Six years ago, while traveling extensively through East Europe, especially ex-Yugoslavia, I noticed a rise in graffiti with hate messages. What particularly caught my eye, and I am a graphic designer, was the increased use of international hate symbols. I am not referring to the swastika, but the Celtic cross/skinhead symbol and the like. Soon, I found out that these symbols are directly associated with various soccer "fan clubs" - a fancy name for regional soccer hooligans infiltrated by this “foreign” neo-Nazi ideology and iconography. What was truly fascinating was that these hooligans from different clubs and countries, who typically hate each other, were all waving banners with the exact same symbols. In the meantime, the majority of the general public was entirely unaware of their meaning. Seeking to raise awareness about these symbols, I began to collect and lecture about them.
Mirko Ilić was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In Europe, he drew comics and illustrations for posters, books, and record covers. In the U.S., he was the art director of Time Magazine International Edition and art director of the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times. In 1995 he established his own design firm, Mirko Ilic Corp, widely recognized for its strong visual concepts. Ilic's work has received numerous awards and is in the collections of institutions such as the Smithsonian Museum and MoMA, New York. He is the co-author of several books, including "Genius Moves: 100 Icons of Graphic Design," "Handwritten," "Lettering Large" and "The Design of Dissent." Mirko teaches Masters degree illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York.