Thus, gradually and quite naturally, Iva became a master of the fine arts, also working as a sculptor, author and illustrator of several books, including Six Stories,The Badger and the Lonely Oak and Unloved Toys, all part of the catalog of Begemot publishing house, which she runs with her husband Nikolai Grozni
Iva Sasheva had her first solo exhibition when she was only thirteen years old. This paved the way for several solo and group exhibitions in Europe and America. Thus, gradually and quite naturally, Iva became a master of the fine arts, also working as a sculptor, author and illustrator of several books, including Six Stories,The Badger and the Lonely Oakand Unloved Toys, all part of the catalog of Begemot publishing house, which she runs with her husband Nikolai Grozni (begemotbooks.com). She has worked as an artist on more than twenty-five feature films, and has collaborated with other authors on novels, graphic novels, and numerous children's books for publishers around the world. In December, she published her third book, InVisible Heroes, whose launch was accompanied by an exhibition. You can see it until January 15 at the SOHO green house.
You are an artist, author, book illustrator and sculptor. Where do you feel most comfortable?
Fortunately, the answer is nowhere, and this gives me the opportunity to keep growing. I think that confidence brings you comfort, but you cannot make art in comfort. Of course, it is important to have a good knowledge of techniques and materials so that you can better express your ideas.
What kind of stories inspire you?
Stories you can grow up with and grow old with. Stories in which you can hide or be revealed, with which you can be alone, and those that you find for yourself and can't wait to share with others.
What is your favorite aspect of the work of illustrating books?
The actual execution is a pleasure because I always know what I want to accomplish, even if I end up making changes to it. Whereas the beginning, when I have to make all the important decisions about the composition of the illustrations, how they interact with the text, and what the characters will look like, requires the greatest concentration. The most precious part of the process, of course, is when I get lost in the fairytale world of my characters.
How do you balance your own projects with working remotely for commercial clients in the USA?
My work with commercial clients has to do with visualizing ideas. I also do this in my personal projects, though there is a huge difference in the type of ideas and their style. Resetting, getting out of the commercial world and back into the fantasy world takes a lot of effort, and that can sometimes slow down my personal work, but I'm always happy when I'm painting.
Why did your family decide to start its own independent publishing house?
Publishing through Begemot gives us more independence and control over the books. So far, all our publications have been financed using personal funds, but this helps make our books more unique, because we do not have to compromise for commercial reasons. I hope we can make this last and that our books can find a loyal audience.
There are some classic images that have put down anchors in the minds of readers, do you think they should be allowed to remain unchanged or do you believe they should change?
I believe that every author has the right to interpret reality according to their own sensibilities. The main thing for me when I'm painting or when I look at other people's work, is whether this is a world I want to go to and then stay there. Sometimes a perfectly drawn "classic" work can be so self-sufficient that the viewer's path to the world it represents is completely closed off. There is no room for imagination and the viewer becomes a consumer instead of a participant.
What do you think of the expression "Don't judge a book by its cover"?
A brilliant text can sink into oblivion forever because its cover is plain or unsightly. On the other hand, an attractive cover can be frustrating if it conceals meaningless content. If we judge by appearances, we will make a lot mistakes. This is part of the message of Unloved Toys.
Who are the characters in your books and do they resemble you in any way?
I'd like to think that the characters in my books are individualists, one-of-a-kind eccentrics, but at the same time that their joys and sorrows are universal. Their qualities are not foreign to me. Maybe I'm all of my characters and none of them.
They seem to keep their distance from the crowd, from the world around them. Do you yourself love solitude, and does that help or hinder your work?
I was quite young when I found a book without a cover in the backyard of an abandoned high school. It was Oscar Wilde's A House of Pomegranates, published perhaps in the early years of the twentieth century. I will quote the words that changed my life then, and which continue to define me to this day: “... but more often he would be alone, feeling through a certain quick instinct, which was almost a divination, that the secrets of art are best learned in secret, and that Beauty, like Wisdom, loves the lonely worshipper.”
Who are some of the "invisible characters" around you?
I know a gentleman with a red nose and a funny mustache. It turned out that he was the cook in a kitchen for the poor. I also know an unassuming woman who takes care of children without parents. I know a child who gave his lunch to a stray kitten yesterday. I know a father who works three shifts so that his children can grow up smiling. There are not enough blank pages in the world to write all of their stories.
Does mood have a color and what color is yours at the moment?
I live inside a rainbow of colors and moods.
What dream are you still pursuing?
I dream of peace and quiet, and time for contemplation.
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