Anna Roslyakova

Moscow, Russia

Anya, could you tell our readers something about yourself? How did you decide to go in for art? Where did you graduate from and how do you find education in British Higher School of Art and Design?

Actually in my early childhood I had been drawing a lot, unfortunately nothing has been kept. I can hardly remember any pictures; there were some multi-shape things, frogs’ choirs and flying yard-keepers. When I was 5 years old I thought I couldn’t draw, I seemed drawing “wrong and different way”, and I got complexes. Even today I can’t get rid of this feeling. When I was in the fifth form the teacher of drawing advised me to attend an art school. You may probably think that she had discovered talent in me, don’t you? Not at all, I am a pain in the neck and I hatched so thoroughly that my works were the neatest among the classmates. And I am happy that I did come to the art school even by roundabout. And I got lucky to meet my first teacher there.

I always had luck with teachers. I speak a lot about it so it’s rather difficult not to repeat.  That’s why I name only places: Balabanovo art school for children, Obninsk Polytechnic (design), Obninsk Nuclear Power University (design, though I graduated from Sholokhov Moscow State University for the Humanities), and now British Higher School of Art and Design. Education in the British is very rich and hard, but very cool. They teach to think and reject commonplaces first of all there. And you have been spending several years within people who adore their profession as you do. Some of them are beginners, and someone has been working for long time in profession, and that’s a great school by itself. It is a great and priceless experience to watch how they solve the same tasks in different ways, it is inestimable to work hand in hand and communicate as an equal (though I still feel shy) not with theorist-teacher but with real experts.

In the very beginning of our conversation you said that you had feeling of “separation”then, and there was no wholeness in your works. Is it related with self-determination?

There it is in the certain works but all together they don’t combine in unique style. It is not like they don’t combine at all – you can’t hide your signature and change your settings from work to work soon, but all the projects are still quite different. And I even seem to know what kind of artist I want to be, I hope I manage to reveal these qualities in the nearest future.

How do you think if it is necessary to study to be a professional illustrator?

It is necessary to study, educational process is infinite, you can’t say I have learnt everything and relax once. It’s another matter that it’s not necessary to study academic drawing for 6 years. My classical base helps me a lot, though there are a lot of cool artists without it (not only primitives and punks of illustration). But to make a sketch from nature especially alive one is a very useful skill.

I like your pictures; they are very bright and original. Where do you get inspiration for work? Is creation process hard for you?

Thank you! If anybody could see how it looks like in my head!) Inspiration is a quite strange concept. Inspiration is needed rather for life than for work in general. It associates for me with gratitude towards certain people or with delight with beautiful face, landscape, photograph, contemporary sculpture, ancient ornamental pattern, and anything at all. It seems to me while work they use inspiration as a cover oftener than it ought to be. “There is no inspiration” means laziness or exhaustion in practice. There is so much around! Is it possible to be that there is no inspiration? There is so much inside us. I am afraid of anything and everything and I am going to make an illustration series about dangers (by the way that’s my sister who advised me this theme, and that’s the answer where I get ideas – incredible people surround me). Fence in the city madden me as well so I draw fences. When you are posed a problem you just need to think over and everything will come. What is more you should think over it in your head first of all and only then on paper. The second part is rather difficult for me. In every work I face the problem that I can’t draw in the way I need at the very moment. Sometimes I cheat and choose the way of the less resistance, but the works made with low resistance are always more boring – for a while. I hope it’s just a period: I am searching for a language, for sources to simplify some work steps, so then I could draw slighter and manage to draw more. And now I am working unpardonably slow.

What materials do you like to use in work? What do you like more: digital art or “live” one with paper and pencil using, for example?

Of course I like “live” art more. Even if I need vector picture it will be more interesting in graphic when the sketch was made with soft pencil. Hand physics is always more interesting than graphic editor. I don’t draw with graphic tablet though I use it a lot. I doesn’t work there is no natural resistance of material that is very important for a pain in the neck. I am very reserved in drawing. If you give me gouache and a slim paint brush everybody will be bored to death. I need instruments that not allow me to be too neat and that give incoherent texture. Actually all the techniques implying unpredictability are good: linocut and collage that I love so much, on the one hand they give the opportunity to control them, and on the other hand they won’t be controlled totally. In general I like to mix everything: to edit “live” collage in Photoshop, to make embroidered title, for example, or to draw picture by hands and then change colours in Photoshop.

Your website demonstrates that you work hard.  When and how did you get your first order?

In Behance portfolio you may see works of the last 2-3 years, but I do remember the first order – I got it when I was studying at the Polytechnic and that order was cool. I and 4 friends of mine painted backdrop for “The Nutcracker” in Obninsk cultural centre. For 5 weeks (for 5 weekends indeed) we  had made three paintings of size 4х6 meters and one that was really large was 9 meters lengthwise – new year tree was painted on it. Our teacher suggested us work, introduced us to the customer, arranged that we could work all day long in the rooms of the Polytechnic and left us in free-floating. And for 5 weekends we had been wondering if we had succeeded or not. And finally it turned out to be everybody’s delight because we couldn’t paint tree in green and floor in brown. We made such a masterpiece that even Cézanne would envy (but don’t even try to imagine how we washed the floor off). They invited us to make scenery few times after that though there were enough adult stage-designers in Obninsk and we were just 16-17 years old students.

You made illustrations for magazines. Which one did you like to work with most of all?

Actually I don’t work a lot for magazines, especially while studying. I have to refuse some suggestions with a pity, I just have no time. Within magazines I like Women's Health; a brave photo-editor is a gift for illustrators. I still can’t believe that we have put the linocut into the magazine. In general it seems to me that I am a pig in a poke for photo-editors, it is hard to guess what an artist I am.  In future I hope everything will take a favorable shape for me and I will be able to answer the same question choosing from dozens of magazines.

What is your relatives’ attitude to your works? Do they support you?

I have secure back. But for my sister and close friends I failed for sure. They support me a lot. They share the ideas and criticize me as I said earlier. We just have good time together at least. What support I need after all?

Sometimes my parents seem not to understand what and why I do, but I clearly remember how they gave me freedom to choose profession when I was 14 years old.  It is frightful to think of how it could have happened. The teachers also support me both with advices and with involvement. I am a lucky person actually and I appreciate it.

At your website I also found essay about Victor Pivovarov. Do you try yourself in journalism?

No, I don’t. That was an educational task from the British. Though I really like to write and it is even easier for me sometimes than drawing. But I clearly understand why it is so; I write when I want only and about themes I really understand only, and above all I can’t criticize myself as professional in this sphere fortunately. Though the skill to formulate my thoughts in a way is very helpful in work.

Do you have hobbies or passions except drawing of course?

All of them concern drawing or music and the people close to me one way or another. My sister designs prints for fabric and clothes from it, and I make linocut dies for her. My close friends go in for folk art, and of course they involve me into the processes particularly into discussing (or trying wreaths embroidered with pearls on); sometimes I help them with background music. If go deep into the subject folk art is very powerful and interesting, it is not only for grandmas. If I could leave my regular job I would probably play bass. I played it with pleasure some time ago. I also sing well when nobody hears.

Could you tell about your future? What are you going to do after graduating the British?

I have a lot of plans. Anyway I will keep working as designer though I am going to focus on my own projects in spare time. Probably I will take a break at first – plywood sheet of size 1,5x1,5 meter has been waiting for a year, I seek for pleasure in painting. Probably I will join some sister’s projects as illustrator – she always has a lot of good ideas. I will continue going in for placard – it makes me pleased, because you can do whatever you want in placard. I am trying to work more with magazine and book graphic for sure. I wouldn’t like expose all the plans. There are dreams also.

I have a quite strange question: if you made an illustration for your favorite book what book would you choose and what illustration would you make?

The question is not strange – this is what I want to take for my diploma project this spring, so I don’t want to show it down before time. I would like to make something monochrome, looking calm but with growing inner anxiety. And I seem to know what book it will be.  

Do you have a motto?

I don’t have any motto for the whole life, though in my head I often hear “If you don’t know what to do - do what you know”. It means “if you can’t improve world’s injustice – do what you can do and do it as well as you can”, or “if you are sure you are a good artist you worth doing what you have intended to do than introspecting and wasting time”. And now you should print the last two sentences and hang them over the working space as a guide to action. That is also right for sketches from nature.