‘The Axonometric Is My Favourite Projection’


The Unsolicited Sideshow_Chicago Architecture Biennale

The Unsolicited Sideshow is a pop-up exhibit and event series that will open in tandem with the Chicago Architecture Biennial at the Chicago Athletic Association. The illustration is for the exhibition catalog.

The illustration responds to the central ambition of the show: to explore how ‘otherness’ informs architectural expression.

Nine rooms to die in_Soiled magazine

Illustration for SOILED architectural magazine to illustrate an article about the design and medical ramifications of spaces for palliative care.

“As a dying person goes through their last stage of life, the circle of physical spaces in which they inhabit and encounter shrinks, from their community, down to their living or hospital spaces, and finally down to the bed in a room.”

Other Side_Le Cabinet SR:CH

Other side exhibition is an interactive poster project by Balkan and Swiss artists organized by  Le Cabinet SR:CH. Poster has front and back side. When sides overlap they tell a story.

The poster is about a shortcut.

“Can’t see the forest for the trees. An expression used for situation when one gets entangled in the details failing to see the bigger picture. If one can take a step back and get a little perspective one can see there is a way out – a shortcut.”


Who influences you graphically?

I believe my grandfather, who was also an architect in Belgrade, had a lot to do with it. I found inspiration in his architectural books and magazines. I especially liked L’architecture d’aujourd’hui which had a very strong black& red aesthetics during the 60’s. Also they featured very bold, concrete structures and hand-drawn sketches with patiently drawn dots where the ground was. I loved those little details. Also I love Aldo Rossi’s architecture and his delicate approach to it. His images are very shy, quiet, but at the same time monumental. Another one is Peter Zumthor and the way he uses black color. Regarding the illustrators scene I love Vincent Mahé and his impeccable attention to detail in his illustrations and the nonchalantly drawn and placed figures.

How and to what extent has your training as an architect influenced your work as an illustrator?

Architecture is my first love. It is the foundation of all my work and the beginning of everything. If I wasn’t an architect in the first place I wouldn’t be an illustrator now since I express myself through architectural shapes and images. It’s safe to say that without the architectural background, I wouldn’t have the tools to express myself.

What is your take on the axonometric projection as the most complete drawing form?

Axonometry is my favorite projection, the one that allows you to add people, mood and action in the architectural frame. I love it for the subtle kind of illusion it creates with its depth and peculiar perception of space. The human eye doesn’t work that way, it doesn’t perceive space through parallel lines. Axonometric view has a habit of surprising the eye of the viewer, and I have to admit that sometimes, creating these intricate spaces, I manage to surprise even myself. But that’s where all the fun is!

How did you start the project 100 house? What were the greatest difficulties you faced?

The 100 HOUSES project started during a turbulent time, when I found myself on a crossroad and tipping point between architecture and illustration. I needed some daily work discipline and I came up with the idea to create this project in which I would draw one house each day. It did take a little more than planned, but the project was very well received and this helped me to make the decision and join the illustration scene. Everything about this project was easy and carefree because I had absolute liberty to do what I felt like doing and I just enjoyed envisioning and creating the houses.

What is your take on colour? What defined the sfumatura affect in 100 houses? 

To be honest, color choice was a very intuitive and thought free process in the creation of 100 houses. I would test and switch colors from a certain range that seemed appropriate for a given shape and when it felt right I would leave it be. I had a lot of fun with the sfumato effect on the houses because you would never see this on actual houses.

What is your work process in terms of concept development and illustration? how much is discussed with the client?

So far the clients contacted me because they liked my architectural style. This is why I usually have complete freedom. To this day it has never happen that a client wanted to test a totally different style. Usually it is just some minor changes or added details. My process is largely digital. Even if I had a hand-drawn sketch it would not be unusual for me to wander in an entirely new direction when passing from a paper draft to a computer.


Irena Gajić is a trained architect and practicing illustrator based in Belgrade. Her work is heavily influenced by architecture. Her illustrations have been published in various magazines and she participated in many exhibitions in Serbia and abroad.