She is an illustrator, a painter, an artist in all. Anastasia Korochansckaja is a known name in deviantART community (member for last 10 yrs) and is an inspiration for the surging creative self in you. Based out of California, United States, she specializes predominantly in fantasy and fantasy wildlife illustration.
Check her artwork at Tumblr, Deviantart or Facebook
1) Anastasia, thanks for your time to provide ahadaily.com with this interview. Kindly introduce yourself to Aha readers.
Hello and thank you for extending this fantastic opportunity to speak with you and the Aha audience about my work. I am thrilled to share and stand among these thrillingly inspiring people you have already interviewed!
I am currently a freelance illustrator residing just outside of Los Angeles California but was originally born in Tartu Estonia. My childhood was spent as any other tomboy like me, catching snakes and bugs, drawing, stealing horses and being up to generally no good! I discovered, or rather my mother discovered, my aptitude towards drawing when, after my many vivid and ill fated adventures, I would take to drawing on the walls of my time-out corner. And much like every other child that could draw as soon as they discovered they could hold a pencil, that is pretty much what I have been doing ever since (but at least now my parents don’t frown on it so much!).
The vast majority of what keeps my bills paid at present is commercial artwork. I do work for a wide range of products and commercial IP’s ranging from book covers, trading card illustrations to video game concept art. Basically whatever pays the bills and gives me the opportunity to be challenged or learn something new. The paycheck alone is never enough motivation to keep me creating!
But the commercial projects also grant me the privilege of flexibility and to remain unattached to a company on a full time basis, which allows me to cultivate what I am most passionate about, my own work.
2) Could you describe for us your typical ‘start to finish’ workflow when working on an illustration? How much time it takes you to complete one piece of art? Describe us your style.
Start to finish workflow is highly variable on what I am doing or who I am doing it for. If I am working on a personal project where my own internal vision for the finished product is opaque before starting, the process is usually fairly straight forward. I often, but not always, start with a sketch or a series of thumbnails before choosing the final composition. These allow me to get my mind down on paper without committing time to an idea that may not work. Research follows to fill in any gaps that my non photographic memory may have and lend plausibility to the subject at hand. I spend hours collecting reference material for such things as lighting, color, anatomy, poses and just plain inspirational photos and art that may help improve upon my starting vision.
The painting process sometimes starts with a rough quick color study/speedpaint to help me make sure I understand and like the color palette I had in mind and that it will work with my subject after all! But usually I just plunge right in. The process, for me, follows the flow of traditional painting very much. I usually start with the background and move forward, though digital allows me the luxury of jumping ahead and toying with elements I am unsure will work as I planned. I keep my layers to a minimum to save space and keep from getting lost in a multitude of layers.
My painting process for Commercial work or private commissions are often more trial and error with me trying to get into the head of the party who hired me to illustrate a sometimes very specific scene or style. Sometimes we easily sync or they choose my based on my existing body of work and sometimes it’s more of a struggle. The sketch/thumbnail phase for commercial work is the most important and often most frustrating with the painting that follows often being a liberating spurt of unabridged creative energy.
Paintings vary in time vastly depending on such variables as complexity of subject, my familiarity with the subject and whether I have a clear or nebulous concept of what I want to accomplish from the start. Usually the latter dictates most how long something will take! Some paintings only take a few hours, others consume 10’s of hours (upwards of 50-60)
3) When did you develop your interest towards anthromorphic art? What was your inspiration behind it?
I think what anthropomorphism has always represented to me personally is a reconnection with our untamed past where the line between us and the rest of the animal kingdom was more blurred. But more specifically, the personal connection we still hold to the natural world. That we like standing in the shade of a tree, or having plants in our homes or green parks in our cities is a testament of our need for the natural world on a personal level(beyond the obvious pragmatism).
And yet as time has raced onwards, the technology driving the pace at which modern life unfolds, we often feel so disconnected from our natural heritage that we feel altogether apart from it. I think in part the appeal for many of wildlife art or even anthropomorphism of the ilk I depict is a return to innocence and of the same coin maybe even a return to savagery. Life, though far from kind, works on much simpler principles in the wild places of our world and our instincts were honed to survive in this savage world. I think we feel a mysterious sense of belonging when we stand in a deep forest just off the beaten path. To that end, anthropomorphism may be viewed as an expression of freeing oneself of societal constraints and returning to a life where one merely reacts and simply exists.
But dually this same image of the man animal serves to also narrow the gap in our perceptions towards the natural world as a thing apart from us. I say this in the sense that as we race towards technological progress, we forget that we are burdened with evolutionary baggage, baggage that makes us blind to our very animal instincts(needing to feel superior being among them). I believe depicting anthropomorphized people may help us see the animal within ourselves and perhaps to awaken in them some small new flame of empathy and compassion for the natural places that are our richest heritage.
For me personally the discovery of anthropomorphic art and how I wanted to use it in my own work was incidental. I came to it some years ago when I suddenly found myself in the company of other artists that drew animals..and sometimes also drew anthropomorphized animals. It was a revelation, the tapping of hidden potential and a vastly underexplored theme in modern art.
4) What inspires you to create such beautiful furry art aka animal illustrations? Does your creation have a story behind it?
As stated above, I feel anthropomorphism in art can serve as a powerful and largely untapped conduit into the human condition. I still find I have my trepidations in sharing this art in the public eye for reasons clear to anyone that has spent any time on the internet, but I am also hopeful that it can reach beyond the stereotypes. I never desired to cater the flavor of anthropomorphism to a niche audience of people who already appreciate animals or anthropomorphic art but it is my fond hope to use the art to reach beyond to people that may have otherwise not given anthropomorphic or wildlife art a second glance and maybe speak to something within them, even if they cannot identify what.
5) Tell us about your strong connection with wildlife in general.
The above question goes largely hand in hand with this one. To me when I look into the Tell us about your strong connection with wildlife in general: eyes of an animal, I do not see a stranger, I see myself. The longer you meet with that untamed gaze, you see what connects us and, the you begin to realize what divides us is infinitesimally smaller and more petty than we, perhaps, strive to believe. When we are children we have a developed sense of empathy that does not preclude any living being. It is only when we grow that our speciesism takes over and where that is a very natural and animal thing to happen, I would like to think we have evolved and are capable of seeing beyond ourselves and our own terribly selfish needs.
6) What do you think about sci-fi art? Have you ventured into it?
Science fiction in the arts is very akin to how I view anthropomorphism, in that it is an exploration of the self, the self that was and in the case of sci-fi, the self that could yet be. It is an exploration of longing and dreams, both dark and light, a brush with possibility that enlivens our imaginations and quickens the pulse. In that way it is an extension of one of our most precious and beautiful traits, our imagination; something that I dare say has taken our species from our humble origins on the plains of Africa into the speeding cavalcade of modern technology and innovation that is ever poised to make new wonder from this old world.
For my own part in the creative endeavor, I have only casually meandered on the shores of science fiction art, opting instead to celebrate it with rapt attention by watching films, reading novels and tentatively exploring the possibility of writing my own sci-fi genre stories..perhaps one day long down the line from now!
7) Which tools do you use both hardware and software as an illustrator? Share with us few of your artwork.
For Hardware I use a dell Ultrasharp monitor (color calibrated with a hardware calibrator), a wacom intuos 3 tablet (6×8”), occasionally a Wacom Bamboo, and various versions of Adobe Photoshop CS. Eventually, if space and financial considerations can move aside, I would love to return to real media again but for the time being Digital art suits my impulsive muse and frayed finances rather better!
8) How does your job as an artist influence your life? Do you feel that you see things around you differently for example?
Oh yes very much so. I feel very lucky to have been blessed with a creative disposition, though I may feel differently if I wasn’t but such is our internal perspective! Being who I am, I could never imagine doing anything else with my life than what at my very core regulates the very cadence of my heart. Not only this but I have the singular privilege to always have a job ready and waiting and all I have to do is find the audience. In the latter, I have found myself to be extremely fortunate as well and largely because of the internet and the ease by which we can share our visions, I have been able to cultivate an audience in tune with how I see the world or at least how I see it creatively. It is a flabbergasting feeling to know someone half way across the world loves something you made enough to want to own it or ask you to create something for them!
Besides that I never stop musing at all things mundane to other people, the way the colors mix in the shadows or on the horizon of a hazy city sunset or the shapes and recurring patterns that permeate the natural world. A seashell or an insect are enough to keep me musing, wondering and dreaming.
9) Which are your five favorite websites, and why?
Five favorite websites! Well that is likely the most challenging question you have asked yet! But let me try to narrow them down, if you promise not to laugh.
Google.com– for being a gateway to all the knowledge we have thought to combine and share with each other and the answer to most of my questions and problems!
1. CGTalk.org– a place to be inspired and to inspire. This website is frequented by some of the biggest names and talents in the art industry. Just to stand shoulder to shoulder with them is enough to get you either weeping in futility or stirred into a creative mania (hopefully the latter!).
2. Dictionary.com: This one is a bit silly but I love reading classical literature and am often befuddled(and humiliated) by the breadth of language of many of these writers. I think in the same way that artists are attracted to evoking meaning through color and composition, I find how words sound and what they aim to express of our inner self elating as well. For that reason I love collecting words and sometimes saying them out loud just to hear how they sound in connection with what they mean.
3. Tumblr is on the top of my list at the moment, though I tend to use it more for browsing inspirations than reading memes. I tend to start my mornings with a cup of coffee and a stroll through my tumblr stream which is filled with exotic and evocative photography, works of art and even music. What better way to start the day than jumping into a sea of inspiration?!
4. Deviantart: again for the profusion of talent and yearning creative energy with a ceaseless need to share and be inspired to create. It is a synergetic sort of place for creatives of all kinds and best of all many of them are easy to approach and speak with!
5. Still one more to go. Well if I have to choose a last one it would be, Wikipedia, much for the same reason as the first, though this is where I go when I have a few hours to waste as Wikipedia has a way of making one simple question turn into a web of more nuanced or tangented questions.
10) Share with us your most popular artworks you think Aha Readers should see. Also, explain the mood and purpose behind the creation.
This one hasn’t so much a specific story as it is an expression of emotion and unleashed creative energy. It started as a speedpaint with no expectation of coming out at the end with a completed piece of work. The reward is always the experience and a finished painting you actually like is just the cherry on top!
Sands of Creation
She came to me in a dream and scalded me with fierce eyes. She is an embodiment of the wild universe and a symbol of attainable knowledge. I dreamed of this white leopard with spots of abalony, catching the light and reflecting it with brief flashes of color, the stuff of life, glimpses of a deeper understanding we have yet to find.
Persistence of Memory
A piece commissioned by AP Publishing for an article written for Digital Artist Magazine (now known as Fantasy art Magazine). I was thrilled to be commissioned to write this article and to paint something wholly from my own vision. Inspired by imagery of the vanishing city of Kolmanskop in the Namib desert and the recent (possible) discovery of a new subspecies of cheetah, the Saharan Cheetah. The ideas coalesced into the concept of permanency, or lack of it, in the known universe. Here the cheetah represents memory, be it our small encapsulated moments or the vast ones on a cosmic scale, all that will pass, and be consumed as the sand consumes the city depicted. The cheetah elucidates the moment, standing against the inevitable tide of time, preserving it in some unseen way.
Frailty of Memory
Companion to the prior. Here the the true nature of memory is revealed, frail and easily broken. As the sun rises over the desert, the sky’s cheeks pink with the blush of the new day, the cheetah’s latticed body begins to break away, her translucent light sifting away like so much sand.
In Dreams we Belong
This is more ‘fantastic’ than most given the subject and use of surreal anthropomorphism. But more notable is the story behind the story and that is the manner in which I view the stars. Because we all, some many eons ago, began our ascent from the dark depths of the sea, I believe in that way, the stars were born and carried into the sky in our dreams. Without us to wonder at them, they would only eventually blink out, going as carelessly as they came. But we give them voices, we write our hopes among these giants of matter yearning and striving to join them in the greatest of races.
As with most ideas, you never know which ones will stick or consume every shred of your attention until they are seen through, this idea came about because I was introduced to pyrite suns by a fellow artist friend. I found the radiating lines, often pearlescent to be instantly intoxicating and I knew I had to paint something using the metaphorical sun as a centerpiece. In short the leopardess (again) represents the inhibitions or immaturities we have in harnessing our true potential. The sun, aptly made of fool’s gold, is only the fool’s reward, what lies beyond is of immeasurable wealth. The wall is cracked and light pulls through, collecting in a parhalia around the guarding leopardess. We have a glimmer of what we may have, if we are brave enough to face her gaze and transcend ourselves. The cracks in the wall are worn with moss, speaking of those that came before us but failed to pass beneath the sun.
You might have guessed by now that I am going through a leopard phase. Of the big cats, their eyes are the most fierce and subjugating. Maybe my painting them again and again is my attempt to capture that most untamed of gazes.
The compliment to Aeturno…light and dark made into one whole.
I love depicting wild animals with a subtle infusion of human traits so at first glance you see a wolf and the longer you look the more you gleen of the human, well at least it is my hope to accomplish this subtle interplay, perhaps to unsettle the viewer..or engender them to this way of seeing.
The idea of mixing a snow leopard, a snow owl and a swan imposed itself on me one day out of nowhere and I just had to paint it.
Shores of an Epoch
Created for the Rare Anthro Calendar, an anthropomorphized Homotherium hunting for his quarry.
Something more abstract than my usual fare, done after the BP oil Spill (the most recent one in history). Here the dead gull is depicted unscathed on the surface, feathers pristine, while the true damage shows from within. This one started as a speedpaint that I had no intention of seeing through, but as often goes, it’s the paintings you have no expectations for (and perhaps because of that) that seem to come out shining in the end.
One of the oldest and arguably best known anthropomorphic depictions in art were done by the Egyptians. This is a depiction of the Egyptian diety, Duamutef, son of Horus, drifting into life born upon a bed of a lotus flower.
11) List out 10 influential artists at deviant art that have inspired your work.
Just a few of the many artists on Deviantart specifically that inspire me (though it may not show directly in my work!) are the following:
Amber Hill aka Vantid, a digital artist
Adele Lorienne aka Saimain
Julie Dillon aka Juliedillon, an American artist and a freelance illustrator specializing in science fiction and fantasy art.
Christy Grandjean aka Goldenwolf. Her artwork is a fairly eclectic mix of animal people, shape-shifters, fantasy creatures, visionary images, and whimsical scenes
Therese Larsson aka Ailah
Daniel Conway aka Arcipello
Christiane Vleugels aka Raipun
Janaschi aka Jana Schirmir
12) What role have deviant art community played in making you an interesting photo manipulator today?
Well I am not a photo manipulator but I do respect the art form ;}. I consider myself a painter/illustrator but as far as the question itself, DA has shaped many of the elements and techniques depicted in my art. In my earlier days, when I first joined DA, I just spent most of my days absorbing the profusion of talent abundant on DA (and maybe feeling sorry for myself a little that I could never accomplish something so great!). But I think just exploring DA unabashedly really awoke in me a desire to improve and the inspiration to keep painting. I also made a great many creative friends along the way (through DA) and we shared, exchanged and expanded upon each other’s unique perspectives. Sharing our art is a fantastic motivator in itself as supposing we didn’t have an audience to indulge, the pang to create would be less keen and have less purpose to the exercise. I still come and browse recent submissions, sometimes to get inspired or stay inspired or just to feel engrossed in that press of creations.
13) List out atleast 15 -20 artworks from deviantart community that you think are worth a share with aha readers to gain inspiration.
Stairs and Stripes
The Shadow of the Sun
Home and The Fairies
Endless sleep without Dreams
14) If you could be any object, what would you be? Why?
A nautilus shell that has lived once and even beyond life travels the open sea and even beyond like a chambered memory that whispers across time.
15) Lastly, whom do you want us to interview next and why do you think he deserves to be amongst “Aha People”?
If this question pertains to creatives, I’d love to see an interview with any of the DA people I mentioned but if this question is not limited to creatives of the painting kind, I feel an interview with Richard Dawkins (evolutionary biologist and advocate for secular humanism) or Beverly and Dereck Joubert, wildlife cinematographers working to save lions from extinction through the use of film. These people are tremendously inspiring and I, personally, would love to hear them speak on any topic! They are already fairly well known people but their messages and strong passions for their subject do make this world a better place.
Anastasia, i want to thankyou for sparing your time and providing inspiration to our readers. You surely have a long way to go.