Diving into the feelings
Tell me a bit about you and your background: where are you from/ where did you study?
I’m Daria, a full-time freelance illustrator. I was born and raised in a small village near Moscow, Russia until I moved to the city. I always like to spend much time drawing but I wasn’t very serious about that for a long time. After I graduated from Pedagogical University I changed my way and decided to dedicate myself to the digital industry. Thus I started learning raster and vector graphics and found a job in an advertising agency. I worked as a graphic designer for several years. That was my first job where I was able to apply my passion for drawing working on some real clients’ projects. Around the same time, I discovered many talented illustrators of children’s books and greeting cards. These amazing people inspired me to develop my illustration skills and invest a lot of time in research, reading and practicing. In a nutshell, my career began with self-education.
A year ago, I started to draw and design my own product line of illustrated paper goods. And I’m happy to realize that, as a result, my knowledge and experience in graphic design allows me to find a good mix of graphic design and illustration. Creating and illustrating stationery is a whole new world for me, but I really love it.
What’s your earliest memory of drawing/ creating?
In a house where I grew up, there were many landscape paintings on the walls. I remember that one day they suddenly attracted my attention as if I’d never seen them before. I took my gouache and paper and tried to reproduce one. It was a brook in a green forest. Now I realize that was my first drawing after which I really began trying to draw for my own pleasure. I guess I was about 13
When did you start to dedicate to the world of illustration?
During my work as a graphic designer, over 5 years ago, I also started working as a freelance illustrator after office hours. My first clients came to me from my friends, familiars, and social media, where I always shared my works and let people know about my learning process and illustrations. After a while, I started to cooperate with game studios and publishers and become a full-time illustrator in 2016.
With what technique are you more comfortable? What do you think about digital painting? Which one do you prefer to illustrate?
I’ve dedicated myself exclusively to digital painting at the moment. My creative process always starts and ends in front of a computer screen. A few years ago I usually used my sketchbook for initial sketches. But over time I realized that even drawing rough initial sketches using my software is more comfortable and efficient for me. To be honest, I’d been hesitating a lot before I make that decision, telling myself “I should use my paper sketchbook because many artists work this way!” But then I just listened to myself and tried to focus on my own current aspirations. Using digital techniques helps me to represent my visual language and express my feelings and artistic vision. It also helps me to be more flexible with my projects and I really
appreciate that. However, it doesn’t mean I never return to traditional tools. Experimenting with different techniques, styles, and ideas is one of the great ways to learn something new and step outside of a comfort zone.
Your work is so unique and speaks to your sense of trees and flowers, can you tell me about your journey to finding this point in your work? Do you think you are still searching?
I am always learning and growing as an illustrator – every day. I’m not marching in one place, I’m constantly changing and all my habits and thoughts are changing too. But I always try to focus on a better understanding of myself – who I am, where I came from, and where I want to go. I just turn attention to my deeper core, the roots of what I truly love and value, such as nature, silence, books and so on. I think these values almost always stay the same in my life because they linked strongly to the environment I grew up in and the people I spend the most time with. And these values have a significant influence on my decisions about what kind of illustrations or products I want to create.
Do you personally find the process of working within self-imposed constraints or rules helpful to your work?
I’m very productive in the mornings and one of my personal rules – to get enough sleep and wake up as early as possible. I always tried to do the most important and creative work only during morning hours. I really take this everyday routine very seriously and don’t allow anybody or anything to distract me. This simple habit gives me the ability to stay focused and achieve better results.
How does it feel when you’re drawing?
To be honest, when I’m drawing I feel like I’m not in this world anymore. I’m fully disconnected from everything that’s going on around me. On the one hand, I’m very focused but at the same time, I don’t feel stressed. I’m diving into the feelings I want to express, working on an illustration or character. But I wouldn’t say I’m having those feelings constantly during the drawing. At some point, I’m just like a person under hypnosis. I know, it sounds fun, but I don’t know how to explain it. Whatever it is, I love this feeling.
What do you feel was the best lesson you learnt while studying? Is there anything that still sticks with you or do you feel you’ve thrown out a lot of advice of tutors as your practice has developed?
Being a self-taught illustrator is not an easy thing, but I’ve learned a lot from online learning resources, reading books or artists’ blogs and from my own experience. I guess one of the best lessons I’ve gained – devote more time to your practice. Regardless of the art, you want to create, you should always work on your drawing skills first. I like this advice. And I still follow it.
Tell us about your calendar project? Why did you choose this topic?
I drew the calendar specifically for book lovers. This calendar includes 12 illustrated cards with writers’ portraits on them. I love reading, and before starting a new book I’m always eager to learn more about the author: Who was he(or she)? What was that period when the author lived? And what else did he do, aside from being a writer? I realized that I got so inspired by people and their life experience. So I was creating this calendar with a great interest. It’s all about the people whose words we still read and hear.
Do you collaborate with other designers?
I don’t collaborate with anybody at the moment. However, I think it’ll definitely happen.
How many times do you tend to draw a character until it’s right, and also how do you know that it is right?
I almost always make a decision about what I like or dislike about an initial sketch step. Sometimes I create an enjoyable character quickly. I just feel he looks well. I have confidence in him. But sometimes it can take several hours because I see that something not right with the character’s body position, facial expression or the way he looks. Then I just continue sketching, time and again, until getting the result I like.
Who are some of the other artists you take inspiration from?
Oh, I take inspiration from so many people! So I just write a few: Robert Ingpen, Ayano Imai, Renata Liwska, Emilia Dziubak, Levi Pinfold, Igor Oleynikov