Anastasiia Andriichuk talks about animation magic, freelancer’s way to work, and philosophy of illustrator’s life.
[This article is published in partnership with Odessa Speaks English, an initiative whose main goal is to encourage the development of an English-speaking social and cultural setting in Ukraine generally and Odessa specifically.]
Captivation and First Money
Drawing was my passion since I was a child. When I used to study at an art school, I continued to paint as soon as I returned home. That’s why it’s small wonder that I became an illustrator. Moreover, I’ve got a creative family. My mother is a costume designer from Ivano-Frankivsk music and drama theatre named after Ivan Franko, and my father is an interior designer. I was surrounded by creativity from childhood. That made me who I am at present.
My soul searching began after I left school. At last, I decided to become a fashion designer and choose mom’s occupation because I was really inspired by what did she do. That’ why I enrolled at a college at first. Then I got into Ivano-Frankivsk art institute. I managed to create two collections of clothes and present them at contests as well as a local catwalk for beginners. But I found no joy in fashion design. So, I turned to studying graphic editors on my own.
I started from Photoshop and a few other applications for illustrators as is customary. I commenced indulging in classic graphic design. I created logos, menus, and posters. I also helped my friends with branding. At first, I volunteered. Then the hobby became profitable.
For that matter, work of graphic designer has to do more with technical issues. That’s why I returned to self-education. I already went in for illustration, so, I tried to improve the related skills. I love color experiments and a search of the ideal composition.
Later I happened to get a graphic tablet that enabled me to mix graphics with free-hand drawings. It’s not comfortable to create an illustration using PC mouse. You don’t feel how your hand moves. You don’t sense how it repeats movements required by illustration. And drawing means that sensation is above all. That’s how I found my favorite occupation and became an illustrator.
Finding True Self
When you do what you love, people notice it. That’s why I receive more and more orders for illustrations. I started to work at ‘Teple Misto’ and ‘Urban Space 100’. The latter is a public Ivano-Frankivsk restaurant founded by 100 active persons united around the idea of urban space quality development. I created posters and menus for ‘Urban Space 100’. This place hosts many events. Sometimes I had to draw 4-5 posters a week, and it’s a time-consuming task.
Time passed, and I wondered how illustration can be mixed with modern technologies and trends. I saw that animation allows me to do this in the best possible way. It happened that there are many free resources helping to create it. I studied ABC and needful applications during summer. I’ve also made my first animation and uploaded it to Dribbble, a platform meant for graphic designers and animators.
I was not self-confident when I started to animate. It seemed that there were enough animators on Earth and they managed to animate much better than me. Yet, I found my first customers from the USA, UAE, and Europe on Dribbble. An animator often creates content for mobile apps and sites. That’s what I started to do.
I understood that cartoons make one feel as a child again and bring joy. Both kids and adults love to watch them. This idea pleases me very much. My approach to animation is very serious. That’s why I’ve got an important rule: I vehemently refused to animate images drawn by another person because otherwise, it affects the quality of my animations.
My soul searching lasted for a long time, but when I’m asked about my occupation now, I confidently answer that I’m an animator and an illustrator.
Freelancer’s Way to Work
Solitude is peculiar to freelancer’s work. You are at home for the most part. No new friends. All communication happens in a virtual world.
I became a freelancer after moving to the Netherlands. I used to work remotely at ‘Urban Space 100’ for a while. I decided to change something ultimately. So, I quitted the job. I switched to freelancing while continuing to seek for a job. However, job placement is rather simple there, and luck factor is important. Animated images are created at the small studios situated at flats with 5-6 friends that co-work without an obligatory license. I could not co-operate with them since they would not simply sign a contract with me.
In turn, giant studios had a huge list of requirements for office seekers. This job demands not only for tremendous experience but also perfect Dutch language. And the language is not a simple one. They refuse to hire largely due to poor knowledge of Dutch. I returned to Ukraine after spending two years in the Netherlands at last, and I had a solid freelancer’s portfolio.
How much time do I need to create one animation? It entirely depends on execution difficulty and client corrections. It may take 2-3 hours to make a work of art that does not have a lot of details. Animation takes 1 extra hour. There are tasks that may require a week, though. I use various PC editors, while I use free-hand technique only in the case of illustrations.
Philosophy of Life
My philosophy is the following: if you want something, the Universe will aid you. Time passed, and I wanted to try working in a team since I wished to socialize more. And my job found me in the long run. Once I received an offer to work as an illustrator at an IT company. At first, I thought that this job does not suit me very well since I wanted creativity, I wished realization of non-ordinary and crazy ideas. But today I am content with my job and I don’t want to quit it. Our team is great.
My philosophy is the following: if you want something, the Universe will aid you
I’d like to be on the same page with my colleagues and understand them. That’s what I missed for a long time. Nowadays I feel as if I am a family member.
George Lucas and Strange Orders
Once I received an order for 3-second animation from Edutopia educational platform. It was meant for the festival caused by having 1 000 000 Facebook subscribers. I decided to know more about this site. It turned out that it had been founded by George Lucas, the author of ‘Star Wars’. A chance to work with incredible persons is a benefit of freelancing. That’s almost impossible for a corporate employee.
I had very different orders. For example, I created visual content for Saudi Arabia customer and his Swifty application. It was a large-scale project that lasted for 4 months. It was a very interesting experience, and I learned various techniques enabling to create animations for phone apps. It was really incredible! That’s why I am not a big fan of making logos.
I had my own disasters like everyone else. Once I was introduced to some American. I was supposed to create animation for his logo. It was the first time when I’ve used liquid animation technique. It’s all about drops of paints that fly around the screen and then merge into a single shape of the logo. I liked it then. The customer reacted with one slang word translated as “very cool”. I considered him an ideal client since he liked everything I did and sent no edits at all. I was very glad to co-operate with him, too. So, I emailed my payment details. Yet, he wrote that none of his colleagues liked my work after a few hours. They paid, but the situation was not pleasant.
It’s my colleagues who inspire me. As for Ukrainian illustrators, I discovered Sergei Maidukov recently. I tried to imitate his style, but it’s very hard to draw like this. His works are hand-made and then passed on for finalization. His sense of composition is captivating.
As for animators, Markus Magnusson amazes me. He works with wide-known companies such as Google or Dropbox. He is from Sweden, and I was even lucky enough to communicate with him a bit. He is a very easy-going person as it turned out although he is one of the world known animators.
I draw tons of inspiration from work of Ryan Putnam from San Francisco, Karolis Strautniekas from Vilnius, Fonzy Nils from London, Eran Mendel from Israel and others. Also, there are some animation studios who’re doing incredible work, for example, Wonderlust, Anchor Point, MUTI, Cub Studio, Animade etc.
Quest for a Style
They often tell me that I developed my own style. Colleagues assure that when they see 2 illustrations, they inevitably recognize my picture. The quest for a style lasts for years, even for a lifetime sometimes. I’ll be very happy when I’ll see my work and understand that it’s my style that will never change. But I’ll keep trying new techniques, color expression, and new compositions until that time. I mix illustration with water color.
I like drawing people, to make portraits of fictional characters with invented faces, clothes, and tempers. I’m often told that these characters have my face. Indeed, I must have added some of my traits. I combine a few tempers, facial features of several persons in my illustrations, and I like the mix.
Right Way to Take Criticism
When you spend a lot of time on making an illustration, drawing or animation, these works become something you cherish. They often send edits to illustrator and ask to improve a work. But how dare them to criticize my “child”? How dare them to criticize me? I used to treat it as a personal insult. I often used to think that I lack talent.
But it was childish behavior. Now I see that people go negative not on me personally and even not on my work. A man just wants to see something else, needs something different. These thoughts are very helpful when I work.
Magic in Animation
I learn animation all the time. Nevertheless, I feel a need to develop. There is an inner urge to focus on it. I begin to animate at times, and the process becomes so all-absorbing that I lose touch with reality. Almost the same happens when I paint using water colors.
Animation is magical. It’s a quest for an illustrator. I close my eyes before creating it and try to imagine its movements. That’s how I see the end result.
Sometimes I watch my animation and wonder how I could manage to do it. Sometimes animation is pure magic, shamanic practice despite all the technologies. It’s an adventure, dynamics, action
But there is also a road to its achievement. And you don’t see this road until you make a new illustration. You don’t know how to make your way through. I am not aware even of available tools or effects required to create the end result. To re-create what you’ve imagined is a sort of challenge. But when you sit and focus on your work, it seems that it leads you by itself. Sometimes I watch my animation and wonder how I could manage to do it. Sometimes animation is pure magic, shamanic practice despite all the technologies. It’s an adventure, dynamics, action. That’s what makes it so interesting.
With illustration it’s different. It’s more meditative. Working with paints seems to be organic, natural, tactile. When I merely paint, it feels like I’m dancing. Firstly sense of future image arise somewhere in my chest and then it incarnates through movement of my arm.
Making illustrations and animations inspire me. These are the things, which helped me to find my true self. That’s the reason why I’ll evolution in this area. The perfect scenario for me is a mix of animation and social topics. For example, I worry about the problem of environmental pollution, killing of animals (I do not eat meat) for the sake of their fur or out of lab requirements. I wish to create animated projects that would explain environmental issues.
Do I feel successful? Can I masterfully say yes? (She laughs) I managed to cope with all the stuff comparatively fast somehow. I’ve got a lot of elder acquaintances whose soul-searching is not over.
I am under 25, but I already confident about what I really want and what is my true calling. I have a strong feeling that I’m on a right way in this life. I think I found my own instrument to make the world a little bit better. So, if you can call it success, then I am a successful person.