Fearless Croatian Women - Part 1

One Hundred Fearless Women Who Changed Croatia, Part 1

I was approached by publisher Ivana Glavaš to participate in an project about Croatian women who were the first in their profession. I must admit, I didn’t fully comprehend the impact the first book would make. It turned out to be an interesting project which included 16 fellow female illustrators.

We were given a list of Croatian women to choose from and could illustrate any we wanted.

Antonija Kulčar-Vajda

Initially, I wasn’t sure what to choose. However, once the list was open I was happy to see that nobody had yet taken Antonija ‘Foto Tonka’ Kulčar-Vajda.

I immediately saw the image of her illustration in my head. Attitude, curiosity and artistry. And definitely she needed to be stylish. Like epitome of a newly self-assured woman who took her life and career into her own hands, succeeding for the first time on a grand scale.

She was The first woman to open an independent photo studio in Zagreb, famous for her portraits of the citizens of 1920’s and 30’s Zagreb.. She was hugely popular at the time, and was the official photographer of the royal family of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. She was an avangarde artist, with a unique vision - something I tried to capture in my illustration of her.

Antonija Kulčar-Vajda (1887 - 1971)

Zlata pl. Šufflay

While I was thinking about the rest, most of them were already taken. Ultimately, I chose Zlata pl. Šufflay, who founded the lacemaking school and workshop in Lepoglava, over a century ago. It was famous in its day, and thematically had a connection to my grandmother who knew how to make this kind of lace.

Lepoglava Lace

So I modeled Zlata loosely on my grandmother. Sweet, contemplative, and patient attitude. I remember my grandmother like that. Qualities needed to make a perfect lace out of thin tread. The softness and kindness of the heart also translated into the qualities of the lace that was woven.

Mira Alinčić

The last one, Mira Alinčić, was a judicial scholar and law professor who in 1976 Yugoslavia was the first writer of family law protecting women and children.

Mira Alinčić

For me, she was from the generation of my mother. The way I remember those women, they were self-assured, busy, and aware of the world and its challenges. Always ready to stand for the rights of others. All working full time on jobs in the careers that they chose.

Success of part I.

After the first book was published it was a huge hit. Fearless Croatian Women Part I. turned out to be of big importance as we illustrators barely knew who these women really were. The book ended up going to school libraries, as part of the official reading selection. It also gathered enormous attention from the media and was so positive that it made me realize how people are genuinely grateful and happy to finally recognize those women as part of Croatian history and heritage.

Stories of Fearless Croatian Women

Author: Irena Sophia

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