How long have you been working as an illustrator?
I have been working as an illustrator for more than 3 years now.
Do you have any formal training or did you teach yourself?
Yes, I do have a formal training. I finished the Ukrainian Academy of Printing.
Do you only do contract work or do you also have your own projects?
Mostly, I do contract work. Currently, I’m not working on a big project. But I post my personal drawings on Instagram. You can find me under the handle @cute_miuu
What does your typical work day as an illustrator look like?
I have developed a routine and start working by 10 am. First, I reply to emails and write a to-do list. Usually, I do sketches in the first half of the day. Then, I color illustrations till 6pm. If necessary I work longer.
Are you a full-time illustrator?
Yes, I am a full-time illustrator.
What’s the best thing about illustrating a book?
The best part is reading the story for the first time and imagine all the characters and scenes. This always makes me excited.
What is the most difficult part when illustrating a book?
To be honest, I don’t feel like there is a difficult part. To me, every step is interesting and fun.
What was the most challenging part when illustrating The Tree and the Girl?
It was getting the death character look appropriate for kids and scary at the same time. It was a real challenge to tone the scariness down. Death looked much scarier in my imagination than in the end result. Though it was challenging, drawing Death was fun, too.
What did you like most about The Tree and the Girl?
I loved the story as a whole, but especially the fact that it’s not your usual sweet tale. The Tree and the Girl is a story about life and death.
What illustration within the book are you most proud of?
My favorite spread is the one on pages 18-19. This spread looks the most emotional to me.
What can authors do to prepare their work so the illustration process goes smoothly?
The more details an illustrator gets the better. Think about the amount of drawings the book needs to have. If you have any specific scenes in mind or already know how you want the characters to look like, give this information to your illustrator. All this helps a ton. The most important part of the process is communication. Feel free to share all your thoughts and suggestions with your illustrator.
What’s your process when illustrating a book?
Mostly, I start sketching the first spreads of the book and send the sketches to the author, so she can check them and give me feedback. If necessary, I make changes to characters and use the results to move forward. When all sketches are ready and approved, I start coloring. Usually, I do the illustrations in order, one after another. Of course, I do have my favorite spreads. However, I try to illustrate every spread as if it were my favorite.
How exactly do you illustrate?
If the customer wants her illustrations done in watercolor, I work on paper first: I sketch on paper, then transfer the sketches to watercolor paper, and color them. Afterward, I scan everything and do the edits on my computer. If customer wants digital illustrations, I do all necessary steps on my computer.
Which program do you use to illustrate?
I use PaintTool SAI.
What tips do you have for illustrators-to-be?
I would recommend drawing daily. It does not matter what you draw – just sketch or draw things you like, or things which you find the hardest to draw. Practice is the most important. Also, try different mediums so you can find the one you like best.
What work are you most proud of so far?
This must be the Little Miss A series I did on my instagram. It’s about a little girl in apocalyptic world. I just feel huge connection of her and am very satisfied how the illustrations look.
More books with illustrations by Anastasia Khmelevska
Back to the German version of this interview.