Evgenia Malina Illustrator from Woking, England


What brought you to illustration?

I was thinking about being an art restorer or cartoonist, but the era of digital printing kicked off and I began my career as a graphic designer. It was a great experience, I have learned a lot and met many wonderful people, but it was not exactly what I wanted. I like drawing characters, emotions and I like watching people and animals, how they move and interact. These days an illustrator can work for anyone, anywhere in the world, and can send the product to a customer in one click, which is awesome. So I decided to change my career to illustrating and here I am, creating universes and ruling destinies in the little studio with a garden view.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

I am privileged to work from home, so I start late after a pleasant and unhurried routine that helps me to get into a working mood. I normally make a plan the day before. Surprisingly the big part of my work is not drawing. Marketing, research and promotion in social media take about half of my time. I share the studio with my partner, thank God he is not an artist and does not need that much room as I do with all my art supplies :) At lunch time we take a walk in the nearest park. I work till about 8 PM leaving time for dinner, movie or reading a book. I used to go for sketching before the quarantine time, and it feels like it was ages ago now.

Illustration from Evgenia Malina's "Foxotherapy" calendar 2019

Illustration from Evgenia Malina's "Foxotherapy" calendar 2019

Are there any illustrators who influenced/influence you?

All illustrators I admire influence me, I love illustrations that look spontaneous and a little childish. I learn from Beatrice Alemagna, Quentin Blake, May Miturich, Isabelle Arsenault, Anita Jeram, Tove Jansson and many others. I collect illustrations in Pinterest and study closely the ones I like most.

What was your very first illustration?

It was probably my comic book I made when I was 8 or 9. It was about my grandpa assembling the flat pack kitchen furniture. He was captured by the process talking emotionally to screws and various parts of the furniture, taking expressive poses and forgot about me sitting in the room. Having this story unfolding right in front of me I could not miss the opportunity to sketch it. Reaction of my family was priceless, for the first time I realised that my drawings can make people laugh, and grandpa laughed too. My mum still has this “masterpiece” in her archive.

What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas from?

I do not know if I can call it inspiration. Every new project begins with research: reference pictures, historical information about the time when the story occurs, I try techniques, study examples, choose colour schemes. Then I might need to take a break to assimilate it all, and then I know what I am doing. Or sometimes I see it straight away and have no idea where it comes from, my previous life experience I guess.

Evgenia Malina's "Oscar"

Evgenia Malina's "Oscar"

Do you like listening to music or audio books while working or do you prefer silence?

It depends on the task I work on. I write this and any other text in silence listening only to birds twittering outside. And might listen to neutral background music, there are many on Youtube like Chillhop music channel.

Do you have a favourite place to work?

The main working place is the studio. Sometimes I take my laptop and move somewhere else in the house, kitchen or lounge just for change. There is a big french window in the sunny lounge, I think it is going to be my favorite place for summer.

Is there a particular story you would love to illustrate?

Something lighthearted and funny, timeless, kind and wise.

Illustration from Evgenia Malina's "Foxotherapy" calendar 2019

Illustration from Evgenia Malina's "Foxotherapy" calendar 2019

What was your favourite illustration you have made so far?

They are all my children and I love them all. On the other hand, as I practice my drawing,

I learn new things with every project and improve, and when I look back at some of my pictures I see what could be done better. I like the bunch of foxes I created for the Foxotherapy calendar, for example, but now when I look at them I would like to rework some, and I probably will.

What can you be found doing when you're not illustrating?

I would love to say travelling, but not these days of the worldwide quarantine. Browsing, watching, reading. I like reading memoirs and history. Watching illustrators interviews and studio tours. And cooking, which is a creative process as well when it is not an everyday duty.

Illustration from the "Bear Hugs" calendar 2018

Illustration from the "Bear Hugs" calendar 2018

What makes the art of illustrating special to you?

I never thought about it before I began illustrating myself. Illustrating is like making a movie, but you are the whole team in one — you do all casting, costume making, environment, camera angles, style, colours. Every project is a different journey, exciting and intriguing, there are always new discoveries, always something new to learn.

What makes a good illustrator?

Imagination, curiosity and practice.

Illustration from Evgenia Malina's own project reflecting what is happening during the global lockdown.

Illustration from Evgenia Malina's own project reflecting what is happening during the global lockdown.

Do you struggle sometimes? Do you have to motivate yourself, and if so, what helps? Is there a kind of "illustrator's block?"

I do. Sometimes it is just tiredness, so good sleep, nice meal and walk would help. If not that, I would just carry on spoiling paper and at some point the desired image will come.