Mirko Ilić (Bijeljina,1956) belongs to a small group of “exceptional” people whose individual and creative engagement could not be stopped either by country, origin, time and place, or by social, ideological or cultural context. As he once put it himself: “...we did not want to succeed here, but to compete with the whole world, which we believed was limitless”. Skilful, intuitive, committed, playful, curious, with a sense of humour...
He said: “I work 24 hours a day. I dream my design. I go to sleep thinking about my work, I wake up thinking about my work.” For him, nothing is unattainable, unachievable or impossible. His contemporaries recognised this strength of his character very early on, in their talks about the launching of the new edition of the Polet magazine, where he would become the editor of comic strips and illustrations (Zagreb, 1976). As a matter of fact, for a whole decade, from mid-1970s to mid-1980s, Zagreb was the place of his Yugoslav satisfaction and success. It is in Polet that he affirmed himself as an illustrator (SL, Start, Danas, Panorama) comic strip draftsman (Novi kvadrat), editor (Polet), and designer (numerous LP sleeves for the bands belonging to the New Wave: Prljavo kazalište, Film, Azra, Bijelo dugme, Parni valjak, U škripcu, Zabranjeno pušenje, among others, as well as design of posters and books.). His first appearance abroad, was with the comic strip Pardon, “Debil Blues” in the comic strip magazine Alter Alter (Italy).
In the second half of the 1980s, he was already the citizen of New York. It is there where he affirms himself again, this time at the American and the world design scene, and again as an illustrator (Time, The New York Times Book Review), art director (Time), multi-media artists and writer. He became a friend of Milton Glaser as well as Steven Heller. With Milton Glaser, he published The Design of Dissent (Rockport), 2005; with Steven Heller: Genius Moves – 100 Icons of Graphic Design (North Light Books), 2001; Handwritten (Thames & Hudson), 2004, and Anatomy of Design (Rockport), 2006. The theoretician of design and author Dejan Kršić, in his book (monograph) titled “Mirko Ilić – strip, ilustracija, dizajn, multimedija 1975 – 2007” analysed the entire opus of this interesting, versatile and prolific author (published by AGM and Profil, Zagreb, 2008.).
As a somewhat reduced version, this book titled Fist to Face was published in 2012, by Print Publishing in New York, owned by Mirko Ilic Corp., New York, USA (www.mirkoilic.com)