It was after a period of depression, and a gentle push from a friend that Sanda decided to set up Broken isn’t bad as a pseudonym on Instagram to work under. Now, two years later, she hasn’t just quit her full-time job to focus fully on her art, but has amassed a following of over 484,000. Based out of Croatia, she’s an artist led by her emotions, and strives to express a sense of vulnerability and intimacy that both inspires and encourages others to embrace their imperfections.
Here, the graphic designer discusses the process of bringing Broken isn’t bad to what it is today, the feeling of seeing her work as tattoos on someone’s body, and whether she has ever been tempted to tattoo herself.
On founding Broken isn’t bad:
“Broken isn’t bad started in the beginning of 2016, when I opened my Instagram account at the urging of a friend and started working under this pseudonym. It was a period of my life when I felt quite depressed and unmotivated. I worked as a graphic designer in a big corporation and just ended my long-term relationship. I was in search of myself and felt really broken in a psychological sense, so it’s amazing how these few words have made a big impact on me, and showed me how to move forward.
In the beginning, most of my drawings were of a personal nature. The naked body and the girl with the fringe which extends through almost all of my drawings represented me. The growth on Instagram since then has been absolutely insane! The more followers I was gaining, the more I was earning from selling prints, so it was reasonable to turn my passion into a profession, and quit my 9-to-5 job in order to fully dedicate myself to art.”
On her art style:
“I find it difficult to describe my own style with simple words. I’d say it is minimalist, monochromatic line work. I don’t use colors, mostly because I like to emphasize emotions in black and white contrast, which gives stronger and more serious meaning. My drawing has definitely changed over time, although those changes are quite imperceptible. The style has stayed the same from the very beginning but it has changed in the sense that is now much more refined, simplistic, and engaging.”
On requests to have her work tattooed:
“I [get requests] on a daily basis, and I don’t mind at all as long as I am notified and give my permission. Sometimes it goes pretty smoothly and other times I need to explain and justify myself for requesting a small contribution payment as a support to me and my future art. I always ask my followers to get in touch with me in advance of taking my artwork and getting it tattooed, and purchase the right to a design which is then considered reserved and not available for other purchases. I want to prevent people having an exact same tattoo, because a tattoo should be unique to you as an individual.”
On seeing those tattoos on people’s bodies:
“It’s actually a tricky situation because some people think that no one owns the right to artworks they found online on Instagram or Pinterest, and because the internet is a public domain they are allowed to take someone else’s work and use it as a design for their tattoo without asking an original artist for their permission. But, that’s violating copyright law. I greatly respect when someone reaches out to me asking me for permission, and supporting me any way they can, not necessarily by paying for the tattoo, but also by purchasing something from my shop. Art is my full time job and many people, me included, use social media to generate a living out of their work.”
“In the beginning (in 2016-2017) it was quite unreal. I couldn’t believe that someone would actually want my artwork on their skin. Over time, those requests have been increasing, and there’s dozens of people who already have my work tattooed on their body. I always feel honored and humbled by someone actually identifying with my art that much. I’m happy there are still decent and honest people in this world who want to support me, and seeing photos of someone’s tattoo based on my work can make my day. But, I can also get quite angry when I come across tattoos based on my drawings and realize that person hasn’t even tried to contact me or even less, given any credit.”
On creating original, custom designs for tattoos:
“The process begins with a client’s email where they describe their idea, include their favorite quote, a poem, some song lyrics, their photographs, and so on. I try to study and fully understand the text, read their story and take all the instructions and suggestions in order to formulate a concept and determine the fee which depends on a size, complexity, and subject matter.
My primary goal with custom illustrations is to provide my clients with the best possible price for the best possible work. If the quote is accepted, I start working on a sketch to roughly represent the idea and story behind it. After I receive feedback I produce a more refined drawing, and then make final amendments if necessary until the commission is 100% perfect. I add some finishing touches and once completed, deliver a hi-res .jpg image that can be printed out and brought to a local tattoo artist.
So far, I haven’t had any problems in producing a piece that both my client and I would be 100% happy with. I think my followers are familiar with my style and I don’t accept commissions that I’m not comfortable working with, such as someone asking me to add colors or some other elements outside of my style.”
On whether she would try tattooing herself:
“Of course, I am a big fan of tattoos and would say that tattoo art actually drew me to my style and to drawing itself. I have always loved black and white dot work and line-based tattoos that combine geometric and nature-related elements. I remember back in 2016 I tried to draw my own tattoo that I wanted to get tattooed in future, and I just continued drawing in that line based, minimalist style.
I had been thinking and even making some plans to move abroad and start my tattoo career in Germany, but life and some unexpected things happened that made me stay in Croatia with my family. So right now, I’m only doing customized tattoo pieces, which is not a bad thing at all, because people living in other parts of the world can get my work tattooed at their local tattoo parlor.”
On her tattoos, and what they mean to her:
“I do have a couple of tattoos, though they are small. They’re mostly connected to nature and mountains (because I love snowboarding). The first one I got five years ago was the brain and the heart connected with a thread, representing everything I was dealing with at that time, the never ending battle between them, and the indecisiveness about following your passion or choosing a life of comfort and safety. Luckily, I decided to follow my heart, which has brought me to where I am today.”