Meet Dejan Zdravković, the artistic mind behind Dejan-Art. From a childhood in his grandfather’s carpentry workshop to becoming the founder of an art company specializing in unique sculptures, notably his iconic horse head wood carvings, Dejan’s artistic journey reflects his passion and dedication. We caught up with Dejan to explore his inspirations and gain insights into his process of crafting these beautiful sculptures using a variety of materials.
Can you share a bit about your background and how your journey as an artist began?
“I was born on November 24, 1987 in small town in Serbia. As a child, it was noted that I was gifted at drawing and painting. From an early age I was learning and working in my grandfather’s carpentry workshop. That’s when I got introduced to tools and started learning woodworking.
I graduated from the Agricultural High School and enrolled in the Faculty of Agriculture. I was never interested in agriculture, but it seemed more promising than art. I studied at the Faculty of Agriculture for three years, dropped out and finally enrolled at the Academy of Arts. I studied in four cities and at the same time worked as a carpenter, painter, played guitar in pubs.
After graduation, I founded an art company, called Dejan-Art. Its main activity is artistic creation (original and custom-made sculptures and paintings). That’s how my journey as artist began.“
What sparked your interest in creating sculptures, particularly focusing on horse heads and other animals?
“Creating sculptures always seemed much more challenging than painting, that’s why I was always more interested in sculpting. Also, I’ve always liked the idea of combining craft and art. The idea of making horse heads came spontaneously, I made several horse sculptures, after which people started ordering sculptures of their horses.”
Take us through your creative process and approach in crafting these sculptures. What aspects do you find most challenging? What do you like best?
“It all starts with choosing the piece of wood I will use for the sculpture. All sculptures are made of several pieces of wood, so that the sculpture does not crack or bend. This part of the process seems tedious, but it is necessary. The next step is to draw a sketch on the wood and the wood carving begins.
The challenge is to find good wood for sculptures. Also, it’s challenging to be a sculptor but at the same time a company owner, social media manager (mostly done by my wife), photographer and so on.”
Are there specific materials or techniques you prefer when working on your sculptures? Do you have a favorite material that resonates with you?
“I like to use natural materials the most, specifically wood. I grew up in the workshop next to my grandfather, a carpenter. The smell of wood has been close to me since my earliest childhood. I try to use the simplest tools, such as an ax and a chisel. I also like to use various modern tools. In the process of creating a sculpture, I like to stick to the traditional and at the same time strive for the modern.”
The horse head sculptures are primarily crafted from walnut wood—what draws you to this particular wood over others?
“What draws me to use walnut for sculptures is the technical characteristics of the wood. unlike other types of wood, walnut does not crack or split, so it is easy to work with.”
Do you draw inspiration from specific artists or sources within the equestrian world or beyond?
“No, I always tried not to create anything that would look like other artists’ works.”
Are there upcoming exhibitions or events where individuals can see your sculptures in person?
“For now, my works can be seen on my Instagram profile and website. At the moment I do not plan exhibitions, because the sculptures sell quickly or are often commissioned. It is rare to see more than a couple of sculptures in my workshop. I am constantly working on new sculptures and they are constantly sold out.”
For individuals interested in commissioning/ custom-made sculptures, could you elaborate on the process? How does one go about it, and where are the finished pieces typically showcased?
“Communication with customers almost always takes place via messages on Instagram, or via e-mail if the customer prefers it. Custom-made horse sculptures are made based on the photos which the customer sends – if there are several photos, from different angles, the sculpture will look more like that horse. A lot of people ask if the blaze can look the same – of course, the blaze on the sculpture can look like the blaze seen in the photos. Finished pieces can be seen on our Instagram account, and some of them are also on the website. “