Q&A: Tatiana Boyko

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Now, think carefully: what do you think might happen by mixing the Canary Islands’ bright colors and the geometry of the Russian avant-guarde? An afternoon at the V&A and a ceramic workshop? If you worked with TATIANA BOYKO, the answer would be a brilliant and sophisticated collaboration. Welcome to ON! Storie #7 illustrator Q&A!

Tatiana, where are you writing from, and how does your city inspire you?

I moved to London more that a year ago –where I currently live and work–, to study my masters but also because I find it exciting. There’s a great illustration community that makes you feel more connected to the industry. Plus there’s always something going on in the city, whether it is an exhibition, book launching, fairs, markets, workshops or lectures. It feels like you’re at the centre of all events.

How do your Spanish and Russian origins reflect on you and your art? How do they influence each other?

I think my Russian roots made me more interested in Russian avant-garde art movements, which I still find quite contemporary. Their use of abstract shapes, compositions and pure colours are a great source of inspiration for me in design and illustration. Some of my favourite artists are Alexander Rodchenko, Liubov Popova and Vladimir Lebedev. Besides, Russian folk art has such a rich collective imagery that there are several topics that I would like to explore further.

On the other hand, growing up in such a sunny place like the Canary Islands, I think helped me to develop an appeal for bright colors, that I like to use in my illustrations.

If you inherited a bigger than life sum, how would you invest it art-wise (buy a studio, start a magazine etc)?

I think I would like to buy or build a spacious studio first, with great windows where you could see trees in the distance; wooden floors, loads of light and preferably a screen print and a ceramic work space. I would also like to start my own small art collection.

Which are your major sources of inspiration?

To be honest, I don’t believe that inspiration exists. For me it’s something that happens during the creative process: when everything comes together, shapes, colors and composition. But it’s only something you find while you’re working, like another stage of the creative process that sometimes is easier to achieve than others.

On another note, my day-to-day experiences also have an influence on my work. Everything from watching a movie, travel, a city’s architecture, going for a walk, reading a book, having a conversation with a friend; things that lay back in my brain and that unconsciously are later captured in my work.

I like to keep a notebook where I keep track of the ideas and thoughts as they come, and that might be interesting to explore further. So that when I’m blocked I can always go back to them, and remember those things that intrigued me.

Three illustrators that today you think are doing a great job.

It’s so hard to pick up only three, but I would say Jun Cen, Vincent Mahé and Owen Davey.

Art afternoon in London: which museum you know you can rely on for good exhibitions, which café would you stop at for coffee and perhaps a drawing date, and which art shop would you visit for art supplies?

I would strongly recommend the Victoria and Albert Museum. You can combine good exhibitions and good coffee and cake. I love the ceramics section, which is great for life drawing because it’s really quiet. They also got a good selection of books. But my favourite bookshop is the one inside Tate Modern, where you can find a lot of children’s books and magazines. For art supplies I usually go to Cass Art, where you can find cheap but good quality paper notebooks.

Dogs or cats, coffee or tea, Netflix or Curzon Cinema?

Easy one ­– dogs, coffee and Curzon Cinema.

How do you unwind? Do you have a routine that you like to stick to?

I don’t have a clear routine that I stick to, but I must say I’m a morning person. I work from home so a normal working day for me is to wake up around 8, drink a glass of water and go for a 20 min run. That helps me to clear my mind and start the day afresh.

For me, the most effective way to unwind is through exercise: running, swimming, doing whatever to stay active. Concentrating on my body and my breathing helps me to leave the mind blank and let go all worries for a bit.

Do you have a motto that always cheers you up and keeps you going?

Yep, indeed! That is ‘everything flows’. I’m such an indecisive person by nature that I really struggle in making decisions; so this motto helps to take out the pressure a bit, in the sense that I know that any bad decision or an unpleasant situation is not going to last forever. If I missed an opportunity there’s no need to worry, because more opportunities will come! Everything keeps changing, you just have to keep going as well.

One advice for wannabe freelance illustrators.

It’s very important to keep doing personal work. This is where you can experiment, draw the things that interest you and create the work you would like to be commissioned for. And always be persistent!

You can follow Tatiana on Twitter and Instagram, or visit her website to keep up with her good work!