Svetlana Gryaznova - Architect, sketcher, illustrator.
Interview with an artist
Svetlana, how do you answer the question «What do you do?
Immediately I say that I am an architect, because this is my main activity and work. A month ago, I did my master’s thesis on architecture and a bachelor’s degree in it. Plus, my whole life, the last, probably, 9 years have been devoted to architecture and everything that is connected to it. Professionally I work as an architect for about two years. In the last grades of the school already knew that I would enter the architectural university, and went to the preparatory courses.
The part we are now talking about, the artistic side is an integral part of architecture. The architect should be able to draw a sketch of what he wants to offer to the customer with his own hands. This is a very significant plus. Nowadays everything happens very quickly, everyone is always in a hurry, and the customer wants to immediately understand what he will get at the end. Create an object model takes much longer than 15 minutes (exaggerating) than to draw it with markers. And everyone is happy (laughs)!
Otherwise, the architect can sit for 40 working hours to create a sketch in a special program, and the customer will not like it at all. Usually we give 2-3 sketches to the customer to choose from, drawn with markers - and form these sketches we already understand what the customer wants what he/she likes and what does not.
What kind of orders do you and the company you work for do?
Individual construction and interior design of residential and public buildings and more.
For the past year, I have had mostly competitive projects: international and all-Russian architectural competitions, design and interior contests. We have won a lot of prizes this year. Also carried out private orders.
While doing the thesis, I had a flexible work schedule, now I work full time.
So drawing skills are a must for the architect, right?
Yes, in architectural universities, drawing is a part of the entrance exams. That is, upon admission we had a «Creative test»: we passed the «Academic drawing» (drawing of the plaster head) and «Descriptive geometry» (drawing a complex part).
Someone else handed over «Composition» (drawing a composition consists of several geometric bodies). So you can say that yes, the architect should be able to draw! Many come from the art school.
I also attended an art school, but my school was not very strict in terms of teaching. And given that I lived far away from it, I could only go there a couple of times a week. Basically, in terms of creativity, I mostly did self-education.
How long have you been drawing?
From the kindergarten. I always had paints and felt-tip pens. I remember how I painted portraits for my parents for holidays! Of course, they were funny (laughs)! Often drawing I could sit till the morning. But my parents always supported me (smiles).
More serious drawing began in the art school and preparatory courses. Well, and quite serious disciplines, such as «Academic Drawing», were already at the university. I graduated from Nizhny Novgorod Architecture and Civil Engineering University.
In fact, at the university we were so tired from the academic drawing - bachelor’s degree for architects takes 5 years, and 3 years of them we had «Academic Drawing» - that when it was over, we did not want to draw anymore. It is said that after the architectural university you do not want to draw, and many do not continue to draw after graduating.
What other entrance exams were in the architectural university? In addition to creative tests, we passed standard subjects: Russian, Mathematics, History.
Did you have any problems finding employment after graduation? Yes, I did (smiles). However, I tried to get a job while still being a Bachelor’s student, but not many want to hire students for half a day. And after the Bachelor’s degree I immediately went to the Master’s and could not work full-time. Therefore, I had to impress with something else in my interviews and in my CV: my portfolio, my communication skills and motivation (laughs). I managed to find one employer who took me - we still work with him now (laughs).
At what point did you start drawing with markers?
The main discipline in the architectural university is «Architectural Design». In fact, the first stage of any architectural project - the presentation of your concept, your thoughts with the help of sketches are called a parti diagram. These drawings are the first thoughts- reasonings on paper about the object, drawn with watercolors, markers or other materials.
Just at that moment I was trying markers, and I liked them very much (smiles). It was already in senior years, and in the first year we used «graded wash» watercolor technic for painting architectural objects or details with watercolors. «Graded wash» is the method when you layer-by-layer by impositioning of paints in gradation from a glare to a falling shadow reveal the shape of an object.
In fact, this is the method of tonal processing of the object. Simply put, we show with tones areas of glare, light, half light, partial shade, shadow.
Markers at the university, of course, were not taught - this was a new material, which some of our senior teachers hardly knew. But in city sketches markers were welcomed. We were also allowed to use them for parti diagrams
What art supplies do you use and why?
I used to draw with gouache and tempera a lot. While studying at the university, my friend and I often went into the open air with these materials, and sometimes even with watercolors. Then I wanted something more mobile: that I did not need to carry water jars with me and look for where and how to lay out all my artistic tools (laughs). So I came to markers.
They were a very convenient material, which was convenient to carry with me to the university. Plus, in watercolors I always did not like that the paper was ugly wrinkled from water - this is also one of the reasons why the markers so sunk into my soul.
Here in Nizhni Novgorod the choice of markers always had not been so good. When I first started out, there were only Promarker markers available - and they were not cheap. Then I decided to expand my palette and bought Chinese markers. Approximately for half a year I had them. Then we worked with Touch tokens, and they sent me my first Touch Brush markers. And I understood the difference (laughs).
I was pretty skeptical about famous brands and always thought that they did not justify their prices, but as it turned out, this is not always true. After that moment, I began to move purposefully to the Copic and Touch markers. Also I like the color palette and the purity of colors in Stylefile markers and their tip-brush. The only minus - they can not be refilled, unlike Copic and Touch.
Most of all I like the brush tips - only with them watercolor effects are obtained. With the «bullet» tip it’s good to draw more graphic works.
I choose the paper in Leuchturrum1917 sketchbook. You can also draw on Goznak paper for drawing, but the markers consumption is very high, and the markers do not fit very well.
I also do some work on Canson The Wall paper, but I can not say that it fits well with my style: does not stand many layers. The very idea that it is two-sided is good, but if many layers are applied, the ink begins to shine on it.
At work, do you also use markers to create sketches for customers? Yes, I use use markers for sketching at work too. I have my personal set of markers, and now we have the question of whether the firm will acquire a separate set of markers for my working projects. While it is difficult to explain why it is necessary to purchase expensive professional markers for work purposes, rather than children’s markers - but I’m working on it (laughs).
Tell us about your «watercolor» style of marker drawing
It seems to me that this style I developed when I bought the Copic markers and the Leuchtturum1917 sketchbook. It was around November 2016. Then almost immediately I got Touch markers.
I remember that I read reviews about the Leuchtturum1917 sketchbook, where they wrote that it was bad for markers, because in it they were blurring a little, going beyond the edge. However, I think this helped me, especially at the beginning.
And already with these more professional art supplies I began to get more picturesque illustrations with a «watercolor» effect. So we can say that this is a successful synthesis of quality materials and my manner of filing a sketch.
Different schemes and collages in my drawings, which I combine - these are professional skills, you can say. I want to detail my drawing with these schemes, transfer more atmosphere, creating collages.
Before that, I was drawing in a more graphical style. With clear lines and contours. In general, now there are a lot of discussions on the topic: «you can draw with any materials, even Chinese markers, the main thing - is in whose hands these materials are.» Here I do not agree.
In my opinion: yes, you can really draw with any markers, but it’s me who is comfortable and pleased to work with good materials, it’s with them that I can do exactly what I wanted. I had Chinese markers, and they could not achieve the desired effects..
If you knew that in the next life you would be reborn into a picture, which picture would you like to become? I think it would be my picture. One of my favorite paintings is an illustration with the Milan Duomo. It turned out very sunny.
Harmony for you is ... When I feel the aesthetics around me. This sensation is «here and now», acceptance of everything as it is, without the desire to remake.
Where do you look for ideas and inspiration for your work?
I will not be original if I answer that this is a journey! Every six months I need to go somewhere, so that new thoughts and subjects start to appear in my head again. All the same, creative activity exhausts, but it requires that you constantly generate ideas. But we are all people, and we do not always want to generate ideas (laughs)!
Sometimes I just want a couple of weeks to be quiet and stay with myself. But clients can not be explained this (and it is not necessary), so sometimes one has to turn to sources of inspiration: Pinterest, Instagram, various art books. In general, inspiration can come from anywhere - most importantly, be open and inquisitive.
Do you earn money only with your profession or with your hobby too? I take personal orders. It can be orders for illustrations, and for portraits, and for interiors. Customers often find me in Instagram, sometimes through Vkontakte social network.
How much time do you spend painting?
I can definitely say that if there are important things, then I put the drawing in the background. Maybe because all my work is somehow connected with the drawing, I do not lack it. But I really like drawing for myself. I try to draw at least once every two days, but I mostly rely on inspiration. When there is inspiration or creative mood, then, in the presence of time, I will definitely sit down to draw.
If there is no inspiration, then even if I have a couple of free hours, I’ll occupy them with something else. By compulsion, I will not draw for sure - nothing good will come of it. Tested (laughs)!
If I need to sketch for the job, then I have a different approach - here I always fulfill my obligations and responsibly treat the case.
What are the pros and cons of your profession?
Pros - this is an absolute organization. From the very beginning of studies and then, in the process of work, you learn to organize yourself and your time. Few studied in the university till the end - it was necessary to have endurance and character.
We slept very little in those years, while we were studying, the loads of work were quite high. We owe two years of sleep to ourselves (laughs). But now I’m proud of my education and the people with whom we studied together, and those professors who taught us. They were the top architects of the city and even of Russia. So, the bar was raised quite high, and I did not want to lower it after graduating from the university.
It affected my character in life: always try to do better.
Of the cons... well, of course, we damaged our nerves during the studies (laughs)! This also applies to work. The architect’s work is very often working with builders who have their own language, understanding their world and architecture (laughs)! I would say that an architect is still a man’s profession.
What would you advise the beginning sketcher?
If the beginning sketcher is afraid of markers, namely by the fact that they can not be corrected, then I would advise you to always start your drawing with light shades - that is, to take the lightest marker that you have chosen for your illustration. And also always clearly understand the tone relations in the drawing, that is, where in the illustration the shadow areas are , and where - the illuminated ones. This is a very good tip, which I use myself. Awareness of shadows and illuminated areas helps to make the necessary contrasts, due to which the picture comes to life.
Also I often make a composite sketch, where I arrange objects, key elements. If you are a beginner, then on the same sketch you can hatch the shadow areas. Slightly weaker shading is the middle-tone section. And leave the light parts without hatching. This is quite enough for a common understanding of the future strategy of constructing on illustration.
If the beginning illustrator is at the stage of forming and in search of the personal style, then I advise you to try as many variations, ideas, materials, methods and implementation as possible - a unique style can appear quite suddenly. It is also very important to «look at» - look for and see as many different artists and their styles - this expands the horizons and helps you to choose.
In architecture, it is very important to see the entire composition, the entire volume of the object you want to draw, and not to get fixated on one of its parts..
In terms of selecting markers: for a basic set, you need to have three tones of each color (dark, medium and light tones) - this will be enough to create smooth gradients. If you already know more or less which direction you want to draw in, for example, fashion illustration, architectural sketch, food-illustration, many manufacturers collect ready-made sets for these areas. Then you sort out the colors you do not need.
For example, despite the fact that it is customary to have many gray shades in the architectural sketch, I do not like it, and I often change them to blues in my works - so, in my opinion, the patterns and colors turn out to be cleaner.
It is not necessary to immediately purchase expensive professional markers. It is quite possible to start with the Promarker markers (I like Brush series) - this is a good quality budget option. Maybe even Sketchmarker..
How do you introduce your creativity to people?
Now these are contests, working projects and Instagram. From competitive projects, for example, last year we made a project for the regeneration of the industrial coastal sea zone of Baku into public spaces and got a prize. And it is possible to make this embankment according to our project. There are a lot of projects to talk about.
We did the reconstruction of an Italian castle, as well as many Russian projects. I say «we», because some projects are carried out by the team I work with. Some projects are done in a team, some I do myself. In Instagram, I talk about my work as a personal hobby.
You are a very organized person. Share the secret of time management? Usually I allocate four major points for one day. And I definitely do them. It is important to plan your affairs in advance and correctly prioritize. It’s unlikely that I just said something new (laughs)! The plan for the day is in the evening of the previous day.
What is the best rest for you? For me it’s traveling. Just slowly to walk around, wander through new places. And most importantly - a measured enjoyment of the city. This is if to speak overall. If within one day - then also not in a hurry. This is the emotional rest!
Describe your ideal day It certainly would not be at home. I would spend it in Europe. A quiet breakfast with a coffee, a croissant and a view of the Milan Duomo (laughs). And then - slowly taking a walk, taking pictures, drawing, reading ... And it’s great if all this was in a good company of people with whom I am comfortable.
Do you do any sports? Sometimes I run. For more, I do not have enough. But we must organize ourselves in this direction!!
Imagine that you are 60 years old. What advice do you give to your grandchildren? I am 24 years old! What can I advise (laughs) ?! But if we are imagining, then I advise them not to take everything very close to the heart in this life. And the second advice is to talk more with each other. Discuss everything incomprehensible and do not expect to be understood when you are silent..
What does your family think of your profession and you hobby? Definitely positive! Although they do not always clearly accept what I’m doing. But no negativity - they understand that this is my choice.
What is your favourite films and books? I really love movies with a twisted plot and a beautiful picture. For example, the film «The Beginning», «The Age of Adeline». From books I really love «Dandelion Wine». In general, I like the works of Ray Bradbury and his philosophy.
Name 5 facts about yourself
1. I like to travel.
2. I love coffee.
3. I have a cat named Tiger
4. I like slow music
5. I love beautiful dishes. I really love the beautiful decor items too. If the vase does not fit the interior, most likely in a week I will get rid of it.
What advice from childhood, do you still actively apply in your life? Probably not even advice, but a belief in life: do everything in time and do well, otherwise why do it at all! After all, someone else can do badly. And also to take care of your health from the youth.
Does the artist’s popularity on Instagram correspond to his/her real success?
No, I don’t think so. At least in the profession of an architect. The overwhelming majority of architects, who can be called «the best», simply have no time to lead the Instagram - they work. And serious people are unlikely to seek an architect through Instagram.
If you are looking for orders in terms of selling illustrations, then Instagram can help very much. But, I think, this is not a panacea.
What superpowers would you like to have? Teleport! When you want to be somewhere and you, once, and already in another place! Or stop the time - it would also be very cool!
What will you spend 3 million rubles on?
I would open my own business. It would be an architectural and design bureau. A part would be spent on education. And the remaining money - on traveling.
I often hear that people respond to such questions: «I would give some to charity.» I think that before charity it is necessary to grow up. This is a very important occupation, which should be dealt with by people who came to this at the behest of the soul.
How would the book about your work be called? I would call it «Get up and do!» This is a very motivating name, which encourages development!
4 things without which you do not see this world are
It will sound exaggerated, because I understand that there are always a huge number of factors, more important and primary ... But if we are not talking about things, because without any thing I will definitely live, but about the phenomena and events that define you as a person, then exactly what I would not like to lose in my life: the opportunity to see the world (travel), the opportunity to create, the feeling of harmony in myself, the peaceful sky above our heads.
Without these sensations / states, it would be really hard to see the world as it is.