One day I was flipping through a draft of Illustoria Issue 3: Outside-In and Yuliya Gwilym's illustrations immediately caught my eye. The bold shapes and extraordinarily unique color palette struck a chord in me, as if my subconscious always wished and longed for Gwilym's unmatched style and then boom -- it was miraculously handed to me on a silver plater.
I became quickly obsessed with the graphic simplicity and dynamism of her artwork, reminiscent of the Soviet illustrations of Nathalie Parain and Suprematist Kazimir Malevich. Gwilym's accessible, energetic, and endlessly playful work will add an extra dose of happiness to your day. We're so lucky to have the chance to interview Yuliya, as well as showcase her work in Issue 3 and Issue 4 (which comes out this spring)! Make sure to catch more of Yuliya's work at http://cargocollective.com/yufrukt.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently experimenting with a flip animation book that tells a story about a little elephant. I’m also designing a little game kit for kids with special needs.
Can you talk about your process of creating a project, from start to finish?
I start by talking about an idea I have with my partner or artist friends. I try to turn visuals I have in my head into words which usually helps me get a clearer idea. I then do a lot of rough sketches and after that go straight into finals, that way I have some room for experimentation and mistakes which sometimes bring the most fun results. I like to work with different media so my design process varies from time to time.
Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?
I grew up in Kiev, Ukraine. It’s a big but very cozy city, I spent my summers in the countryside hut built by my grandparents, helping grandma harvest tomatoes and pick up lost animals from the forest in my spare time. For the past 10 years I’ve been living by the North sea, in the Hague, the Netherlands. I definitely miss hot summers and sweet tomatoes but I love to live abroad -- exposure to other cultures brings out the best in people.
What were you like as a kid?
Its hard to say these things about yourself, my mum says I made friends with everyone wherever I went and was generally very open (which often included telling our personal family stuff to strangers).
What were your favorite childhood books?
When I was very young I loved the poetry of Samuil Marshak, I knew most of his books by heart and they had beautiful illustrations by graphic artist Vladimir Lebedev who I still admire very much.
A bit later my favorite books were A Little Princess and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Adventures of Family Mumin-trolls series by Tove Jansson and Karlsson On The Roof by Astrid Lindgren.
Did you have a favorite subject in school? A least favorite subject?
I liked classes of drawing, crafts, mythology, choreography and biology. I really didn't like math…
When did you know you wanted to be an artist and writer?
In primary school I wanted to build hotels for homeless animals (there are a lot of stray cats and dogs in Ukraine) or be a vet. Later in high school I decided I want to be artist and designer.
Who or what inspires you?
My biggest inspiration comes from children, listening to the weird things they say. I love starting strange discussions with kids and seeing where it brings their adventurous minds. I also find animation and movies very inspiring, old things and folklore, stories from when my grandma was a little girl, I’m inspired by Japan and Japanese yokai, traveling and meeting new people.
What is the most challenging part about being an artist/writer/maker?
Constantly promoting your work, communicating the value, time and care you put into your craft to people who aren’t artists/makers themselves. Staying organised and being able to push forward and keep working even when you’re “not feeling inspired or motivated.”
When do you feel your most creative?
Just before I get into bed.
What advice would you share with young aspiring artists?
Try to be patient. When things seem slow, its not because you're not good it just takes lots of time. Make friends with other artists! It's so much easier when you're not alone and I find young artists’ community very supportive.