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The liquid, colourful universe of illustrator Zutto

We fangirled (and fanboyed!) hard when we got to commission three pieces of work from superstar illustrator Zutto…

We wanted to work with Zutto for a very long time but the stars never quite aligned, until now! Zutto recently created three pieces of artwork for us while giving Affinity Designer a try, one of which is our bespoke splash screen for Affinity Designer 1.7 (currently in beta), and we absolutely love it! We caught up with Zutto to find out more about her and her thoughts on using Affinity.

Tell us a bit about yourself… how did you get to where you are now?

My name is Alexandra, mostly known as Zutto. I live in a small city in the middle part of Russia, though I try to travel a lot. I don’t have any special education in illustration, I am completely self-taught. My motto translated into English is “run fast or die!” :)

I have been a freelance illustrator for ten years and counting, and now I also raise my little two-year-old son.

If you had to define your style in 3 words what would they be?

Liquid, colourful and complicated. Actually I can see now that my style has changed many times, looking back its like I have been five or six different people :) I liked to experiment with many types of creativity, colour and drawing techniques, but now I think I’ve found my favourite way of working and I also do some experiments with frame-by-frame animation.

How has your style developed?

It feels like its taken a long time. When I started out nobody close to me did anything creative, except for my boyfriend. We both experimented a lot creatively and created things we barely could explain even to ourselves. When our projects started to generate income… that was so awesome. I have never wanted to work in an office, doing some boring designs, so the only way for me was to be a freelancer. I try to do both personal and commercial projects, and last year I couldn’t see a difference between them in my work. Maybe I’ve reached my own Nirvana! I’m sure I will always learn new stuff and get better.

“When our projects started to generate income… that was so awesome.”

Where do you seek inspiration?

It comes from everywhere, mostly from nature, because I live in the middle of a reserve.

Do you think your artistic style reflects your own personality?

Sure, but more like it reflects my super-ego, my subconscious and feelings between reality and dreams. This has always been my best method of working—stop thinking and catch that feeling of half-dreams and meditation.

“This has always been my best method of working—stop thinking and catch that feeling of half-dreams and meditation.”

What is the most interesting thing you are working on at the moment?

It’s definitely my baby son :) And a super-secret project for a sneaker company.

How do you find being a freelancer? Any advice for other illustrators looking to make the switch to freelancing?

It’s a dream job for me, though I’m not sure that it’s a good fit for everybody. It seems to me that as a freelancer you have to work twice as much as you would as a full-time employed designer. I think there are two ways to become a successful illustrator—to have a unique style of your very own or be on trend. I think it’s a good idea to get an agent.

What tools do you use to create your illustrations?

I use an Apple iPad Pro, iMac and Wacom Intuos tablet. I love making paper sketches sitting in coffee-shops, it has a special magic for me.

How do you approach an illustration if not confined to a brief? Are your projects extensively planned or naturally evolving?

As I said before, my method is to draw spontaneously as far as possible, and it sometimes surprises even me. Even if I am confined to a brief. :)

What would be the dream project for you?

I especially love the projects that give me freedom, and the Affinity project has been one of those.

Do you have a personal favourite piece you have created?

I especially like my personal animations. (You can see Zutto’s animations on her tumblr, they are beautiful—Ed.)

How did you find using Affinity Designer?

It’s quite different from my previous experience with vector (I work with Adobe Illustrator). Affinity has great features I haven’t seen before and I really loved it. And I’m very happy with my finished works.

Is there anything missing in Affinity Designer for your particular workflow?

Actually in the process I had some trouble but it was always because I didn’t know some of the features. When I discovered them, all the process became intuitive. Perhaps it’s noticeable in the later illustrations I have done for Affinity.

How did you find creating vector illustrations on the iPad with Affinity Designer?

It’s absolutely stunning. I found some of the features even more comfortable to use on iPad, especially being able to move and rotate the canvas with my fingers. I’m happy I chose the iPad to create the last piece as I knew Affinity Designer quite well by then… so I just enjoyed the process and it was really fast and smooth :) The gradient tool is my favourite!

What are your passions out of the studio?

I like snowboarding, or riding my bicycle or having dinner with my friends.

What’s your top tips for success in the world of design & illustration?

Just try to be yourself as much as possible.

‘Create’, illustration by Zutto in Affinity Designer for iPad

You can see more of Zutto’s amazing work on tumblr, Behance, Dribbble and Instagram.