Interview with Alena Lavdovskaya. “My work is my soul recreation”

December 29, 2015  00:56  |  Let’s talk

Illustrations by Alena Lavdovskaya

Illustrations by Alena Lavdovskaya

Would you ever believe it is possible to recognize the happiness over the phone? Yes, it is! Conversation with famous Russian illustrator Alena Lavdovskaya was like a breath of fresh air to me. Hard work, self-confidence and a huge desire to share the positive vibes – the formula of success comes to my mind while talking with Alena. Textile studies in Moscow, internship in Milan, studies at San Francisco Institute of Arts, and finally – hobby to draw turns into the lifestyle.

“Of course, I have always loved drawing, but have never thought it is going to become such a big part of my life. After graduating, I started to work as a merchandiser at Gucci store in Moscow, then two years later got the offer to join the new team of TsUM (Central Universal Department Store in Moscow) and stylize the showcases. That was a place where my serious relationships with fashion started! I was organizing the photoshoots with most demanded models of that time – Naomi Campbell, Eva Herzigova, and at the same time I had offers to publish my illustrations to the TsUM’s website.”

Illustration by Alena Lavdovskaya

Alena admits she was suddenly overwhelmed with collaboration offers as she was one of the few modern illustrators in her country at that time.  “There was no such term as a Fashion Illustrator in Russia a couple of years ago – this field of art is gaining its popularity these days. The biggest brands are now cooperating with illustrators, e.g. Gucci is preparing a project with 31 artist one of which is going to work with the new advertising campaign of this fashion giant.”

Illustration by Alena Lavdovskaya

Talking about cooperation – I am wondering, if Alena has ever teamed up with any fashion brands? “I had to take a career break back in 2012, as it was the time my twins were born. However, I could not stay without my work for a long time, so I took a challenge to participate in the Lancome project “Little Black Bottle: 20 artists, 1 icon”. I was the only participant from Russian but the main challenge was ahead – the rules were set not to draw any faces! But face is one of the crucial components of my work. How have I evaded? Well, I pictured three girls dressed in black with their faces slightly blurred. It was a great experience! Also, I worked for vogue.ru while at home and have prepared a big overview on Milan-New York-Paris fashion week. Working from home is comfortable; however, it will never be the same as drawing a person who is standing right in front of you.” That was the kind of experience offered by Alena during her seminars, which took place in London in the end of November. The seminar targeted both amateur and professional illustrators, as well as designers, stylists and fashion lovers who love drawing: “My seminar was a part of the vikimarina.com project aimed to self-development of a modern person and took two days: the first day was dedicated to introduction to fashion illustration and review of the illustration archives. On the second day, I invited a stunning beauty Sibui Nazarenko to be a model for my students – she has been a cover girl for L’Officiel, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire numerous times, but was still interested in participation!

Illustration by Alena Lavdovskaya

Being a model for illustrators is still unusual in fashion world. Sometimes people think you can draw a person using your imagination, but this is not the right attitude. Getting ready for illustrating is the same as for the photoshoot – you must take care of the style, do the haircut and make-up. Sometimes I do even organize the photoshoots so that I have the pictures to draw from! You would probably ask why can’t I simply use the pictures that are available online? It is necessary that the model is captured exactly in a way I need her to – my job has to be done from the very beginning till the end.”

Illustration by Alena Lavdovskaya

Illustration by Alena Lavdovskaya

Alena’s online course that has taken off in summer is a completely different thing – she admits of never believing it is possible to teach drawing on distance: “I have never taught anyone to draw before the course! I decided to combine all the advice and experience I got throughout my career and share it with my students from all over the world. That was the moment I realized sharing my knowledge and works brings me joy. When you make the first step as an artist it is very devastating if someone uses your idea or proposes his work in a similar way as you have. But time has passed and now I understand it is not a problem for me to share. It is a pleasure to know my works can inspire.”

Illustration by Alena Lavdovskaya

Almost 70 people of different ages from all around the world participate in Alena’s online courses – beginners try plenty of techniques while advanced illustrators develop their skills and find new strokes. “I check students’ works on a regular basis and put all my effort to advice individually, however, it is natural that each of us have our own personal style. You can only learn the techniques and gather new ideas. I believe hard work is what connects all of my students and that is the key to success. Inspiration? Such a magical word! However, when the deadline is approaching there is no time to think about inspiration – the only way out is to keep on working! My typical day starts at 5 am when I go to my home studio and draw. My work is my soul recreation.”

This article was originally published on SwO street Nr. 19 issue.

Alena Lavdovskaya on SwO street Nr. 19

Alena Lavdovskaya on SwO street Nr. 19


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