Aleksander J.Potočnik is an illustrator and an architect-conservationist. He was born in 1961 in Ljubljana, Slovenia (at the time a part of the former Yugoslavia). He graduated in 1984 at the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Ljubljana. Despite his formal education as an architect his main endeavour was illustrating and cartooning for the then major Slovenian periodicals. Between 1989 and 1994 he was living in Melbourne, Australia, where he completed a Graduate Diploma course in Animation and Interactive Multimedia. After returning to Slovenia he spent the rest of the nineties working mostly in the advertising industry. In the year 2000 he was an animator for the team that won the Golden Drumstick Award at the Golden Drum Festival.
He illustrated many fiction and non-fiction books both in Slovenia and in Australia. One of the more noted were “Mischievous Fairytales” (Nagajive pravljice) written by author Mateja Perpar. The series is also a part of the collection of the Brokensips Museum in Zagreb, Croatia. Another important part of his activities was drawing of pictorial maps for clients in Slovenia and North-East Italy.
The turning point in his career happened in October 1999. When drawing a tourist map of the municipality of Ziri he discovered the forgotten fortification system called the Rupnik Line – until then completely unknown to the general public. Under the mentorship of the American fortification expert, Joe E. Kaufmann, he undertook some research and published the very first study about the Rupnik Line in the British based Fort Magazine in 2001.
Since then he has published many articles and several books about the subject. The books printed in English or in a bilingual version include: “The Ring of Wire (Utrjena Ljubljana)”, Ad Pirum, 2006; “Slovenian Fortifications (Utrdbe na Slovenskem)”, Ad Pirum, 2008; “Fortifying Europe’s Soft Underbelly”, Merriam Press, 2012, “Hemingway’s Trail of the Novel A Farewell to Arms”, Merriam Press, 2013 and “Erwin Rommel’s Blue Max”, CreateSpace, 2014. He contributed illustrations for books by Joe E. Kaufmann: “The Maginot Line – History and Guide” and “The Atlantic Wall – History and Guide”, both published by British based publishers Pen & Sword. Despite his engagement in fortification studies he continues working as an illustrator and participates regularly at events such as Slovenian Biennial of Illustration and Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava.
Aleksander J. Potocnik is a member of the Ad Pirum Institute and co-operates with the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia. He is a member of the Fortress Study group (FSG) and of the Hemingway Society. In the period 2011 – 2013 he was also a vice-president of the Association of the Slovenian Fine Artists Societies.