A close friend introduced me to Sonja, whose work instantly spoke to me! Her style is simple and yet complex at the same time; dreamy but structured; cute yet sophisticated. Most of all, there’s romance in her work! Especially when she depicts Paris.
And yet she’s a globetrotter! Inspired by our meeting, she made me a map of my favorite café in all of L.A. – the Mustard Seed Café! Her map captures L.A. the way I lived it. I love this café because of its organic and fresh food, weird servers/actors who serve you with a side of Woody Allen quirkiness, and their fab iced coffee. The special thing about this place is that you can celebrity spot from here without paying high prices at the restaurants across the street. Ahem, hayooo Lindsay Lohan!
Sonja Bajic also designs exceptional wedding stationary. With a solid list of clients (including me!), she knows how to make your vision come alive—for Save the Dates, formal invites, menus, wedding programs, and much more. Just like her maps, everything is personalized; it’s a perfect match of your unique vision and her quirky, fun-loving style.
Her newest project, “Pumpkins are Awesome”, drew me the most to her work. After seeing her beautiful book in the storefront of a Bastille bookstore, I had to buy one. The book is a limited edition. There are only 30 copies of the book (way less now), so get them fast! Thanksgiving may be over, but pumpkins are forever.
Here’s our interview below. As I interviewed her, I captured Sonja working on her recent book, “Pumpkins are Awesome”.
If you’re in Paris now, you can snatch up one of these limited run editions at these three stores:
Daisy: When did you start illustrating and designing?
Sonja: When I was a kid, I loved drawing women in dresses. I also loved my art classes. In elementary school, one of my drawings appeared in a book; another was featured in a group exhibition. However, becoming an artist in a crumbling society (I grew up during a time of transition and turmoil in Serbia) and in a family of engineers was a risky thing to do. So I decided to study other passions – people, their habits, and the space that connects them. Architecture gave me the opportunity to express myself through design. At the same time, I realised that wanting to be anything at all is risky in general. That's simply how life is. These days, I've been putting all my passions into illustrating. Still, illustration didn’t enter my life until later on. I decided that the easiest way to explain my myself and the world around me is through sketching. I do that on a daily basis.
Daisy: How would you describe your aesthetic?
Sonja: Pastel mind-mapping.
Daisy: Hm! What exactly is pastel mind-mapping?
Sonja: Hah, well! I tried to put my style into words but I’m not sure how to explain it. I’m meeting a good friend tonight, so maybe she’ll know how to help me define it...
(What Daisy thinks: beautiful, dreamy water-colored shades or solid metallics depending on the mood/feel of a location, coming together during a tea break? Eureka!)
Daisy: How has moving to Paris affected your aesthetic?
Sonja: Paris was a game changer. Or maybe traveling in general is. You learn and see new things and it's so easy to fall in love with architecture, strangers, food, and conversations... especially when you’re mindful and open about things around you. I’ve learned that through my travels and I try to project this onto my everyday life-- wherever I am.
Still, one doesn’t have to travel far to see beauty. Recently, I was sitting in the centre of my own hometown and realised how gorgeous the neo-classicist facades are that surround my hangout spot in Serbia. For 15 years, my close friends and I have met in front of this place almost every night. This obviously shows that sometimes we forget to see what’s already beautiful in our everyday life.
Nonetheless, Paris is an aesthetic climax is for me. The finale. There is no city prettier than this one. Even on hard days, when you’re down and out.
Daisy: What do you like to draw?
Sonja: Maps, food, objects, and funny conversations… I like illustrating quotes as well as lyrics of songs that touch me. One of the bestsellers in my Etsy shop is a drawing that says: "We build our own cages." My friend Annie told me this once while we were in Bastille together, my neighborhood in Paris. Whenever I'm walking home, I think of that moment.
You know the quote, "It's about the journey and not the destination….”? It explains why I love mapmaking. I love making the details of everyday things visible on those maps. Being mindful helps us see with new eyes… to help us find something we missed, have forgotten about, or never would have seen before.
Daisy: What inspires you?
Sonja: Hard-workers and positive-thinkers; beautiful words; different teas; hidden meanings; Dr. Reid from Criminal Minds; small details on well-dressed people; and finally, Amanda Palmer.
Also, finding new techniques for illustration… these things blow me away!
Daisy: What's your favorite place in Paris?
Sonja: I really love the park at the Palais Royale. I love its tranquility, birds, and the arcade. I also love passing next to the Marc Jacobs' store. It’s so nice to sit on the nearby bench, take a sketchbook out, and draw people. Sometimes, I just take a stroll and enjoy the sound of the fountains. I have a lot of pleasant memories there.
And of course, the Centre Pompidou bookshop! It’s a must-stop for finding inspiration.
Daisy: Do you prefer plain cheese pizza or pepperoni pizza? Why?
Sonja: Pepperoni. I rarely like plain things - my baroque persona is attracted to an abundance of colours, shapes, and tastes. Add pineapple with the pepperoni too, please!
Daisy: What’s your most favorite drawing that you’ve made?
Sonja: I did a drawing of a heart a few years back and if I ever decide to tattoo something on myself - that image would be it. It has an arrow, a pencil and a pen that goes through it. That heart and its piercing tools symbolise the lust for life, trial and error, and self-actualisation. Bags with the same motive will be printed next week (available on my Etsy page). My friend Antoine has that heart - large and beautiful - tattooed on his calf.
I love my map of Le Marais as well - it's my favourite area in Paris and where I also walk around to get inspiration.
Daisy: What inspired you to create a chapbook about pumpkins?
Sonja: Last year, I did a project called Carbonara for Breakfast where I made 365 drawings of food (one for each day). I decided to make Pumpkins Are Awesome because of this experience, learning more in-depth about the food I adore.
Yesterday, I ate pumpkin on a pizza - that's how much I love pumpkins (with gorgonzola and pepperoni-- try it, it's mind-blowing!). Also, I think pumpkins are very pretty and have surprising colours and shapes. For the book, I gathered old drawings, made some new ones, carved my own stamps, found some gold dust and leather and I put it all together. The whole process was fascinating because I had to rethink my former ways of making things and combine or change them with new ideas.
The book is being sold in three beautiful bookshops in Paris, a secret bookstore in NYC, and online of course. I made only 30 copies - all signed, uniquely stamped, and numbered.
Daisy: What’s coming up next?
Sonja: You can find me at the art fair in Paris selling new and old prints and the new tote bags with the heart I mentioned above. I'll be sketching personalised maps there as well. There’ll be another book coming out soon about something else I really love. As we speak, I’m working with three brides on their wedding invites (I love making invites and plan to expand my services). AND of course, I’ll be making more maps! If you’re interested, I can map your life’s precious moments for you as well!
"Mapperie was created to tell everyone’s story. We all deserve a map of our lives, don’t we?"
"My maps capture your special moments in a neighborhood or city you just can't forget. I make sure to mark/monumentalise your memories of that experience. For the single or the romantically inclined, I've got maps for everyone! I had a couple who visited Paris recently and I mapped out their favorite arrondissement (neighborhood), highlighting all the special and significant moments they shared together there."
Thank you for taking the time to do the interview, Sonja! We are very big fans!