What book made the strongest impression on you as a child?
I grew up with a lot of illustrated Russian literature, and one of my favourite stories was about a girl who had a quarrel with her pillow because she couldn't fall asleep. This always stood out to me, not because of the story itself, but because it was printed on a filmstrip, and you could only view it on my family's old Soviet-era filmstrip projector. I loved sitting in a dark room and looking at a wall, illuminated by a huge illustration, as my mum read the story to me.
Can you describe your journey to becoming an artist?
My parents decided I had artistic inclinations at a young age and ensured that I attended art lessons throughout my childhood. Then I got accepted into a prestigious art high school which set me on a path towards art as a career. I have no doubt that the clarity and determination with which I pursued art had very much to do with my parents' support and enthusiasm.
Do you have a favourite part of the illustration process?
I like the very beginning stage, the conceptual part, because of all the possibilities. I used to race towards the end, but I've learned to take time, think it through, and enjoy every step of it.
How has your style changed over time?
I used to be really obsessed about what my ‘style' was, but it doesn't matter to me that much anymore. As a designer for animation, I have to jump styles constantly to suit the needs of the production. I apply this to illustration now as well; the story or concept dictates to me how the illustration should look and feel, and I don't mind experimenting with new styles from time to time.
What do you find most challenging about your work?
The very beginning—the conceptual stage—is the most challenging part for me, because I tend to get impatient. I have to force myself to spend more time really thinking about it. If I get lazy and come up with a poor idea, then no matter how well I render the illustration, it still ends up being weak.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
The best part is the fact that I keep learning and experimenting, and it feels like there's always something new and exciting to try out. The feeling of progress gives me the greatest satisfaction, even though ‘progress' is my own illusion.