1- I know you don’t like to talk about you, but can you tell me something about you?

Sure, why not! I am currently 31 year old, I am tall, thin, wear glasses, have a wife and a daughter, drink lots of coffee with milk. I tend to work using every free minute I have. I live in cold cold Siberia. We had -35C tonight! I do not enjoy cold though, nobody does.

2- Did you already come in France? How do you see French people?

I’ve been to France about 6-7 times. It’s one of my most favorite countries. I was always jealous of people who were born French! French language is indeed most beautifully sounded language in the world. I’ve been to Paris several times (we had our wedding trip to Paris!), Toulouse, Lyon, and then “across the Europe” traveling on a rented car, during which we crossed France fron North (Luxembourg – Paris – amazing Mont-Saint-Michele – La Rochelle – out to Spain) and back to South (Toulouse – Carcassonne – Lyon – Dijon … ).

Unfortunately I did not have a chance to meet a lot of French people (except for usual tourist communications) – I only have one French friends, and I like him a lot :-) However small, my experience of communicating with French people have only been positive!

3- It’s soon Christmas, and like every year you propose beautiful wallpapers on this theme. Is it a period that you particularly like?

Well, I “follow the demand” – I do not have “favorite time of year”, or topic, or something like that. My ideas live more or less independently on each other.

4- I wanted to know, except the creation, which should take you a long time, what are your other hobbies in life?

Sorry to disappoint :-) But I am quite boring when it comes to hobbies. I am workaholic. We used to travel a lot before my little Alice was born. Travelling is my greatest hobby, and I hope to continue it when there is a chance.

5- I have read that when you were younger you wanted to be a Rock Star and you had a band. Music is it still important to you? What do you listen?

I no longer play (because I am not as good at it). But I am very picky about what I listen. From my childhood, I strongly believe that music can restore your soul and power, similar to what yoga, religion and things like that. Just listen to somebody honest. Right now, Cassandra Wilson is playing. And do not forget how easy it is for music to connect people that would be disconnected otherwise.

6- There are often the same characters in your illustrations. That is funny it is that there is my favorite animal, the elephant, but also my worst nightmare, the snail. But I can find him cute in your illustration, what is your secret?

Where I live, there is a local nation called “buryat” – – and they have a very interesting religion. They believe that after you are dead, you arrive into what you believed in while you lived. So, Christians go to paradise / hell, those who believe in reincarnation will reincarnate, and so on. They themselves believe they join their ancestors after death (but that’s not what I wanted to talk about :-) ).

So in a way, I try to build a world which

  • would make people who look at it a tiny bit happier
  • if I suddenly meet my heroes after death, we both would be happy, not scared, by the meeting :-)

Russian poet Mikhail Svetlov wrote wonderful poem about this, here is the part of it:

И если в гробу
Мне придется лежать,-
Я знаю:
Печальной толпою
На кладбище гроб мой
Пойдут провожать
Спасенные мною герои.

I leave it to you to translate :-)

7- What is your favorite character?

I have none! Oh wait.. Every character is my favorite! Oh wait… ok ok, it’s flying giraffe!

8- You love Alice in Wonderland, and you are a Tim Burton fan, we can see that in some illustrations. What other stories / univers inspire you?

Lord of The Rings – yes. Harry Potter – no no no. I tend to be immensely inspired by every new animation by Pixar. We’re very lucky to live in times when creativity can be expressed using so powerful technology. “Magic” not enough strong word here.

9- Where do you find your inspiration generally?

It finds me itself usually :-)

10- Why do you create illustrations for children? Since the beginning you said that you would go in this direction?

Not really. In the beginning, all I was going is graphics for computer software. Icons, illustrations, websites. I did not make a “decision” to start drawing for children, it just happened (slowly).

11- How do you proceed to create an illustration? (from idea to final result)

Usually, I make a really rough pencil sketch. Then I scan it, open in Photoshop, and then actually draw a wallpaper. Here are couple of videos:

12- What is your favorite creation? And why?

See my answer about about “7- What is your favorite character?”

13- What are your plans for the future?

Shortly after my daughter was born, I realized that as soon as I make any plans, they are immediately screwed. So I just try to do as much as I can, and try not to be too upset when I cannot do anything.

Speaking seriously, me and my team are working hard on our second e-book – Puss in Boots – – it’s a crazy mix of art and technology that we need to do. More than a year of work, and at least 3 more months. I wrote my own animation engine for these books. Fun!

14- I just started in this domain, and I have not found my style that’s for sure, but I was inspired by you to do this: what do you think? You can tell me the truth.

Do you mean this image only – or the entire website? I’ll comment on the picture only.

Are you prepared? Take a deep breath, you asked for it, and I am no “say only good things to strangers”.

What I like about the picture –

  • composition
  • choice of colors
  • spooky atmosphere.

Now, the things that need improvement:

  • the “idea” is not clear. I can see some objects but cannot understand what is going on and what you wanted to say.
  • from technical point of view, the biggest mistake you made is mixing styles that should not be mixed – vector drawing and photo manipulation. You used photos of earth and clouds? Fine, but I should not even notice it. Take a look – He uses a lot of photos in his works, but they blend so perfectly into the art – you cannot tell where he pasted a photo and where he made a brush drawing.
  • you copy-pasted the fairies. Never, ever copy-paste again. Imagine if nature was so lazy and copy-pasted you (or me, hehe) instead of creating unique people? Disclaimer – this rule can be broken if you know what you’re doing –
  • I feel the pain of the fairies you created. They are destined to live with very uncomfortable bodies, without hands or legs, or even eyes (I know they’re turned back to me, but it looks like they have no eyes).
  • the cracked earth photo gives 3D depth. Everything else is flat. Conflict! Stick to either 2D: or 3D: but not both.
  • there is a problem with almost all vectors you made. I can see where you put the anchor points. Making vectors look natural takes lots of practice. I’d recommend to master pixel tools first (brush). Yes you’ll need Wacom for that. And yes it will be hard too.
  • you decided to add more mystery by simply overlaying semi-transparent clouds (I may be wrong but they look like Photoshop “clouds” filter). There are some tools in Photoshop that encourage really bad practice. And Clouds filter is one of them.
  • it also looks like you used some noise (or some photo you used had noise) which you scaled up. Never scale up a photo. Only scale down or use original size.
  • you did not give much love to the clocks. the digits are not positioned in circle (did you place them approximately? what would you say to a clock maker who’d do this?). The inner circle is not in the center of outer circle. If you intended to make them look like 3D you’d need to make some more work with shadows and highlights.
  • There is something that looks like a shadow from the clock post. But it’s positioned as if the light source is behind the clock (there is no light source there).
  • the picture would look better without those mysterious things in the air (looking similar to pig noses).

I think that’s enough for one picture :-)

Thanks for interviewing!

P.S. Sorry if I sounded harsh and generally too dark. You caught me in dark mood :-)

When I was about 15-16 years old, I came to the new school, with new groups. And the new teacher of English started our first lesson by exam. She explained it – « I want to show you how bad you are in English ». The test was not so hard – but everyone failed. I hated her for several days, and I enjoyed her lessons ever since! I owe my good English to her.

This was kind of pain I needed at that time. It’s not « you are awful, stop and never do it again ». it’s « things need improvement – don’t stop until they are perfect ». Do not expect anyone to be kind because you have no experience – it’s not helpful. Instead, listen, and practice practice practice.


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