Brightness Illustration Magazine No.23

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Index

SPOTLIGHT | 24 ANNA ZAVYALOVA

COZY,SWEET & CHILDHOOD REMINDER | 28 Exclusive Interview with IRA GRISHANOVA

CREATIVE SPACE | 38 PERFECT YOUR IDEAS | 40 Exclusive Interview with ELENA REPETUR

STILL LIFE LANDSCAPE METHOD | 52 Exclusive Interview with KATERINA KHLEBNIKOVA

TRUST YOURSELF | 62

Exclusive Interview with MASHA TITOVA

LOVE YOUR MISTAKES | 70 Exclusive Interview with VARYA YAKOVLEVA

FAIRY-TALE WORLDS | 74 Exclusive Interview with ANASTASIA LAVRU

BRIGHTNESS GALLERY | 82

In This Issue of

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PAPER BOAT CAPTAIN

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Victoria Semykina

C O V E R

I L L U S T R AT O R :

V I C T O R I A

S E M Y K I N A

CO-FOUNDER & ART DIRECTOR: SADEGH AMIRI | CO-FOUNDER & EDITOR IN CHIEF: NARJES MOHAMMADI | PR MANAGER: DARYA BASHI | INTERNATIONAL CONTRIBUTER: ALI BASHI | WEB CONTENT MANAGER: DIACO FARAMARZI | GRAPHIC DESIGN: BRISTU STUDIO | EDITORIAL CONTENT MANAGER: BRIGHTNESS NEWS AGENCY

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ABOUT US

PLEASE VISIT OUR WESITE: WWW.BRIGHTNESSMAG.COM EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS . EXHIBITION NEWS . ARTIST BIOGRAPHIES

ABOUT BRIGHTNESS Brightness magazine was founded by Narjes Mohammadi (Hasmik) and Sadegh Amiri in 2016 as a digital magazine to present exclusive interviews with experienced illustrators, whose wisdom and knowledge are treasure troves for young artists. We aim to promote the current works of popular as well as up and coming artists, so that people can be inspired by the beauty and effectiveness of illustration in expressing powerful ideas. For those who want to dive deeper into the wonderful world of illustration we present articles that give valuable insights into the creative minds of the world. We hope you enjoy reading our publications as much as we enjoy publishing them.

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We want to change the world with art and love...

BRIGHTNESS FOUNDERS

SADEGH AMIRI HANZAKI

NARJES MOHAMMADI HASMIK

PHOTOGRAPHER & ART DIRECTOR

ILLUSTRATOR

FOUNDER AND CEO

FOUNDER AND EDITOR IN CHIEF

Are you interested in submitting to Brightness? If you’d like the chance of being published in one of issue, get in touch via this page. Please note that we receive many submissions each day and have limited space in each publication. So please show us the work you’re most proud of or the work you especially enjoy creating.

Submission Info Email your submission to sub@brightnessmag.com with “ART SUBMISSION” in the subject line. • Submit images as JPEGs or GIFs • Submit up to 5 images • Image sizes should be at least 600px wide and no more than 1000px wide

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Victoria Semykina

Paper Boat

Captain Exclusive Interview With

Victoria Semykina Victoria Semykina was born in Moscow where she studied painting for six years at the Art Academy. She is fond of travelling around the world and is currently living in sunny Bologna, Italy (where she has graduated from Bologna Academy of Arts). In between illustrating, she loves observing people, travelling and riding her red bicycle which features a basket that serves well for collecting materials for her collages and other artwork. Her strong passion for ships propels Victoria to spend considerable time at her shipyard working on the realization of her dream, which is to sail around the world in the largest paper vessel. w w w. s e m y k i n a . c o m

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Victoria Semykina

1. Can you begin with telling me a little bit about your art practice? How did you begin working as an artist? As a child I spent numerous hours drawing everything, making quick sketches everywhere: in the metro on my way to school, at the bus stops searching for a striking individual or subject etc. I was lucky enough to have phenomenal teachers in my art school and art academy in Moscow, as well as great mentors in Bologna. My journey as an illustrator began ten years ago when a friend of mine asked me to illustrate a book, igniting my passion for illustration. 2. What is your work routine? I try to wake up around 8 am, although this is a huge struggle during winter…Then, I play the piano before breakfast, drink a cup of coffee, then start drawing and working until dinner. In the evening, I try to stop working and clear my mind completely. I have a habit of watching a movie every evening, except when I’m meeting my friends. I really love films which are my most powerful source of inspiration. Around midnight I go to bed to watch my own movies. My dreams are very vivid accompanied by Oscarworthy acting and riveting soundtracks which is why I often struggle to get up early in the morning. 3. The illustrations in your books are wonderfully vivid. Can you tell me a bit about your technique and the materials you use? What I love most is experimenting with different techniques.I often use collage, printmaking, and acrylic painting; although, I usually work in a digital format for editorial illustration where I have tight

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deadlines to meet. For personal projects, I enjoy making paper and wooden installations, using all sorts of vintage scraps. I’m always experimenting and researching new mediums. 4. Color seems to have such a special role in your drawings. How do you choose the colors to be used for each illustration? As a kid, I was always struggling with colors until one of my teachers told me that there’s no conflict in my paintings. She said that in masterpieces there are always battles between warm and cold colors. I took this advice to heart and considered adding contrasting colors to my paintings to create a dialogue or dance of sorts rather than a battle. 5. How has your work developed since moving to Italy? Italy was a country that I had always wanted to visit. I fell in love with Bologna as soon as I stepped foot in it. I do believe this city influenced me in my journey as a professional illustrator. Every year you find a collection of books from countries all over the world like Japan, Czech Republic, Poland, Korea. I believe Italy, especially Bologna, inspires me to experiment and push my boundaries. 6. Who are some of the artists who have influenced your work? When I recall my childhood, the memories are categorized as before my introduction of Botticelli and after my introduction to Botticelli. My adolescence and twenties into pre-Matisse and post-Matisse and my 30s into pre-Saul Steinberg and post-Saul Steinberg.


Exclusive Interview

7. What is your approach to a new project? Where does the inspiration come from and how does it transform from an idea into a book? You would be surprised how much time it might take for a clear idea of a book to form. In some cases, an idea doesn’t take shape for years. On average, it takes 1-2 years for me to finish a book, although I have spent three years working on the book about Truffaut. I have a complete grasp on my book concept towards the end so I get tempted to redo the whole project, but thankfully, we have deadlines. I would never finish anything if it were not for the impending deadline. 8. How do you decide which ideas should be

included in the book? The hardest and most important thing to do while working on a book is editing out all the superfluous details. At the start of the project, you’re brimming with ideas and pour it all into the book, only to take a step back and wash away all the parts that don’t work for the story. The story needs to be effective and not watered down. 9. What do you hope children take away from your drawings? Honestly, I want them to interact with my books. I want them to talk to the characters, and imagine themselves inside the stories, or even draw in my books- that would mean the world to me.

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Victoria Semykina

10. How would you deal with differences in opinion between team members on a book illustration?

My teacher and mentor, Nikolai Popov, used to say when an author hands over a book to an illustrator, they need to completely let it go. In other words, the author should no longer have an input in the illustration process because the drawing will never measure up to the imagination of the writer. The book illustrator’s role is to create a personal interpretation of the text and not guess how the characters look in the author’s mind. Thankfully, all the writers and publishers I have worked with until now gave me a carte blanche to make my own interpretation of the text. I’m super lucky as they have put their utmost trust in me.

11. What would you do if a client kept rejecting all the drafts you presented to them? I once drew 29 drafts for a client and learned an important lesson in the process: the first 3 drafts are free, but there will be additional fees for each draft after the third one. It worked out perfectly. Clients now send a very detailed description and do a much better job explaining what they really want.

12. What are some trends or visual styles you appreciate in contemporary illustration?

Honestly, I don’t follow trends or styles at all. I’m more interested in strong individuals that are not necessarily in illustration. Thankfully, using this approach, I have discovered talented artists almost every day.

13. 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 from tutors as your practice developed?

The best piece of advice I have received was to take a sketchbook with you everywhere. While studying in art school, I thought that sketches were just a drawing exercise, but in reality , it’s more like a diary, a journal to keep your ideas and impressions of every moment. I started to take my sketchbook seriously years after I graduated, and now I just can’t imagine my life without them.

14. What is your best piece of advice for young artists who are getting started as creators of children’s books?

Paradoxically, not stressing over what children might like creates stories that children will love. Every child has their own interests; even if you have twins, they would probably like completely different things. I believe the best approach is to be sincere and take interest in your

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inner child. For better or for worse, the best reference for a children’s book is your own inner child.

15. How do you feel in receiving such an honor from the Andersen, Nami and V& Awards?

Honestly, I still can’t believe that these awards were given to me. I received them all last year, and should have gone to Korea for an award ceremony. Sadly, the pandemic changed the plans and it was all held online, but it still felt absolutely surreal. I also received amazing catalogs, and discovered many great artists who took part in these competitions, which made it real and very exciting for sure.

16. What is your dream project?

In recent years, I have decided to work only on projects that intrigue me. This way every project becomes your dream project. It took me almost 10 years to develop this way of thinking. I remember how much time and energy I spent working on the assignments that almost made me sick. However, if I were to be completely honest, I have a dream of being commissioned to travel all around the world and sketch. Ideally, I would be ecstatic to create an alternative guidebook for non-touristic places, accompanied by sketches and calligraphy. This dream grew stronger during the pandemic since I miss traveling and meeting people. So, fingers crossed, this dream project will come true one day.


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Victoria Semykina


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Victoria Semykina


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Spotlight

I started drawing in my grandfather’s studio when I was 2 years old. He was an artist just like my father. After graduating from art school, I entered an architecture university at the age of sixteen and I thought to myself that this was the ideal profession for me because “I draw, after all!” I soon realized that this profession was more about designing than drawing and felt miserable. I then left the field of architecture and never looked back. For the next seven years, I traveled around the world, did a lot of drawing, reading, writing, studying history and the history of illustration. I also worked, discovered tango, danced the flamenco, and fell in love with the Middle East and its art… I was on a journey for seven years- a journey to discover myself. I came across an ancient Coptic fresco of Righteous Anna in Warsaw and I was just mesmerized by her eyes. They looked at me through time and space, I was struck to the very heart. Reality seemed to shake. Time began to slow down, stopping for a split-second then rushing backwards with an ever-increasing speed. For centuries, I stood in front of this fresco, forgetting to breathe. As a revelation of sorts, I decided to enter the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts to study medieval Coptic arts. All these years, I have been constantly looking, observing, evolving, and drawing, drawing, drawing.

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ANNA ZAVYALOVA I l l u s t r a t o r


When I finally returned from this journey, the world seemed to have opened from another side, symbols began to appear on the blank pages and bird tracks in the snow. Loose wires harmonized with the moon in “C” in the second octave. Black Gothic letters were on bare branches, like lines in the old Gospels. The world turned into one big illustration and I just need to draw what I see. I prefer traditional materials and work mainly in mixed media, combining watercolors, colored pencils, oil pastels and pen and ink. I don’t add hidden messages into my work, but I try to convey emotions, thoughts, moods, and experiences of the moment. I put a lot of effort into my drawing so I get infinitely elated when my drawings warm the soul of someone, inspire them to draw or just cheer them up.

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The Creative Space Spotlight

ANNAZA


AVYALOVA

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Ira Grishanova

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Exclusive Interview

COZY,SWEET

&CHILDHOOD

REMINDER EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH I R A G R I S H A N OVA

Ira is an illustrator from Russia. She graduated from art college with a degree in graphic design and now lives in Nizhny Novgorod. She began doing illustration alongside her work as a designer. Gradually, illustration has became the main focus. Most of the time Ira now works on books. She likes to observe people - their gestures, movements, facial expressions, and then transfer these traits to characters from books. Her clients include Phoenix and Kachelly publishing houses.

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Ira Grishanova SAMJI

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© Phoenix publishing house

1. What led you to become an illustrator? Ever since I was young, I loved to draw and was pretty good at it so I always had the feeling that my career path would be related to the art world. Although I knew the general direction my life was going, it took a long time to find a specific path I wanted to take. I studied graphic design in art college and worked in the field for several years. I decided to change my career path into a more hand-intensive field. There were two fields that interested me at the time: calligraphy and illustration, so I decided to try both. I ended up choosing illustration since there was more creative freedom in comparison to calligraphy. For a while, I was working as a graphic designer and illustrator, but later decided to do illustration full-time.

interesting way.

2. What is your earliest illustration-related memory? I remember we were at school; we had to draw a tree for art class and my deskmate drew the tree with crosses as leaves. As a little kid, I was enraptured by her ingenious idea.It was the first time I’ve seen something typical being depicted in an unusual yet

5. What do you think about the way people perceive your work? It is very important for me to get feedback on my art because I get to know myself better through the eyes of the viewer. It is always interesting for me to read comments about my illustrations especially when people talk about the emotions that were

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3. If you were not an illustrator, what would you be? I would probably do calligraphy and lettering. I also love taking pictures. What’s funny is that I love drawing human characters, but not taking pictures of them. So if I were to be a professional photographer I would only take pictures of landscapes and non-human subjects. 4. How would you describe your style? My art style is cozy, sweet and reminds you of your childhood. I’ve always wanted to make my digital illustrations closer to traditional ones. I love flowing lines, rounded shapes, watercolor textures and pencil strokes.


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© Phoenix publishing house

invoked in them when looking at my art. 6. How have your personal experiences influenced your creative abilities? People are the sum of their experiences and how they react to it. Everything is interconnected so it is impossible not to be impacted by your life experiences. Certain events and people motivated me, inspired me, and contributed to my development while others demotivated me and slowed me down. One summer in my childhood, I met a girl in the village who had a passion for horses. Her love was so strong and contagious that we came up with various games to play with them and drew them all summer long. I had a collection of about a hundred horse drawings by the end of the summer. I’ve never been that rich before! Unfortunately, our friendship only lasted one summer, but it was a great drawing practice. Who knows, maybe that summer was the beginning of my love for smooth lines and rounded shapes in drawing. 7. What techniques are comfortable with?

you

I draw my commissioned artworks in Photoshop because it is easy to make edits. I also like watercolor, but for practice and illustrations that I create for myself, I use paint. 8. What is an event that inspired you? I am usually inspired not by specific situations, but by some moments, little things. I try to fix in memory what attracts my attention. For example, an unusual tree, the roofs of old houses, or the bushy eyebrows of an old man passing by. And later all this turns into new ideas or becomes part of an illustration. 9. What project are you currently working on? I am currently working on a book by a Soviet author. The illustrations need to reflect Soviet Russia with a modern twist. The intricacy of this project is in the details such as clothes, furniture, other details etc. Before this project, I only worked with contemporary authors so this is a new experience for me.

most 10. What are your thoughts on the pressure

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to fit into a fixed style, to attract an agent or a certain type of client? I think if an artist is cramped in one style, then he should not be limited to it and forcibly drive himself into some kind of rigid framework. Any pressure from outside, if it is not one’s own desire, will most likely have a negative effect.

ever seen? It is difficult to single out one thing. I like it when illustrations interact naturally and effectively with typography, for example, in advertising, packaging, websites, and on book or magazine covers. I also love when illustrations help reveal and understand a complex topic.

11. Do you have a method for dealing with the feeling of having no ideas? If we are talking about drawing for ourselves and about own projects, yes, I have a simple and banal way that helps me. I try to sketch all the ideas that come to my mind and keep them in sketchbooks or just on sheets of paper. Ideas like to come at the most inopportune time, when there is absolutely no way to implement them. The sketch doesn’t take long and ensures I don’t forget the idea. And when I have free time to draw something of my own, I have a bunch of everything I would like to draw.

14. Name three artists you’d like to be compared to. I admire many illustrators and artists, but I would not like to be compared to them. I think every artist wants to feel unique. It will be better if I will compare myself with the artist I was in the past and not with someone else.

12. What are your interests outside of illustration? In fact, all my interests right now are mostly related to illustration and my work. I like to delve into a particular topic from time to time, be it color science, plastic anatomy or composition. 13. What is the best use of illustration you have

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15. How is the (children’s book) publishing industry in Russia? In Russia, more and more beautiful, modern books are now being published, both by Russian and foreign authors and illustrators. I think everyone can find something for their interests and taste. I am glad now there is such a variety of themes and styles in books. 15. What is your vision of the future of illustration in Russia? I would like Russian illustration to not lose its strong artistic school of thought, but also absorb new, modern trends into its identity.


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© Phoenix publishing house

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Ira Grishanova


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Ira Grishanova


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Creative Space

Me and a couple of my colleagues started an initiative a couple years back to organize a community to unite and support Russian-speaking and Russian-based illustrators. Here in Russia illustration industry (especially book illustration industry) is in a very different state than in the EU/UK/USA. The main issue is that it is heavily underfunded, which means fair terms (and fair pay) are even harder to achieve. There’s also no official body for illustration in Russia and no easily accessible resources on licensing/financing. So, until now illustrators were basically on their own. It so happened that a few practicing illustrators including myself shared the same concerns and wanted to act upon them. That’s why we created our project, Иллюстраторская среда (Illustration Environment in Russian). What we wanted to do first and foremost was to provide illustrators with accessible information resources and create a platform where an open industry discussion could be held. This is the main focus of our community right now. We have two main platforms on which we are most active: Our Instagram instagram.com/Illustratorskaya_sreda where we host regular livestream talks with industry professionals (editors, agents, practicing illustrators, designers, authors, animators and more) And our website illustratorskayasreda.ru which has a few categories, including Blog (where we post various articles, interviews and industry insights) and Resources (featuring online materials on pricing, finance, licensing etc). Most of our resources are free and openly accessible to everybody, as our goal is to provide all illustrators with fundamental information, they may need to remain informed and safe in their professional practice. We share responsibilities with my colleagues equally, each of us has text materials, work on Instagram, time for live translations etc. Personally, I also do all the design of the website and Instagram page. For now, we only work in Russian, but we have many plans and hopes for development!) Thank you for the opportunity to tell about our work to a wide audience, this is important for us!

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Exclusive Interview

Creative THE

Space

w w w. i l l u s t ra to r ska ya s red a .r u I n s t a g r a m : I l l u s t r a t o r s ka ya _ s r e d a

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Elena Repetur


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PERFECT

YOUR IDEAS Exclusive Interview with

E l e n a

R e p e t u r

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Elena Repetur

1. Tell me about yourself. I was born in Kazakhstan, but grew up in Russia. I graduated with a degree in animation from Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography located in Moscow where I currently live. 2. How would you describe your illustration style? Does your work represent your personality? My illustration style is called expressionism. I would say my drawings contrast themselves a lot; they are soft yet a little rough making it dynamic and emotional. I have often heard that my illustrations are naive, but I believe there are some differences between my art and those of a child’s. I do draw inspiration from watching children drawing and pour the emotions I felt during that time into my art. 3. What are your thoughts on artists being pressured to fit into a fixed style as a means of attracting an agent or a certain type of client? I think sometimes the pressure to conform to the needs of the client can be crushing and prevents the author from experimenting. Experimentation is important in the growth process of an artist. For example, Picasso’s art style kept evolving, but you could still recognize his paintings. That being said, it is possible to find the balance between the needs of the client and the artist in order to create a true masterpiece. 4. Which project taught you the most? The book I am currently working on. It is my first book and I haven’t finished it yet, but I have already learned so much because of it. I made so many mistakes and received feedback which helped me grow as a person. 5. Which recent projects are you most proud of? I just finished a book about a good, little shark and I’m really looking forward to seeing the final product. I love all my projects and feel proud of everyone involved in the process of making them, even more so when they are published. 6. What are your plans for the future? I would like to continue publishing my illustrated children’s stories. I feel like I have a lot to learn as an author, but I hope to be a storyteller that children will love.

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Elena Repetur

7. Your work is so beautifully dynamic and seems to be influenced by different techniques. Can you describe your approach to color, texture and combination of different mediums? Thank you! I love integrating different techniques in my drawings. Someone once told me that if I didn’t like my sketch then I should work on it until I’m satisfied with the result. You should never abandon your ideas, but perfect them. This approach brings about a beautiful complexity to an artwork. I love examining illustrations from art exhibitions, bookstores, and social media and using the analysis as a tool of sorts for my works. 8. What is your process when creating a new book? First, I draw a rough layout, taking in account the overall design of the characters. Then, I add texts using InDesign. If the placement of the text is not in harmony with the sketch, then I redraw until I find the perfect balance. A more detailed drawing of the characters comes next. For me, designing the front cover and characters is the most important part and perfecting it may take time. 9. Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up? I grew up during the soviet era of Russia so I had little to no exposure to female artists. Fashion in the USSR was in poor taste so my mother often sewed beautiful clothes for me. My grandmother drew flowers with colored pencils as a hobby, but the first professional female artist I learned about was Frida Kahlo. I love and respect my mother’s and grandmother’s artistic talents as much as I do Frida Kahlo’s. 10. Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry? Personally, the difficulty lies in the fact that I am a mother as well as an artist. My child does not go to kindergarten, so maintaining a work-life balance is quite difficult.

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Elena Repetur


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11.Can you tell us more about your most recent or ongoing projects? I am working on a book about a cheetah who wants to run faster than his peers, but is unable to do so, until he is mentored by a mysterious mousetail. The book is called “Heh, the Cheetah Who Couldn’t Run” by Olga Vasilkova.I also wrote and illustrated a book about a shark who did not want to eat. I am currently continuing my work on Odysseus the dog among many things. All these stories are published under Albus Corvus Publishing House. 12. What is the best piece of advice you have received? Do not illustrate stories which you are not passionate about. 13. What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work? I would like to build connections with publishers from all over the world.

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Elena Repetur


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KATERINA KHLEBNIKOVA

STILL LIFE

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH K ATERINA KHLEBNIKOVA 1. Tell me about yourself? Where are you from? Where have you studied? Where are you currently living? I was born in Moscow into a family of book lovers. Dad was a connoisseur of antique books so I loved looking at rare editions of a book and reading picture books. Ever since I was little, I loved drawing, and my dream was to own an easel and a standing paint box. When I was 7 or 8 years old, I saved enough money to purchase my first painter’s case by selling wild mushrooms in the market. My parents always supported me in whatever I did. I graduated from Moscow State University of Printing Arts with a specialist degree in graphic design. I am a member of the Moscow Union of Artists, a book illustrator for both children’s and adults’ books, a drawing teacher, and a mother of two. I live in a townhouse outside of the city with my family. 2. What was the best lesson you have learnt while studying? Is there any piece of advice that you still use or have you outgrown them as time went on? I was very lucky to have Ms. Elena Nikolaevna Nenastina as my teacher. Her approach to drawing is based on the classic works of masters and theorists of fine art such as V.A. Favorsky, A.D. Goncharov, P.A. Florensky. They symbolize Russian art in the early 20th century and have developed a legacy still taught today in art history. Ms. Elena Nikolaevna taught me to consciously work with color, draw rhythms and pauses, and grasp the relationship of all objects with space and its movement in that space. She also taught me to work hard. | 53


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KATERINA KHLEBNIKOVA

3.What is your approach in creating your illustration? When I was at university, we had to draw the layouts of the large volumetric models we made for literary works from different materials. It ended up looking like a theatre production. I rarely use this method now. Now I draw based on what inspires me. I have a selection of photographs, illustrations, and movies. Sometimes I surround myself with certain objects in order to create a certain feel in the environment which inspires me to illustrate. I call this method “still life landscape.” Using this method, I create a series of sketches to look at the illustrations as a whole and then add the details. I also draw inspiration from nature. I use oil pastels, coloured pencils and gouache . 4. What is your favorite recently-completed project?

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I had the pleasure of illustrating the short story “Kashtanka” by Anton Chekhov for the Serbian publishing house, Darma Books. My illustrations were well received and were published mostly unedited. Due to the high quality of the project, I was offered by a Chinese publishing house to illustrate the remaining majority of the literary works of Anton Chekhov. 5. How is working for the children’s publishing industry in your country different as opposed to different countries? There are a lot of professional publishing houses in Russia, but working for foreign publishing houses is more comfortable. 6. Which foreign illustrators have influenced you? Laura Carlin, Beatrice Alemagna, Jorge Gonzalez, Yann Kebbi


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7. How do you overcome creative block or artist’s block? I just start working, collecting material, and making sketches until an idea forms in the process.

Illustration for children’s books, of course. The drawings develop a child’s sense of imagination and allow them to see the beauty of the world inside their head and around them.

8. What are your interests outside of illustration? Family, children, traveling. I love heavy rock music, going to concerts and gettogethers with friends.

12. If you were not an illustrator, what would you be? I have never imagined myself as anything but an illustrator. Perhaps, becoming a doctor would have been a viable alternative.

9. What would you say is your strongest ability as an illustrator? I don’t really like to praise myself, but I guess I have a good sense of color and I can create ambiences well.

13. If you could travel back in time, who would be the one person you would want to meet and why? I would like to meet my father, who died when I was 19. He would have been very 10. Why is illustration such a powerful proud of my success. medium in Russia? I think that illustration is a powerful mass 14. Where do you see yourself in five media not only in Russia, but all over the years’ time? world. In Rome, enjoying the open air. I would, obviously, live in my home country, but I 11. What is the best use of illustration would like to frequently travel to different you have ever seen? countries.

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KATERINA KHLEBNIKOVA


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KATERINA KHLEBNIKOVA


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Masha Titova


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TYOU R RUS ESLTF

E X C L U S I V E I N T E RV I EW W I T H

Masha Titova Masha is a Moscow-based illustrator, multidisciplinary artist and educator. She teaches illustration and graphic techniques in Moscow State Academy of Applied Arts and Design. Masha continuously takes part in exhibitions in Russia and abroad.

Her work was selected for the Illustrators Exhibition of Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2018 and shortlisted for the Golden Pinwheel award at Shanghai Children’s Book Fair in 2019. Masha created a visual identity for BCBF 2019 and MIBF 2019 and 2020 editions.

www.mashatitova.com

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Masha Titova

1. What led you to become an illustrator? Where did you grow up? What’s your earliest illustrationrelated memory? I have received a diverse education throughout my life. I studied at the Moscow State Stroganov Academy of Design and Applied Arts and finished up my studies in the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague where I graduated from their Visual Arts program. In Prague, I worked primarily with glass. Upon returning to Moscow, I received a master’s degree in Graphic Design where I focused on typography, books, and printed graphics. I think my method of illustration is drawn from many different experiences which helped me gain a plethora of skills, techniques, principles and different approaches such as project-based approach.

I mastered many different graphic techniques at Moscow State Stroganov Academy. I am very engaged in my work and pay close attention to the project technique. I analyze it’s expressive features and strive to develop them further. I refine my drawings until I can achieve maximum impact with minimal superfluous features, essentially abiding by the quote “Less is more.” I am particularly fond of hight printing and appliqué techniques for their conditionality, ability to achieve expressive silhouettes and counterforms. All of the techniques I use have the tendency to provide my projects with their own persona which makes me curious as to who I will discover next. I hope people will recognize my drive to portray an idea using specific material in a format that does the task justice.

2. How did your need for experimentation in illustration develop? I have not received a professional education in illustration, so experimentation was the only course of action for me.

4. How has your personal evolution been as an artist during these years? How has your creative process changed? Since my art is based upon my personal interests, skills, and experiences, it is only natural that my art has evolved just as I have. An example would be the character I created for the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in 2019. The characters I created for the fair were a constructor of figures and silhouettes which came

3. You have a unique technique. Which aspect of your technique do you like best? How did you come to favor this medium?

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Exclusive Interview

to life with handmade paint.

common in my works.

5. How important do you think it is to invest time in personal projects? I’ve learned an important lesson on this topic. While working on a project for a client, it is important to frequently express my opinions and feedback as an artist. In doing so, any project becomes a personal project and a means of experimentation.

8.Are your sketchbooks filled with day-to-day drawing or ideas for the projects you are working on? I have two sets of notebooks which perform different roles in my life. The first is my day-to-day notebooks filled with sketches of current projects, sketches of everyday occurrences, plans for the future, and what I am currently reflecting on. The other type of notebook is what I use when I am traveling. I use it as a sort of visual diary of the places I visit only so I don’t add any unnecessary information to it. .

6. Do you see yourself in your work? Do you think others see you in your work? I do see myself in my artworks and oftentimes notice a part of me which I hadn’t discovered before. My personality is best portrayed in my collection of graphic works in which I analyze the beauty in the world around me, abide by the laws that govern my surroundings, but defy the laws of illustration.

9. When you create a piece of art is there a particular message you wish to portray? I wish people would see the world as a picture-perfect place that is full of wonders even if it is just for a moment.

7. What is your creative process when illustrating books? I believe that the tone of the story is just as important as the story itself so I illustrate based on the emotions felt when reading the text in accordance with the details of the book. Topics such as melancholy, euphoria, fanaticism, harmony, and fragility are most

10. Tell us about your collaboration with Bologna Children’s Book Fair. How do you feel about receiving such an honor from Bologna? The Bologna Children’s Book Fair is a fascinating haven for me. At first, I was only thinking about receiving a discount on the ticket and hoped to pass the illustrator’s competition. I sent them my series on

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the five dragons that are based on the drawings of my beloved nephew, Yura, only to find out that my illustrations were chosen by one of the biggest illustration organizations for their visual universe in 2019. You can only imagine how overwhelmed with ecstasy and excitement I was. I was really lucky to have had the chance to work with a strong, respectable, and friendly team on such a large project.

13. Which type of creative people do you admire? Why? I am fascinated by those who handcraft works of art, children and passionate people. I admire their selflessness, zeal, imagination, and willpower.

11.What is your favorite memory of this collaboration? When I was on a bus in which all the passengers had pamphlets with my fox drawing

14. Where do you see illustration going in the next few years in your country? Seeing as to how I absolutely adore my Russian colleagues and am oftentimes inspired by them I believe the future of illustration to be bright and colorful. I am happy to be surrounded with talented and witty people.

12. What is the best use of illustration you have ever seen? My favorite book is called “Die Grosse Flut” or “ The Big Flood” by the duo It’s Raining Elephants

15. What’s the most valuable lesson you have learnt throughout your career, so far? The advice I received from the team I worked with in Bologna: “Trust yourself”

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varya yakovleva

LOVE YOUR

MISTAKES EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH V A R Y A Y A K O V L E V A

1. Can you give us some information on your background? I was born in Russia where I am currently living. I have received an education in classical arts and cinematography in animation at Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography. I have also graduated from Shar School-studio of Animated Films. My husband and I both have our own respective workshops in our home. 2. Were you always interested in illustration, or was there something else you wanted to do before becoming an illustrator? The journey to becoming an illustrator was so smooth that I don’t even remember when I first entered the world of illustration. I haven’t received a proper education in illustration; however, due to the similarities between animation and illustration, the transition felt natural. 3. What does the world of illustrated art

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mean to you? Do you think it is a way to explore and shape your vision of the world around us? In the world of illustrated art, I feel like I belong. It’s comforting to be surrounded by people who are interested in you, want to work with you, and give you creative freedom. The fact that I get to become financially stable doing what I love is really the best. 4. How would you describe your illustration style? I wouldn’t say I have a particular style. I am constantly experimenting with different textures and art styles. Lines, spots, and multi-figure compositions are frequently found in my works though. 5. What is one message you would like your audience to know? We should love our mistakes. It is only through mistakes that we find out what makes us special. 6. Your work is so unique. Can you describe how you developed your style? I was able to explore myself only after finishing my studies. I decided to relax and stop conforming to the rules set in art and began to draw on a daily basis. I began to develop the fluidity of my hand and the plasticity of my ideas. 7. What inspires you the most when illustrating? How is it feeding into your worK? Personally, illustration is a form of relaxation, a break from working on animated movies. I

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find the most inspiration in the projects that I’ve been given, especially when I am working on several projects at once. You could say the inspiration for the projects comes from the project itself. 8. What types of illustration projects do you enjoy working on? I prefer projects in which I have creative liberty. I don’t usually take on projects in which the clients have preconceived ideas of what they want and just need someone to execute it, unless the idea genuinely interests me. 9. How is the illustration industry in your country? What are some trends or visual styles you appreciate in your country? I think the illustration industry is starting to gain popularity in Russia. 10. Some of your illustrations have been used in video animations. What are your views on the future of illustration in the digital era? I believe that analog art is timeless and will always be appreciated. 11. How do you discover new techniques and tools? I am surrounded by extremely talented people who help me improve in all aspects. My husband, Stas Metelsky, is more advanced in illustration than I am and supports me by giving me feedback on my work and teaching me new techniques. My friends also help me step out of my comfort zone. 12. Are there crazy projects you would like to work on in the future? I would like to take a break from animation for sure. I would like to work on a project relating to a theater production or any other large scale projects. Illustrating books sounds good too.

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Anastasia Lavru

fairy-tale worlds Exclusive Interview with ANASTASIA LAVRU 1. Could you tell us a bit about who you are, what you do, and where you are in the world right now? I live in Moscow. I’ve illustrated just one book for now. I mainly draw for commercial projects and do art commissions for people all around the world. I’ve also created several “How to draw” lessons for my website. The most important thing for me is that the commissions reflect my creativity and are interesting to me, because this is when I am most satisfied with the outcome. 2. Where did you grow up? How was your childhood like? I grew up in a small Russian city. My parents have their own house, and large fields surrounded our house back then. In summer we wandered in the tall grass, rode bicycles, swam in the river, in winter we sledged down the hills. I often dreamed of secluded beautiful places, which were few in our city — later I would draw these fantasies in my pictures.

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3. Can you begin by telling me a little bit about your art practice? How did you begin working as an artist? When did you discover that you wanted to be an artist? I went to art school when I was a child, then I entered the Faculty of Architecture. I tried to work as an architect for several years, but I quickly discovered that this job didn’t feel creative enough for me. There were too many constructions and rules that had to be followed in design. Later we moved to Moscow. That’s when my husband suggested that I should draw more and maybe even change my profession. Then one day I remembered my childhood fantasies and realized that drawing fiction is much more interesting than drawing a reality. I started drawing imaginary places and I really like it to this day. 4. How do you define your illustrations? My illustrations are memories of an ideal world that I came up with when I was a child. It is not exactly the same as those fantasies, but I always remember the mood those dreams gave me, and I try to convey it in my illustrations. 5. What is your relation with colors? I like warm colors. I use this part of the spectrum, warm grays, browns and even warm greens if we talk about pencils. I use colors more freely in other techniques. An important lesson that I remembered from my painting teacher is not to interfere with the paint on the palette for a long time. Apply it faster while the colour has power. 6. Who/what inspired you? I do like a lot of contemporary illustrators, but I try to spend more time flipping through pictures of old books. I love the Northern Renaissance, Russian icons, medieval book illustrations. I think this is what inspires me the most. 7. How do you learn about new techniques and tools? Sometimes I just come into the art shop and choose some new material, try it out to see how it blends with others. I look at my colleagues and sometimes I notice interesting solutions and learn from them. I try to do something similar, but it always turns out a little differently. It is very interesting. 8. Can you tell us more about your recent or ongoing projects? I worked on several commercial projects recently, one of them is a Harry Potter in-spired illustration, which will then be printed on a mug. Right now I can’t say exactly what the picture is, ‘cause the mug has not come out yet, so I must not reveal the secret. 9. How do you find thinking about the book as a whole – the text, illustration, de-sign – in comparison with illustrating someone else’s text? Is there anyone in particular that you would love to collaborate with? If one day I am commissioned to draw Diagon Alley with all its shops and residents in great detail, I will accept right away. 10. What would you like to do as future projects? I would like to draw a picture book, come up with a plot that will be understandable without words, which will be interesting to children and adults. This is a difficult task, and I think it will take me a lot of time to solve it. 11. Where can people find your work out in the world? You can order a couple of my postcards, many illustrations are printed on postcards and are already scattered around the world. You can also follow me on Instagram or visit my website!

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Brightness Gallery

Brightness

Gallery

Brightness Gallery is an international competition held on a monthly basis to provide skilled artists with a chance to show their talents. Each month there will be a different judge assessing illustrations based on the current theme. 15 artworks will be chosen to be published in our magazine providing greater exposure to art directors from around the world.

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Guest C urat or

Mark Janssen Mark Janssen (Eijsden 1974) studied at the Art Academy in Maastricht. After graduating in 1997 he established himself as a full time illustrator in Valkenburg a/d Geul, where he has a homestudio. Mark makes illustrations for both childrensbooks and picturebooks. From his first children’s book Mijn vriend de sjeik of Ulf Stark (Lemniscaat 1997) to 2018, he illustrated up to 450 children- and picturebooks for Dutch, Belgian and Chinese publishers. Many of his books have already found their way abroad and have been translated into over 10 languages. In 2016 mark started succesfully a new oeuvre in his work; writing and drawing picturebooks. ‘Nothing happened’ was praised by the press. There was a follow up by ‘Dino’s don’t exist’ (2017) and ‘Island’ (2018).

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Stephanie Donsø D e n m a r k I work in my little home studio with my art and illustration tasks as well as run my own art-brand ‘Det Gyldne Blad’ in which I sell prints and cards with my images as well as make small one-of-a-kind items in relation to my illustrative world. Right now I’m a part of the international groupshow ‘Fresh Legs’ at Galleri Heike Arndt in Berlin and I have just been shortlisted for The Northen Illustration Prize. I have illustrated a number of light-reading books for children in cooperation with Danish bookpublishers and I really dream of getting my own stories written and illustrated by me pubIished and out in the world. My illustration for the entry is called ‘Me & Grandma’ and features a memory from my own life many years ago. The illustration is handpainted/ drawn with gouache, watercolor and color pencils on paper.

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BATO O L S O LTA N I

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IRAN


JANNEKE IPENBURG

HOLL AND

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M A R I EL L A CU S U M A N O

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I TA LY


M A R I EL L A CU S U M A N O

I TA LY

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FAT EM E G H A B OST I A N

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IRAN


G R E TA M A R U Z Z A

I TA LY

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N ATA L I A C H I R KOWS K A

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POL AND


H AT IYE GA R I P

POL AND

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E V ELYN DAV I D D I

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I TA LY


E V ELYN DAV I D D I

I TA LY

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YEGA N EH YAG H O O B N E Z H A D

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IRAN


YA L DA R AS EK H I

IRAN

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Y E VG EN I A N AYB ER G

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U N I T ED STAT ES


SA L LY WA LK ER

U N I T ED K I N G D O M

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