Everything starts with a line on a piece of paper. Sometimes when I see a finished product with my illustration, I like to look back at my pencil sketches which are always the first steps when I want to illustrate something. I like to retrace the journey that the illustration has made. Before opening my sketchbook, I like to observe. Observation helped me to find my own approach to illustration. Inspired by Cabinets of Curiosities, natural history illustrations, Russian fairy tales and folklore, I like to approach nature with the curiosity of a biologist and with the amazement of a child. Everything in nature is a miracle, the world is full of mysterious and precious treasures that as adults we tend to ignore and overlook. By illustrating small pieces of natural ecosystems I like to tease the viewer’s curiosity towards the small natural wonders around us, to draw attention to its beauty and fragility.
I was born and raised in Russia in the Ural mountains region in close contact with nature, which became an important part of my life. I was always curious about the natural world around me, encouraged by my grandmothers who taught me how to recognise plants and mushrooms. I used to spend a lot of time outdoors, walking in the forest and loved creating things by hand. When grown ups would ask me what I wanted to become as an adult, I always replied that I had no idea. I couldn’t imagine a profession that could combine two of my biggest passions: nature and creativity.
When it was time to choose my higher education , the only thing I could see myself doing was Art school. I had no formal training in drawing (my high school studies were focused on English and French, which I’m now very grateful for!), so I started to take art classes.
I entered the Academy of Fine Arts in my hometown where I mastered classical art disciplines and studied history of art. I pursued my studies in Paris, France, where I obtained a Master degree in Contemporary art management. Three years of studies and work in various art galleries and art fairs in Paris and New York taught me many valuable lessons about the art world. Living in these amazing cities and working in the art industry was a precious experience but It also felt that I was missing the two main passions where everything started from – nature and creativity.
I moved to a small town in Apulia (Italy) with my husband, where I finally combined my two passions and transformed it into my dream career. I created my art project Natura Illustrata focused on nature illustrations. I work every day for my goal of becoming a nature and wildlife illustrator. Being part of this community allowed me to discover how many opportunities nature illustration can give, from pattern design to editorial projects and much more. I began as a watercolour artist but soon mastered other techniques as gouache, linoprinting and digital art. My ability to switch between different techniques gives me the freedom to express my vision and choose the right medium for each project. One of the most exciting parts of my work is seeing my sketches taking shape and transform into a pattern on a product, or an illustration for a book or a painting on a wall. Possibilities are endless.
Regardless of its size, each project is a journey that opens doors and opens new possibilities, new ideas, new connections, new people. I want to transmit those values and share my knowledge and my experience with others and draw people’s attention to the importance of protecting and respecting nature and will contribute to pass on these values to younger generations.
The dream of leading a creative life is something that should to be cultivated every day. It’s not the end point but it is always a new beginning.