Tuesday 24 February 2015

Mellina KIDS

Many people are asking me what I’m doing now, what projects I have and how I spend my usual day.

Let me tell you. Of course, my major activity is children books illustration. Usually I’m working on two-three books at the same time. But more often it is a kind of mix of projects – I get some of them from my art agent, and some of them directly from the publishers. Also I usually have  my personal project – a book, or some idea, and every week I try to devote some time to it.

 Sometimes I develop the characters for the games, cartoons or books. Plus I do private commissions. Recently I have been particularly interested in brand design. I find it fascinating! It’s a perfect combination of illustration and a graphic design. And if I do understand something in the area of illustration, I have almost no idea about branding (but I’m researching this topic it with  great pleasure).

I’m interested in everything from typefaces to the grids… I’m buying the books, listening to the lectures and master classes. It’s a real science! So, today I’d like to tell you about one of my last orders. I was asked to develop not only a brand, but also to design a website for  furniture and accessories shop  for kids. I loved the contents of the shop very much. So I was really excited to work on this brand.

So we’ve decided we needed a main character! Dad Moose fitted this position perfectly! We didn’t want it to be anything trivial like rabbits or cats. Also we wanted to use bright modern colours and the atmosphere of joy and warmth. You know, I can’t do it in any other way! If the picture doesn’t make you smile – then it was not me who drew it:))) So this is what we’ve created! Everything that you see is my idea, even the slogans. I loved working on that one!  The impression is that this project was sitting and waiting only for me, and I was waiting for it.

And here is the website of this company. I have to mention, that I am not the one who built this site. I am the one who designed it. 

Monday 26 January 2015

Strawberries and Fairies

Here is another drawing I made for a wonderful Oxana and her little girls. I will show you the rest of the drawings a bit later.

Oxana's girls are really pretty!!!! It’s such a pleasure to draw kids like them!!! The main subjects of these drawings are tenderness and love! And a little bit of… magic!!!

 Also I’d like to express my appreciation to all of you for kind words and comments for my sketches in a sketchbook! Seriously, I expected to be egged.... It is very important when strangers tell you that you succeed in something, even if you don’t think so!!! It really inspires!

Tuesday 13 January 2015

It's all about Sketchbooks

A couple of weeks ago I have submitted my Project (which was another Picture Book, and I will tell you all about it a bit later) and an essay to my College. We have finished the third semester and I am half way through my education. Bigger half, in fact. Now I have only two semesters to go and I am on to my Diploma project. 

So, the essay that I have submitted was about sketchbooks. I decided to share it with you. Who knows, may be you will find it useful or inspirational… 

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Samuel Beckett

One of the main concerns of every artist and illustrator is finding a way to nurture their own creativity. Experimentation, exploration of materials, problem solving, imagination, and a willingness to make mistakes are some of the best ways to foster creativity and creative thinking. Using a sketchbook allows us to practice all of the above on daily basis without a fear of failing, being judged or misunderstood. 
Before coming to this course I have never used a sketchbook or a visual diary.  I have never done observational drawing and all my ideas lived purely in my head. When an idea came to fruition I just sat and drew a final piece. I have been introduced to keeping a sketchbook only a year ago and my world, the way I think, and draw changed dramatically.  My sketchbook is the single most valuable and inspiring acquirement in my professional development as an illustrator. This is the reason why I chose this topic for discussion.
When it comes to using sketchbooks, I am in great company. Leonardo Da Vinci wrote in his notebooks daily, finishing with around 13000 pages of work. His sketchbooks are filled with drawings, diagrams and written notes of things he saw and ideas he came up with. Picasso produced 178 sketchbooks in his life time. He often used his sketchbooks to explore themes and make compositional studies until he found the right idea and subject for a larger painting on canvas. Henry Moore, filled one of his sketchbooks with drawings of sheep that often wandered by the window outside his studio.

Henry Moore
There are a few good reasons why sketchbooks and visual diaries are among the most precious possessions of any creative person.
Any creative person can utilize sketchbooks as the storage vessel whereby thoughts, observations and ideas are deposited in one place, transforming a sketchbook into a versatile reference tool. Inspiration strikes at the oddest moments and we need to honor it and note it down. It is then possible to develop these ideas on the subsequent pages, and we will have that entire creative process always available to us whenever we want to look back on it. If we sketched out every single thought that popped into our heads, the sketchbook would become a unique collection of key words, illustrations and concepts.  
Spanish book cover designer Pep Carrió sees his notebook as creative lab: “ For me, a sketchbook is like a kind of a portable laboratory, a space to mark with references, to capture the immediate, to experiment; a memory warehouse to which I can return whenever I am searching for an idea or when I simply want to remember an instant, a time in the past.” For London-based Japanese illustrator Fumie Kamijo, the sketchbook is a physical filing cabinet for the lived experience that feeds creativity: “Everything I have experienced goes into my sketchbooks, the things I have seen, eaten, heard, felt, and, perhaps most importantly, they are the perfect place to document my strange daydreams”.

Whereas Maurice Sendak refers to his sketchbooks as foundation for his later work:During my early teens, I spent a lot of time at the window, sketching the kids at play, and those sketchbooks are, in a sense, the foundation of much of my later work. Maybe that’s another reason the children in my books are called European-looking. Many of them resemble the kids I knew growing up in Brooklyn. They were Jewish kids, and they may well look like little greenhorns just off the boat. They had—some of them, anyway—a kind of bowed look, as if the burdens of the world were on their shoulders.”
Sketchbooks provide a safe place for exploration and experimentation. Sketches do not have to be pretty, beautiful, or even immediately understandable by others. Sketchbooks are a place where we can play and be completely free to mess things up and make mistakes. It's a perfect tool for us to learn how to loosen up. We can try out things that we never tried before and explore techniques and styles radically different from what we usually do. As Paul Madonna said: I don’t think of sketchbooks as sacred…. They are rough materials. And in that is where I find beauty. My notebook is with me always, always, always. It is an extension of my mind. … I let my mind wander and pay attention to where it goes. This is, in art, how I practice creativity.”

Paul Madonna

Although I draw digitally every day and illustrating is my profession, I am very uncomfortable with drawing on paper. Being a perfectionist, I am concerned with ruining my art or making a mistake, which freezes my creativity. Sketchbooks allowed me to relax and get comfortable with making marks on paper.  And I discovered that the best ideas come to me when they are not forced and I am not under pressure to create something decent or worthy. I just doodle and magic happens. But it is a very intimate process. Sketchbook is my private place to escape and be free. I fully agree with Bill Brown, who said: “My sketchbook is the opposite of my job. It’s like a pocket-sized vacation. … No one knows I keep these books; it’s a dirty secret. When I draw, I wander off alone. When people are around, I always put the book away”.

The Sketchbook of Oliver Jeffers and Friends

Also, I think that sketchbooks are a great opportunity to have some creative fun and get social with fellow artists and illustrators. For example, in 2004, my favourite illustrator Oliver Jeffers, took part in a project, where he had to exchange a sketchbook with 3 other artists and follow one another's lead with a weekly illustration. Over the course of 36 weeks, each would respond to the previous artwork which proceeded them and then forward it onto the next in line. Once completed, the sketchbook had travelled over 60,000 miles, and crossed the Atlantic on numerous occasions. I still wonder who was the lucky person who got to keep this wonderful sketchbook in the end?

       Separate spreads from The Sketchbook of Oliver Jeffers and Friends

One more significant benefit of keeping a sketchbook is the fact that it gives me a chance to have a chronological view of my progress.   This is very important in times when I feel like my art isn't as good as I want it to be, and I doubt my abilities. Seeing my old art and witnessing that I am in fact improving can give a boost to get out of this rut. So now I flip through my sketchbook pages for a while and see solid proof that I am getting better all the time.
I think that real progress in developing myself as an illustrator depends on me frequently and habitually sketching out my ideas and their variations, reflecting on my ideas, and then developing those that seem promising. I use my sketchbook to help me develop this habit. As Neil Waldman once said: “Sketchbooks and journals are the street lamps that illuminate the artist's journey.”
Sketchbook encourages us to challenge our imagination. It enables us to see the world in fuller detail so that when we finally capture the perfect element for our sketchbook, we can express it better in our medium. In fact, after carrying a sketchbook around for a few months, I have noticed how much clearer ideas become when you are finally ready to work. Keeping a sketchbook can make you a better illustrator and a better thinker.

Shaun Tan, The Bird King: An Artist's Notebook

The sketchbook is a playground for my creative vision and it's a more important and effective professional tool than I have ever imagined. Now my sketchbook is always with me and the next time that silly imaginative idea pops into my head, no matter how insignificant, I will scribble it down anyway. Not all doodles are intended to be works of art, but every once in a while, one becomes a masterpiece.


Richard Brereton, 2012, Sketchbooks: The Hidden Art of Designers, Illustrators & Creatives, Laurence King

Jane Stobart, 2011, Extraordinary Sketchbooks: Inspiring Examples from Artists, Designers, Students and Enthusiasts, A & C Black Publishers Ltd

Danny Gregory, 2009, An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers, F+W

Lynne Perrella, 2007, Artists' Journal and Sketchbooks: Exploring and Creating Personal Pages, Rockport Publishers Inc

Martin Salisbury, Morag Styles, 2012, Children’s Books: The Art of Visual Story Telling, Laurence Ling

Shaun Tan, 2011, The Bird King: An Artist's Notebook, Templar Publishing

The Outrageous Comics of Paul Madonna

Maurice Sendak and the Soul of the Artist

Monday 1 December 2014

Flirty Fairies summer version.

 Some time ago I drew these cheeky girls -

And my friend created lots of gorgeous things with this drawing - purses, leather covers for documents, mugs, aprons and even puzzles and bags.The products looked so great and sold so well, that we decided to expand and have some more cheeky fairies.

Now I drew the summer version! Yes, I know it is Christmas soon, but I had this image with daisies for quite some time and was itching to spill it out on paper.

Aren't they cute? And my friend, again, turned them into wonderful little things like these -

If you want to buy any of these adorable items as Christmas presents or just as a little treat to yourself or your friend, you can do it HERE, or HERE (if you speak Russian)

Friday 12 September 2014

The result of the first year in Cambridge College of Arts

Well, I know I am late… I should have written about it 3 months ago… But better late than never.

I have finished my first year doing MA in Children's Books Illustration. That was great fun! I LOVED it! Many people were asking me why I was doing it. I am an illustrator anyway and my books are getting published regularly. My answer is - I am doing it, because I am loving it. My education was a huge source of inspiration, knowledge, fun, just as well as despair and frustration. BUT! It was still a fantastic experience and I am very happy that I have another one and a half years remaining to learn, experiment, communicate and enjoy every second of it!

And tada! I have something to show! This is my new book, which I have done as a college project. It is about a group of animals, who wanted to go on a BIG adventure. They spent a lot of time planning it and talking about it. They had very big plans….  The rest you will have to read when you see it in books shops!

Here are some drawings from this book:

And what about you? What have you been up to this year?  Learned something new?

Sunday 9 February 2014

Another Cat

I was tiding up my files and came across this drawing. There is a whole series of drawings about this cat actually, but the project is still in progress and I will reveal everything to you when it is finished. In the meantime - I would really like to share this one with you.

I hope it will make you smile. I really like this drawing. It makes me warm inside. It is so tender and gentle and dreamy…. 

Saturday 18 January 2014

The Process of Creating

I finally figured out how to make gif files! Hurray! Here is my first attempt to document the process of my drawings without huge video files. I hope it makes sense :)

Thursday 16 January 2014

Cars, Clowns, Mechanics and a bit of love.

I was illustrating a very unusual fairy tale not long ago. It was about one lonely mechanic who really wanted kids and about his bond with a little red car that one day arrived in his garage. I loved the story! So tender, and deep and heart warming…. I even shared a tear at some point. Here are a couple of illustrations to the story. I hope you will like them!

Tuesday 14 January 2014

My drawings as cross-stitch embroidery

I have seen my drawings on mugs, wallets, mobile covers and even bags and aprons. Now I am lucky to see them as cross-stitch embroidery and they look awesome! I am even considering buying one and trying to embroider my own drawing! Could be fun :)

Are you any good at embroidery?

Sunday 12 January 2014

Presents and News from Fairies & Co

Hello my dear friends. Sorry for not showing up more often, but with all the illustration, college work and fairies I have no time to eat and sleep never mind write my blog! Which I miss doing tremendously by the way.

Anyway, at Fairies & Co we have a New Year present for you! And it is so worth sharing that I got up an hour earlier to write about it!

We have created the Downloads page, where you can download our fairies as avatars, blog and Facebook headers, desktop backgrounds and even blog backgrounds for your personal needs absolutely free!

We have been working really hard on the new content for Fairy Blog, on new packaging and distribution ideas and new topics for exciting projects. Also, a mobile version of hour site is coming out this spring. How exciting!

I hope you will like our free downloads, which will be expanding with new designs every month by the way.

It would be absolutely fantastic if you could tell your friends about Fairies & Co or follow us yourself. Lets spread some magic!