Meet the People Behind BIRN: Igor Vujčić

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Each month, BIRN introduces you to a different member of its team. For January, meet Igor Vujčić, BIRN’s graphic designer.

Igor Vujčić, 37, comes from Serbia and has worked for BIRN as a graphic designer for the last three years. His natural gift in arts guided him to study at the College of Fine and Applied Arts in Belgrade.

Balkan Insight’s biggest investigative and long-form stories have his visual signature. His style has formed Balkan Insight’s unique visual identity.

Igor prefers to illustrate investigative stories, as they are more personal and include a human factor, unlike global news stories.

He believes that illustration is powerful, as it conveys the message that journalists want to transfer to the readers through their words, while simultaneously working as a tool to attract readers.

  1. Why did you become a graphic designer/illustrator? Who is your favourite artist?

As it usually goes with artists, from the first day I could hold a pen in my hand it was clear that I would become an artist, or something close to that. Throughout my childhood, I would sit for hours and draw superheroes and other favourite cartoon characters, so my natural choice after elementary school was the Design School in Belgrade, and the best fit to meet my passion for illustration was the Graphic Design department. There is certainly a bit of genetics in all that, as both my father and mother, though an electrical engineer and a medical worker, always had talent for drawing. Now my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter can already draw faces and details like at least a four-year-old kid.

Illustrator Bob Zivkovic was my childhood “hero”, while now that I’ve dived into the world of illustration, I cannot single out one favourite artist.

  1. Why did you decide to work as an illustrator for a media company, namely Balkan Insight?

Working for a media company like Balkan Insights enables a lot of freedom in expression, creativity and participation in diverse projects. It’s not only about getting the work done; I must also immerse myself in the topic and think metaphorically, finding new relations between objects and themes to convey the right message to the viewer. It is never boring and is quite challenging.

  1. What do you like most in your job in Balkan Insight and what is the most challenging thing? 

The possibility to experiment with styles is a big plus in this job; depending on the subject, I need to find the appropriate style which best fits the context. It enables me to make an authentic design that makes me also satisfied with my work. That is challenging at the same time, as I don’t use the same template and “recycle”, but always start from scratch.

  1. How difficult or easy is it to illustrate a media story and an in-depth investigation for Balkan Insight? How do visual elements contribute to media stories?

If done right, illustration is a powerful tool to attract readers and convey the message as, along with the headline, they tell part of a story, but still not enough, so they trigger a viewer’s curiosity, and our urge is to understand the whole story and not leave it “half-baked” in our minds. There is an expression that “people are visual creatures,” so the illustration for a media story makes a long-standing mark and adds to the expression of the journalist. That is at least what I hope is my contribution to an article.

  1. What kind of stories do you prefer to illustrate? Which is your favourite illustration you have done for Balkan Insight?

I mostly enjoy doing illustrations for investigative stories, as they are more personal and include a human factor, unlike global news stories. That means I can better relate to them and put myself in the correspondent’s shoes, and as a result provide a better visual for the story.

As for my favourite illustration, it is better to ask my colleagues and readers – what made the greatest impression and what triggered the conversation?

  1. Do you believe media should have visual identity? Can you tell us about Balkan Insight’s visual identity?

As the case is with any organization, visual identity makes a brand recognizable and enhances the credibility of the news piece.

When it comes to the visual identity of Balkan Insight, there is a good balance between excellent quality photography and illustration, which puts it on a par with major worldwide media.