The art of the matter
It’s easy to focus on the glitz of a yacht or the glamour of a famous destination, but yachts actually open up avenues for pure adventure both on the water and before the yacht is even launched.
“It always excites me not knowing which tools l’m going to use next,” begins artist Zorica Ivankovic. “Chisels, brushes, scalpels, hands – am I going to paint backwards on glass, or am I going to carve or sculpt, and if so which style is it going to be? But also I’m always looking at new ways of merging materials, techniques and tools in order to create new finishes.”
Ivankovic is one of many artists who make up DKT Artworks, a company that specialises in bespoke art created for discerning clients both on yachts and on land. The company operates more or less with a lateral structure, and serves as much as a collective of creative talent than as a traditional hierarchical business. It’s an approach that has clearly paid dividends – DKT has completed bespoke art projects, from sculptures to murals to frescoes and so far beyond, for more than 100 yachts since it was founded 40 years ago.
That’s not all, however. The artists who make up DKT come from a diverse range of backgrounds – some with more formal art training, others from trades such as painting and decorating. And while everyone has their skills, they all jump into pretty much any project and often collaborate to work out how to complete some of the more outlandish requests from clients. That means that the artists are not only developing their own artisanal skills and broadening their range of talents, but also that they are innovating new and creative approaches to completing artworks – and that means that the boundaries of art itself are being pushed.
Ivankovic came to England in 1992 from native Serbia, where she was working in a plastics injection moulding company, and since arriving in the UK has worked as an artist , decorative artist and gilder. “Without doubt, in the two decades since joining DKT I’ve developed already established skills and have grown as an applied artist in many fields of decorative arts. The yachting industry has been extremely important, as it has given me the opportunity to do the most amazing projects over the years which are not often seen elsewhere.”
Her enthusiastic sentiment is echoed by another DKT artist, Peter Mundee. He worked as a freelance illustrator before joining DKT, but has since developed skills in sculpture, bas relief and surface texture and design. “The variety and scope of application allows a fulfilling collaboration between client, designer and artist,” he beams. “The decorative arts are enhanced by superyacht interior design – it’s a challenging environment that facilitates the inspiration and development of the artist.”
DKT – like many artisanal companies who serve the superyacht industry, from boatbuilders taking on apprentices to cabinetmakers producing exquisite pieces of bespoke furniture – has found that the superyacht industry has provided not only business lifeblood but also the chance to grow and develop, and to nurture talent and creativity in ways that just weren’t imaginable when its founders first got together some 40 years ago. “Our vision was quite modest,” says Sean Trowbridge, DKT Director and one of those original founders. “We just wanted to use our skills and training as artists to produce some interesting and distinctive paint finishes. But as confidence grew and opportunities came along the vision expanded, taking us into new areas – anything that could be described as decorative arts.”
When DKT first started the UK interior design world was pretty conservative, says Trowbridge. “Before we discovered the superyacht sector, or it discovered us, there was a level of frustration that we had abilities that weren’t being used to their full. The industry has offered us variety and challenges, and as a result we have become both more resourceful and more disciplined.”
The team has had to develop and adapt their skills to the various technical requirements without compromising the end result which, Trowbridge says, has been very rewarding for them and for their clients. “Although we now produce a lot of land-based artworks,” he adds, “without our involvement in the yacht sector over the past twenty years I don’t think that would have happened.”
For Ivankovic, the rewards are considerable, even if the wider recognition is not. “Ever since my first mural done for the award-winning superyacht Phoenix for Winch Design back in 2004 there have been many amazing projects,” she says. “The challenge of doing something for the first time – I never do similar projects twice – is a perfect ground for an artist to grow. An applied artist has to rise to the challenge each and every time, inside of an allowed timeframe – we are like little, unknown soldiers, behind the scenes.”
Behind the scenes they may be, but the extraordinary works they produce bring joy not only to superyacht owners and guests but to all of us, and they ensure that artists specialising in all areas of the decorative arts have an outlet not only to hone their skills but to develop new ones as well. “This is very much a two-way street,” Ivankovic concludes. “There are those who need us to complete their vision, and there is us – artists, who know how.”