Tell us a bit about your background in illustration.
I’ve been drawing since my childhood, but for some reason, I never considered illustration as a profession for myself. From a young age, it seemed more practical to pursue a career in architecture, so drawing remained a hobby for a long time. While working as an architect in a full-time job, I became interested in graphic design, and then I realised that in magazines and web design, it was illustrations that attracted me the most. At the same time, I discovered graphic stock sites, and the thought that I could try to draw and upload some pictures there crossed my mind. So this idea prompted me to start making digital illustrations. My first artworks were floral vector patterns and elements whose making helped me to learn some basics and get acquainted with graphic design software.
What made you move from a career in architecture to illustration? Which do you find most rewarding?
I like the creative processes in both, but architecture has many technical and legal aspects that you need to deal with, so there’s a lot more freedom in illustration work where you’re only limited by the client’s assignment. Besides, as an illustrator, I have more opportunities to find a freelance job. But the greatest thing about illustration is that you constantly have to develop your horizons as you are dealing with various topics, which require a strong visual vocabulary to depict.
“The greatest thing about illustration is that you constantly have to develop your horizons as you are dealing with various topics, which require a strong visual vocabulary to depict.”
Who would you say were your earliest influences in the design field?
Talk us through your technique and style.
As a part of a natural process, it gradually evolved from colourful vector-like illustrations that were easily recognisable as digital to works that intentionally imitate more traditional techniques with rough ink outlines and muted colours. When I participated in Inktober last year, I noticed that it’s more natural for me to depict objects with bold jagged outlines and hatching, than work with colour fills and shades, so now I use these techniques as my main means of expression. I also like to layer outlines to make them more vibrant.
“I noticed that it’s more natural for me to depict objects with bold jagged outlines and hatching, than work with colour fills and shades, so now I use these techniques as my main means of expression.”
You often work on self-initiated projects from existing newspaper articles or themes. How do you select a subject or article to work on, and how do you think this has helped in developing your style?
There is no specific criterion for how I choose them. I use getpocket.com, and the website itself recommends articles on topics that relate to me, so I just need to pick one. I try not to drag out the selection process so that I don’t have time to think about how I should illustrate this subject. My rule is—choose first, think later, to make it seem like a client’s brief. I think it’s helped me get familiar with the editorial illustration process itself and how I should work with a source text, rather than in developing my style.
Do you have a favourite project to date? Why are you so fond of this project in particular?
I think this has to be an illustration called “Email overload” that I did as a self–initiated editorial piece. At the beginning, I set some restrictions for myself: the illustration must span across both pages, look good as an article header and include a colour scheme that is not typical for my artworks. I like how it all turned out in the end.
I’m glad that I managed to fit the infinity symbol into the final illustration, as it helped support this wide horizontal format. Besides, I am quite fond of some kind of symbolism, so I’m really happy when I am able to add it into my artwork. I also think the colour scheme worked out too.
Talk us through a typical working day for you.
It’s usually divided into two parts. I’m less creative in the morning, so I do the parts of the job that don’t require me to generate a lot of ideas. In the middle of the day, I usually go for a walk as nothing else helps me to refresh my efficiency more than an hour-long walk with music. Then I return to work and do more creative tasks. Also, during the day, I try to find time for learning.
How long do you tend to spend on a project? Do you set yourself time limits?
I try to limit myself to two to five days per illustration. But since I still have to do some graphic design work to make a living, and this work is a priority for me, of course, time limits of personal illustrative projects may vary.
When did you first start using Affinity apps, and what are your thoughts on them?
In 2020, I discovered that Eleni Debo, whose illustrations inspire me a lot, works in Affinity Photo, and it got me interested in the software. At that moment, I wasn’t ready to change my tools, but later, when I mastered digital illustration a bit more and the Affinity apps were on discount, I decided to give them a try.
The switching process was easy and fast, so I liked the apps from the very beginning. At first, I mostly worked in Affinity Designer, and since I was doing vector and vector-like illustrations back then, the possibility of using vector and raster tools in one app was a great one to have. Now that my style has changed, and I don’t need vector tools, Affinity Photo has become my go-to app because it gives me a “merge layers” option, which I use quite often.
“The switching process was easy and fast, so I liked the apps from the very beginning.”
Do you have any career goals you’ve set for yourself?
For now, my main goal is to make illustration the career I make a living from and gradually quit graphic design. Having big names in my portfolio would be great, of course, but it is not mandatory.
Finally, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and how do you think that influenced you?
I don’t think this is advice but rather a reminder that I should not demand more of myself than I can do right now, as this doesn’t lead me anywhere. It only distracts from my gradual development. At the very beginning, I was overwhelmed by great works made by other illustrators and was desperately trying to catch up with them, but this, of course, is impossible. So right now, I’m just enjoying the process of creating illustrations and looking for new techniques that work for me.