This is Aljona, living in Netherlands and running two shops for graphic design and one for anthique illustrations ( 1. 2. 3. ). She catch my attention with the nice sense of humor in her art, with her feel for color and openness. We also share some weak points to paper, crafts, illustrations and dutch design. After reading the interview I am sure you will get that from such curious and talented person a lot could be expected sooooo here is her answers and some of her amazing works.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Aljona and currently I am in my final year as a Literature student. I did a year of Graphic Design before this, but had to quit because of medical issues. I started thinking of art as a possible field in which I could work about 7 years ago. I was having a really hard time at school because I had just flunked my last year and needed to repeat it. I had self-esteem issues and was really ‘stuck’ with myself. A few months into my repeat year my dean set me down for a conversation and everything just came out: my self-doubts, my frustrations, my fears. He asked what I wanted to do. And it kind of hit me: I am a really creative person. I cannot draw to save my life, but I can create nonetheless. He then offered me the opportunity to work on my portfolio to get accepted into an art school during classes I thought weren’t really helpful for me.
Ever since I haven’t stopped creating, haven’t stopped looking around and draw inspiration from everything I see and since then I have had the drive to never stop again. I don’t know if I can make a career out of my art, but I do know I can express myself in my art.
In December 2011 I took the plunge and opened my first shop with a strange mix of my art. Along the way I narrowed it down a bit. In March of this year I opened my second shop for vintage prints and illustrations. I got the idea for this after coming across an old book that had completely fallen apart when I was helping my parents move to a new house. Most of the illustrations in the book were still intact and I thought it was a shame to throw it away. Then in May I opened my third store because I wanted to start a more cohesive shop with my art and with an idea I had for a long time.
2. How you would you describe the art in your shop(s)?
That is a tough question. Unlike most people, I don’t really have one style in which I express myself. I don’t even have one medium. I think a recurring motive in my work would be humour. I like being silly and make people smile. People shouldn’t take themselves too seriously. The world already is such a serious place, it is up to people to make living in it worthwhile.
I also like to experiment with colour and colour combinations. To me colour theory is incredibly interesting. It is like one of the most scientific aspects of art. It is also really hard, much harder than you would expect. Colours that you’d think would go together can create a wonderful combination!
In my Katlix store I have been making a lot of geometric designs lately. I just love how the simplicity of shapes and patterns can be so interesting to the eye. It can also be very calming for me to draw these designs as they almost work like doodles. But even though the designs themselves are simplistic, I try to put a lot of thought into details. For example if you look closely at my bookmarks you will see a lot of detail in the paint.
3. What other crafts do you practice or like?
I love photography and experimenting with it. I used to have photo prints in my Katlix Design shop, but it was just too different from my illustrations and it didn’t sell at all, so I let go of it. Then when I started forming my ideas for Proverbial Productions I decided to use my photography as a base for the prints.
And then there is practically every other craft in existence. I am for 90% self-taught (the other 10% being the photography classes I took in high school and art school) and always ready to learn new techniques and working with new media. I don’t think I will ever stop learning. I have knitting and crochet supplies, I have beads and jewelry making supplies, I have enough paper supplies to start my own paper company (I would call it the Michael Scott Paper Company, for all “The Office” fans out there), I have oils, pastels, acrylics, gouache, water colours, window paint, inks, ink pads, carving supplies (for stamps and lino cuts), random hardware store supplies, clay,… You name it, I have it, tried it or at least wanted to try it.
I think it’s important to never stop being curious or expanding your knowledge.
4. What are your main sources of inspiration?
Simply put, I am always looking at “pretty pictures”. I buy magazines (art, design, fashion) and it’s really amazing how much you can learn from not only the subjects and editorials, but also the typography, lay-out and advertisements.
Tumblr is also a great tool to browse for inspiration. In my opinion it’s better than Pinterest or other social media aggregators because you can very easily switch from the overview of posts from the blogs you follow to individual blogs or even certain tags. The only beef I have with social media like these is that it can be difficult to find an original source.
I also find inspiration in reading. I wish I had more time for this. I used to make comfortable contraptions consisting of pillows and blankets in which I could disappear for hours while reading. In the winter it would usually be very near the radiator for warmth. I read all kinds of fiction: from “literature” to fantasy, sometimes poetry and I love comics and graphic novels because they combine art and text. But my favourite will always be fairy tales. One of my favourite books is “Le Petit Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and it pretty much contains my life philosophy of not forgetting the child you once were.
5. What are your short-term dreams?
This is actually something I am currently dealing with. I am in my final year at the university and it’s time for me to make some tough choices. I don’t feel like getting a Master’s degree because for one I really feel like I’m done with school (not with learing, there’s a difference!) and I don’t know if I find a job in my field or even want to work in my field.
I certainly don’t know if I can be one of those Etsy sellers who “quit their day job”, because so far I haven’t been selling enough (and spent way too much on supplies). I might be able to find some freelance design work, but again, I’m not sure if it will be enough to pay the bills.
I have been thinking about going back to art school part time, but that will be a lot of hard work and I don’t know if I’m up to it physically.
I’ve thought about opening a sandwich shop… I love cooking and see people enjoy my food. But I would probably need to have finished some course for a certificate which allows me to sell food. And of course I would need start-up money…
Planning your future can always be so complicated! So I simply dream that I can make at least enough money to come by and have enough time to do what I like. Everything else is just a matter of time, finding recourses and once in a while something will simply come onto your path and you have to grab the opportunity with both hands. Maybe you’ll fail, maybe you’ll succeed, but you will never know for sure until you try.