Daria Hlazatova, the root of her name means ‘eyes’ in Russian, lives in a town not very far from the Carpathians. She draws with pens and pencils and also creates hand-made collages. She hopes her work will give people interesting dreams at night…
You work mostly in black and white, what are your favourite media, and what do you like about working in monochrome? What do you use when you do add touches of colour?
I work with pen and ink, often just pens or pencils (when I want to add colours) as well as collage. I find pens and pencils to be very convenient. I suppose, it says a lot about me and my current style of life. I like the preciseness and confidence of a pen drawing. It also gives me a chance to add as many details as I want. Why black and white? Because I think it’s a timeless combination.
What appeals to you, or attracts you to, working in pencil?
For me a pencil drawing is as honest as an artwork can get.
What’s your favourite kind of pencil? Brand? Wood? Mechanical?
Wood: we don’t have a big choice of art supplies in my local shop. From what we have, I prefer Faber Castell pencils and pens.
Could you tell us a bit about your creative process, from the initial image or idea to the finished piece?
For my creative process I need: several pens, pencils, an eraser, a sharpener, paper, music, a table and a chair. A cat is optional. When I do an illustration, I use a reference image and it takes me a while to copy the image in pencil before I create the drawing in pen. It takes quite a while to create my black starry backgrounds but it is a very calming process as well. If it is a personal work, I start drawing straight away; sometimes with a pen, very spontaneously. I am very passionate about drawing and I usually complete my personal work in one very long sitting that can take up the whole day.
How do you conceptualize/construct a piece? Do you think of it as a story, snapshot, or abstraction?
I think people imagine that artists and illustrators have a story behind their every work; that they try to convey something special, communicate a global message with their artwork. Probably most of the artists do that, however I don’t: if it happens, it’s unintentional (I’m actually very suspicious of the big ideas behind all these modern art pieces and installations).
For me the attractiveness of the artwork is more important than the story of the piece, because art is universal and you can attach almost any idea to it, as long as the artwork itself gives enough room for imagination. When I draw I combine objects, add elements often subconsciously because I can feel they will make the whole thing look beautiful. I rarely have a distinct idea of what the artwork will look like in the end, because I’m adventurous and I like ‘travelling’ through the drawing. After it is finished the viewers can look at it from their own point of view and attach a meaning to it.
Where does your love of detail and pattern come from? What are some of your influences?
Drawing patterns is a great means of relaxation, isn’t it? But you’re right, there’s always a source of influence: mine is probably rooted in the early childhood. I had books illustrated by some of the finest Russian artists like Bilibin and Benois. I’ve been always amazed how their decorative detail could make a simple subject matter look so much more attractive and magnetic.
What size do you tend to work at? Why this preference?
Usually A4 size as this size paper is easy to carry around with me. Yet I also like A3 format: it gives me a chance to squeeze in a lot of detail and patterns in a drawing. I would like to work on a bigger scale but I’m afraid my little room is totally against this idea!
Do you have a favourite subject matter? What’s the particular attraction?
I love drawing faces and stars.
On your website you mention that as a child you dreamt of being an oceanologist… what did/do you love about the ocean?
Everything! My father is a former marine diver and when I was 4 or 5, I used to watch Cousteau Odyssey on TV every week. I was absolutely fascinated by the underwater world. I think people underestimate the ocean, in the sense that they think land is more important and vital, but I think the real masters of our planet are in the water. Whales, sharks, octopuses… and divers as well! Water is power.
Can you tell us about a favourite piece of yours, or a favourite creative experience?
My favourite creative experience is probably creating album art. I get to listen to the songs on repeat and really indulge into dreaming and music. Creating drawings for songs is pretty much like working as a taster in a chocolate factory when you’re a child!
You seem to take a lot of inspiration from literature, films and music (We particularly like your David Lynch portrait!) Could you tell us a bit about these inspirations and how they play into your art? Do you listen to a lot of music as you work?
I’ve been a music/cinema fan since I was very little. Being very impressionable, I find it hard to contain my emotions after watching an excellent movie or listening to a beautiful album. I have to express myself through drawing or else I’ll feel guilty for watching/listening to something great and doing nothing about it; creating nothing myself. I feel like I have to try my best every time I draw and music, cinema, theatre, etc serve as a great incentive. I also find this special connection between some songs, movie scenes, people’s appearances and what I want my drawings to look like. I found this quote by David Bowie (though I am not sure if it’s real) where he says that “he wants his music to sound like his favourite art.” Well, I want my drawings to look like my favourite music sounds!
Portraits and faces seem to play an important role in your art… what is it that fascinates you about faces?
I don’t know how to explain it but unless I draw a face or at least an eye in the artwork, I consider it “closed”. When the face appears, it opens up a gateway for the viewer.
Do you have any early memories of drawing or, what’s your first memory of an image?
My grandparents had a lot of books and images of different historical figures, writers and poets. My grandfather in particular was a big fan of everything connected with Napoleon. I remember the impression a very beautiful painting of a young handsome Napoleon in battle by Antoine-Jean Gros made on me: I thought it was very expressive.
Do you keep a sketchbook?
Where can people get a hold of your work, or find out more about your previous projects?
What directions are you interested in exploring in the future?
Like I said, I want to try drawing on a bigger scale. Also, one of my dearest ambitions is designing a theatrical poster. Apart from that, I’d also love to try my hand at making videos.
What are you working on now? What can we look forward to from you next?
I’m creating cover-art for an album full of beautiful songs.
Are you right or left-handed?
What was the last film you saw in the cinema?
The Hobbit, I go to the cinema once a year…
What are the books on your bedside table?
V&A book of Walter Crane patterns.
Coffee, nicotine, or booze?
Oh my…wine, please!
Favourite city in the world?
Oxford and Rome.
Favourite city to draw/sketch/illustrate/create in?
Any city, as long as I have my music player.
Daria’s work appears in Issue 3 of Tiny Pencil: The Beast Issue… Monsters, Machines and Unnatural Things! Available to buy here.
This interview was brought to you by The Tiny Pencil – fine purveyors of the pencil arts.