Eugenia Solovyova - Artist, children's illustrator.
Interview with an artist
Evgeniya, tell us, how did you start your art journey?
Art in the form you see it now, began in early 2013. At that time, I taught Art in a preparatory school for children aged 5-6. Once my supervisor asked me to decorate the interior for this school.
I thought a lot how to do it right, looked for inspiration, and at some point stumbled upon such a thing as «children’s word-creation.» What it is? Up to a certain age, children express themselves in their own way - they can mutate words, invent new, non-standard formulations of sentences - this is «children’s word-creation.» For example, «if flowers put in water, then they will de-wither,» «my mother is love-beautiful» and so on.
I began to read a lot of literature on this topic, and it inspired me very much. So much so that I wanted to draw my impressions. And just watercolor. Despite the fact that during my training at the art and graphic faculty of the university, I drastically disliked watercolors preferring oil painting and was sure that this is not my material. Perhaps because we were taught it at a fairly academic level, not welcoming any kind of self-expression.
After graduation from the university, where I got a diploma from an Art teacher, I abandoned the brushes, but my work was somehow connected with drawing and design.
Until I started working with children, I did not return directly to drawing. But children, they are so inspiring! And after I designed the interior in my school, I wanted to continue to create and draw. And, despite my dislike for watercolors, I took it for her, because it is the most «bright» and «pure» art material. And this is what I wanted to convey in my illustrations. At that moment, it seemed I returned to zero - I forgot all academic knowledge and began to paint exactly as I wanted. And I liked it very much, and I enjoyed myself so I decided to continue to develop creatively in this direction.
In parallel with work in the school (where I taught children to draw on the school program), I drew children’s portraits, illustrations as a gift to acquaintances.
Do you continue to teach Fine Arts at school?
Not at this moment. Now I’m interested in self-development as an illustrator, but I do not exclude the possibility of returning to teaching.
Tell us, how did your beautiful characters appear?
You know, they were born at once. It is in this style and in this form. All that in life makes me smile, I want to convey my illustrations.
What do you answer to the question: «What are you doing?»
Usually I say that I draw children’s illustrations. If put it in a word, it’s very difficult to describe yourself. Artist is too ambitious . Well, the children’s illustrator is more suitable (laughs).
Can you recollect, what was your first illustration?
«Snails living in a snailhouse.» It was just at the moment when I was addicted to children’s word-creation. The picture showed a large snail, and a funny little boy was riding it.
Tell us about your education.
I graduated from Khabarovsk Pedagogical University with a degree in «Teacher of Fine Arts». Back at school,
I knew that I would receive higher education in the field of creativity. My parents supported me in this aspiration, so I always felt the firm shoulder of close people.
What art supplies do you use?
I’ve been already familiar with the colors «White Nights» by «Nevskaya Palitra» since the university, so when after a long break I had to again buy art materials, there were no questions. However, sometimes I want to try something new, and I buy watercolors from other manufacturers, I rather get colors that are not in Nevskaya Palitra, but they do not become basic.
I tried different brushes, and only by trial and error came to the options I needed. In general, when I have a creative block - I go for new brushes (laughs). Mainly I draw with siberian weasl from the manufacturer Roubloff and Nevskaya Palette. Although the brushes are not as important as choosing the right paper, here it solves everything.
Make a mistake in choosing a paper, and neither expensive brushes nor paints will save you - and it is unlikely you will be pleases with the result. Or you will need a lot more experience and effort than if you were drawing on suitable paper.
I try different variants, I try to understand, what advantages are or other properties for me from different manufacturers and not necessarily must the paper be very expensive. I have a 100% cotton paper - Arches - but for now it’s untouched. Maybe I have some fear of expensive art materials, or it’s just that its time has not yet come.
In general, I prefer cellulose paper or «mix» (cotton and cellulose in various proportions), for example, glued cellulose paper «Tour De France» and «New York» from the manufacturer «Lily Holding.» Many scold her, but I like it (laughs)
Despite the fact that I draw illustrations, I prefer paper of rough texture - Torchon (Torchon). It is believed that it is more suitable for large watercolor works, for example landscapes, but it is very suitable for me for small illustrations.
What inspires you to work, and where do you look for ideas for your illustrations?
When I worked at school, everything was simple - the greatest inspiration was given to me by children. They inspired me with their spontaneity, funny phrases, funny clothes, habits. I worked with children 5-7 years old.
Now I’m looking for inspiration in everything that surrounds me - children I see on a walk, people, nature, funny dogs (now it’s fashionable to dress them up in funny costumes), photos. I’m inspired by everything sweet and direct. Most of my characters are made-up and are collective images created by several references.
How much time per day do you spend on drawing?
Differently. When there is some flow of emotions and not a very complicated illustration, I can spend 30-40 minutes. If this is a difficult job, requiring planning, working out, sketching - then about 5 hours.
Does it happen that you do not want to paint?
Yes, sometimes. And if earlier I was very worried about this, now I understand that you just need to rest, switch and inspiration will return. The main thing is not to create a problem out of this (laughs).
Generally, they say that creative crises should happen. This is the sign of creative growth, when the artist starts not to arrange something in his work, because he/she may have «outgrown» it and needs to move on. In this period it is better to stop and rethink. This is more a positive indicator than a negative one.
Do you think everyone can draw?
I am convinced that anyone can draw. Creativity lives in us since childhood. It is important that during this period an adult appears who fully supports the desire to create, competently directs and teaches. But if this has not happened in childhood, it is never too late to revive it.
Do you think the artist should develop in one direction or should he be a Jack of all trades?
I can assume that both options are possible, but I love diversity. I, for example, someday will necessarily buy myself a canvas and oil paints and again I will take up the oil painting, which I so loved at the university. I also like drawing with special paints on fabric or wood. But, despite the different materials, the plot of images remains the same.
How do you promote your art?
Instagram is very useful as a platform for promotion - a large audience and a lot of tools to ensure that your work is seen by as many people as possible. In fact, initially I did not think that creativity could become my main work. I just painted for my own pleasure and shared with subscribers on my page on Instagram. After a while, orders for illustrations began to arrive.
Most often I’m asked to write a stylized portrait of a person from a photograph or pet. Very many of my illustrations are liked by designers who develop embroideries, for example.
From corporate orders there was a lot of work for the network of Khabarovsk dental clinics. The idea was that the clinic is some kind of magic country, and I needed to create a series of illustrations that would revive the fairy tale invented for the clinic and then decorate the door of each cabinet and symbolize some local character of this district. To children it was interesting and fun, and that it distracted them from visiting the dentist. Later this clinic opened a children’s center, for which I also created a series of illustrations.
I also really want my illustrations to be used in some kind of children’s book, but have not yet made a portfolio for the publishing house. I’m in the process (laughs).
What are the pros and cons of an artist / illustrator profession?
Pros - this is the fact that you are doing your favorite thing, flexible schedule. Cons - the same flexible schedule. It’s not always possible to organize yourself and divide the day: family-work.
Sometimes it is difficult to explain to the family that you are, as it were, «at home», but at the same time «at work.» It happens that relatives can be distracting. And the only thing that is necessary for creativity is silence. I can draw even on my knee. But calmness and silence are a must. My son goes to school, and my husband to work, and I have a part of the day when there is no one at home, and I can use this time as efficiently as possible.
What is the best rest for you?
The best rest for me is a change of scenery, getting new positive emotions and impressions from meeting with friends, like minded people in spirit.
Describe your ideal day. What should it be?
To make the day go well you need to sleep first (laughs). Be sure to do something useful for yourself, your family, someone to please. Meet with friends over a cup of coffee and a casual conversation. Take a walk in the park and draw another watercolor picture (laughs).
Do you play sports?
Sports - no, but morning exercise and some simple exercising - it’s mandatory.
What films do you watch and what books do you read?
Now I read a lot of books on creativity, motivating literature. From the last books I have read: Eric Spikermann «Fontbook» and Julia Cameron «It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again».
From the movies I like fantasy and horror most of all, no matter how strange it sounds (laughs)!
Imagine you have caught a goldfish, what three wishes would you make?
A well-known fairy tale teaches us that one must be very careful with one’s wishes. Therefore, no goldfish (laughs)! All that we need in life, we can create with our own work, mind and heart.
Imagine that you are 60 years old. What advice do you give to your grandchildren?
I will advise them not to take everything seriously in this life. It will help to save a lot of nerves and strength (laughs).
What would you advise a friend whose inspiration has left?
I will advise him to get distracted, get new experiences, not related to creativity. Stay in a circle of like-minded people.
I, by the way, am grateful to Instagram because I was lucky to get to know creative people in Khabarovsk and other cities with whom I now communicate, they feed me with their ideas, support and help with advice. All of them realize themselves in various creative directions: painting, illustration, lettering, photography.
Do you have goals on your creative path?
Now I have two interesting projects in development, I really hope that everything will turn out, and I will have time to implement them before the end of the year.
I also plan to create a portfolio for publishing houses, for this I plan to create a series of illustrations on my favorite children’s books. Maybe it’s worth organizing an exhibition, but I am still thinking. I received offers from foreign galleries about participating in exhibitions, but now their conditions do not suit me very much.
What are the 5 facts about yourself, which first come to mind:
1. The first thing that occurred to me - for some reason I do not get on well with flowers, although I love them very much. Only two flowers survived: azalea and one more, I do not remember the name (laughs). And they probably survived only because they were gifted.
2. I’m a very pedantic person. Effects of growing up in a military family. I do not like being late, when agreements are not followed. Demanding from myself and expecting the same from people..
3. I do not like noisy companies and large crowds of people. I’m more like a home body.
4. I do not like to cook and all sorts of household chores, but I’m doing it with pleasure. Once I’ve managed to come to terms with myself. Now every chore is an opportunity to ponder, dream, build plans. When we do not like something, and we think about it, then we start to dislike it even more. Therefore, you just need not concentrate on the negative, but think, for example, about something else. In general, as you have probably already understood, I negotiate very well with myself (laughs).
5. I’m a night owl who has to be a lark. I like to sleep a little longer, but I do not remember the last time I did it.
What do you do with spoilt works?
I have a folder with unsuccessful, in my opinion, works. From time to time, I rush to throw them away, and then I think: «Why did I ever leave them?» And I leave again. Sometimes I look at them to understand where I made mistakes, not to repeat them again.
Often the work fails, if I have not picked the paper. Or, on the contrary - the trusted paper on which I decided to try some new technique, and that something went wrong.
It happens that I can not immediately adapt to a new paper and the result does not please me.
How do your family and your friends treat your profession?
Close people support me and rejoice in success with me. For me it’s very important. My son loves my illustrations, but sometimes he can criticize! But moreover, on point and objectively.
How would you spend 3 million rubles?
I cannot not share! Therefore, I will give some to close people, and the rest I will spend on travelling.
What kind of superpower would you like to have?
None. I would not want to have any super abilities. All that is not given to us, we do not need. Since nature does not endow us from birth with any super abilities, it means that there is no need.
Imagine that in the next life you will be reborn into a picture. What picture would you like to be?
For some reason, a still-life with flowers comes to mind. Something light and springy, with a predominance of light untouched greenery.
If someone decided to write a book about you and your work, what would it be called?
«Watercolor mischiefs!» Four years ago, when I just started drawing my characters, I did not take it seriously. Behind my shoulders I had training in the art and graphic faculty, and the characters that I got with watercolors were something that was not academic at all, so I called them «watercolor mischiefs» Maybe partly because I was kind of embarrassed for not being taught what I was drawing. And this name psychologically untied my hands (laughs)!
Do you want to share something with beginning illustrators and artists?
I am convinced that daily drawing is the key to success on the creative path. Skills do not arise on their own, unless you make an effort. Therefore, if you want to succeed as an artist, draw every day, not from time to time.
It is not necessary to draw everything that is necessary or to repeat other people’s work. It is important to determine what you like. Of great importance is «seeing»: the more images there are before your eyes, the faster you will find your way.
Collect books with your favorite illustrations, photos, get a sketchbook for notes and sketches of ideas. Try to illustrate a short story, a fairy tale or a poem. Set real goals, sometimes it’s useful to start small.
Think about what emotion you want to convey in the illustration - this is what the viewer should feel.
If I want to bring a smile and emotion, then exactly the same emotions should arise in the process of drawing. That is, if I do not smile, drawing, it is unlikely that the picture will cause a smile from others. Do not stop - the road will be mastered only by walking! The most important thing is that drawing should give you great pleasure! Good luck to you!