Svitlana Holovchenko transports us into her spectacular imaginary worlds through her breath-taking childrens book illustrations. Her characters are imbued with a special kind of vitality and lifeforce that entices us to learn more about them and to travel with them through their life journeys. She creates incredibly beautiful, happy imagery that radiates positive and uplifting emotions. Svitlana is a master at being able to express feelings and moods through her characters and imaginary places. What a great gift she has to share with us, she is bringing so much joy into the world.
This interview is my humble contribution towards sharing Svitlana Holovchenko’s work with an even wider audience, to help celebrate the incredible gift she has nurtured into fruition over many years of her life. Her dedication to a love of drawing and illustrating is awe-inspiring. It’s with my great pleasure that I present to you this interview with the master illustrator Svitlana Holovchenko. Here you can learn more about who she is and where she has come from.
Interview with Svitlana Holovchenko by Cindy Wider
Q: Please tell us your preferred art name year of birth and Country of origin
A: I was born in Donetsk, Ukraine in 1966. At that time Ukraine was a republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, (U.S.S.R.) Throughout my life I have lived in multiple cities and countries throughout the former U.S.S.R. I currently, however, live in Germany.
Creating Her Own Happy Worlds to Escape Lonliness
Q: Svitlana, could you tell us when you first realised that you enjoyed creating art as a child and you were supported in your decision, if so by who?
A: As a five-year-old child, I found myself far from my home and from my parents. I was there for half a year and felt so lonely. I didn’t like what was around me and I wanted to change that. Once I thought that I could create my own beautiful and happy world for myself. I sat at the table in the courtyard, took paper and colored pencils and drew my own world. It helped me back then and it has often helped me again in a multitude of life situations.
Q: What journey have you been on as an artist. For example when did you first begin to create art as an adult? Did you study at all and if so where?
A: I have always had a relentless desire to learn. As early as the first grade I was excited for an opportunity to attend additional drawing lessons. A few years later a teacher took our class to a special art school. I immediately focused my goal to attend that school when I would be old enough. I couldn’t wait until my tenth birthday to be eligible to take the entrance exam. Having successfully passed the exam I was accepted into the school. Though she knew nothing of the new art school my mother shared my happiness as I told her I had been accepted. She was so excited she immediately bought me a large box of crayons and a small set of oil paints. However, I will never forget my first oil painting on paper. Having no idea of the technique of oil painting, I tried to dilute the paints with water. It is funny looking back on the mistake, you can imagine what a complete mess it was as I tried to draw two roses: one red and one yellow.
For the next four years I attended both schools and did my homework for both schools in the evenings. It was like four years of boot camp, yet I was so happy. Art was already my passion. I knew exactly who I wanted to be. Following graduation from art school and eight grade I decided to go to college for graphic design. After choosing a college in Stavropol, Russia I successfully passed the entrance exams and again found myself far from home. At that time, I was only fifteen. The next four years were the happiest, most amazing and meaningful time of my life. In college I was taught painting, drawing, composition, photography, sculpture, applied crafts and so much more. I am grateful for having had such wonderful educational opportunities and am grateful for the skilled teachers who I learned from.
Making People Happy Motivates Her to Draw
Q: What is the primary motivation for why you create art?
A: Unfortunately, my opportunities to paint evaporated with the collapse of the U.S.S.R. It was a difficult time for the entire country. During these years I worked as a seamstress, a factory worker and in archives. It wasn’t for many years I was able to return to my first love of art. In my return to art I independently taught myself the functions of a computer to draw in vector and raster programs.
For a while I had to paint for income as by this time, I had my family to take care of. One day, a turning point in my life came. As I was presented with an opportunity to draw illustrations for children’s books for the Kharkov, Ukraine publishing house, Ranok. I had the opportunity to choose between passion and income and I chose passion. I realized illustration was exactly what I wanted to do, this is my dream. I was afterward working with Ukrainian and Russian publishing houses. It is amusing how the work of an illustrator does not bring much income, but it does make people happy.
Overcoming Doubts by Asking Questions
Q: What goes through your mind while you draw/paint, is there a calm silence, do you listen to music or do you experience doubt, fear or any emotions at all?
A: As I work, most times I have music playing in the background as I concentrate on my work. Sometimes, however, personal issues, or my own distracting thoughts make it difficult to concentrate; that is, to be focused solely on my project. Of course, at such times it is occasionally better to postpone the work and come back to it when my mind feels more refreshed rather than risking ruining everything. I, like everyone else, occasionally am not very confident and have doubts before starting a new work, especially if it is something important and with much responsibility.
At such times I try to get rid of my doubts and uncertainties by asking myself the: what do I want to say with this drawing? What emotions should it evoke? What should it be in terms of composition, and color? Usually, I sketch first. For more complex work, I do a lot of sketches. It is also useful to make a small sketch in color without details, just blocking it in generously to deal with color, light and shadows. All this will take more time for me, however, in doing so my tasks will become clear to me and I can confidently work on the project.
Patience, Perseverance, Self-discipline and Constant Training
Q: How do you make time to include art in your life, do you have any suggestions to help others manage their creative lives?
A: Making time to include art in my life happens in different ways. Sometimes I have an overwhelming desire, an inner impulse, or an idea. In this case, it is difficult to stop me, to distract me with something else. But there are times when there is not much inspiration. There are ideas, but they are not accurate. Then I gather my thoughts and say to myself, “Hey! Your idea may be good, and it will be a mistake if you let it pass you by. Do not hesitate, do it!”
Patience, perseverance, self-discipline, and constant training are all necessary bricks from which skill is gradually built and polished. It is important not to lower your head in front of difficulties. Our mistakes move us forward if we accept and correct them. The main thing is not to stop. Listen to yourself, trust yourself, believe in yourself. And never stop dreaming!
Q: Is Drawing and creating artworks your only profession or main business. If not, what else do you do for work?
A: As I mentioned earlier, art was not always my main source of income. However, I primarily earned my income by drawing or doing design. Several times in my life I had to start my art career from scratch. At present is such a moment. Beginning over again in a foreign country is always difficult. Those who have moved to another country know this.
Since moving to Germany, I first learned the language. Then I have worked as an illustrator in a small company. I have illustrated children’s books in a realistic style with religious themes: “Martin Luther”, “Abraham”, “Esther”, “Bible for Children. New Testament”, “Hello Africa!”.
After time I realized I wanted not only to illustrate books by other authors, but to write and illustrate my own books. I have written two children’s stories. The draft of my first book is ready and I am looking for a publisher or reputable agent for it. Currently I´m experiencing the difficulty of finding them.
I am currently working on my third book. I also study German intensively as I write books in German. I am also planning to learn English.
Lifelong Learning is Extremely Important
Q: Do you have any special unique advice or skills to share with other artists who are learning to create artworks at this very high standard that you are working at?
A: I never stop being ready to share my skills, findings, and thoughts on topics of art as I do so with immense pleasure. Currently I am thinking about making art courses for children or adults, or at least uploading small videos to share what I have learned with others.
I also continue and enjoy learning from others. For me, lifelong learning is an extremely important part of who I am.
Inspired by Her Friends and Other Artists
Q: What major and significant goals and influences do you have for your art if any?
A: As a child, I listened with delight and pleasure to the stories my mother told me ─ fascinating and sometimes mystical stories about artists. Later, my teachers kindled in me a love of art. I am inspired by my friends, other artists, people of art, books, and music.
When I was teaching at art school, my students and I experimented a lot looking for inspiration. For example, I put on a music record, and we drew our feelings and associations. It doesn’t matter if they were drawing something specific or just an abstraction. It was important for us to catch the tale and express our emotions on paper. The kids loved it.
Also, I love watching nature, it gives me inspiration and good mood. In addition, I am motivated by an inner desire to express myself and improve myself
A Goal to Write and Illustrate her own Books
Q: Is there anything else that you would like to tell me about your aspirations for the future?
A: I have a lot of ideas! Currently my main goal is to write and illustrate my own books and bring them to publication.
Another project I’m working on is more serious paintings. Almost always, children’s themes prevailed in my works. But this is only part of what I want to do. A sea of fantasies is born in my head and I transfer it into my paintings. I want to do my own exhibition. In addition, I plan to sell my paintings and illustrations online.
It is for sure I know; I have much work ahead of me!
Contact information for Svitlana Holvchenko
To see more from Svitlana Holovchenko check out her work at the link below
- Website: hotarudesign.jimdosite.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/people/Svitlana-Holovchenko/100012986801415/
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/svitlanaholovchenko/
wonderful artist, thank you!!!
Thank you, Paul! I’m lucky to be your friend and colleague.
I follow you and have made comments. Your illustrations defy description: amazing, beautiful, phenomenal, outstanding. Any adjective that describes the wonderful illustrations you share with the world. You are beyond gifted and I believe you have a God given gift. I look forward to following you! God Bless you!
Thank you so much, dear Ruthie! I am very grateful to you for your attention to my work and for your heartfelt wishes. It inspires me!
Very insightful interview Svitlano, Thank you for sharing your innermost thoughts and hopes. I wish you well.
Thank you so much, dear Dzvinka!
Thank you Cindy for this wonderful interview! I have been a huge fan of this artist’s work for a long time and I am impressed and inspired by learning about her journey.
Thankyou Sabina, Its my pleasure! She’s incredible.
What a gifted artist! Her work is phenomenal. I had the opportunity to know Svetlana in person. Her dedication and love to what she is doing is inspiring. I have no doubts her incredible talent is going to get the recognition deserved. Can’t wait to purchase my copies of your work, Svitlana! Best of luck and much respect for your talent and hard work.
Thank you Mr. Othman for your warm wishes! I really appreciate all that I have learned from you.