This is the first interview for the Xpiks blog. Today I will be posing random questions to Lily Kavliuk - a vector artist and microstock contributor from Ukraine. Lily is not only making her living off microstocks, she also blogs about it and even wrote a book about microstocks. In this interview, she shares interesting insights about illustration, microstocks and her artistic journey.
Tell a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? Are you a tea or coffee person?
I’m from Chernivtsi, a city near the Romanian border. Now I live in Sumy, which is a regional capital near the Russian border. It’s a modest place that hasn’t yet been spoiled by pop culture. I love coffee, and by that I mean it goes great with sweets (and I have a sweet tooth). However, I try not to drink too much coffee because it makes me overexcited, so the better answer is usually tea. I love animals, I’m the happy owner of a cat who I imagine thinks that she owns me. To be totally frank, I’m being stalked by my cat as I write this.
When did you discover the opportunity to sell illustrations and why did you decide to get into it?
I have always been interested in drawing, but what I did not realize is that you can actually earn by doing it. I did not want to sell paintings on the street, and I knew what poverty was. So, I received an education in another field that I believed could better sustain me, and when I was already grown up I started learning how to illustrate.
Do you have any art-related education or you were a self-learner?
I graduated from an art school for kids, it was a cool experience. Unfortunately, it was a long time ago so I had to learn everything over again.
When you’re not drawing how do you enjoy your free time?
I watch Star Trek a lot and hang out with my friends.
Can you describe your workflow when creating a work of art?
Let’s imagine that I want to do it in a smart way. So, I have an idea, I double-check certain elements of it with home-brewed statistics and then identify the best ways to implement that idea. Then I check it against real-life references. Once I know all of that, I try to create something in my style and in my way on a piece of paper. After that it’s just a bit of work on the computer and it’s done.
How do you decide what to draw next?
I try to look at what is popular on microstocks, such as seasonal motives, of course. Sometimes I just draw something I like, which can turn out even better than I expect.
What are your sources of inspiration? Any particular people you follow?
I follow people that I’ve met through my website, they are very talented. Also, I follow Yuko Shimizu, I’m really inspired by the fact that she changed her occupation and became a successful illustrator despite the challenges inherent in such a shift.
How did you end up drawing in the style that you use right now?
I’ve been experimenting with my styles for a while now, and one of the benefits of microstocks is that there is always room for trying something new.
Where have you found your works in real life?
Unfortunately I haven’t yet, but I found a friend’s artwork on an advertisement for a local computer store. The store had stolen the artwork though. The whole situation with authors’ rights in Ukraine isn’t the best.
Are microstocks your primary job or is it a side-project?
The microstocks let me take care of anything else I want to do. I’m not sure that I want to be doing this all my life, but at this very moment it’s sufficient enough to plan some development.
What are some of your best-selling works?
My best selling picture is the one in the header of this post. You can check out more in my Shutterstock profile.
How much time does it take to create one work of art from your portfolio?
It generally takes a few days, but some take more depending on how detailed I want the work to be.
What is the most difficult part of stock illustration?
Not getting any feedback is difficult. Sometimes I check the statistics, make a plan, draw it, and really like the result, but sales are lower than I’d like and I have no one to tell me what is wrong with the picture.
How has working with microstock illustrations changed your life?
Life became calmer, less stressful, and I have more time for myself.
Have you considered working in a team or studio? Why?
I’m open to suggestions. I would love to improve my skills and I do sometimes feel there’s a lack of professional communication.
Why did you decide to write a book about microstocks? Have you made any money on it?
There was lots of information out there in all sorts of languages except Ukrainian, so I decided to arrange it in a nice way for Ukrainian speakers. I do get a profit if people decide to register on Shutterstock using my referral link, which costs nothing for them, but anyone can use my book without doing that, it’s not mandatory. I really appreciate it if they do, but if not, it’s fine and I would still answer any questions on my blog.
What exactly is your book about?
The most important thing there is information on how to prepare a vector illustration according to microstock requirements. There is also all sorts of other information in the book such as workflow tips or some specifics of working with particular microstocks.
How did writing a book change your life?
I have since met so many cool Ukrainian illustrators. I don’t think that would have been possible without the book.
Do you have any advice for novice vector illustrators on how to be successful?
I would modestly suggest checking out my book if possible. Work at least a little bit and be sure to do so every day, and check what is popular on microstocks.
Thank you for reading. Be sure to check out Lily’s portfolio on Shutterstock and her book about microstocks (if you speak Ukrainian). Lily also has a fan page on Facebook so make sure to say hello there as well.