Anastasiya Halionka

Anastasiya Halionka

Anastasiya Halionka Interview

Anastasiya Halionka

Children's Illustrator

Who or what made you want to become an illustrator?

At the age of 27, after several years of working in the office, I thought that I would like to do something that would bring me not only money but also pleasure. I loved drawing and making up stories as a child, so I decided to continue doing this as an adult, despite the fact that few of my relatives supported me.

How and why did you decide to pursue illustration as your career?

I've always loved going to bookstores, where you're surrounded by beautiful colorful books. I thought that someone was drawing these books, and since I loved to draw and invent stories as a child, why shouldn't I do it seriously also? Today this is my main job. I take it very seriously and I know the value of my work and my invested efforts.

Did you attend art school or undertake any other formal artistic training?

I am an absolute self-taught illustrator. I gained all my experience and all my skills thanks to daily drawing, analyzing the work of my colleagues and a frenzied desire to create beauty.

Where do you currently live and where did you grow up?

Now I live in Poland in the beautiful city of Wroclaw with my family, but I was born and grow up in Belarus. Wroclaw is a beautiful city, there is a very creative atmosphere here. The city even has its own symbol-a dwarf. You can find different dwarfs in different situations around the city. For example, there is a dwarf professor standing near the university.

Was creativity part of your childhood?

As a child, I always drew, cut, and invented something. With friends, I invented stories, and characters and then played plays on an improvised stage for our parents. In addition, I loved to read especially books about elves and wizards, I imagined myself as one of the characters. In all these books, of course, I was a kind, brave character, someone who brings good to the world and protects the weak.

Have you always loved to draw?

I can't say that I spent days and nights as a child drawing, but I was constantly painting my mother's wallpaper. Most of all I liked to invent characters and their stories. That's probably why when reading the texts of the books that I plan to illustrate, I immediately see a picture, which then turns into a colorful illustration. I have no problems with imagination.

Who or what have been some of your major artistic influences?

My main inspiration was and remains Susan Batori, her characters, colors, and textures inspire and delight me. I am also inspired by Elina Ellis. I am delighted with her characters and her ability to create unusual book spreads.

What do you do in your spare time?

I'm a mom, so I don't have as much free time as I would like. But recently I decided to find a hobby and started sewing soft toys. Although I have never sewed anything except buttons on my husband's shirts, sewing relaxes me very much.

Which books from your own childhood really stand out?

My favorite books from childhood: "Carlson on the roof", "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and The Little Prince

Do you have a favourite picture book or recall one of the first picture books you saw?

I can't name any one book as my favorite. In every book, in every illustration, I find something that I like. For example, the work of Isabelle Arsenault, I like her graphic illustrations and the way she works with color. Natalia Shaloshvili's books, they're just cute. I admire her stories and her characters, I look at her illustrations and I also want to try to draw with acrylics and pencils

Who or what has been your greatest mentor?

I don't have mentors. I don't even know if I need it. I am glad that at the present time I can turn to any illustrator with any questions that interest me, it is enough just to write. The illustrators are so nice and friendly.

What was your first commission as a professional illustrator?

One day a girl from the USA wrote to me on Instagram that she would like to buy a picture that she saw in my profile. It's funny that it was a watercolor of not very good quality since I was just learning to draw. In addition, this picture was in another country, and it was a whole adventure to send it to the USA, but it seems the client was satisfied.

Describe your working technique and how you came to perfect it.

I draw my illustrations in Photoshop. I chose 2-3 brushes and have been painting only with them for several years now. Recently, I started using textures of various objects in my illustrations (stones, fabrics). But recently it seemed to me that my illustrations are flat and I want to somehow enliven them, and add more light and warmth. I try to achieve this effect with the help of various overlay modes (which I was afraid to use before).

What piece of software or hardware could you not live without and why?

I would not be able to live and create without the main thing - without my brain. I think it doesn't matter what you draw with, pencil or paint, on paper or in Photoshop. The main thing is how you use it, and what happens in the end.

What is your favourite medium to work with and why?

I create all my illustrations in Photoshop, but I really want to work with acrylics and pencils. Working with paints is like meditation for me. You can sit at the easel and drive the brush endlessly.

Do you keep a sketch book?

I use a sketchbook when I'm on the road and need to work, but I try not to show it to anyone. My sketchbook is chaotic and nothing is clear, although it is very convenient to search for character or write down my ideas related to the project I am working on. The rest of the time I prefer to draw on the computer.

How many times do you tend to draw a character until you are happy with it?

In fact, sometimes I draw a character and I immediately like him and I use him in illustrations, and sometimes I have to search for a long time until I find a suitable one. Sometimes you need to leave the character for a while, then come back and see what was missing.

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Tell us about the creation of your favourite character from one of your books.

One of my favorite characters is the elephant Trunks Maloo. It was so funny to create it. I started the process of creating a character with a selection of references on Pinterest. And then pure creativity. I tried to come up with something cute and funny, at the same time I wanted the children to be able to understand without a doubt that there was an elephant in front of them and not something incomprehensible.

Which project has been most instrumental in developing your personal style?

I think after drawing "Trunks Maloo" I realized which way I need to move to get closer to what I wanted. But I try to develop my style and try something new in every new project (drawing techniques, brushes, etc.)

Do you offer more than one style, if so – talk us through the different approaches and the audience you are targeting for each.

I try to stick to one style for children's books and develop in it.

Have you ever thought about trying out a different technique or a different style?

I would like to eventually draw books not only for very young children but also for teenagers. I always want to try something new. I believe that only by going beyond the usual and habitual, we develop

How long does it take on average for you to finish a spread, from initial sketch to final colour?

It all depends on the complexity of the illustration. One book spread with a lot of details, and background and with one or two characters takes 10-12 hours. Most of the time is spent on drawing sketches and searching for a suitable color palette. When the palette and sketches are agreed, it remains to paint the illustrations, this is probably the most meditative and enjoyable activity.

What do you hope children take away from your drawings?

I hope my illustrations will warm you up, amuse you, and show you that everything is possible. My character shows children that you don't need to doubt yourself, your dreams, you need to be friendly and the world will respond in the same way.

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