"...suddenly someone bought a picture. Then another one. Then a sticker with my monsters. Then one more. It was a great and rapturous feeling...I wanted to kiss the whole world and every person in it!"
Artist Alena Viartsinskaya who goes by the Redbubble username yokunen is mad about drawing monsters. Alena has developed a unique style in depicting mischievous looking figures while always adding a healthy dose of personality.
Alena is gifted at drawing freehand, as you can see on her Instagram account she has a mean set of pencils at her disposal. Check out our chat below to find out how she became the artist she is today in our interview below.
Be sure to check out yokunen’s shop for more of her work.
What’s your artistic background?
At school, I was always jealous of kids who knew what they wanted to be in the future. It was like they were born with certain knowledge — I would be a doctor, I would be a scientist, I would be an artist. They had ambitions or talent for this or that, enriched their knowledge, and were moving closer and closer to their aim. And me… I was running around like a molecule in a chaotic movement. The only activity I really liked and tried not to miss was drawing courses. I loved drawing and my parents supported all my -– even strange — ideas. Thus, I entered university to study interior design.
There, I had to face the fact that I did not know how to draw. Absolutely no idea. I felt I had no talent, no skill, just tears and sleepless nights. People around me were so gifted, I felt like a liar who would be unmasked soon. One of the best teachers I’ve ever had told me that I have no talent. All I felt I had was my goatish stubbornness. I tried to remember to be stubborn so one day I might succeed. Many years had passed, but I still follow these words.
After university all people try their best in the profession they had learned for all those years. So did I. I started my first project and realized that I didn’t want to be an interior designer anymore. The next few years I spend in habitual chaos. I tried to be myself here and there; I was making handmade cards, worked with polymer clay, I worked as a photographer, and as a photo-artist. I spent so much time and effort, but nothing was that thing — the only thing — I would wish to be engaged in until the end of my life. It was disappointing. I was no longer a child, but I still had no idea of what I should do with my life.
At least a year ago after long search I tried illustration. I was drawing, drawing, drawing, but it was a kind of a game. I didn’t believe anyone would spend money and buy any of my works. But suddenly someone bought a picture. Then another one. Then a sticker with my monsters. Then one more. It was a great and rapturous feeling. Doodles and creatures I always loved to draw made money for me. It is one of the best feelings in the world. I wanted to kiss the whole world and every person in it!
What tips do you have for creating and drawing characters such as monsters?
My monsters appear from my mind fully formed. However, my visual experience affects the image. Sometimes I look at the finished monster and realize that it is so much like a plant in a flowerpot I saw in the morning. The only trick I have is to draw eyes first. Eyes and sometimes mouth. Thus, I create mood of the character, he becomes playful or gloomy or even aggressive.
Then I start working with shape and anatomy (for sure, monsters’ anatomy allows deviations, you are free to create legs that grow out of ears or thirty eyes all around the arm). Then I make a sketch freehand, like random lines when you test your new pen, and look at the shape, looking for a creature that watches at me. When our eyes meet – I outline his figure, add details, and color. It’s a good way to start working too.
"My monsters are born with their own expression. I just follow what they want to be. Our relationships are clear – I don’t tell them what they should be."
How do you give monsters creative expressions?
My monsters are born with their own expression. I just follow what they want to be. Our relationships are clear – I don’t tell them what they should be.
What tip would you give to artists who want to create repeat patterns?
Honestly, I was scared of repeat patterns like if it was nuclear physics, that’s why I wanted to defeat them and make a working one. I really didn’t know how should I start and what can make a single image work. I’m afraid I’m not perfect yet, but the only thing I’ve learnt – I should start with black and white outlines. It clears up your mind, you think only about shape and space between objects. Even if you colored your work before and you really think your color is absolutely perfect, just delete the color and work with silhouettes and outline.
What tips would you give to artists wanting to use one consistent palette on a project? How do you choose your palettes?
Choosing palette is one of the most interesting things in drawing. My works are mostly made in vector, so I can always change this or that color or the whole palette in the whole work. Usually I use seasonal pallets that color stylists use. It’s easy to find them online, you can find large list of colors that would match each other perfectly.
What piece of advice do you have for selling artwork on Redbubble?
The only advice I can give is – don’t stop believing in yourself. Even if your only talent is stubbornness, don’t stop. One day you will get your fist fan. Then your first comment. Your first sell. Even if you are not an exemplary Cinderella, you still deserve happiness, Prince and a half of a kingdom. Or a beautiful check with a beautiful sum.
What’s your favorite thing about sharing artwork online?
The best thing when I load my artwork is when someone buys it! I’m very thankful to people who say my works are good, but I’m that kind of person who is afraid of compliments and praise, like if I keep my ears open to words telling me I’m good, I will stop my progress, lay down and spend all the time staring at the sky, naming the clouds.