Meet Stationary Lift
The skating community isn't just made up of skaters and coaches; it's also made up of some extraordinary creative human beings who use their talents to bring skating to life in new ways. One of those creatives is none other than Serbian artist, Tamara Milošević - or, as she's known on Instagram, @stationarylift. Tamara is a true Renaissance woman of the visual and performing arts, and one of her many gifts is that of drawing. Her simple-yet-nuanced line drawings of figure skaters have garnished much attention and admiration because she just has this unbelievable way of capturing the smallest details in little pen strokes of brilliance. If you're amazed by her drawings, you're going to be even more amazed by the incredible person that she is. Read on to learn how Tamara fell in love with skating, what programs and skaters are her favorite, and why she thinks it's so important to keep the arts alive!
(Cover photo by Janko Durić)
Born: Belgrade, Serbia
Hometown: Belgrade, Serbia
Currently: Belgrade, Serbia
Job Titles: creator of popular figure skating drawing account @stationarylift, digital arts student at FMK, artist, designer, singer, actor, writer
This girl knows how to strike a pose! (Photos by Janko Durić)
Q: You draw, you sing, you play piano, you act, you dance, you write, you design, you cook, you make films, you make jewelry... is there anything you can't do?! What sparked your interest in the arts when you were younger, and what experiences influenced your creative passion?
A: Ahahahah, of course there's something I can't do, just hand me a ball and you’ll see!
I’ve always been interested in the arts – in all types and forms. Of course, music has always been, and will always be, my number one passion (my parents always say I started singing before I could speak), but just the thought of creating something always made me feel excited. My mum is an architect, and my dad loves art too, so I’ve kinda been exposed to it from a very young age – visiting museums and exhibitions, spending time with her colleagues, and also in my kindergarten they paid a lot of attention to developing our creativity. I’ve always loved working with my hands, hence the jewelry making and cooking, and I have a very strong feeling about “capturing” particular moments in time – that’s why I love writing and making videos.
I think that is one of the main reasons I took up drawing, too. In my senior year, because I finished my music high school a year before (yup, I went to two high schools simultaneously, I know I’m crazy, but I loved it), I had a lot more time than before. Drawing was the only type of art I hadn't tried, so I started illustrating scenes from the books the way I imagined them. I also discovered one really cool thing (figure skating, you might’ve heard about it?) around that time – and the rest is history!
Q: Considering that figure skating in Serbia is almost non-existent, how did a girl from Belgrade become a skating fan? What - or rather, who - made you fall in love with skating? And do you skate too?
A: Have you read White Boots by Noel Streatfeild? Or it’s maybe published as Skating Shoes there in the US – anyways, I was IN LOVE with that book when I was little! That was my first encounter with the sport. Ah, I wanted to be Carolina Kostner so badly…
That was so long ago though, because the real thing that made me fall in love with skating is probably Tessa and Scott’s Prince routine in 2016. I was watching “best of the season so far” on Eurosport, it was just after the NHK Trophy that year. I remember Satoko Miyahara had her free skate to "Planets" by Gustav Holtz, and I was like, “I love this piece, let me leave it in the background,” and then I remember hearing the commentator saying “skating to Prince - “ and I turned around (whenever someone mentions Prince I’m all ears, that guy was truly a genius) and saw Tessa Virtue in that kapow stunning jumpsuit and was immediately mesmerized. Been in this whirlwind ever since.
(Fun fact: 15 seconds later my dad entered the room and said “Oh, they were the best in the world and took a two year break, and now they’re back.” And I was like, “Why do you know that?” And I still don’t know why he knew.)
Oh, and I can skate, but the farthest I go in terms of figure skating is doing (really bad) backward crossovers.
Tamara's drawing of Tessa & Scott's infamous Prince short dance from the 2016-17 season
Q: You started your now-infamous Instagram art account, Stationary Lift (love the pun, by the way), in February 2017 and posted your first drawing that October. What inspired you to create the account?
A: I just wanted a way to communicate with people who loved figure skating as much as I do, because my friends were tired with all the "woah-that-no-touch-midline-step-sequence-is-nuts" or "I-am-watching-the-2004-Nationals-don’t-disturb-me" talk, so I joined Instagram fanbase.
The name was actually really random – I was watching the NBC (I think it was NBC? It’s off Youtube now, sadly) video of their Latch program, and the commentator said “that is an incredibly difficult stationary lift” while I was typing in the username. It’s funny how well it fit once I started posting drawings :D What’s even funnier is that I’ve never done a drawing of that lift!
Q: Likewise, what inspired you to start drawing skaters in what has now become your signature style?
A: I’ve always thought that the skaters try to express emotion more with their bodies and movement, than with their facial expressions. Of course, that plays a big role too – for judges who are near them, or us watching it on TV, but for spectators in the arena, not so much. Also, I think the way we see the things around us is determined by what we absorb from the world.
My parents were never into realistic art, and that rubbed off on me as well. The types of museums I visited as a child (I knew Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali way before Michelangelo), the paintings we have in our home, the Joan Miro-printed cushions in the living room... It’s probably subconcious, but it surely has something to do with it.
How I started line drawings is kind of a funny story, one day I approached my mum with a drawing I did when I was bored in class, and I thought it was pretty good. She just looked it and said, "That’s not how you draw a line,“ and then she took a piece of paper and drew a straight line with a pen and said, "This is a line." Since then, I’ve only done it that way.
Q: Currently, you're studying Digital Arts at Fakultet za medije i komunikacije (aka College for Media and Communication, or FMK). What made you decide to pursue that specific path in the arts? And can you tell us a bit more about your program and how Serbian universities are set up?
A: You know, If it weren’t for this account and community and all of the support I’ve received here, I honestly don't know where I'd be know. I love creating art more and more every day. My university is not like a typical university in Serbia; I have a major/minor option, whereas the other universities here are not like that (our schooling system is pretty old-fashioned).
My program consists of five different degrees: film, photography, visual arts, audio-engineering and video games. In the first year we have all that, and the next year we can choose one or two. I will probably choose visual arts and film - I am the most indecisive person ever and I cannot choose only one!
Drawing of Tamara with her best friend, Helmih
Q: Let's talk skating! Currently, who are some skaters/teams who really stand out to you, and what are some of your favorite programs of the season?
A: Oooh, you know I love the ice dancers the most, and (even with many teams retiring) the current ice dance scene is soooo strong! Any couple who have strong emotions, both towards each other and towards the audience, is inspiring to me – I get chills when that emotional exchange happens. I’m a longtime fan of Madi Hubbell & Zach Donohue and Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Pojé. From this year, Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin are slowly (or not so slowly) finding a way into my heart with their sharp and aggressive approach – it’s so intense! Besides them, my favorite programs of the year are Olivia Smart & Adrian Diaz’s Beatles FD (and her first costume with a shirt, ah I miss it so much) and Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier's Vincent FD, what an absolute masterpiece.
And there is a whole new generation that coming along now, it always happens after the Olympics. There are four teams that really stand out to me: Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko and Marjorie Lajoie & Zach Lagha – incredible connection, skills and musicality – that will be the rivalry for the years to come! Also amongst the younger juniors: Avonley Nguyen & Vadim Kolesnik and Emmy Bronsard & Aissa Bouaraguia (whose Greatest Showman program I think has won the “program of the year” for me).
Also, I think that the Russian scene is slowly rising to be head-to-head with North America. This will be an interesting quad.
Woah. That was a lot of thinking. It’s hard to narrow it down with so many teams that I love.
And I didn’t even mention Tessa & Scott.
Bottom row (L to R): Gilles/Poirier, Bronsard/Bouaraguia, Hubbell/Donohue, Lajoie/Lagha
Q: With public and financial support for the visual and performing arts decreasing, why do you think it is important - now more than ever - to keep the arts alive?
A: Hmmm, well, you got me on that one. Right at the center in my country the arts (all arts) are currently kept on life support, to put it that way. People think that everyone can be an artist nowadays – and I’ve never really understood why the masses are always choosing the cheap way out? Oh, ok, I’ve just answered the question – because it’s cheap. Quantity always wins. And people always go where the majority goes.
What is sad is that we have a lot of great, young, enthusiastic artists who don’t get the recognition they deserve – or don’t get any recognition at all. And what do they do? They flee. It doesn’t matter where, as long as they run away from here. They run away from weekly protests against the government, from the place where a 1,000 people visit the art exhibition in two weeks, and 100,000 people go to the concert of a local folk star. We are currently fighting for free media space; the media censure is so strong, and everything is controlled by politics.
But, hey, we are surviving somehow! I think the most important thing is to stay active and keep the community alive. As long as there is enthusiasm to make a change, there will be art – and we know that the best works of art were created as an underground insurgence, or as an answer to the “not so great” situations in the world. Luckily (or unluckily, as you see it like that) we have a lot of inspiration nowadays.
Tamara - off the page
Q: You also love to travel - what's on your 2019 bucket list, and are you planning on going to any skating competitions in person?
A: Yeeeaaah, well, this is a thing I haven’t proclaimed anywhere yet, but I’m going to Zagreb for Junior Worlds! This will be my first skating competition ever, and I am beyond excited!!! I would also love to visit Italy again this summer (I always want to visit Italy, it’s my favourite country in the world - that’s a well known fact). My number ones on the bucket list currently are Montreal and London, UK... I know that neither of that will happen during this year, but hey, never say never!
Q: Personally and professionally, where do you see yourself in five years?
A: I absolutely don’t know, I try to make every day the best I can and not think that far away. The only thing I wish for myself and all the people around me is to be healthy. That’s all.
Q: We artists are so hard on ourselves, and it's so easy to get discouraged, whether you pursue it as a career or a hobby. What advice would you give to aspiring artists (in any field) who are doubting themselves or are having creative blocks?
A: It’s ok to feel like you don’t want to do anything. We all have those days, it will pass. You maybe have to push it a little bit and force yourself to overcome the blues, but it will certainly pass. I always try to find the inspiration in everyday things – collecting moments, as I said earlier, and freezing them in time, so you can just open the time-freezer and take out the ice cube you need. Or books. Read, read, read! Inspiration will strike when you least expect it.
A self-portrait of the brilliant woman behind it all
If you were a color, which one would you be?
Favorite medium to work with?
Colored pencils and a liner
Go-to coffee order?
Almond milk cappuccino (not because of Tessa, I swear!)
Favorite drawing you've ever done?
Olivia and her dogs on the balcony
Tamara's drawing of Olivia Smart and her two adorable dogs, pictured on a Montreal balcony
What artist do you look up to the most?
That’s a tough one. Um, David Bowie?
What skater do you look up to the most?
Woah, that’s even tougher. Probably Tessa Virtue.
All-time favorite skating costume?
Tessa's Prince unitard
Best piece of advice you've ever received?
To watch over the horizon line when you’re walking down the street. Makes your view a lot more beautiful.
What would you like your legacy to be?
To bring joy in as many people’s lives as I can.
Quote to live by?
Who knows why that is good?
Tamara's the sweetest and drew our logo and a picture of me as a birthday gift! I'm obsessed with these, and I'm going to frame them and hang them up!!
KEEP UP WITH TAMARA
Art Instagram: @stationarylift
Personal Instagram: @chichikuss
Facebook: Stationary Lift
Youtube: Tamara Mylo
I can't wait to see what and who Tamara draws next! This girl has a big future in whatever medium of art she pursues.
All other photos courtesy Tamara Milošević