Olesya Dubovik (AzyzA)
Olesya Dubovik (AzyzA) - Artist on acrylic, graphic artist, decorator.
Interview with an artist
Olesya, tell us, how did your nickname appear?
All is very mundane. I was registering at one site, and it was necessary to choose a nickname. I wanted something simple, beautiful and memorable. But all the names, of course, were taken, and this palindrome came to my head. I pronounce my nickname like «Azusa», but when I looked into a dictionary, then I saw that Azyza was correct. And so it went.
How do you answer the question: «What do you do?»
I do not often meet new friends, but I usually answer: «I live, enjoy life while I am an artist.» It is difficult, of course, to say that I’m just an artist, I am «also a reader, and a reaper, and a pipe player» (laughs). But art is exactly 70% of me and my time. And now - it is almost 100%, because if I had not done photos and scans of my work before,now I’m actively filling up this gap. This process takes all my free time.
What do you do in your free time from creativity?
I love to ride a bike, a longboard and walk around the city. I love to visualize, so whenever I walk, I try to remember the area around. Before moving to St. Petersburg I lived in Tolyatti, and that city I can recall up to the last detail. And the same thing now I want to do with St. Petersburg - remember it as good as possible. Every street, every corner, day, night and in all seasons. Now I do not read books, so there is no time at all. I like to play with the cat, watch cartoons (laughs).
Tell us about your life in Tolyatti. Why did you move to St. Petersburg?
Aside from the obvious, that Tolyatti is a small and boring city, not very beautiful and sleepy at 8 pm, there are more reasons. First, I met with many creative people and visited all the galleries and creative unions in this city. And secondly, my husband and I went on our honeymoon to St. Petersburg and absolutely fell in love with this city (laughs)! Well, and, thirdly, I really wanted to be exhibited in galleries and at various venues and there are only three in Tolyatti. When I googled - «Gallery» - in St. Petersburg maps, I was shown 300 options. And choice of the city for life was evident (laughs). Plus, art in Tolyatti is very conservative - young blood is not allowed in the Union of Artists.
I am very happy with the move, as in St. Petersburg I like everything, even the weather (laughs)! Those, who do not live in the moderate climate, will not get that in summer it’s plus 30 in the street, you can’t go out, in winter it’s minus 30, and also you can’t go out . And in St. Petersburg it’s an eternal autumn: you can walk in the jacket and trousers, and you will be comfortable. The only time of the year in Tolyatti, where I could feel comfortable - it was autumn and spring. And summer and winter are just the temperature hell (laughs). And St.Petersburg - this is my city.
Tell us how did you start to paint?
All paint as children, and I did too. But I did not go to art school, so my art was home drawings and fine arts lessons.
I have an older sister who went to art school, and then entered the Art University. I went to visit her in the studio and saw how she and her fellow artists worked. I really liked the free creative atmosphere. At some point I started to mentally prepare myself for the fact that I’m an artist too. And when after school it was time to choose a speciality, I chose the same thing as my older sister.
Up to the second year at the university I painted only what was asked, so I did not paint for myself. And in the second year, when my husband had to go to the army, I was in emotional distress, came home after uni, and the first time in my life I wanted to draw something and sign it as artists do when they complete a picture. I then had black paper and a white gel pen. And I tried. And then again and again. After some time I brought the results to the teacher in my university. He criticized me in a good way and told me I must continue. It was a great motivation for me. Then, when my drawings became better, the same teacher helped me to be exhibited in local galleries. Since then, I believe, started my creative activity. It was 2009.
At what point was your style born?
At first, of course, I had no style. Moreover, I did not even have the Internet, so I could see how other artists draw and find someone who I liked and who I wanted to emulate, from whom to learn.
In general, the first three years of my active creative work, I imagined myself only as a graphic artist. That means, I did not draw in color. I have a membership card of Tolyatti Union of Artists in which I am recorded just as a graphic artist. The style in which I draw now developed. But I always liked to draw people with dreamy eyes, long faces and long necks. Even in graphic arts.
How did you come to working in color and large format?
There was a moment when my paintings were exhibited in the gallery as part of the group exhibition. And I saw that my works alongside other works looked miniature and got lost. And I decided I wanted to try to draw a broader picture. Primed an MDF sheet I created a decorative composition in grayscale using markers to work on graphic details. I really liked the large scale, and since then I have not painted small pictures.
Then I wanted to add some color to my work, and I started making colorful splashes of acrylic. At some point in my pictures typical of my current style dots appeared, which I now use in the backgrounds of my works. But I could not paint animal faces at all! They happened to be much better in graphics! I suffered from this for a long time (laughs).
Entirely I turned to acrylic only after having moved to St. Petersburg. Even today I continue to draw graphic works, but only in my notebooks in small format.
In fact, even my painting is still similar to the graphics. I like to draw clear lines and ornaments, to create decorative works. That is why I paint with acrylic, not oil or watercolor. Watercolor does not give such rich, bright colors and oil smells and dries long.
Of course, it took long for me to grow accustomed to acrylics. Working with it is quite different from working with oil or, for example, gouache. The institute doesn’t teach to paint with acrylics, I learnt by experience.
Can you remember the first picture that you painted in your style?
Yes, this was a picture of a girl with a very long neck. Now it can be seen on my avatar in Instagram and Vkontakte group. This is the first pictorial work in which I was able to create a portrait with acrylics, which I previously could only draw in graphics. I especially drew her very with a very long neck, so that all the commentators and critics who resented my characters before for disproportion just got over it. This is my style.
What profession did you receive at the university?
By profession I am an artist of decorative - applied art. Or rather, a woodcarver. This explains why I create works with a lot of ornaments. We were taught that if we see a leaf, you need to style it and fi gure out how to eff ectively portray it in such a way that it can be cut on the wood tablet and it will look good.
We had never painted realism. Our task was to create such images, which could be painted in any decorative technique: on wood, on ceramics, on stained glass and more.
My sister graduated from the same speciality. At first, I really wanted to follow in her footsteps, but then abruptly changed my mind because it seemed to me that we had a lifetime being compared, and if I had gone to the same profession, it would have never ended. And I chose the interior design. But I failed the entrance exams (laughs)! There was no competition to the speciality «woodcarver «. All those who came - got in.
In general, after I failed the exam for interior design, I decided that I would not show off , and the following year I got in where they were waiting for me (laughs).
I now believe that it was perfect for me. I really liked where I studied.
Why do you draw people precisely in this style?
This style always shows through my work - I always drew people in this way. The first portrait of a man and a woman, I drew in graphics and already in my style in the second year of university. It was a portrait of my future husband and me. Then I wanted to complicate my portraits. But I almost did not draw the face, and paid much attention to the hair, and ornaments background.
Actually, I have a few favorite images. For example, girls, lights, keys, checks, lighthouses, and I’m trying to insert something of this in my paintings (laughs). Therefore, it seems that all my works are connected with each other. Most often, girls are the heroes of my paintings. Through them, I find it easier to show the idea that I want to convey to the audience. Now it’s hard to say why I chose portraits. But this is what I want to paint. I create complex compositions, and the person in them is just a supplement.
How do you come up with the idea for your paintings? How do you look for inspiration?
The first years it was very difficult to draw for me because I was not sure how I want to paint, and I want to draw. I sat for a long time over the sketches, worked through all the details. Plus, I’m constantly looking for stories that would be to my liking. Now I know the proportions of my girls, my favorite images and stories. Working on a sketch is faster due to the fact that I’ve been drawing quite a long time in my style.
All the ideas that come into my head, I sketch in a small form. I can go back to my sketch some time later and make it into a pictorial work. It happens that the idea is born, for example, a frame for the picture cannot to be bought, so I draw it in the picture, and after that I think, I’m beginning to think, what else needs to be shown in this work. It happens that I want to draw an item or image, and further the plot develops itself. There is no such moment, when I sit and I think: «Now I’ll draw a picture dedicated to winter!» - And then only start to think about the subject. Although for beginners it is a good method.
It turns out that I always work intuitively.
What do you recommend for beginners who want to develop their own style?
Select the images and stories that you like the most. For example, for me it’s lights, girl, birds, stars, keys, locks, ornaments and elaborate headdresses. And when I start to work on a new painting, I try to put in one of these elements, or more. This is a very good method, when you have a lot of thoughts, and you do not know what to choose.
What other tips can you give to a novice artist?
I would advise to choose a range of interests. It is easy to be lost in your thoughts, so it is best to find your favorite things, objects and ideas that inspire you and to work on these areas.
Always be self-critical and strive for the development. Practice in our business is the most important thing. There won’t be such a moment that you wake up one day and become a great artist. Painting must be constant.
How much time do you spend on one picture?
When I was working a regular job, I painted only at night. And one work took a long time. And now I draw from morning till evening. I am a fanatic (laughs)! I will draw as long as I am not satisfied with the result. For large and complex works it may be 1-4 weeks, for small ones - one or two nights, i.e. 5-10 hours!
Do you draw in a multi-layer technique?
Yes, I have not yet met acrylics, which would give a good color in one coat. Two or three layers I just «gather the color», and then start to draw shadows, highlights and details. Only the background can be written in a single layer, and only if it is the abstract background.
What art materials do you use? How did you come to them?
I use acrylics, canvas on a stretcher or on cardboard, gold leaf, brushes and various decorative elements. By and large I do not care what materials to paint with. I draw with everything that comes in handy. Of course, for example, for watercolor artists paper and brushes are very important, but for me acrylic materials do not mean a lot. I can paint almost on any surface: on wood, glass, on tile, on a canvas, and so on. It is important for me to express myself. Therefore, I have so many techniques that I draw in.
Of course, with acrylics it’s a bit easier than with other art materials: it’s synthetic paint, it’s pretty hard to spoil it. I can buy acrylics by a manufacturer unknown to me, simply because I liked the color, and can easily paint with it. With passion I choose only canvases. Much depends on a good canvas. Now a lot of useful information can be found on the Internet. Previously, this was not available. Conveniently, when you can read the reviews and opinions of people who have been using a particular material or technique.
The highest quality acrylic is Amsterdam and Pebeo. They always have the perfect consistency and perfect color. There is a French brand acrylic Fleur, but it has a very specific palette: colors are a little bit dirty. I also use acrylic by Olki. This is a very good paint. The only thing about it is the fact that sometimes it can get mold, although itself is an excellent paint. I threw away a couple of cans. This does not happen with Amsterdam colors, Pebeo, Fleur.
Brushes I use absolutely any, the main thing that they must be synthetic.
In graphics I use Sakura liners - the best thing for me. They do not smudge, always 100% black and never seen through the sheet. Colored pencils by Koh-i-noor. Watercolors by «White Nights».
Does it happen so that you do not want to paint?
No, it does not happen. I’m telling you, I’m a fanatic. Every day for me - it is a struggle between stop doing «stupid» things, and sitting down to draw. I always want to draw, but sometimes circumstances may arise that simply do not allow me to do it.
Do you work on a by-order basis?
The first few years I did not sell my works. Even if I was asked to. I love all of my paintings and wanted them to participate in exhibitions. I started selling paintings not so long ago, and to write by-order basis even less. I only have 5 or 6 pictures painted by-order.
Customers find me by themselves. Basically, they are my subscribers from Instagram and Vkontakte. I have very strict conditions for by-order, so the ones who don’t understand the style in which I draw, are unlikely to be satisfied. Those who order my pictures, like my style and give me a free hand. This is for me the most important thing. Selling my works is not my goal. My goal is self-expression.
If you do not sell your works, where do you store them?
In the closet (laughs). Now I’m going to sell my early works, to free up the space. But my later works, I’ll leave to participate with them in exhibitions. I love my paintings, they make me happy. Across the walls of the apartment I have attached rails, on which I hang them.
Quitediffi cult to part with my favorite pictures. So if someone wants to buy my favorite picture, either I say that it is not for sale, or call the price, so it defi nitely won’t be bought, and if they buy, then I would not be so hurt to part with it, and there will be money for new projects.
What is your creative purpose?
Self-realization. I want in my life to make as many beautiful things as possible with my hands. It’s not enough just to paint a picture, I want to create an entire installation with music, lights and all sorts of elements.
Going beyond social networks and galleries where the paintings hang in a row. This is what is called modern art. I would like to have grander scale.
I would also like to draw the attention of the curators of galleries to myself. Because pictures should fi nd not only the virtual audience, but also an alive one.
And I also want to have my own art studio, where I will be able to cut, saw, paint and draw whatever I want.
How can an artist survive in the modern world? What to live on and how to stay true to your dream?
For me, the recipe was as following: work on a regular boring job and all your free time should be devoted to drawing. In this case, you do not depend on the customers and their whims. Draw what you see fit, without having to worry about how you will buy something or not, because you have a formal job and a salary.
So I did some time ago. Then the work began to take up too much time, and I left. At that time I had already started to receive orders for greeting cards, prints and paintings, so I knew that I could fully support myself with my creativity. If ever my work ceases to please people, and they will not buy it, I’ll go back to work. But I’ll never paint what I do not like just because I get paid for it.
If you want to earn a lot by creativity, study trends and popular hashtags, draw what is claimed on the market today. Or pump your skill l up to Da Vinci’s level, and people will buy all that comes out of your hand. But it’s not about me.
And vice versa. Of course, everything depends on the person’s needs. Someone can live on 20,000 rubles a month, and for someone 100,000 rubles is not enough!
Tell us about your creative direction - linocut
I really liked the idea that I can create a drawing, and then make a lot of copies. The first 50 copies in linocut are highly valued, the following already go into the category of «circulation» and are not as expensive as the first 50, but they still remain the author’s work. I thought that people will like linocut in my performance, because I love the graphics, and it goes well with linocut. But how wrong I was (laughs)! Perhaps, the direction of linocuts has not yet become popular in Russia, or I am making some not very interesting things, because my works in this technique are not being sold.
What are your rules for by-order?
I never paint copies of my paintings. And always draw only in my own style.
What are the pros and cons of the artist profession?
The con is in the fact that all the money is going into creativity. The pros that you get a huge emotional nourishment and fulfillment from the fact that people like your work.
Do you have any art secret?
I think not. I do not do anything special, which cannot be repeated by someone else. The only thing, I can think of, is my experience in the arts and crafts, it really helped me in my creative life. For example, wood carving skills have helped me in the linocut: I cut differently than those linogravery that I have seen.
What is your best rest?
For me the best rest is a change of activity. For example, if today I spend the whole day drawing acrylics, tomorrow I’ll do linocut and draw graphics. And vice versa. Of course, I can still go for a walk or go to, for example, the cinema. But I just cannot do anything for a long time. My day should always end with the realization that I at least draw a little.
Imagine that you are 60 years old, what advice do you give to your grandchildren?
We must live, not survive. But, here it depends on people’s values. For me, the most valuable thing is time. I have one life and I want to spend it wisely. And the fewer affairs and things, that do not bring you joy and peace of mind, you have - the better.
Ask yourself the question: «What do I like doing?». If you do not like it - do not do it. Limit unnecessary contact with people, stop trying to impress someone. Be part of this world. Do not limit yourself, just live with eyes wide open. Every little thing in this world is perfect. Be yourself..
What are the three wishes you would make to a goldfish?
Studio on the first floor in the building on Gorokhovaya street. I have an eye on a place. A small one, just 60 meters, that’s enough. Oh, I do not know if I need more than that. Maybe, if there was a workshop, it would be great! The second wish is that I have lived my whole life the way I live now - in creativity. And I have never had to deal with what I do not like. Well, world peace!!
Imagine that you have a creative friend and he/she has a creative crisis. What do you advise him/her?
I have this friend! Not need to imagine! Everything is very individual. I would have wished him to remember that we are human beings, not because we are able to speak and to choose the president, but because we are the only creatures on the planet, who have imagination. We can imagine what is not there. It is truly inspiring: the idea that you can come up with something that no one has ever seen, and express it with materials that you are able to share with everyone. Create a dialogue,open a discussion, cause emotions! Do not be afraid to show your inner creative inside, because each has its own way, and it’s miraculous.
Tell us 5 facts about yourself
1. I’m a cat lady, and I have a cat.
2. I have a few friends and acquaintances. I’m talkative, but not very pleasant, if you talk with me for a long time. I do not forgive people their stupidity, I’m a tough person.
3. I have recently become a vegetarian - almost a year ago. But without fanaticism - I do not impose.
4. I love science and I admire scientists. I believe that scientists and artists help us to see what previously we could only guess. I am advocating science.
5. I’m for universal freedom. I try to treat people the way I would like them to be with me.
What does your family, friends and husband think of your profession?
Family came to terms. Mom wanted me to be an accountant, because «why do we need two artists in a family?!». My friends are creative, so they support. I do not need to explain anything. They are doing the same as I’m. Casual acquaintances do not understand and believe that I am a slacker. The second half relates perfectly and supports me!
What were the turning points in your work?
Recently I came to realization that I do not want to be get distracted by small projects because they take a lot of time and effort. And after that I reviewed a lot in my life. If before I was ready to constantly search for new techniques and jump from material to material (glass, wood, paper mache, sculpture, embroidery), but now I want to concentrate on one thing. This realization had come to me after moving to St. Petersburg.
How would you spend 3 million rubles?
I would rent the studio on Gorokhovaya street in Saint-Peteresburg, hire an assistant who would help me with the routine chores, would respond to letters, and so on. I do not know how many millions have I already spent? I would launch a small brand and a small production of beautiful decorative items. I’d like to get all of the Instagram and Vkontakte in a lively and creative real social life. I’d rented a room for the exhibition. In general, I would have spent it all on work.
What superpowers would you like to have?
I would like to fly. It would be very interesting to try it myself in bird aerodynamics. That is, I want to fly with the help of wings! I like imagining that you can fly over St.Petersburg as a seagull ... ah, it’s magnificent!
Imagine that in the next life you will be reborn into a picture. What picture would you like to be?
I would like to be a picture that has been lying somewhere or was lost, and then found and carried to restore. They would patch up all the ridges, would do all sorts of tests, x-rays ... and then they would find another picture! This would be a detective story! And then they would put me (as the picture), nice and fresh, to the audience. And everybody would admire me.
What would you call a book about you and your art?
«How to go crazy and feel normal» (laughs).