the journal LevinLandâ€™s
BRUNO MALLART Extraordinaire!
THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING! Oleksandr Shatokin Alla Belova Anna Sarvina Julia Sideneva Natallia Valiukevich
ROHAN EASON Upcoming Superstar
Modern Hieroglyphics Master:
Front Cover Art : Bruno Mallart
Co-Publisher/Editor Gregg Masters
The Illustrators Journal/Spring 2019
Publisher/Creative Director Lon Levin Contributing Writer Lisa Cyr Contributing Writer Heather Leary "Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are." â€” John Wooden
All the work depicted in this magazine are the property of the artists who created the work and cannot be used in any way without the expressed written permission of the publisher and artists.
LISA CYR: BEHIND THE SCENES Lisa interviews Marshall Arisman ANNA SARVIRA Whimsical Russian artist Anna grew up in the Ukraine and loves children's books BRUNO MALLART French artist extraordinaire whose work defies categories...he does it all. OLEXSANDR SHATOKIN Born to draw. Russian artist Olexandr credits support of his parents for his success. ALLA BELOVA From Russian with Love, Alla's adorable charcters light up the page. ROHAN EASON English pen and ink artist is a rising star whose work harkens back to "crowquill" English tradtions VLADIMIR RYKLIN 84 year-old Russian master painter's work has drawn comparisons to Hieronymus Bosch. He honors us with a rare interview. CHOR BOOGIE Graffitti master with heart of gold helps kids and others reach their goals while creating masterpieces NATALIE VALIUKEVICH Late blooming water colorist's work is equal to any seasoned artist anywhere in the world.
my opinion by Lon Levin
What about those who would rail against technology taking over our lives, corrupting our souls and burning our brain cells up at a rapid rate? Here’s the take away. If you truly are against progress especially regarding electronic devices and social media apps then throw away your cell phone and your computer and move out into the woods. Going backwards is not going to make our quality of life better, it’s more about monitoring your usage of abuses of technology. Every now and then step away from the devices and take a walk. Gain some balance. But what about the children?…they will never know what it’s like to hike and fish and smell the wafting smell of azaleas. Horse pucky! as one of my grammar school teachers used to say. Our kids are smarter, better educated and move at faster rates then we do so they can do more than we ever did. That means they do both and are adept at each. They time manage better than we did because they have to. It’s progress baby! So you can rail against technology and you look like the character in the cartoon above or you can pick up the cell phone and see who’s on the line.
True story (as comics always say) I was in the emergency room at our local hospital. I was waiting to talk to the billing person when two distraught parents came in helping their son to the receptionist area. It looked like he had a head injury because he was loosely bandaged and there was some blood on the gauze surrounding his forehead. I noticed he was clutching an iPad and cellphone in one hand as he pressed the bandaging to his head. It was a quiet night so he was escorted right in. The parents were asked to wait in the lobby until the doctor had seen the young man. Five minutes later an assistant approached the worried parents and told them their son would be fine. The doctor was stitching him up right now. She then handed them the Ipad and cellphone both of which were obviously damaged. The ipad screen was cracked and shattered and the cellphone was bent. The parents stared at the two gadgets with a longing look, then the husband put his head in his hands and started to cry. Was he crying for his son or the damaged equiptment?
Techno-love...Is this the utopia we all want? I have to end this piece now….my iPhone just informed me I have a meeting in ten minutes and I haven’t shaved yet.
An Interview with Marshall Arisman
Over the course of my life, I have moved several times. Each time, non-essential things were kept in boxes, put in storage and were never to be seen again, until the fourth of July weekend in 2018. It was the project that began a whole other project. The day started out simple enough. My husband and I started to clean and clear out things from the basement, which is also known as the abyss. It was a task that was far long overdue. What was to come was something I would have never imagined. My weekend cleaning spree had resulted in the unveiling of a gold mine of trinkets and treasures. Going through storage bin after storage bin, I was able to take a trip down memory lane. There were things that I uncovered that I had completely forgotten about. Going through old posters from lectures, invitations from exhibitions, workshop flyers, magazines with articles in them that I had written or was featured in, kind notes from artists, curators, editors, former students and the like, was a reminder of my personal history. Amidst the chaos of the clean, I also found a very large plastic bin filled to the top with old cassette tapes. As I began to look through it, I was amazed at the memories that came flooding back to me. Being in the artistâ€™s studio with Robert Heindel, talking to Milton Glaser about his I Love (heart) NY More Than Ever logo with a baby on my hip, being amazed by the civil rights stories of reportage illustrator Franklin McMahon and talking about illustration history with Murray Tinkleman, Vincent Di Fate, Walt Reed, Bunny (Alice) Carter and Ben Eisenstat are each moments I hold dear to my heart. And, then the
funny moments started to come back, like the time David Grove called me after midnight because he forgot the time zone change from the East and West coast. I did that interview into the wee hours of the morning. There are some interviews that I did with artists like Sterling Hundley, James Jean and Shawn Barber that were conducted early on in their careers for magazine annual feature profiles. It has been such a treat to see their evolution as artists. As I lifted cassette tape after cassette tape out of the bin, I recalled many fond memories of talking with Barron Storey, Marshall Arisman, Fred Otnes, Brad Holland and Kazuhiko Sano, just to name a few, about their work and process for both magazine articles and books. When I reflected back on each conversation, I could recall their words of wisdom, hearing their actual voice speaking to me in my mind. The experience of sitting in my basement and having all these memories come back to me was priceless. I knew then that these recorded moments in time should be shared. My interview with Hall of Fame illustrator Marshall Arisman is the first in this new series entitled Behind the Scenes, where I share insight into the backstories that I have witnessed through doing research and interviews for the many articles and books that I have written over the years. The full audio of my interview with Marshall Arisman is posted online on my YouTube channel here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFf-iWzaKo&t=32s The interview was originally done in 2009 as research for an artist profile entitled Content-Driven Approach featured in my book Art Revolution: Alternative Approaches for Fine Artists and Illustrators (North Light
Books). Although the interview was done several years ago, the content is as valid today as it was back then. Over the years, I've had the privilege to speak with Marshall not only about his creative process and approach but also about the industry at large. His work, words and insights are an inspiration to us all. What has always impressed me the most about Marshall is his ability to work from a place that is genuine and authentic, inspiring many to follow that same path. For the same book, Art Revolution, I also interviewed multi-media creator Dave McKean. During our interview, he told me an interesting story about Marshall’s impact on his work and approach. When he had went to New York City to show his portfolio to comic publishers, he saw that Marshall Arisman was giving a talk at the ICA (1985) and he attended. “It was a wonderful insight into the life of a creative person. How his work is bound into every aspect of his life. How he balances life and work emotionally, chemically and in every way: in his case, music and pictures,” recalls McKean. “And of course, it was a relentless two hours of extraordinary visuals and crazy stories all about real people and their inner lives. I walked out thinking, ‘I want to do that!’” Another similar story came from illustrator Matt Mahurin. While making his way in art school on the West coast, he reached out to Marshall Arisman, one of his illustration heroes. Marshall graciously sent a package of printed materials of his work along with an inspirational letter, suggesting that if Matt comes to New York City after graduation he should call and perhaps stop by the studio. He of course did. After looking through Matt’s work, Marshall gave him Rudy Hoglund’s number at Time, which led to multiple illustrations being printed in the magazine. The rest is history, as they say. When I served on the education committee at the Society of Illustrators, we were in charge early on to elect the Distinguish Educator Award. When Marshall Arisman received the award in 2000, Matt Mahurin was more than eager to speak and share his story at the reception and flew in on the red eye to do so. Marshall continues to inspire still today. Throughout the interview, entrepreneurialism and authorship abound: an approach that has allowed Arisman to create a multifaced career as a painter, illustrator, author and teacher. He also discusses storytelling, playing music,
making videos as well as chairing a department, teaching and his approach to working with students in the MFA illustration program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Most importantly, Arisman talks about his subjects, work in series and his unique process and approach and how it has evolved over the years. “Follow the work”, says Arisman. In three simple words, he reminds us all of the importance of letting our work guide us to where it needs to go. Over the years, I have been blessed and honored to have had the opportunity to collaborate with an amazing array of creators from around the globe, keeping me in tune with the pulse of an international marketplace. From the fastpaced, forward-thinking worlds of cutting-edge design, illustration and fine art to the inner workings of the exciting fields of animation and interactive storytelling, I've been able to profile groundbreaking work, experiencing artistic expression through the eyes of some of the world's leading creative visionaries. I've visited studios and have watched some of the best in the business work. The many memories with amazingly talented people and creative friends, some to which are no longer with us, has created an interesting and fulfilling artistic journey for me and I want to share that with the world. Although some of my interviews were unfortunately taped over by other interviews, there is still quite a large collection of tapes available for me to convert to digital and put online publically. It has become a labor of love project that has risen from the depths of my cluttered basement. Copyright 2019 Lisa L. Cyr Cyr Studio LLC all rights reserved.
Biography A graduate from The Massachusetts College of Art (BFA) and Syracuse University (MA), Cyr's artistic oeuvre has been exhibited in museums and galleries, including traveling shows with the Society of Illustrators of New York and Los Angeles. Her work has been featured in magazines, books and online, including numerous features in Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, Infected by Art, AcrylicWorks: The Best in Acrylic Painting and Incite: The Best in Mixed Media. Her work is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of American Illustration in New York City as well as in private collections. Cyr writes for many of the creative industry's leading art publications and has authored seven books on art and design, including Experimental Painting and Art Revolution (North Light Books). She teaches at the New Hampshire Institute of Art, The Art Students League of New York and in several of the top MFA graduate programs across the country. Cyr is an artist member of the Society of Illustrators in New York City.
ANA SARVIRA WITH STYLE
"It was because of the big influence of the Polish illustration school that I finally found the way I want to develop my style. "
When did you first think about art as something you wanted to do? Were you encouraged or discouraged by family, friends, teachers, mentors? I was always drawing. Just before my last year in school I finally decided to study art. It was a late decision compared to other artists in my school. Back then, I was living in Vinnytsia, a small city in Ukraine that didn't have an art academy or good drawing courses. To prepare for the exams I got a lot of help from my parents and classmates. Iâ€™m happy they encouraged me.
What kind of kid were you? Where did you grow up? What were your influences? In Vinnytsia, I liked school and studying, not just arts, but also mathematics and IT. I would say, I was a calm child, reading and drawing were my main interests. Growing up in 1990's in Ukraine was tough. You canâ€™t compare it to grow up in the Western World. So there wasn't a lot of inspiration on the streets and daily life was hard. However my parents had many books at home and they help me a lot.
Has the computer affected your work? Do you work traditionally and digitally?
Yes, I mostly work on the computer, but Iâ€™m also always trying to get back to the more traditional way. For most jobs that I do, it is easier to work on the computer. I can do changes if clients ask me to do. If I work on my own projects, I also use ink and gouache. Whatâ€™s going on in your head when you work on a piece? Your fears, anticipation, confidence, etc. How do you know something is finished? First, I do a lot of color sketches with my early ideas. Then I choose the best one and try to develop it. In the end I choose one. I like to have some time in between before proceeding with the idea. I would
What do you do to promote yourself to get work? Have you worked for Western counties like America, England and France? I worked with American and Asian publishers. It a nice experience. I still have an illustration agency in London I’m working with, but I don’t get as many commissions as I expected. Maybe it would help if I would finish my website someday. Offline I’m participating in a lot of illustration exhibitions in Ukraine and abroad, for example in the Bologna book fair and Nami Concourse.
What’s the future hold for you? Any ultimate goal? I would like to start to do picture books. There are already some ideas in my mind but I won’t reveal them now
say, I need to get a rest from the picture. In the end, I work a lot with the forms – it’s one of the most important parts for me. I’m trying to find the best one for every object. When I don’t want to move and change anything it means that the illustration is finished. Are you aware of America and English illustrators? Does their work influence your work? Actually, American illustration is not very close to what I do. I mainly check European and Asian
illustrators. From Britian I really like the works of James Daw and Lauren Humphrey, Sara Fanelli, David Shrigley, from American – JooHee Yoon. I’m curious about how you choose what to work on. What does your process entail? Start to finish. I really like to work on a project which gives me more freedom, that’s why I’m rarely working on ad illustrations. But I’m doing a lot of social projects and children’s books – they are my main interest.
"My biggest influence was my dad’s amazing library of art books and literature. Nothing was off limits, no age restriction"
MALLART Every now and then I come cross an artist who blows my mind. I literally feel like I'm an art archaeologist who has unearth a great talent whom I had no idea existed. Bruno Mallart is that artist. His vision and execution are superior and it makes me feel honored to have his interview in our magazine. During the process of asking Bruno questions I realized a translation may not capture the full meaning of his answers and because we are read by artists around the globe I decided to print his answers in English and French - editor When did you first think about art as something you wanted to do? Were you encouraged or discouraged by family, friends, teachers, mentors? L’école ça n’était pas mon truc, mais le dessin me réussissait bien. Dans ma famille tout le monde est scientifique, de mes grand parents jusqu’à mes frères. Pourtant mes parents m’ont encouragé et j’ai toujours senti de l’admiration de leur part. Ils étaient vraiment sympas avec cette « petite brebis galeuse qui ne deviendra pas Docteur comme tout le monde ». Je m’imaginais devenir prof de dessin. Il faut dire que de mes yeux d’enfant, vivre du dessin, c’était l’enseigner ou crever la dalle (traduction: mourir de faim). Puis, à sà
l’école d’art j’ai découvert l’ampleur infinie des métiers artistiques. School was not my thing, but the drawing worked well. In my family everyone is a scientist, from my grandparents to my brothers. Yet, my parents encouraged me and I have always felt the admiration of them. They were really nice with this "little black sheep who will not become a doctor like everyone else".I imagined myself becoming a drawing teacher. It must be said that with my child's eyes, you teach or "you burst the slab" a French expression that means "starving to death". Then at art school I discovered the infinite scope of artistic crafts.
What kind of kid were you? Where did you grow up? What were your influences? Je suis né à Paris. J’étais un enfant rêveur, du genre qui ne veut pas grandir. J’ai toujours gardé ce côté là, pas trop sérieux, aimant la facétie.Ma première vrai influence fut un peintre Allemand, Pierre Schmmidiger, qui habitait à côté de chez moi et chez qui je prenais des cours de dessin, je devais avoir 11
qu’on est incapable de faire, en creux. Exemple: je ne suis pas bon coloriste: je privilégie le dessin. Je ne suis pas bon portraitiste: je vais remplacer les têtes par des objets… A style, it comes alone. There is of course the succession of works that we liked and the meetings that influenced us, but I think that the style comes mainly from what we are unable to do, hollow. Example: I am not good colorist: I prefer drawing. I am not a good portraitist: I will replace the heads with objects … You do a lot of whimsical art. How did that happen? Je ne sais pas, les univers que je représente n’existent pas, mais puisque le dessin me permet de les représenter, pourquoi ne pas le faire? Quand je cherche des idées, j’essaye de trouver des situations loufoques, absurdes.
ou 12 ans. Je passais des après-midi dans son atelier, il me laissait dessiner ce que je voulais, ensuite il commentait et me parlait beaucoup. D’histoire de l’Art, de perspective, de dessin de presse, de politique… Il avait un livre de Saul Steinberg: "The Passport", ce livre représente l’acte de naissance de mon imaginaire d’illustrateur. I was born in Paris. I was a dreamer, the kind who does not want to grow up. I always kept that side, not too serious, loving the joke. My first real influence was a German painter, Pierre Schmmidiger, who lived next to my house and where I took drawing lessons, I must have been 11 or 12 years old. I spent afternoons in his studio, he let me draw what I wanted, then he commented and spoke to me a lot. From the history of art, perspective, drawing of the press, politics ... He had a book by Saul Steinberg: "The Passport", this book represents the birth certificate of my illustrator imagination. Your style is very unique. Did you work on developing a style or is that what naturally came out of you? Un style, ça vient tout seul. Il y a bien sûr la succession d’oeuvres qu’on a aimé et les rencontres qui nous ont influencé, mais je crois que le style vient surtout de ce
Paradoxalement,il y a un certain ordre dans mes compositions. I do not know, the universes that I represent do not exist, but since the drawing allows me to represent them, why not do it? When I look for ideas, I try to find crazy, absurd situations. Paradoxically, there is a certain order in my compositions. Has the computer affected your work? Do you work traditionally and digitally? Je faisais des illustrations mélangeant le dessin, l’aquarelle et beaucoup de collage. Je passais ma vie à
chercher dans les livres de quoi alimenter mes créations. Celles-ci étaient conditionnées à ce que je trouvais. Dans les années 2000, je me suis acheté un ordinateur et un scanner. Je voulais juste pouvoir remplacer la photocopieuse et le fax. Je ne m’attendais pas à découvrir un outil de création qui me plairait autant. Avec Photoshop, les possibilités de transformation des images sont telles que j’avais trouvé l’outil qui me manquait. Aujourd’hui je reviens au dessin traditionnel (toujours.
un peu de collage!). Le support physique me manquait un peu.
Are you aware of America and English illustrators? Does their work influence your work?
I was doing illustrations mixing drawing, watercolor and a lot of collage. I spent my life looking in books for feeding my creations. These were conditioned to what I found. In the 2000s, I bought a computer and a scanner. I just wanted to be able to replace the photocopier and fax. I did not expect to discover a creative tool that I would like. With Photoshop, the possibilities for transforming images are such that I found the tool I missed. Today I come back to traditional drawing (always a little collage!). The physical support I missed a little.
Ma culture vient beaucoup d’illustrateurs ou graphistes tels que Saul Steinberg, Ralph Steadman, Milton Glaser, Tomi Ungerer, André François… pas tous Américains, mais tous une histoire particulière avec les États-Unis. C’est surtout un attachement à une période précise: les années 50, 60, 70. Je suis né en 1963, c’est ma culture. Un peu comme si je disais que j’aime Bob Dylan ou les Pink Floyd. À une époque, je démarchais les agents sur Paris où j’habite, une réflexion que j’entendais régulièrement: "vous devriez démarcher aux états-Unis, votre écriture devrait plaire là-bas". C’est ce que j’ai fait, j’ai ainsi rejoint l’équipe de David Goldman à New-York.
What’s going on in your head when you work on a piece? Your fears, anticipation, confidence , etc. How do you know something is finished? Il y a plusieurs étapes dans la création d’un des sin: — L’inspiration, la recherche des idées, c’est le plus agréable et le plus facile psychologiquement. C’est une gymnastique intellectuelle très plaisante, avec les petits croquis sans enjeu, C’est mon étape préférée. — Le démarrage de la réalisation, c’est le plus difficile. Comme l’angoisse de la page blanche chez l’écrivain. C’est à ce moment que je procrastine à mort. — La réalisation proprement dite: alternativement grand plaisir, impression d’être un nul absolu, exaltation, déprime… Bref on ne s’ennuie pas. — Le dessin est fini: quand on est content, qu’on en a marre, on est fatigué et on voudrait passer à autre chose. There are several steps in creating a drawing: - The inspiration, the search for ideas, is the most pleasant and the easiest psychologically. It is a very pleasant intellectual gymnastics, with small sketches without stake, It is my favorite stage. - The start of the realization is the most difficult. Like the anxiety of the blank page for a writer. That's when I procrastinate "to death" (a French expression that means " a lot " - The actual realization: alternatively great pleasure, impression of being an absolute null, exaltation, depressed ... In short one does not get bored. The drawing is finished: when we are happy, we are tired, we are tired and we want to move on.
My culture comes from many illustrators or graphic designers such as Saul Steinberg, Ralph Steadman, Milton Glaser, Tomi Ungerer, André François ... not all Americans, but all a particular story with the United States. It is especially an attachment to a precise period: the years 50, 60, 70. I was born in 1963, it is my culture. A bit like I said that I like Bob Dylan or the Pink Floyd. At one time, I was walking agents in Paris where I live, a reflection that I heard regularly: "you should approach the United States, your writing should please there." That's what I did, so I joined David Goldman's team in New York.
What do you do to promote yourself and get work? Have you worked for publishers in Western counties like America, England and France? J’ai un site internet qui est une vitrine de tout ce que je fais, ainsi qu’une page Facebook qui publie mon actualité. Mais c’est surtout la galerie, et mon agent d’illustration qui s’occupent de me promouvoir. Il le font bien mieux que moi. J’ai publié dans pas mal de journaux Américains dont le Washington post et le New York times. Je ne fais plus du tout d’illustration de livres comme j’ai fait à une époque, mais j’aimerais bien publier un beau livre, faire un recueil d’images sur un thème. I have a website that is a showcase for everything I do, and a Facebook page that publishes my news. But it's mostly the gallery, and my illustrator, who take care of me. They do it better than me. I've published in a lot of American newspapers including Washington Post and New York Times. I do not do any more book illustration as I did at one time, but I would like to publish a beautiful book, make a collection of images on a theme.
I’m curious about how you choose what to work on. What’s does your process entail? Start to finish. Can you give us a short step-by-step? Quand je travaille sur une illustration, c’est pas compliqué, Il s’agit de bien répondre à la commande. Mais je fais de plus en plus de créations personnelles montrées en galerie (Je suis représenté par la galerie Bayart à Paris). Le plus compliqué est de choisir quoi faire, il y a tellement de directions possibles! Le plus amusant c’est que plus on fait de choses, plus le champs des possibles s’élargit. Une sorte d’épidémie: une idée en amène une autre qui elle même en amène 2, puis 4 puis 8… C’est démoralisant et excitant! Si je parle d’un de mes dessins sur bois enduit comme je fais en ce moment, voici comment ça se passe: Je fais un 1er dessin au crayon sur papier. Je scanne le dessin et je le transforme à l’ordinateur pour l’améliorer, je m’aide de collages à partir de gravures anciennes principalement. Le mélange entre dessin et collage est souvent imperceptible. À ce moment toute la composition est parfaitement aboutie et je vais la projeter en grand sur un panneau de bois enduit blanc. Je sais exactement quelle partie va être dessinée, quelle partie va être en collage, il n’y a plus aucune surprise. When I work on an illustration, it's not complicated, you just need to answer well to the assignment. But I do more and more personal creations shown in gallery (I am represented by Bayart Gallery in Paris). The most complicated thing is to choose what to do, there are so many directions! The most fun thing is that the more we do things, the more the field of possibilities expands. A kind of epidemic: an idea brings another who brings 2, then 4 and 8 ... It's demoralizing and exciting! If I'm talking about one of my coated wood drawings as I'm doing right now, here's how it goes: I make a first drawing in pencil on paper. I scan the drawing and I transform it to the computer to improve it, I help with collages from old engravings mainly. The mixture between drawing and collage is often imperceptible. At this moment the whole composition is perfectly accomplished and I will project it in large on a white coated wood panel. I know exactly which part will be drawn, which part will be in collage, there are no more surprises.
What’s the future hold for you? Any ultimate goal? En travaillant avec la galerie, j’ai rencontré plusieurs sculpteurs, j’avais toujours imaginé faire un peu de sculpture. J’ai commencé timidement, mais j’aimerais continuer. J’ai plein d’idées, c’est plutôt la mise en oeuvre technique et le temps qui me freinent. Working with the gallery, I met several sculptors, I always imagined doing a little sculpture. I started shyly, but I would like to continue. I have lots of ideas, it's rather the technical implementation and the time that slows me down. If you could meet anyone in the field you’re in who would it be and why? Peu après être sorti de l’école d’art, j’avais obtenu un rendez-vous avec le célèbre Illustrateur André François (l’oncle d’un ami habitait le même petit village et le connaissait bien). C’était déjà un monstre sacré, il y avait eu une grande rétrospective de son travail à Paris peu avant. Il m’a reçu gentiment dans son atelier qui était gigantesque. Je lui montrais mon book, ce fut une vraie déconvenue. Il ne comprit pas mon travail et ne savait pas trop quoi me dire. Moi je voulais qu’il me parle de lui, me montre ses tableaux en cours etc… Heureusement l’oncle de l’ami me consola en me disant qu’il ne partageait pas du tout l’avis d’André françois, et qu’il voyait tout à fait l’intérêt de ce que j’avais montré (moi aussi!) Shortly after graduating from art school, I had an appointment with the famous Illustrator André François (a friend's uncle lived in the same little village and knew him well). It was already a sacred monster, there had been a great retrospective of his work in Paris shortly before. He received me kindly in his workshop which was gigantic I showed him my book, it was a real disappointment. He did not understand my job and did not know what to say to me. I wanted him to talk about him, show me his paintings in class etc...Fortunately the uncle of my friend consoled me
"I took Crista's Master Class and it was absolutely awesome! I highly recommend anyone who wants to sell their art sign up now! -Lon Levin/The Illustrators Journal
by Lon Levin
When did you first think about art as something you wanted to do? Were you encouraged or discouraged by family, friends, teachers, mentors? My father drew a little. and for me it was like some kind of magic to watch as he draws something. I tried to catch every movement of his hand when he was painting. at that moment I felt the need for drawing. I was lucky because my family always supported me in my desire to draw. they were very serious about my hobby and it really helped and motivated me.
What kind of kid were you? Where did you grow up? What were your influences? I was a calm and enthusiastic child. I could spend hours drawing without being distracted. I grew up in an ordinary family in Ukraine. I always felt the support of my relatives, so I drew it boldly and with passion.
Your style is very unique. Did you work on developing a style or is that what naturally came out of you? Thank you. You know, at some point I was obsessed with finding my own style. but this, in my opinion, is the wrong approach. I began to draw a lot just as I wanted, to look at other illustrators who inspired me and I stopped thinking and looking for my style and it seems the style found me.
You do a lot of childrenâ€™s art work. How did that happen? I don't know. Somehow it turns out that such images arise in my head. It will be necessary to go to the doctor.
N While I draw, I am in anticipation of the final result. It's like watching a movie.
Has the computer affected your work? Do you work traditionally and digitally? Now I work on the ipad. I draw in the Procreate program. Now I like to draw digital illustrations. For a long time I worked with traditional materials and techniques. Both in the digital and in the traditional illustration there are my own charms and I am very glad that I have the opportunity to draw in different ways. It helps a lot in work. Whatâ€™s going on in your head when you work on a piece? Your Fears, Anticipation, Confidence , etc. How do you know something is finished? When I draw, I'm not sure about the final result, the picture may differ from what was intended. There is some magic in it. Therefore, while I draw, I am in anticipation of the final result. It's like watching a movie. I just feel that the illustration is complete. Time to stop.
Are you aware of America and English illustrators? Does their work influence your work?
If you could meet anyone in the field you’re in who would it be and why?
I look through many different illustrations and honestly I don’t even know the famous illustrator draw them or not, an illustrator from America or England or something else. There are very strong illustrations that inspire and motivate me. but I do not remember who the author of these illustrations.
I think that there is no specific illustrator that I would like to meet. I would be happy to talk and what is more important to see in the work of any illustrator who has achieved something in his activity through his work and skills.
I’m curious about how you choose what to work on. What’s does your process entail? Start to finish. Can you give us a short step-by-step? Before I start drawing, I look for images, forms, items for which I can catch on. and then it looks like a camera flash, a picture appears in my head and I start drawing an illustration by changing it and correcting it. This works for me when I make illustrations for an order or when I draw for my own pleasure. Very often I draw without a preliminary sketch. Immediately proceed to drawing in the course of changing something or adding. What do you do to promote yourself and get work? Have you worked for publishers in Western counties like America, England and France? If not would you want to? First of all, I post my work on social networks: Facebook, Instagram, Behance. Very often customers come from there. It is also important to take part in contests and festivals, if possible to cooperate with illustrator agencies. The most important thing is not to be afraid of showing your work to others and constantly drawing and believing in yourself as an illustrator. If you like that you draw, then there will surely be those who are ready to pay for your work. Unfortunately, I did not work for foreign publishers, but I would really like and always open to any suggestions. What’s the future hold for you? Any ultimate goal? In the future I will be releasing my first book for children about a pig that is crying up. This is a great joy and event for me. I would like for more similar projects. I would also like to talk about my understanding of the illustration and how I work on my projects and illustrations (lectures, meetings, conferences). Of course I want to cooperate with foreign publishers and companies. My main goal is more books with my illustrations, more travels and interesting meetings.
An Interview with Lon Levin
FOM RUSSIA WITH LOVE
When did you first think about art as something you wanted to do? Were you encouraged or discouraged by family, friends, teachers, mentors? I was born in a family of artists. My mom and dad were both artists.During my childhood I start drawing, I used oil paints and then started figure painting as well. My favorite books were a big book of Bedosch paintings and the book of anatomy for artists. I loved to examine each tiny thing, sometimes I created stories and explanations. At first I wanted to be a great artist, but changed it to be a great fashion designer and after that I wanted to be a character designer and illustrator. I drew from memory. I needed to go to Art School so I changed my mind
and successfully graduated Mathematics School at the University (Masters degree). It was great to study math. It opens your mind and imagination. Now that helps me in creating books for kids. Your style is very unique. Did you work on developing a style or is that what naturally came out of you? I think that my style is still developing. I love to try new things and techniques..to experiment. I think your style is you. It's recognizable but differs from time to time, like a living being growing and changing.
(continued) You do a lot of whimsical art. How did that happen? I think it’s very natural for me. I’m very curious and a little bit crazy (or maybe more than a little). I have so many questions all the time that I need to google them constantly. I can’t stand not knowing the answer. But at the same time I like to fantasize on the questions if the answer is too boring or easy. That's how my magic worlds are created with strange animals and other things. Has the computer affected your work? Do you work traditionally and digitally? Now my works are all made digitally, especially on my iPad. I love to draw in different places that helps me concentrate more and the people around energize
me. But sometimes I want to draw traditionally so I draw:). I also have a great hobby - hot enamel on copper. Its very traditional, a lot handwork and not only to draw but to cut copper, to anneal the copper in a furnace, to skin copper from a scale and after that you start painting. After that you need to anneal the copper plate with enamels on it and you can repeat this nearly 5-7 times. So I try to combine traditional and digital in my life. I’m curious about how you choose what to work on. What’s does your process entail? Start to finish. Can you give us a short step-by-step? This is very hard question. Most of the time I think I should have stopped earlier. And the great thing about digital art is that you can undo. I start with reading the text of the book
(or when I’m an author - I start with writing or searching). Oh no! First is Idea. And then creating the text. Ideas always start as a question to myself for which I have no answer. I start googling and searching. And a huge file of texts, facts and pictures start to appear. After that I try to make it simple and easy to understand. Once the text is ready I make a board of everything that's associated with this text. I need a week of thinking on the whole project. I try to see all sketches in my mind and don’t touch paper. After this period I can draw the whole book without sketches, just all finish illustration. Most of the time I have very few corrections. I combine finish illustrations with dozens of sketches. Sketches are in color and are about the color dynamic and composition rather than character creating. During this period I feel only joy. When the project comes to an end all my fears come to me at once. I calm down and try not to look at others great illustrations because I can’t be someone else. Are you aware of America and English illustrators? Does their work influence your work? Of Course, yes. My feed in instagram is full of great illustrators from around the world (UK, USA, Canada, Korea, Japan, China, Europe, Africa, Australia, of course, Russia and many more).
I like to see their process of making illustrations, how they work and then try their methods. What do you do to promote yourself and get work? Have you worked for publishers in Western countries like America, England and France? If not would you want to? Another hard question. I have differents accounts in social media like Instagram, Facebook, Behance and even my own website. I try to post illustrations regularly. But I'm not very good at all that Social Media marketing. I really want to work with publishers from other countries not only Western but also Eastern, like China. It’s my next step. I think I'm too shy to write them, I always think that I not good enough. But I must step over this fear and make my dreams come true.
"When the project comes to an end all my fears come to me at once." What’s the future hold for you? Any ultimate goal? As I wrote previously I want to work with foreign publishers. Also want to illustrate 10 children’s books this year. I also want to win a contest someday (not just once!), maybe to get an Andersen award (hahaha very impossible dream). And I have a dream to write a young adult fantasy novel and illustrate it. If you could meet anyone in the field you’re in who would it be and why? Oh! I want to meet some of the illustrators that I follow. Right now is a period of Richard Jones for me. His texture are insane, I'm totally in love with them. Benji Davies - his stories are great, I want to create like him! Joohee Yoon - her colors and dynamics are insane, so vibrant. And last but not least Marie Muravski - her atmosphere is fantastic and magical. I'd like to meet with each illustrator because it’s a great pleasure to speak with each other.
Rohan Eason Rising Star They were brought in one day to the heads office, with my art teachers, and the discussion, was as to what i wanted to be, an artist or an illustrator. The idea I couldn’t be both didn’t make sense to me, that there was even a difference didn’t seem something I would ever concern myself with. To be an artist was my dream, it was the poetic journey through torment and discovery, love and hate, as an artist I could make illustrations or artworks, they were one of the same. Its an age old argument, and I think I will always think of myself as an artist first, but the work I make professionally is illustration, and thats the difference. What kind of kid were you? Where did you grow up? What were your influences?
When did you first think about art as something you wanted to do? Were you encouraged or discouraged by family, friends, teachers, mentors? My Parents are both artist, my grandad was a sign writer and my uncle was a Royal Academician, so there was certainly the seed of an idea, that art was something inspiring and imaginative, something I could delve into even from a young age. I remember in primary school I was drawing fully formed figures and faces, while the other kids were still not joining the sky to the ground, and that was because I was so interested in looking and recreating what I saw. I remember my teachers at High School never knew what to do with me, which way to steer me.
I was born in the industrial city of Middlesborough, on the same road as the football stadium, Ayresome Park Road. It was a great community, everyone knew everyone, doors were open all day. Then we moved to a small town in Lincolnshire, and everyone said I talked funny. I got very quiet and introverted, and didn’t really enjoy the whole school thing. I think most kids are bullied, and i wasn’t any different, bullying comes in different forms, and I just happened to be the sensitive type that couldn’t really deal with the constant push and pull of friendship circles. My parents both worked so I would often not go into school, instead staying home and drawing or reading, anything to not face a school day.
From Rocker to Artist, how did that happen? And how did you progress?
But those days made me more interested in looking at life from a removed viewpoint, in a way there was no other way I could look at it, as I had removed myself. When i reached art school I had already decided that there were two ways to live your life, take part, or take notes, my artworks were my notes. A constant running dialogue, a description of what the other people did, but not what I did. When I left University with an art degree, everything fell apart, life came flooding back in, and I couldn’t cope. The idea that I would go on just making art, came crashing down, when I couldn’t afford food or rent. Music got me through this time, companionship with my band mates helped me find a structure and drive again, and I was finally creating something that related to my life, while I took part in it.
It was around 2002, I was playing lead guitar in a band called Cyclones, having left University with a BA HONS in Fine Art, and having not really done much artistically for a while, other than I would sometimes do a quick sketch. The girlfriend of the lead singer, Rina, saw a drawing one day, and suggested I come see her boss, who owned a high end fashion boutique in Notting Hill. The owner Annette Olivieri, decided I had a little something, and chucked me a bag in white kid leather, “tattoo that” she said. So I found pens that would work on leather, and I tattooed the bag. The drawing was black and white, and involved very detailed flowers and hair. Annette was impressed and gave me a leather jacket to do, so I did, this time with a horned girl, feather wings and flowers centre back. From there I went on to create fabric prints and artworks for Annette’s label for the next 2 years. I did private commissions, one was sent to Vogue editor Anna Wintour, and later created my own glove collection, with the first pair of dress leather gloves going to Yoko Ono. Two shoe collections followed and a spattering of other commissions, but I believed my career lay in fashion. This didn’t last long, fashion is not the nicest industry to work in, and I quickly felt like I was back in school, the bitchy back stabbing, the creative theft,
and the broken promises, left me a thoroughly broken man. The upside was the pens I used for the leather, Rotring Rapidograph became my pens of choice, and the style I developed in this period with it's intricacies and magical detail, and obsessive qualities became my illustrative style. My first children’s book came soon after I quit fashion, a collaboration with the great writer Geoff Cox, and music mogul Stuart Souter, saw a wonderful return to children’s books of old. Dark and frightening, with a psychedelic undertone that resonated with the peers around me, Anna and the Witch’s Bottle was critically acclaimed, released through Blackmaps Press, it was a beautiful cloth bound hardback, and it finally brought me attention for my artwork. You do a lot of dark whimsical art work. How did that happen? Do you prefer workinging in B&W or color? My Aunty had a wonderful treasure trove of house in deepest Sutton, Surrey. She had worked for Lord White, and entertained Frank Sinatra, Marylin Monroe, David Niven etc, so visiting her was like visiting an aladdin’s cave of wonder. In her downstairs bathroom were several black and white prints by Aubrey Beardsley. I was completely hooked on them, they were incredibly rude, giant penises and fucking, but they were also simply beautiful.
The quality of the line, the craftsmanship, the composition and balance were just mesmerising, and Iwas transfixed. During my A’levels I did my thesis on Aubrey’s Work and life, and visited the Victorian Albert Museum in London, where I was lucky enough to paw through hundreds of his original prints in giant cloth bound albums. The effect was deep and resounding, Black and white felt the purest way of describing an image. No dusty shading, or rainbow water-colour techniques, just simple beautiful crafted line. The effect on me was so great, when i first went to draw commercially for the fashion label, that aesthetic just tumbled out. Colour is something I have dabbled with in many different forms, I’m not sure I’ve found the right method yet. In a way its similar to how I always played my guitar, without effect, no pedals, just the pure sound of a beautiful instrument. Has the computer affected your work? For the majority of my professional career I held true to my artistic values. My aim was to be the very best
craftsman, that my line was the truth, and no augmentation was allowed. When a final piece went wrong, just a little, I would tear it up and start again. The computer was only ever a tool to get my work into a format for reproduction. But as I grew in popularity, and projects were coming thick and fast, my ability to keep up became less of a joy and more of a struggle. My work ethic began to hamper the depth of creativity in my work. Working to tight deadlines for tight budgets meant I could waste a weeks work on a simple slip of the nib. I am now willing to use the computer to correct mistakes and on occasion, depending on the value of the project, even move an element here or there to better exercise an aesthetic requirement. What the computer is incredible good at is at the sketch stage. I can create a drawing, and then play with it endlessly on the computer, until I’m really happy with how it looks, then print it, and use it as a base for a new sketch, before I go to final. This speeds the process up no end, when I first started I would sketch and re-sketch endlessly, and every time the new image would be very different, with its own merits and flaws, it was an infinite loop, which I would inevitably have to stop at some point. What’s going on in your head when you work on a piece? Your fears, anticipation, confidence , etc. How do you know something is finished? Something I learned, actually from being in a band for 15 years, was the moment of joy and clarity you get, when your connection between instrument and mind is fluid and seamless. When the hand has been so well taught, you no longer need to consciously move it, but instead free yourself to wander amongst the music, you become part of the music, intuitive, open and alive. I know when I draw and that feeling happens, when the lines just flow from my pen without any intervention from my conscious brain, that I am creating something good. These days I can spend weeks at my desk on a single project, so I use audiobooks to occupy my mind, I listen to the same stories over and over, they become a comforting background babble. In a way the voice works to occupy my conscious brain, which allows my subconcious brain to take charge of the drawing.As a professional illustrator its important to have a very high level of quality control. Simply I know when its not good. I rarely believe its really good, but I always know when its not good enough, then its for others to judge, as long as I know its my best.
I’m not sure I’ve found the right method yet. In a way its similar to how I always played my guitar, without effect, no pedals, just the pure sound of a beautiful instrument. Your work is reminiscent of Beardsley, Steadman & Silverstein to name a few. Is that intentional? Does their work influence your work? As mentioned before, Beardsley is most responsible for my work, others being Arthur Rackham, Gustave Dore, William Wallace Denslow, W.H. Robinson, to name just a few. Inspiration lasts a lifetime, mine is a combination of so many things, not just other artists, but places, and times. My work now is quite different to how it was when I started, but the techniques and drive are the same, to make something beautiful and balanced, with a little magical wonder every now and again. I’m curious about how you choose what to work on. What’s does your process entail? Start to finish. Can you give us a short step-by-step? I’m represented by one of the largest agencies in the world, so the vast majority of my work comes through them. They send me an offer of a project, and generally speaking, unless it offends my moral code, or is simply a bad project, I will happily take it on. It is our job as illustrators to teeze out the extraordinary from every project we work on. First and foremost is research, all projects start with looking, and learning, seeing everything and anything related to the subject, product, story etc. Its important to understand what you’re working on in as much detail as you can, so when it comes to the drawing, the brain is full of all the possibilities, letting the hand get on with doing the real work. I like to spend a lot of time sketching, there are so many elements to a drawing and so many combinations, its rare I hit on the perfect solution immediately. Sketching is the most fun aspect of the job, because its how I started, drawing for fun, with no limits or expectations. Once I feel I have a framework to go on, I'll scan it into the computer and do any reworking needed. The computer provides a good a level of separation from the work, an almost dispassionate viewers eye, things that may have not been obvious on paper, suddenly scream out on the harsh reality of a computer screen. I will then print off the sketch, and sketch it again
using a light box, this is a great method of freeing oneself back up, but having the confidence of a defined idea to work directly on. When I first started I would redraw free hand everytime, and never really move forward in the work, as the new drawing could never quite reproduce the first's freedom and immediacy. Even the great Quentin Blake use this method, so I’m in great company. This process is repeated as many times as it takes to get the composition and any characters just how I want them, before I scan it back into the computer. Next I print out a final black and white sketch of the final piece, before moving back to the light box with my final piece of paper ready to create the original artwork. Generally I will work straight on the paper with ink, on a good day, the new piece will almost disregard the sketch beneath, and the new work will feel like the first time all over again. On a bad day, or when working on something which doesn’t capture my heart completely, I may redraw in pencil, before taking the work to the desk, and inking under the desk light. When finished it goes back onto the computer, for the minimum retouch, and is made ready for whatever publication it was made for. What do you do to promote yourself and get work? Have you worked for publishers in Western counties like America, England and France? If not would you want to?
Through my agency I’ve worked for projects in America, Germany, France, Italy, UK, China, Australia, Japan, and many more. The great thing about the job, is I can sit in my studio in London, and work for a brand in China, and my unique way of looking at things and my skill as a craftsman and artist are then just sent down the internet to the client. I can actually be anywhere in the world and work for someone anywhere else,...magic.
What’s the future hold for you? Any ultimate goal?
The wonderful thing about a profession in the arts, is I am always developing my practice It never remains still, if it did, I would bore, and my clients would dwindle. I don’t reinvent myself, but I try to get better at what I do, and bring new methods to my work, which can add to the aesthetics I have honed over the last 12 years of professional life. There are stilll a few books of my own I’d like to illustrate and publish, if I ever get time, and a few old classics I'd like to breathe new life into. My main focus at the moment is the new studio I’m building myself in my garden, its been a long time in the planning, but I’m finally happy with the designs, and ready to build. I am so blessed with this career, I get to draw all day if I choose, and produce work that makes people smile, its not a great service to the world, but at the least it makes people a little happier. If you could meet anyone in the field you’re in who would it be and why?
I'd like to have lunch with Quentin Blake, I think he’s got a remarkable eye for movement and emotion.
Ryklin . .A master artist
I am so happy to present this interview and work to our readers.Vladimir Ryklin's work is a treasure on an equal level with Old Masters Hieronymus Bosch or Peter Bruegel. Each piece is layered with messages real and absurd and you could literally look at the imagery for hours trying to decipher what's going in the art and Vladimir's mind as he was creating it\. When did you first think about art as something you wanted to do? Were you encouraged or discouraged by family, friends, teachers, mentors? I’ve always been drawing. As far back as I can remember I was holding a pencil. I’m a lefty, and it was considered a big defect on a child back then in the Dark Ages when I grew up, so they tried to make me “normal” by tying my left hand, so I could only use my right. Eventually they gave up, but my mom told me that I’ve been drawing since around 3-4 years of age. Nobody really cared about it.
What kind of kid were you? Where did you grow up? What were your influences? I was a normal Soviet kid. I grew up in central Moscow. My first real tragedy happened when I was 8, when my paintings which I was hiding under the closet were accidentally irreversibly damaged by floor paint. I cried for a week…
Your style is very unique. Did you work on developing a style or is that what naturally came out of you? When I started to study art, I quickly fell under the influence of some of the biggest masters of graphics: Beardsley and Durer. Later, my inspirations became Bruegel and Bosch. I think my style now is the result of the reworking and rethinking of the experience I acquired studying the tremendous heritage of those masters of art, combined with my own personal thoughts and inner luggage.
You worked as a commercial artist in the Central Commercial Art Bureau. How did that happen? Was that work under scrutiny of the government? After graduating from my Art School one of my friends recommended that place, but its was known as hard to get into. However, after I showed them my skills in fonts, posters, and advertising sketches, I got a job. Don’t forget, it was time when there were no Word or Illustrator or Photoshop programs. Every word and every letter on posters were written by hand, and that was my main task there. Like every enterprise in the Soviet economy the Art Bureau was of course part of the government system, so every piece of printed product was supposed to be approved by the authorities. Why were you concerned about censorship of your personal art and what did you think would happen if the authorities found out what you were doing? Working in a Bureau was a “job”... and a well-paid one, all things considered. But I could only create what was directly ordered by some other organizations, like Circuses, theaters, movie companies, and so on, whoever needed a poster. Again, they could only be a part of the
"I’ve always been drawing. As
far back as I can remember I was holding a pencil. " government system. Any attempt to get an order from a private party and sell my own art in the Soviet Union would be considered a crime. Did we young artists do it? Of course! But it was always a “black market” thing. How did you escape Russia? Were you able to take your work with you or did you have to start again? Approximately in 1974-75 I started seriously considering an escape. The only legal way to do it was through Jewish organizations who helped Jews to immigrate from the USSR. Demand was huge, but approximately every fifth person
was allowed to leave by the Soviet government. I got lucky, and my papers where approved. However, I had around 300 of my own works, graphics, oils, etc, which I couldn’t take with me. And then, some kind of miracle happened. One day, when I already had all my papers in order, and in about a week was supposed to leave Russia, I put all of my works in a briefcase and walk into the US Embassy in Moscow. Naturally, I was stopped by a Russian policeman by the front door, and he asked me where I was going. I would like to remind you its 1975, when a Soviet citizen could be thrown in a KGB prison just by walking CLOSE BY the US Embassy! I told the guard that I was an artist and that I had a meeting with the Cultural Attaché of the United States. And he let me in! Without even checking my briefcase! Inside the Embassy I quickly got a meeting with one of the workers, whom I told my story, and said that approximately in a week I’m planning to be in the US, and maybe, just maybe, they can find a way to move my works to New York? If not, I said, I would be happy to present it as a gift to the United States Government. They took it, and with an empty briefcase I walked out of the Embassy, saluted to the guard, and drove home… Two weeks later I picked up my paintings in New York.
What’s going on in your head when you work on a piece? Your fears, anticipation, confidence, etc. How do you know something is finished? I don’t. Its never finished to me. If a painting is not sold by a certain time, I start having the urge to change things. Your work is so colorful and exciting, full of intricate imagery. It’s almost as if your subconscious has spilled out on the canvas. Yes, you can say that. Sometimes it starts as an image (or images), a shadow of my thoughts or even a dream. Indeed sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and start to draw or paint trying to capture that kaleidoscope I just had in my head.
I’m curious about how you choose what to work on. I imagine your process takes a long time to finish so it’s an important decision to decide what to work on. What’s does your process entail? Start to finish. Can you give us a short step-by-step? I usually work simultaneously on several new paintings. In a beginning, it might be just a centerpiece, like a main character. I can leave it alone for a while and move to a different painting and subject. Then, after some time I come back to it. Occasionally, I even might see a dream of that character started living its own life, surrounding itself with other objects and communicating with me. I’m trying to capture all that right away.
How has living in America influenced your work? Has your success and living in the US changed you? I was happy to finally do what I want and even making a living out of it! Later, working with David Letterman and others on TV shows was also a very unique and satisfying experience. Time is changing us all, of course, but I want to believe that even now, at 85 years of age, I’m still young enough to fulfill my dreams. God created me as an Artist, and I don’t want to disappoint Him, so I still paint! How do you view the younger Russian artists of today still living in Russia? Do you think they have more freedom to express themselves or are they still fearful of reprisals from the government?
Of course, in Russia today you are free to paint whatever you feel like, but the big question is – what you going to do with that? Will you be able to participate in exhibitions or public showings? I’ve seen galleries that were attacked by government-sponsored guerrillas just because they dared to exhibit something that some authorities consider “degenerative” art. Sounds familiar, right?
If you could meet anyone in the field you’re in (past or present) who would it be and why? I would love to have a couple of words with Hieronymus Bosch. His view on art in general I think changed our world forever
r o h Coogie
like an artist,” she said. “So what do I do?” I asked. She replied “Paint anything you like. Paint yourself.” So I did and it was a big mash up of colors hence the colors I use today. She came back and asked how I liked it. I replied, “When I grow up I’m going to be an artist.” I was never really discouraged. I only received support from loved ones. The only discouragement is the state of the art world today. But I keep going because I love what I do, and nothing will dictate the flow of that except for me. What kind of kid were you? Where did you grow up? What were your influences? I was a crazy kid. A daredevil, a very adventurous type. I still am. So I live “the kid within” at times. I grew up in Oceanside and Vista near San Diego. The place has its ups and downs as does any city. My influences back then up, until I started painting with spray paint, were comic book artists like Todd Mc Farlane, Rob Liefield, and Jim Lee; skateboard culture; and 80’s culture. Then, I explored the old masters like Salvador Dali, Michelangelo, and Gustave Klimt and contemporary masters of spray paint like Phase 2 ,Vulcan, and Riff 170.
"I was never really discouraged. I only received support from loved ones."
"Street Artists" are valuable to todays art culture. Most street artists operate in the dark...literally. One that does not is Chor Boogie. He is a master artist who wields an aerosol can like Michelangleo used his chisel or Van Gogh his brushes. His works appears in museums and galleries from San Diego to Switzerland. He is an American national treasure. - editor When did you first think about art as something you wanted to do? Were you encouraged or discouraged by family, friends, teachers, mentors? When I was around 5 years old in Kindergarten my teacher said, “Do you want to play duck duck goose or do this activity over here…” I was interested in the activity. “So what is this activity?” I asked. “Painting
Your style is very unique. Did you work on developing a style or is that what naturally came out of you? It was a little bit of both actually. It takes both nature and nurture in order to find out who you really are when it comes to originality, and then taking that creativity to new heights every time you create something. You do a lot of “street art” that seems to now have gone mainstream, How did that happen? Depends on what you consider mainstream.That actually could be a bad word within the genre. Even though I paint on the streets and on canvas, I’m even creative with my terminology when it comes to the genre of my artwork. Instead of “graffiti” or “street art,” I call it Modern Hieroglyphics, which is basically what this culture really is based off of.
"You are asking how did it go mainstream, and I’m just going to have to respond, “VERY CAREFULLY." We create stories, symbols, and images with meaning and context on any surface. Nothing wrong with the other terminologies, but as far as my work goes, that's where I push it. You are asking how did it go mainstream, and I’m just going to have to respond, “VERY CAREFULLY, it’s like playing a game of chess on this roller coaster ride called LIFE.”
Your “love visions” murals seem beautiful and chaotic at the same time. Is that purposeful? There is a reason for everything and everything is naturally purposeful. They are like mind-body-soul explosions with that medium.
eyes, and I have many styles of eyes. Eyes are the windows to the soul. It so happened that I painted them in pretty much every major city, and it soon fell into a series aspect. Every city I created these eyes in is technically the eyes of that city and that environment.
What’s going on in your head when you work on a piece? Your fears, anticipation, confidence, etc. How do you know something is finished?
I’m curious about how you choose what to work on. What’s does your process entail? Start to finish. Can you give us a short step-by-step?
When it comes to the process of what I do, I try not to let my mind get in the way of that creative process, but rather let it be a combination of things, MIND BODY SOUL. This makes sense to me when breathing life into creating something to be real. Nothing is ever finished. It’s all a continuum dialogue with every creation, hence it is one big story in the grand scheme of creative things.
Well sometimes I just go for it to see what comes out, and then I take it from there.
Can you explain to us about the “eyes of the street” series and what that means to you or what are you conveying to us? The eyes of the street just happened. I love creating
Sometimes I use image references and distort them or make them fit with in my creative process. Either I use as many colors as I can, or not . The rest is secret. A true master never gives up all his weapons in his arsenal.
What do you do to promote yourself and get work? Social media plays a role. Media plays a role in general, but usually when I’m painting on the street that's enough promotion to get the job done. Going out networking and schmoozing is alright and helps to get involved in things, but I think I put my name out their enough to where the promotion comes to me. So it’s basically a two way street and we have to meet in the middle. What’s the future hold for you? Any ultimate goal? I live for today, my friends. I’m not a psychic. I know it’s bright though... Always has been, always will be. Your sculpture seems to be more charged with satire than your paintings. i.e. the spray nozzles for nipples and the skull covered with what looks like lacquered money, etc. does the medium influence the message with you? It’s fun, and I always look for new avenues to create from. I make music as well and entertain the possibility of being a renaissance man like my ancestors.
"A true master never gives up all his weapons in his arsenal."
Rolled Sugar Cookies INGREDIENTS 25 ounces All Purpose Flour 1 1⁄2 teaspoon Baking Powder 1⁄2 teaspoon Salt 1 lb. cold Butter 10 1⁄2 ounces Granulated Sugar 2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract 2 Eggs 2 Egg Yolks DIRECTIONS Mix butter and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla extract, eggs and yolks. Mix until incorporated. Add flour, baking powder and salt until evenly mixed. POP IN THE OVEN and Yay!!
Natalia Valiukevich When did you first think about art as something you wanted to do? Were you encouraged or discouraged by family, friends, teachers, mentors? Your question made me think. It's unexpected, but I cannot remember my childhood dreams. I did not have specific goals. I wanted to study at the Police Academy. But it was not a serious dream. It was a momentary impulse at the end of the school. I cannot say that I had goals and I achieved them. I had some aspirations and fate made unexpected gifts for me. The police academy... my dad was sad that I not a boy. I was quite an aggressive girl. I was engaged in gunfire shooting, karate and parachuting. I do not have any relatives who were artists. I did not expect to be an artist. But I loved making things. Embroidery, sewing, macrame. I ended up at the Pedagogical University artistic and graphic department quite by accident. I didn't appreciate this gift of fate. I was upset about the Police Academy.
"I was quite aggressive girl. I was engaged in gunfire shooting, karate and parachuting." What kind of kid were you? Where did you grow up? What were your influences? My mom says I was a good kid. But I'm not sure about that. I had bad companies in my teens. I bathed on the river at night at 12 years old. It was fun. I was at a sports camp then. My mother still does not know about this. My best friend married a bandit. I was in this gang. But I did well at school. I did not make efforts for this
You were a 3D artist working in gaming. Now you are doing sensitive watercolor. Did you feel stifled by your 3D work? And why? I think this is due to the fact that I have changed. My views on life changed. But I did not plan this even this time. I had some aspirations for this job. But I was not fully aware of this. I had several reasons to leave the 3D industry. I am a mystic a little. I watch for some signs of fate and I follow them. You can think this is nonsense. However, this works great for me. Can you talk about how a female from Belarus got involved with American Baseball history? How do you relate to a game that is so American? 3D-tanks and American baseball are interesting manifestations of my destiny. I was a retoucher during this period. I did good colorizing. One great customer needed good colorizers. He made wonderful magazines about American baseball during this period. I had commission work for a long time. We did this for several years. I'm a sensitive person. I could not remain indifferent to
these players. I liked this project. Americans are very fond of baseball and old baseball players. I was an instrument in the hands of Charles. I think we had an excellent business. But I would not do it myself. I do not feel moral permission for this.
"I watch for some signs of fate and I follow them. You can think this is nonsense. However, this works great for me."
Have you given any thought to creating watercolors digitally?? I did a lot of digital works. Various styles of digital painting. We did projects with Women in Aviation and American Indians. But I would not want to go back to that. I feel more potential in traditional painting. I immerse myself in watercolor painting. It's very interesting. Maybe I'll have to go back to digital painting. But I wouldn't want that. Whatâ€™s does your daily process entail? Start to finish. Can you give us a short step-by-step?
Why watercolor? How did that evolve? My client wanted to have watercolor portraits of baseball players. I had conflicting feelings. I admired traditional artists. But I was very unsure of myself. I refused. I brought many reasonable arguments. My client tried to convince me for a long time. But he gave up. I said I agree when he already refused the idea. Do you plan to promote your watercolor work for commercial use or keep it in galleries and private collections? I had a commercial order for watercolor painting, although I could not paint. Yes, I have many strange things in my life. Watercolor painting started for me as a commercial project. I do not have a contract with Charles right now. Yes, I have to get some profit from this. I will be forced to look for another job if I do not get a profit. I have problems in our country with commercial promotion. Have you considered childrenâ€™s books as an outlet? That might be interesting. I thought about historical books. I make excellent watercolor paintings from old photographs.
I work at home. I don't have a good regime of the day. I go to bed late and get up late. I do homework, I communicate on the Internet, I do digital sketches for watercolor painting. After dinner, I and my family go out of town to our summer house. I have no distractions at this place. And yes, I don't have a computer there! I have an excellent quiet environment for work. Unfortunately I can't go to our summer house in the winter. We return home after sunset. What do or did you do to promote yourself? What exciting projects are you working on now? I'm trying to move forward in social networks. I really need to do it. Yet I have to communicate with a lot of strange obsessive people. They flirt with me. This job does not give me pleasure. A few days ago, Pinterest blocked me forever for being too active. Many of the artist's earnings are not available to artists in our country. I had to make an online store. I really have a lot of problems now. But I think this is normal for a begining artist. I think I have good prospects. But perhaps I should find intermediaries. What is your ultimate goal or goals in life? I like to watch to old people. Some of them, very few, have a mature beautiful soul. That is the goal for me...the only significant one. I will be happy if my watercolor works bring joy to people. But I'm really not really worried about it.
"3D-tanks and American baseball are interesting manifestations of my destiny."
davidovich Interview by Heather Leary
When did you first think about what you wanted to do as an adult? I knew I wanted to do something with cartoons in some form since I was about ten years old. That’s when I found out people made a living doing cartoons and I thought why would I want to do anything else. So all those dreams of astronaut or marine biologist went out the window. Were you encouraged or discouraged by family, friends, teachers, or mentors? They were incredibly supportive.They wanted me to be happy no matter what. I asked my dad recently why he let me do this and he said “You had a passion for it, it was all you did. For all your life all you would do was
draw so of course you would be miserable doing anything else.” I thought that was a nice thing for him to say. Nobody in my family had any experience in visual arts, they’re all very artistic people they do dance, performance and athletics. I was the oddball. Where did you grow up? What kind of kid were you? I was born in a little suburb in Jacksonville, Florida. It was a nice place to grow up. Most of my childhood was spent in my parents gymnastics school. I don’t remember not being with them and doing gymnastic during my entire childhood. I would be there at the gym or I was at the beach, so I had a really great, fun childhood.
I was very, very shy. I was that kid in school who never really talked. I think that’s why I liked drawing so much and reading books. I would stay up all night reading my favorite books. I loved a lot of illustrations in children's books and watching movies. I still have my VHS of the “Little Mermaid.” What was that defining moment that made you decide to go into animation. How did you start getting interested in animation? I think it was the understanding that it was possible. When I was growing up that magical thing called the
internet became mainstream so I was getting a lot of exposure to what a production was really like from people talking about it online. The more I saw that it was not just a thing that appeared in movies and television, that people actually did specific things to make this all happen. It became easier to see how I could be a part of that. So it wasn’t just one big epiphany it was sort of a progress of everyday learning a little bit more about how to become one of those people that makes it happen. It was still very unclear even into college, but at that point it was internships and getting portfolio reviews that made it more clear about my career path. If there is one good thing I can say about college it’s that it put me in an
environment where I could get these kind of bread crumbs of information. Who and what inspires you? Was there an artist who influenced your art style? The two biggest influences I can think of are Chuck Jones and everybody who made “Animaniacs.” The show “Animaniacs” just opened up a universe for me. I love cartoons and animation because of that show, but there was something about “Animaniacs” that made me feel like anything was possible. There were a lot of different studios that animated individual cartoons on the
show, so I could see how different artists would draw essentially the same thing and I would figure out what I liked and didn’t like. I still remember the one time I figured out how to draw lips, getting some volume on the lower lip to get a really big expression. I figured that out from drawing what I saw on “Animaniacs” cartoon that Startoon studios animated I was just like “Oh my gosh! I am so happy I learned this little bit of visual language! Thank you Animaniacs.” Chuck Jones had been a common thread of influence since before I even learned his name. He put such an emphasis on appeal and personality. Basically any cartoon could be good if you have an appealing character
I also loved what Friz Freleng could do with a musical score. The way he could find humor in these classical pieces of music. “Pigs in a Polka” is still one of my favorite cartoons because somehow he makes that music hilarious. This moody romantic music that now every time I hear it I just laugh because he did something so masterful with it. Obviously Tex Avery for timing. Nobody had better timing than Tex Avery. I still don’t know how he and the animator’s achieved the kind of sharpness that they did. I’ve never seen anything as sharp as “Magical Maestro.” They had to think about every single line, every single frame. They had to be so economical. Their comedy, their art is the absolute bare minimum of what needs to be there in order to communicate and that’s what makes it so elegant and beautiful. When you have production they way you have it now, where you can have all sorts of textures and things to make everything so much more elaborate you don’t need all those things to show the idea or communicate the joke and I think they distract and people focus to much on the superfluous instead of focusing on what is the bare minimum that I need to do in order to comunicate and just do that because I think that is a lot more beautiful than, you know, a lot of speckles on a character. What does your daily process entail? How to you handle your time management schedule while working on multiple projects? I work as many normal jobs as I need to in order to pay the bills and any ounce of energy I have left over goes into a huge laundry list of projects that I try to organize by how able I am to finish them. I’ve got pitches and ideas for a pilot, but that’s way down on the list because
that will take a lot of time. If I have a cute little idea for an animated gif that’s something I can do just to keep the wheels greased. The biggest trap you can fall in is to stop. You’ve got to keep going otherwise you’ll find that once you sit down, it feels real good to sit down! You’ll close your eyes for a few minutes and before you know it your asleep, and I mean that both figuratively and literally. With time management you just have to be clear about your priorities and when your priorities are pretty dire, like you got to make the money, it’s pretty easy to stay on the ball because if you fail you may be forgiven once or twice, but it doesn’t take much for people to not call you back. You have to know especially working as a freelancer there are stakes that you’re working with. When first freelancing did you solely focus on getting jobs in animation or did you get a 9 to 5 job while freelancing? I’ve supported myself and my family the whole time I’ve been professional. Besides for a couple of summer jobs I had when I was a teenager I only had one non art job when I was in high school. I got an internship my junior year of college and that led to a job straight out of college. Then when they dissolved the animation department they kept me on as a freelancer. I made contacts and networked during my time working there for a couple of years. I was plugged into the network of who got jobs and who was recruiting. So I was able to start hopping around from freelance job to freelance job immediately and I’ve just kept that going ever since. One thing always leads to the next and that’s why you can’t procrastinate or get any kind of bad rep because if you break one link in that chain you might not be destroying one opportunity, but a few opportunities down the line that you don’t even know about yet.
What was it like working on site for the first time? I was so over the moon! The first animating job I had was animating Starfire for a commercial and I did a good enough job that they kept giving me more work. It was animation mainly, but I also got to do character design, explorations, and storyboards. It was so exciting and so much fun. I learned so much at my internship and that’s why my biggest piece of advice is internship, internship, internship! What are some of the differences between animating in a studio and animating for commercial work? Would they have you work on site for a commercial or remotely? Early on I would mostly work on site, even for commercials. Most of my work in the early days was promos, commercials, and things for broadcast. I am getting more work remotely nowadays. Studios are now saying that remote is the future. You’re even seeing big studios allowing artists to work remotely. I like working remotely, but I do miss the energy that comes from working around other people on site. What social media sites do you use to promote your work? Do you find some work better than others in terms of finding or getting work? Instagram seems to be the platform that gets the most attention. I’ve gotten some sort of work from about every social media platform I have. Facebook has also been great, and I have been able to connect with so many hero’s of mine. I’ve got to have so many nice conversations with people who molded me as an artist. When I would get suggestions for a joining a social me dia site I use to just delete, delete, delete. Now I am so glad I joined because you just never know what will take off. What made you decide to create a youtube channel? What are your goals for your youtube channel? I first started uploading to youtube as a way to show portfolio material. I uploaded my demo reel, commercials I have worked on, student films, and basically it was a portfolio showcase for the longest time. Then I started doing work on “Monkey Rag” and started showing my progress and noticed people were responding and commenting back. After “Monkey Rag” was done I realized I wanted to keep this going, especially when I decided I did not want to do festivals. I thought Youtube was a really great outlet for any kind of creative impulse and since I became more interested in it I realized people were making money
off of Youtube. There just seemed to be so much opportunity there so I thought I would experiment with my channel. My goal is to create some sort of format that I can do quickly and upload enough content to generate views, get revenue that will support me in doing my own Warner Bros. style cartoons. It’s a long plan with a lot of moving parts, but what do I got to lose. No stone unturned. What is some advice you have to artists on handling negative feedback on youtube?
It’s easy to tell constructive criticism from just plain trolls. Don’t let anything stop you from creating. I have found that the best thing when you come across somebody who is obviously trying to get a rise out of you, don’t engage. How much animation experience did you have when you created your short Monkey Rag?
The funny thing is when I started I didn’t have that much experience, but it took so long that by the time I finished it it gave me the experience I needed. So I ended up going back and reanimating earlier scenes because over the course of those years I felt I had gotten so much better. This represents me in this moment of time and maybe it’s not my 100% absolute best work, but it’s enough. What are some of your tips on making and selling your own personal merchandise? Can freelance artists rely on it for income? It’s not income, at least not for me. I haven’t cracked it. It’s just another, maybe it will take off. I’m not counting on it anytime soon. I know some people can make that work, it’s a path to success that I haven’t found yet. I mean you never know unless you do. You have to put something out there, even if it’s not gonna live up to your hopes or make you money. Whatever you’re inspired to do at the moment you’ve got to do it because you never know if it’s gonna come back and reward you in a big way or even in a small way. Even if it’s a small reward that’s just connecting you to people on Facebook that you really admire it’s worth it.
Illustration by Lon Levin for SINY Gallery Show "Food Fight"