Sergej Vutuc is an inspiring DIY artist: he gets out there with his art and makes things happen for himself. He’s an artist, skateboarder, photographer, zine maker, musician and traveller. Born in Doboj (Bosnia and Herzegovina), he was raised in Zagreb, Croatia before moving to Heilbronn in Germany.
He’s a prolific zine maker, primarily of abstract, doctored photographic compositions that centre around skate culture and his travels. He incorporates texture in his work by manipulating light and objects in his photography; reinterpreting and responding to the essence of the situation, the environment and the act of skateboarding in his images. Sergej is currently on an tour in America but kindly took time out to talk to The DIY EYE:
The DIY Eye: You started skating in the 80s, does your photography and zine making come out of the same time, from skateboard culture?
Sergej: Ah, skateboarding was ’87/’88, I was kid, zine making came later. I think I bought my first zine in 1992. Zine making was more related to the punk and hardcore community. Around ’95 I started a label and distribution “Get Off” and played in a band. Zines for me were a way of making your own media and exchanging information about that scene. My abstract and skate related stuff came much later.
Do you think that zine making will always have a place in the so called digital age? Will it always be an important way for you to make your creative voice heard?
For me that’s why I make my abstract zines and moved away from just information exchange-type zines, this has to do with the growth of internet access and social media.
Do you still predominantly photograph with film and develop your own film?
Doing stuff on film gives me space to control the whole process from developing to breaking/playing with the light system and whole process of using a darkroom, but I also now use my phone too, which is more a tool for blogging and online writing.
With the move towards more digital practices, have you found it harder/more expensive to get hold of film, get film developed etc?
It’s definitely harder to get stuff and sometimes it scares me, like am I gonna get my film tomorrow? But price is not really an issue, it’s a question of what do you want to do? These are just tools of expression.
You use a lot of texture in your images, lots of layers and scratches. Can you talk a bit about this practice and how it reflects the subject matter?
It’s playing with subconsciousness and all the information surrounding us, we’re not always listening and not taking them seriously anymore but it’s also asking why? It’s also reflecting my feelings in the image as well as the situation at the time.
You seem to be on tour and travelling a lot, are you more naturally nomadic, preferring to move about than stay in one place?
There are many aspects to the last years spent travelling: From how I see the exchanges and connections within the [art/zine/skateboarding] scenes, learning firsthand by taking my art to new places and my experiences on road. You know I was running a space [Basementizid art space in Heilbronn, Germany] for almost 8 years, hosting people, bands…
So is your gallery space Basementizid still operating?
No, I tried a few times to see it reborn and keep it rolling. In the end it was around for 8 years in total. It was a great time but it came to a point: is it a project or institution? You know a project could exist at full power for like 4 years then it’s time for something new… repeating is dangerous, as well listening to people.
What are some of the things you enjoy most about travelling, are there places you haven’t been but want to go?
Definitely when you meet soul brothers and sisters on the other sides of world and then some of those spaces become your home too. When art goes over/connects us…
Ah places to see, since this year I am in touch with many people in South America, Australia and Asia, those places are my future wishes. Only don’t know how to do it… tickets to those lands are much more than my whole tour budget. You know I make it all [traveling etc] based on selling my art and hustling. So I hope…
Your most recent travels have taken you to the USA, what have you been up to there? Did you have a pre-planned schedule or route worked out beforehand?
This current USA tour happened with the artist in residency at Home School #5 in Chicago. They saw my zines and work at my last exhibition in Chicago and loved it, then invited me to come over for one month. So I used that opportunity to also go on a small tour visiting friends, making exhibitions and projects.
What is the best or most important thing skateboarding has taught you?
To forget everything, just be in moment and do it…. everything is possible if you want it.
Any other upcoming shows and projects you want to mention?
Ah many, many. let’s talk about it when is out.
Could you recommend one thing to read:
As we’re talking zines and DIY: We Owe You Nothing – about Punk Planet
One film to watch:
This film started everything for me in the 80s: ‘Thrashin’
One album to listen to:
As the name says: Repeater (Fugazi)
One place to visit:
That’s on you, don’t listen to other recommendations too much.
Thanks so much to Sergej for taking the time to answer my questions while on the road. Check out photos from his travels on www.sergejvutuc.wordpress.com and follow him on Instagram. You can find out more about him and his work at www.sergejvutuc.com buy his zines from www.sergejvutuc.bigcartel.com.
He has an exhibition ‘Correlation’ coming up at The Rubicon in Chicago on 1st November with Tim M Johnson: