Olga Borodkina

Olga Borodkina

Olga Borodkina Interview

Olga Borodkina

Children's Illustrator

Have you always loved to draw?

I liked to doodle when I was at school - I would cover the margins of my notebooks with patterns, flowers and cat faces. The funny thing is that I completely forgot this fact. When I posted my first illustrations on instagram a few years ago, my friend said, 'Hey, you used to doodle all the time at school, remember? I knew you had to pursue a creative career'. So I guess I can say I've always loved to draw even though I don't quite remember it.

Animals feature heavily in children’s books – do you have a pet?

I've got a cat!

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

I'm a self-taught artist. I learnt everything I know watching videos of differnet artists creating their works on Instagram and YouTube .  I did an online course on illustration a year ago, which was a great experience - I felt a part of the creative community surrounded by so many talented people and guided by some amazing teachers. 

What was your first commission as a professional illustrator?

A friend of mine asked me to create a cover for his single album. To tell the truth, I was so surprised, I had to ask a few times if he really wanted an illustration in my style to represent a rock song. But he was absolutely serious about it and this is how I got my first serious commission.

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Do you keep a sketch book?

Yes! This is a thing I carry around all the time.

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

I would normally redraw the same character again and again until I know that I absolutely love it. Even if there' s one small thing  - the shape of the tail or the ears or the outfit - that I'm not 100% happy with, I will keep changing it until I know that this is it. 

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Share your favourite piece of artwork from your portfolio and walk us through its creation.

This piece is from my upcoming book Ruper the Cat, it's called 'Partners in Crime'.

The story behind this illustration is the cat and the mouse trying to steal a book to bake an apple pie (spoiler: they will return it in the end). I love the atmosphere of this piece - I think it's intense but also funny at the same time. The main focus of the illustration is the bright window - this is what the readers will notice first. Then their eyes will move to the cat and the mouse as they will be figuring out what is going on in the picture. There are not so many details in this illustration, but I trued to make the background interesting and cozy using soft colours and adding greens to balance the brownish-redish colours of the brick wall.

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When you are not drawing, how do you like to relax?

Playing with my cat is one of my favourite things to do when I'm not working - she's always lots of fun to watch and interact with. I also like taking long walks - it helps me think clearly and get new ideas. I love reading too - I usually have several books to read depending on my mood and how tired I am.

If you weren’t an illustrator, what would you be doing?

Difficult question. I'd probably be an illustrator anyway cause I cannot imagine a different life for me - I absolutely love what I'm doing.

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What advice would you offer someone just starting out as a children’s illustrator?

Believe in yourself. You can absolutely do it. There's room for you. Your style will develop over time through practice and it will be as unique as you are. Compare yourself to yourself a year ago, not to other artists. Get off social media when it stops motivating you. Find a community. Only share your work with people who support and encourage you. Don't copy. Be yourself.

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