Sunday, July 25, 2010

artist feature: kira shaimanova

i was introduced to kira's work through one of my friends.  i fell in love with this:

"sweet talk"

i started following kira's blog and was inspired by her passion and patience in creating these wonderful 3d illustrations.  she is a very talented canadian, whose hands create the most unique and beautifully haunting pieces of art! 

let's learn more about kira shaimanova!

CD (me):  where are you from, and what made you love what you do?

KS (kira shaimanova):  i'm a toronto illustrator, but i originated from russia.  i'm practically canadian, since i moved here at the young age of five.  i always knew i wanted to be an artist of some sort, and had an interest in sculpture way back in high school.  i had the hardest time trying to find my own unique style.  i was going back and forth between different mediums like acrylic and oil paint, to ink pen, and mix media pieces for years on end.  while in university, i took a class outside of school during the summer - simply for fun.  it was a doll making class that lasted for about a month.  as i started making the head of my doll, i thought, "oh my God!  this is it, this is what i'm going to do".  i fell in love instantly.  i found a way to incorporate these doll characters into sets and photograph them into an illustration form.

 "big hero"

CD:  what drew you into the world of art?  do you have any childhood memories about it?

KS:  my mother was an artist way before me, so i guess you can say i have the artist gene in my family.  although my mother didn't continue her art career and stopped in her early 20's, i was motivated to make this career happen.  my parents got to see my art flourish throughout the years, like early on in elementary school, teachers would approach my mom and tell her i have a talent for art.  they would compare my drawings to other students in the class.

"helping hand"

CD:  how did your studies influence you and your work?

KS:  school definitely helped my development as an artist.  i got to learn all types of mediums and find out what it is i loved to draw.  i am also a big fan of art history classes.  i've taken them all throughout  high school and university.  it is a great benefit to learn about past artists and how various types of art and genres came to be.

"freshly cut bouquet"

CD:   what is your approach to designing and creating your artwork?

KS:  for me, starting a piece of artwork is all about a great concept and a visually intriguing image.   once i have my idea, way before my sketch even comes along, i like to get a rough picture in my mind of lighting and the mood of the piece.  the mood is quite important to me, because people react to colors and how bright and vibrant a piece is versus a mysterious take on an image.  then, i can figure out my composition, and try many variations of the same sketch until i come along something that's visually intriguing.  i try not to do too many sketches of the characters because i love experimenting with their expressions when i start the sculpting process.

"save the prey"

CD:  what is/are your favorite medium/s to work with?

KS:  my favorite, believe it or not, is working with acrylic paint and getting to paint the dolls.  the sculpting process is my second favorite, but actually seeing the little people come to life is amazing.  i never really know what color eyes or hair they'll have in the end.  i just go with the flow, and get a vibe of what details each character needs.

CD:  can you describe your process in creating a 3D illustration and the final photo?

  1. concept and sketch
  2. sculpt or make the heads first (a few layers of clay)
  3. create the bodies while the heads dry
  4. hands and feet are last, they are added after the body is dry
  5. the dolls are all sanded down to get the smooth skin
  6. they get painted, and details are added:  hair, eye lashes, etc.
  7. the clothing is sewn or glued together
  8. the background and set gets created with practically anything (shoe boxes, cardboard, wood, etc.)
  9. then i need to figure out the lighting i pictured in my mind
  10. i shoot the piece about 2-3 different times, with different lighting approaches until i am happy with the result
kira's creative space:

work in progress, sculpting the head of ella for "cooking with heart":

details added after the head is dry:

the finished product:
 "cooking with heart"
    CD:  aside form the project being part of your thesis at school, what drove you to create the "chivalry is dead" series?  what was your inspiration?

    KS:  for the thesis, we had to come up with 3 different concept ideas to propose to the professors at the beginning of the 4th year.  in the summer time, i had an idea of doing something with chivalry - how everyone  claims chivalry is dead in today's day and age.  i couldn't think of a unique twist on the concept, so i dropped the idea.  after submitting about 7 different ideas, over a 2 week period, my professor, jody hewgill, a well known illustrator, had rejected everything claiming it wasn't strong enough, or it's been done before.  on the last day of proposing ideas, it just came to me and the end of class to mix chivalry with zombies.  so in the end, my concept from the summer time finally clicked in my mind.

     "portrait of a lady with fox" by jody hewgill

    CD:  do you have a favorite among your sculptural illustrations?  which one is it?  what's the story behind it?

    KS:  i love the second piece i did in series, called " be my umbrella".  this piece is showing chivalry to animals, birds in this case, versus only showing acts of kindness towards others.  normally, the scenario would be a gentleman holding an umbrella over his lover to protect her from the rain.  in this case, the zombie's coat is the shelter, and the ribs are in a form of a cage, a safe haven for the birds.

    "be my umbrella"

    CD:  are there any artists that inspire you to create?  if so, who are they? and why?

    KS:  oh, i have plenty of artist that inspire me.  i do wish that one day to reach the success that chris sickels has, or liz lomax - both sculpture illustrators.  i found out about them, after i started my sculpture illustration venture.  it's nice to see different approaches to sculpture illustration.  although, we all use similar mediums, the styles are all so distinctive.  sickel's and lomax's characters and settings are all so unique, and wonderful to look at (versus 2D art).  i think it's definitely time for the world to see new forms of illustration.  sickels and lomax are pretty much the foremost founders of this new style of art.

     "the seeder" by chris sickels

    "the tooth fairy" by liz lomax

    CD:  could you give us five words to describe yourself?

    KS:  driven, friendly, punctual, easy-going, and goofy.

    CD:  can you tell us something funny that happened to you recently?

    KS:  druing my graduation, i was supposed to walk over to shake hands with the dean of OCAD university, and two other honorary doctorates on stage, but as soon as they called my name and got on stage,  i turned to anita kunz, who was also on stage, and waved to her instead.  i was so happy she came to my graduation, and i got to talk to her after the ceremony, such a sweet lady and a brilliant artist.

    "the puppet master" by anita kunz

    CD:  what is your favorite or most inspirational place?

    KS:  i don't have a specific place, but it's anywhere, around creative people.  i get really inspired being around other artists, and seeing what projects they're working on.  it makes you more driven.  it's totally different socializing with people outside the creative field.  people in the arts think alike, and bond easily, we all see the world in a different light, it's a very beautiful thing.

    detail of frames from "mop head"

    CD:  what keeps you motivated and what made you realize that this was your calling?

    KS:  i like to get to know working artists/illustrators in the field.  seeing what they've gone through when they've started out, and how they were able to reach their goals.  it's motivating to know that if your follow their lead, you can make it too.

    i realized art was my calling around the time i was in high school.  i had been doing art all of my life, but on the side, i did modelling for 3 years, dance classes for 5 years, and competitive figure skating for 10 years.  i slowly dropped out of everything, because i knew i wasn't passionate about dance and skating, as i was passionate about art.  i didn't exactly know where i was going to go with it, but i knew i needed to continue, and only focus on art.

     "mop head"

    CD:  could you share some of your goals with us?  future projects, etc.?

    KS:   i just want to be a successful illustrator, and artist.  i want to inspire other to follow their artistic dreams.  i have the most respect for people who chose an artistic career, over a 9-5 job they hate for the rest of their lives.  if you love it, and it makes you so happy, why not create, for life.

     "lady gaga superstar"

    as for future projects, a group of illustrators and i are planning a group show for the late 2010, or early 2011.  it will be a themed show that's in the works.

     "friday night poker"

    CD:  do you have any advice for all aspiring artists?

    KS:  think of your career as a marriage, a life-long commitment.  there will always be ups and downs, but in the end if you really love it, it is worth working hard for, and you end up learning something new each day.  i still haven't made it to the top, but i will do anything to get there.  you just need to keep creating non-stop, and learn from the people who are already in the position you wish to be in, one day.  everyone has an e-mail address, don't be afraid to ask for advice.

    to see more of kira's work and stay updated on her new creations visit the following links:




    i hope you enjoyed this interview.  happy sunday everyone!
    xo, carla

    all images in this post are courtesy and with the permission of kira shaimanova.  if you wish to re-blog or publish this photo at any photo sharing websites, please contact her at kira@kirashaimanova.comthank you!


    The Words Crafter said...

    Um, WOW!!! Thanks for posting the interview and introducing Kira to us. Her art is amazing, strange, beautiful, and insightful. Again, WOW!

    Amanda Atkins said...

    this is so inspiring! Thank you for sharing her with us, Carla! :)

    Tintwo said...

    wow super talented and creative!

    laughingwolf said...

    all are amazing! :)

    Cynthia Llarena said...

    wow! i've definitely never seen anything like it, so eerie and yet so beautiful at the same time.

    Sandy a la Mode said...

    wow, kira is SUPER SUPER talented!! these look like they require soo much detail and i love how they are 3D!!

    CMZ Art/ Rustic Goth said...

    What a wonderful artist! Thanks so much for sharing her interesting creations!