I came across the delicate and beautiful illustrations style of Sveta Dorosheva by pure happenstance and immediately contacted her for an interview.
Her illustrations take me back to childhood being in love with fairytales and knowing there was infinite possibility for imagination in the world ahead.
I feel very lucky to share her artwork and eloquent answers to my questions.
Do you have anything upcoming you would like to talk about? (gallery shows,products,upcoming projects,etc)
Yes, major upcoming news is my book published this fall. I’ve been working on it for three years. Actually, most of the good stuff that I produced during these years, will be in the book. I wrote it pretty quickly, as compared to the time it took illustrating it.
It’s a book about people and human world as seen through the eyes of fairy tale creatures. It’s an assortment of drawings, letters, stories, diaries and other stuff about people, written and drawn by fairies, elves, gnomes and other fairy personalities. These observations may be perplexing, funny and sometimes absurd, but they all present a surprised look at the things that we, people, take for granted. Draft excerpts here – http://www.behance.net/gallery/The-Nenuphar-Book/970281
What or who inspired you to become an artist?
I can’t really tell. I’ve been drawing since childhood. It’s almost a reverse situation: I always wanted to be an artist and looked for things that would inspire. I remember finding an album with greek sculpture at home when I was five. I brooded over it for hours. But then we had lots of various books at home, and only this one was an art book and grabbed my attention. I remember one of mom’s friends was an artist, and I begged her for a watercolor sketch and then treasured it for years. But then, mom had lots of friends, and only this woman was of interest to me.
So, it’s not like something or someone inspired. These things have always attracted me, although there has been no particular jump start. My mom is a programmer, Dad – an engineer. There are both very creative people in their spheres, but there has never been anything ‘artistic’ going on at home. I was a rather wistful kid with a contemplative type of mind. I could just sit at look at the streaks on the leaves or feathers and i wasn’t bored. Yes, and I drew a lot before school got me busy with other things.
Then I studied a lot in school and forgot drawing. But then I entered a local University (in Ukraine) and was bored to death (I studies languages, parents wouldn’t let me go away from home to study in art academy at that time. Also, they thought art was childish. The irony was that in a year THEY would leave home and immigrate, and I would stay in that nuisance university. That taught me to be more attentive to my desires – after all, it’s me who’ll have to deal with them later, fulfilled or not). So I started drawing during the lectures and that was the renaissance and it lasted for 10 years. I was severely interrupted with the birth of my first child – I stopped drawing for four years – and then came renaissance 2. The pauses are bad and I dread them, but these deprivation periods are awesomely inspiring.
What do you think the next evolution in your style with be?
Good question. I can tell right now I am in the middle of it. I am not sure exactly, because you know – when something is changing (and it is), there is always a period when one deteriorates into very contradictory styles and directions, and then it all mysteriously melts together into something new.
So, I’ve been noticing for about a year that artworks I save into my ‘inspiration folder’ have changed crucially. Instead of medieval illuminations and emblemata, I started collecting street art and such umm… you know nonchalant watercolor works – all splashes and negligent line, but working together in a truly masterly way. That is something I am absolutely incapable of, because I am very ACCURATE. I tried to do something like that just for kicks and found out I can’t – I am accurate because I am cautious. And I am cautious because I lack knowledge (I don’t have academic art training). I realized I am drawn to that sort of ‘accidental beauty’ because I lack artistic freedom, does it make sense? To me artistic freedom comes from skill. So, I started to work on that. I found a local art school (in Israel) and have been taking classes in academic drawing, nude figure drawing and watercolor and whatnot… And that changes me gradually. Earlier I wanted to draw only The Beautiful. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the more you train, the more beauty you see in commonplace things. I am starting to understand Japanese ‘floating world’ artists – there’s nothing like just capturing the world that’s floating by.
So, I think (and hope) the next evolution in my style will tend towards more freedom and… simplicity. Well, my type of simplicity (doesn’t really LOOK simple:) Also, I’ll probably get less medieval:)
Do you have any personal projects you work on just for your own happiness?
(Art or Non Art related)
Yes, how did you know?! Right now I have three. One is an ongoing ‘forever’ project, which is an artbook, sketchbook, scrapbook – call it what you want. It’s my diary, where I list ideas for current and future projects, write out excerpts and quotes from books I read, jot down some thoughts or events from life, do sketches, quick ideas and stuff. It’s more for artistic freedom than anything else, but I often return to it, when I write for my books – it has many observations from life that are difficult to remember in detail when needed, like things seen during a train ride or in entertainment park or on the dance floor…
Speaking of which, my second thing for kicks is dancing. I am taking salsa lessons, which is pure happiness, injected directly into blood, immediately. It’s not like drawing – you don’t have to think of an idea, and then do sketches and then draw the clean version, and then wait in torture till you can see it turns out all right, and then finish it in torture because after you see it turns out all right, it’s not interesting anymore… You just dance and this art is instant pleasure.
My third current ‘personal’ art project is an erotic flip book. The idea is – the book is cut in halves, and as you flip the half pages, the poses vary from ‘mating of the mandarine ducks’ to ‘silkworm spinning a cocoon’. Each image is accompanied by a small poetic text by my favorite modern poet.
I wanted to make a cut-up flip book for years, and it’s going to turn out a delicate eclectic thing – the original theme was inspired by japanese shunga. But then i mixed it up with steam punk for a good solid way to ‘flip the halves’ randomly, and then I added my usual imagery – zeppelins, masks, merry-go-rounds, mermaids, snake women, spirits, corsets, top hats and other things and creatures I am inexplicably fascinated with visually. It’s fun.
What is your routine before you sit down and start working on a new piece of work, or do you even have one?
There is a decent answer to that and the truth. The decent answer: I think of an idea and write down all imagery pertaining to it that comes to mind. then I look up things I don’t know how to draw in google images. Then I sit down to do the sketches. And so on.
The truth is I procrastinate until I I am utterly disgusted with myself – I go eat, and smoke, and have another coffee, and check my inbox again… and then decide it’s high time to do the laundry, because anything is better that that terrifying clean white sheet of paper… No, I love it. I actually can’t live without drawing more than one day. Well, I can, but it’s wicked unhappy life. But that’s the way I usually start, yes. Starting is painful. The only thing that redeems it is the fun that follows after I put the first line down. I don’t remember who said that all art is about trying to recover from the first line drawn, but that’s true.
Can you describe your process?
Yeah, so I procrastinate and procrastinate and then I get down to it real quick. Day one: I do the sketches and if needed, collect the final sketch in photoshop from bits and pieces to make sure all of the ideas fit (or not). Then I transfer it to a clean sheet of paper in pencil right from the computer screen, using it as a light screen.
Day two: The most difficult part is behind (finding the composition), the fun is all ahead – developing the details. If it’s a color work, I develop the details in pencil before doing the color (watercolor, gouache, acrylics, depends of the piece). Then I do the color.
Day three. And finally – the line art in pen over the color. If it’s a black and white piece, I improvise in the details without preliminary detail in pencil. The work is finished when I start thinking ‘maybe I should add…’ – that I definitely shouldn’t do. I have a problem leaving my work alone. It has to beg me real hard.
What makes you counter productive?
Oh everything. My salvation is really that I can’t live without drawing, so I get back to it every time, but really – everything makes me counter productive: critique, mess, too much housework, procrastination, failed drawing, kids’ illnesses… No, probably the most obnoxious thing I do is this: if I waste, say, half an hour, I fall into a mood ‘so let the whole day be wasted!’ So, I’d say lack of discipline. Also, I always get rather counter productive towards the end of the project. I don’t know why. The endings are full of dread. It’s not that I am bored… well, it is.
What would you say is your favorite medium to work in?
I can’t say. More exactly, I am most comfortable in black and white graphics, but I WANT to master watercolor. So, my favorite medium that I am aiming at is watercolor. But my favorite medium that I can do blindfolded is pen and ink.
Do you have any favorite muses, or inspirations?
It depends. As I said, most of my style comes from medieval and baroque art – same origin as art nouveay, probably that’s why my work often gets pinned down as nouveau style. But currently I am drawn to japanese imagery, both antique and modern, and street art (I think some of these guys are modern Bosch’s and Breugel’s actually). As for particular artists, I follow too many blogs and websites to pick some particular ones, some of them are listed in my behance profile in ‘Sveta is following’ link.
What do you consider “Punk” in this era?
Art, style, music?
I haven’t really thought of that. I think Japanese are very punk. I mean the ‘Fruits’ type of thing. But then, thay have always been punk, look at their mythology and traditional art for instance…