Uff... What a week! This is the second longread interview I wrote these days. First one had been given to Subsign Agency. Here it is in case you've missed it. Tried to make them different.
COLOURlovers is a creative community where people from around the world create and share colors, palettes and patterns, discuss the latest trends and explore colorful articles... All in the spirit of love.
1. Tell us about the time when you were starting out. How was that like? Did you have a specific plan for your career?
I was working in the office as a graphic designer in 2006. I had big luck to work in a small company with very good boss. He took me as a designer but he knew I like to draw and gave me a chance to learn right on the working place. Even if I had something to design he was always giving me free time for experiments on drawing anything doesn't matter for the current project or not.
That time I was sort of searching for myself in a wrong direction using drugs a lot. And my drawings looked like this:
I don't like this weak art actually but keep it as a memory and for a story to show my way to others and to have something to compare with. It is still available in my portfolio at Behance. I don't mind if you like it but this is not that we can call an illustrations and it's not what I could sell and get a big money actually. And if you want to be successful in illustration don't try to draw like this, please.
2. What was the thing or who was the person that helped your career the most? In what way?
Well... I think there was and there are few people and things combined together which made me successful.
Office competitions. There was a guy in that office who had a passion to draw also. He showed me that basic principles which I am still using. He has lightened my passion for drawing with his fire. He inspired me to learn more. Every morning we had been coming for work to our office showing some illustrations or sketches to each other which we had done at home in the night before sleep. This started to become look like a silent competition between both of us. He showed me something which I thought is great and immediately I wanted to do something cool to show him as an answer. That's how it started.
Favorite illustrator. He also showed me my favorite illustrator Oksana Grivina. I fell in love with her style right away wanted to research and learn it. I've started to collect all her works looking through each and every pixel trying to replicate it. Beginning of my own style started from copying her style.
Living example of success. Another great guy and one of my best friends Andrey Gordeev worked in the opposite office in our hometown Khabarovsk full time a day. Drawing at nights’ cool illustrations for Moscow magazines. Gradually he started to get amazing overseas orders. He had done few advertising illustrations for American Colgate and his skills and earnings motivated me to learn illustration more. It was a routine for me to go to the office and I didn't want to do it or the whole life. So he was a living example of success in freelance illustration area.
Personal qualities. And one more amazing thing happened at the same time was the meeting with yoga. I was searching for myself in drugs but when I first came to yoga class I felt so much more that drugs even could not give me. I felt very interesting state of mind when you don't have any bothering thoughts, you feel good and high in the sense of energy. I mean you have a strength to do something. It makes you to focus on one thing easily if you want. Of course it was just a glimpse on the first class and it needs practice as every skill. So I've started to do yoga as well and it helped me to come out of my addictions and bad habits easily as well as transformed my bad attitude to other people, changed my family relationships and all the other aspects of life.
It may sound too awesome and unreal but actually this is logical. You are the center of everything in your life. Your thoughts and feelings, the way you precept the reality is influencing on the way how you see everything and how you act. If you are in peace with yourself then you will be in harmony with the outside as well. Your attention can transform everything.
3. We could say you're a famous artist now. Could you tell us about your struggles to get here?
What were the challenges? What were the hardships?
- I am helpless in drawing. This was my first thought every time I was unable to success with first sketches when I've just started. It is absolutely okay to make mistakes. Don't waste your energy on emotions. Better shift your attention and use same energy to see what you don't like and how can you improve it.
- Thinking about the work 24/7. There were lots of projects almost every day. Years of work. When I was walking outside having a break I was thinking I have to work. During the lunch time I am spending my time, I should work now. Freelancing under the shadows of a palm trees - again same thing. Whenever and whatever I had been doing I was thinking about the work instead. This is really stressful and it took me 6 years to get rid of such a way of thinking. In my case yoga helped me to make a change, to switch this in the mind.
- Wait for an invitation. I never ever offered my illustration services to anybody because it is not working in my case. When you are offering it means you already in the weak position asking to give you a favor. It's like a begging. When your customer comes to you first - it's your turn. You are in the winning position and you can dictate your own terms and requirements. You can raise the price higher. Because they want you personally to draw it. It's challenging to behave this way. To let go and just do your best creating beautiful things uploading them to all the social medias and just waiting. Once I've realized that I became a king of situation.
- Thinking impossible. It was hard to believe that some deadlines are real to achieve. Even harder it was to imagine more zeroes at the end of the price for my illustrations. But if you will not start thinking impossible, thinking that you really can get order for say Coca-Cola or Pepsi, you will not get it. Success is below of your comfort zone and the line of your sight.
4. Was it worth it? What would you have done differently?
For sure. Nothing at all... Well... maybe I'd rather not took that few orders which I felt at the beginning will be failed cause the customer didn't know what he want and why he wrote me.
5. If you could give an advice to aspiring artists trying to make it, what would that be?
Copy-Paste. Don't be afraid to copy others works in the beginning. It doesn't mean you should put them in your portfolio saying it is yours but do it just as a study. Try to adapt others ideas, color palettes, compositions or way of working and you will see a big and fast grow. People made lots of researches at the same themes before you and they already made lots of mistakes so you don't have to start from scratch.
Fake it until you make it. If you want to get an attention to your work don't write here and there with comments like "Please, look through my portfolio, I've just posted a new project..." better attract attention to your projects with applying logos of big and famous companies. Don't lie. Add some small caption explaining that this is your fantasy and you just dreaming to work with big clients. This really makes sense. People DO NOT READ usually. They will look and think you already working with that brands. This worked in my case at Behance in the beginning and then I really started to work with famous companies.
Practice every day. Draw every single day. Draw everywhere. Draw everything you see and like. And just relax. Enjoy.