselves to potential clients in various ways. We already mentioned illustrating ceramics, which I believe will be a great way to show you what we got – when someone puts a piece of our work in your hands, you can’t help but notice it. And you might even wonder what we can do on paper then. The end of the year is also near, and so are the potential collaborations with companies looking to present their annual results while avoiding the standard templates. This is also a great opportunity for us to set new challenges and see what we will learn from them.
*Interview for the portal “Moja firma”