Here are the most popular questions I get asked. Part 2 coming up very soon!
How long does it take to complete one piece?
A question that has no answer, to be honest. But I'll try :-) I rarely draw non-stop these days. And even if I did it more often, every piece - even of the same size - would take different amount of time to complete. Some drawings need revisions, sometimes I redraw, start anew, or completely give up on an idea after working several hours every day, some drawings appear as if by magic, without me noticing having spent hours on them. Drawing is not an office job and flexible hours mean working all day and sometimes night.
Another reason why I can't answer the question is because I usually work on several drawings simultaneously.
But if the question were re-phrased - What is your working speed? Then I'd say, mine is quite fast but I often like to slow down and indulge.
What time of day do you feel most creative?
If I feel a wave of inspiration, I want to do something with it immediately, no matter what time of day it is. Otherwise I really like early mornings or late evenings, when the air is less cluttered with noises and distractions.
What inspires you?
For a separate blogpost on inspiration please click here
The word "inspiration" has taken on a broader meaning with the appearance of the Internet. I take my inspiration from everywhere: nature, people, growth, changes, places, music, emotions but rarely from other people's art. And when I do, it is never visuals or technique or shapes that I want to borrow; what I am looking for is this elusive energy that flows from the artist into the work and into the viewer. This creative passion gets inside me and brews until something personal comes out.
I am not a big fan of museums or actually looking at other people's art, as I want to keep my visual ideas fresh and uninfluenced even unconsciously. I love art, of course. I love the movement of Mattise's strokes - his work always makes me smile, even laugh (with it :-) - and I think that's because he put a secret invisible ingredient into it, which is what inspiration is; the warmth in Angela Barrett's work makes me emotional, the wildness of Van Gogh's colours and shapes makes me want to dance... Some people are a little surprised that I don't name famous illustrators like Aubrey Beardsley or Harry Clarke among my favourites, but the truth is, my childhood was with Russian books and I hadn't heard of these masters until someone mentioned their names in relation to my work years after. I love what they do, but personally for me - looking at a similar genre of work is a dead-end process. My inspiration is completely unrelated to the style of my work. Passion, determination, skill, kindness, emotion and more - that's what inspires me in art and other spheres of life. I can truthfully say that what I do was more inspired by watching Jacques Yves Cousteau documentaries or listening to Bowie than by any illustrator or artist. Somewhere I read about Kate Bush saying her favourite music was a birdsong. I love that. Inspiration can be found anywhere, not only online or in art books. Inspiration found in unlikely places is even richer and more rewarding :-)
How did you come up with your style?
It developed naturally. I have been drawing for as long as I can remember myself. I believe childhood and what it is filled with is very important. I was a very observant child, and loved decoration, art, photography, travelling... We had a lot of interesting hand-painted objects at home, mostly Ukrainian and Russian traditional craft and some items from Native American culture, which I think had an influence on me afterwards. The dark starry backgrounds that I use in almost every drawing (yes, the little dots/bubbles/beans/snowflakes/etc are stars :-) were inspired by 2001: Space Odyssey that I watched as a teenager and fell in love with, so I decided to weave part of it into my work. I regard this as a masterpiece of world cinema.
Why do you have so many eyes in your work?
Eyes help establish connection and communicate, they catch your attention. They are the first thing you notice about someone and if you are attentive, you can read the person by looking at their eyes. I find it a fascinating practice. I started drawing eyes without realising what I was doing, until someone asked whether it was somehow connected to my name (the root of my last name is EYES in Russian), which, I thought, was funny and realised that I was doing it to create a portal for the viewer to get inside my work. I never feel like the work is truly alive unless it has at least one eye in it. It should look back at you.
I once read a quote from Modigliani, who, when asked why he painted eyes the way he did, said "Because you look out at the world with one eye and into yourself with the other."
I hope eyes in my work not only establish the connection but also serve as a subtle reminder to look and see, outside and inside.
to be continued...