Teja Ideja, artist, designer and dramaturgist who brought drama into BB Art colony 2019
BIG BERRY is based on a close collaboration between tourism and artists, and so, BB Art colony project was created. During two years 17 international artists created 373 m2 of murals and a street full of art along the Kolpa river. Teja Kleč – widely known as Teja Ideja, is a versatile artist and designer influenced mostly by the times and aesthetics of former Yugoslavia. She is an author of numerous nostalgic maps, postcards and enameled pots. For BIG BERRY she created two murals – BB Travel mural and BB Chef mural, which is dedicated to BIG BERRY's project and (magnificent) local food.
Who is Teja Ideja?
The artistic name was given to Teja Kleč quite spontaneously, as a nickname, some time ago. But since it is really difficult for a person to forget it, it quickly took on and the rest is history.
Regarding work, she describes herself as a complicated person who overthinks if the message will reach the audience in the way she imagined it. That's why all of her work has a strong story and well thought out background. She described herself as a team person, “that's why I feel like home here, because we are a small team (or a small village) where everyone is fun and pleasant and we share everything,'' she said, adding with a playful smile on her face: "And I know how to swim, so, even if Kolpa rises a little bit, it won't hurt me." Which tells you more about Teja’s character than anything – this energetic woman is always prepared for a joke or even a prank. And all of this in order to maintain a good atmosphere within a group and to have an enormous amount of laughter and fun while working.
What inspires her most?
She didn't create her nostalgic style deliberately, but she did what she liked most and found out only later when analyzing her own works. "It's something that comes into you and you can't hide it," she explained.
Still, the story is fun. She grew up in the 80's, but she liked to visit her grandmothers, who owned apartments in the 50's style. "And there was pure paradise, you were allowed to do everything. It was the most beautiful place in the world!" she says with a big smile and dreamy eyes, adding, "And then you try to carry that feeling with you..."
That is also a source of inspiration for one of her first products – memory game which was immediately (and still is) a great success and a huge hit, though Teja is convinced that people today know her better from her enamelware design. "I'm more of a pot," she remarked humorously.
Memory game, however, remains her first major product, as a memory of the times when she used to play with her grandfather when she was younger. Motifs were influenced by her kindergarten period, from the icons they had in their dressing rooms. “It's both a memory of my childhood and a memory game," she concluded.
How did she develop as an artist?
Even as a child she used to draw a lot and carried crayons all the time with her. She admits, however, that it was not her childhood desire to become an artist: "I wanted to be something else at every age, but drawing haunted me for a long time." However, she found it more of a hobby than an opportunity for a profession, because "professions are serious things," she concluded with a big smile.
Nevertheless, she decided to go to design school and finish it. However, because of her great interest in literature, she decided to study dramaturgy at Academy of Theatre, Radio and Television. After studying, she returned to her first love - drawing.
She first worked in various design studios, where she focused primarily on brand development. According to her, there are few studios in Slovenia which work in that way, more of them are marketing agencies, where she did not want to work mainly because of insufficient contact with the client. So one day she decided to try it herself and realize her long-standing desire to design her own products.
"I decided to use some savings and to take the risk of three months, and I let myself fail," she said, adding that this was exactly the crucial moment in which she had overcome fear. And she succeeded. "And while it could always be better," she says, she is now successfully working on both her own products and products for other clients.
Are you also wondering if it's hard to start something of your own? Teja says, “Of course it is. But it is also difficult to be somewhere if you are unhappy. And allow yourself the opportunity to fall and fail.”
About the project
She said about the BB Art Colony project: "It's great because different worlds come together. We come, connect and do something. Then tourists come to BIG BERRY and connect with our murals in a different way. Things which wouldn’t be connected otherwise are connected in this case. Maybe a Dutchman, who came to BIG BERRY to bike around will be familiar with my work and me. And also, I might never have met Tea or Taja.” We had a real confusion of names during the project as Teja, Tea and Taja were all making murals in BIG BERRY.
She finds murals as: “Welcome, first impression, besides the friendly staff at the reception, of course.” Each house was given a distinct identity.
In the future, she wants to be involved in more projects like this, projects "where you have freedom, where there are no limits, where you express yourself."
The Luxury of Freedom
This is the BIG BERRY slogan and it means something to everyone, depending on where they are in life, what they do… It may change, but at a given moment, it means something to everyone.
“Allowing things to happen, even if they weren’t in your plans and also allowing that those things fail. To give yourself that freedom, after which you will be aware of the fact that everything is possible.” Teja said.
Photo by: João Sousa, Borut Petrič