Christina Zakhozhay is a fantasy writer and an illustrator. Having an ability to use both words and pencil she tries to make the most out of these two instruments. She is author of Graphic Novel “The Book of Contradictions” which was published in year 2010 in Russia. All published books had been sold and she is working on the next part.
Christina shares with us her inspiring story of becoming artist and also makings of her artworks.
Hi Christina Zakhozhay , tell us something about you? How you started your career as an artist and what fascinate and motivate you to go ahead as fantasy writer and an illustrator?
I’m 21, and I’ve been drawing since my early childhood. Drawing was something that I could do for hours, without getting tired. It was as natural for me as thinking, sleeping or eating. I was taught basics of drawing grammar in children art school, something I have learned myself. For a long time I have not been thinking about drawing as a job. I believed that my job has to be connected with art somehow, but nothing more than that.
So after the school I took classes of Industrial Design in Ural State Academy of Art and Architecture(Ekaterinburg, Russian Federation), and while studying I’ve understood something very important. One can do something he doesn’t only like a lot or find good, but just something he is crazy about he can do outstanding.
So I decided to focus my life on drawing. First it was a lot of practice, as though I have been drawing all my life, I thought it was not enough. Then I started taking commissions for my drawing. Small at first, just to try myself and get some cash, but after sometime they became more serious.
What’s for writing? I was always tending to dream, create differed worlds, stories and characters in my mind. And once I’ve just decided to stop on one idea and start to think just about it. And very soon there were so many thoughts, that I had to fix them on a paper. I’ve never considered my stories as a book or a picture only... The form doesn’t matter. My first serious story The Book of Contradictions started as a comic, but I realized that it would be better to write a book, as in my country books were way more common at that time. And now I’m converting it into a comic format again for an English-speaking audience.
You are a fantasy writer; tell us something about your published books and the one which you are preparing further for publication?
So far I have just one book published. This is the first part of my novel trilogy “The Book of Contradictions”. This trilogy is just a big long story which I’ve decided to divide into three parts. I’ve been working on it since I was 13 and I’ve finished the first book when I was 15. It’s difficult to say what the story is about, as it’s so long, and there are a lot of ideas inside. But in general this is the story about another world Silana, which parallel to ours. And this world is created by two gods Darkness and Light. So this world is doomed to be divided into black and white parts that will always contradict with each other. The magic in this world is like a science in ours. Everything is because of magic there. In the middle of the story there is war and the person who stated it just wanted Silana not to end up like the human world. So The Book of Contradictions is about home, love, but not that romantic love between men and women, I mean the love for your family, you life, your motherland, and this is story about characters searching for their own unique way in this black and white world.
So now I’m preparing the second part for the publication, and at the same time converting the first part into a graphic novel.
Your paintings show emotions and expression of life through characters and environments? That’s speciality of these paintings? How you describe this?
Characters are masks, you can wear. I believe that every human in the world want to play multiple roles like a hero, a villain, a man, a woman, a crazy man, a genius… we all want to help people, to kill people, to live and to die… a lot of our desires are impossible or not welcomed in society, but by characters we can play them. That’s why people watch movies, read books, play video games. They want to feel what they will never feel in reality and live a life which they will never be able to live.
I feel the same, but I live these roles through my characters by drawing them and writing about them. And while life is about emotions, I try to express them in my art as truthful and strong as I can, to give people who will see my works the opportunity to live a life of the characters and live it myself.
Your artwork is combination of Character Illustrations, Human expressions by mixing fantasy? What you achieve with it? Is it concept or subject requirement or it’s your style?
I was lucky enough to be able to crate my own style. Some artists do what their employers want to have from them, but I decided that I won’t take those commissions that will make me to change my style anyhow. I love fantasy, because it’s always something new. New world, new rules, new ideas… I find it interesting to create something unusual every time. And I have an idea to make this fantasy world as real as it’s possible, by using real human emotions and realistic style. While drawing or writing I’m playing a game with myself. I trying to pretend how it would be, and in order find an answer I draw fantasy situations very realistic. It’s interesting for me.
What tools you use for creating digital painting and how it’s convenient than traditional style?
I still think that I’m more traditional artist. As I’ve been taught to be one, and chose a digital media because it has a lot of advantages according the speed of the work, possibility to save the work on different stages and etc.
Thus, drawing in Photoshop, I’m using just simple round brush and eraser. People tend to ask me if I use special brushes, but I do not. I feel like it's not right and too simple. I see a challenge in using just one brush to draw different materials, so that you have to invent your own technique for each of them.
You are writing and converting it in a graphics novel; tell us something about that?
My graphic novel is actually the way to translate my book into English. As translating it into another language is a very long process, especially if this language is not your first. Moreover, while translating I feel like I’m writing the same thing once again. It’s not interesting, as every time I do something I want to improve it somehow. Doing the same thing again and again was killing me. So I’ve started to think about a comic book. A asked my followers on twitter, deviantart and Facebook about the idea and they liked it. So I’ve started a comic.
A have an experience of drawing a comic. I was working for Romantically Apocalyptic web-comic, I drew some comic stories myself just for fun. Some of them were more in comic American style, some were Manga. But this time I want to do something mine. I want to combine a realistic style and black & white lines and stains. It’s not a commercial project so far, so I’m experimenting and having fun.
The comic by the way will be started here http://www.thebookofcontradictions.com/
How you decide about light treatment in your paintings as we can make out that most of your artwork is having beautiful light treatment, which definitely give life to your artwork?
Mostly, it depends on subject and mood. Too simple but it’s true. Sometimes if I’m working on the commission that requires specific lightning, I get inspired by photographs with this lightning and then drawing it myself. Plus even when I’m not drawing I try to be very attentive to the world around and not just remembering what I see, but trying to understand everything. And if it necessary for the current drawing I use this understanding. But again… usually my mood decides everything.
So what’s your usual illustrating process? Do you draw into it, the existing one, or do you just scrap the image completely?
I don’t like to repeat myself or to apply some existing picture for another story. I want to create something new every time.
Usually I read the text that I have to illustrate and start to think about in the Photoshop. One of my art teachers always said “think with a pencil in your hand”. So I’m following this advice, pondering about what I want to draw, while exactly drawing. I don’t like to have an image of the illustration in my head. As you can never bring it into the picture fully, so I’m just thinking and creating the idea while drawing. And once I have it I start rendering. And it’s more about an ability to sit on the chair and draw.
What opportunities as Russian artist you find at national and international level?
I think the most important opportunity for me as a Russian artist is that in my country it’s very important to be a good traditional artist. Which means to know the anatomy of the human body, know the perspective and other artistic grammar. So I’ve learned it well, and just after that I’ve started to create my own style, using digital media and so. Because of that I am able to draw almost everything and do not face troubles with drawing something unusual (like non-existing creatures) because I know basics of drawing. I would definitely be very much happy if my drawings are appreciated internationally too. I keep on posting my artwork online so more and more people all over world can see my art and appreciate. In return I get satisfaction and feel pleasure in it.
Making of Graphic Novel
Christina Zakhozhay Thank you for sharing information with animationsupplement.com.