It's a terrible scenario but if my house were on fire, the things I would make sure I got out are: 1. My family, 2. Irreplaceable family photos not backed up to the cloud, 3. My hand printed copies of Natalya's books, “Barbarian Love and Downfall of Unicorns” and "Lucha Libre." Am I being a little dramatic? Probably. But these books are so beautiful. I want to hang them on the wall but which page would I open them up to? To display them I need to leave them out and let people touch them. When I show them to people I feel like saying, "go wash your hands" or, "here, put these white gloves on." A little obsessive, I know, but the the paper is so nice, I love the smell of the ink, the colors pop unlike anything you've looked at in cmyk, you can't look away from the art, the details suck you in. In today's world where everything seams to be flooded with AI art with no soul, Natalya's art is a refreshing reminder that art can not only have a soul, but a heart too.
What role did art play in your childhood?
I grew up in an artistic family, and art was an essential part of my life from an early age. My mother was a designer. She introduced me to the art world, told me about different artists, and took me to museums and galleries. She taught me how to mix colors, experiment with different materials and techniques, create figurines out of clay, make masks with paper-mâché, and play with stencils and collages. From an early age, I went to art studios, and later on, at age 12, I enrolled in an art school where I studied classical drawing and painting for six years.
When did you decide you wanted to pursue art as a career?
I had no alternatives; I had always wanted to be an artist.
Could you describe your workspace?
I draw at home and print at the printshop of the School of Visual Arts. An essential part of my home studio is a big window that gives me a lot of light and a beautiful view of the river. I have a big table, shelves with books on fine art and design, small figurines and photos, containers with art materials, folders with paper, many plants, boxes with collections of zines and postcards, and drawers with my projects. On the walls, I have some rock posters.
What does your typical day look like?
I don’t have any particular structure. I like walking outside in the morning and getting some fresh air to start my day. Sometimes, I can work on my projects for a whole day if I am not busy teaching. If I need to take a break, I go to cafe shops, parks, book stores, or visit museums for inspiration and to re-channel my thoughts and get some ideas. It helps me to focus on projects later on and have a new look at details.
How did you develop your personal visual style? Or did it come naturally?
Drawing for me is a visual diary. It changes based on my life experience and emotional state. Style fluctuates from spontaneous and abstract to realistic, detailed or decorative.
What is your typical creative process for silk screen printing?
The original drawings are done in black ink. Still, while working on the final files for the silkscreen separations, I add colors digitally to bring some emotional, visual, or conceptual accents and adjust composition and layout structure digitally.
What drew you to silk screen printing over other types of printing? What advantage does it provide your work?
I like working in silkscreen technique for many reasons. First, it allows me to freely transfer my ink drawings to the printmaking format and preserve the organic nature of the brush lines. I enjoy the spontaneity of this media and graphic challenges during the printing process. It is interesting to see how sudden shifts in the alignment of the elements or color overlapping cause unexpected visual effects. You can get various tonal combinations or textures which you originally didn't plan.
What’s your ratio of working traditionally vs. digitally?
As I mentioned earlier, all my drawings are originally done in ink and then transferred to the digital format. I am working on the final file preparation for silkscreen digitally in Photoshop and InDesign and using Procreate for some commercial illustrations.
Are there other styles or mediums that you want to try?
I was experimenting a lot with etching and did some linocuts. Both techniques have a lot of interesting possibilities. I like making stamps with linoleum, but silkscreen is still my favorite.
You’ve done a lot of very limited runs of your printed posters and books, what do you like about keeping the productions more scaled-down?
Small editions have more unique qualities. I can use digital printing if I need to make perfectly identical copies. Printmaking is exciting for its experimental nature and tactile quality. Even mistakes can add flavor and beauty to the project. Each book has its personality and character. It makes them more precious as an art objects.
What was your most ambitious project you’ve tackled?
Most of my silkscreened books take a lot of time. Once I am interested in a certain topic, I make various drawings and start figuring out how to use them in the book format. Sometimes I get stuck and leave projects aside. It took me two years to complete “Barbarian Love and Downfall of Unicorns”. At a certain point I gave up on the book idea and decided to design posters with drawings from this project. After a while, I returned to my drafts, included more drawings, restructured layouts, and pulled together the final book.
If you had unlimited time and money, what kind of project would you like to make?
I would experiment with different book formats. It would be interesting to create some pop-up books.
How can people follow your work?