Interview with Oksana Grivina

04 May 2010

Who’s in for a trip to a gorgeous illustration wonderland? Boy, do I have a treat for you in this interview. Meet Oksana Grivina from Russia…

Hi There! My name is Oksana Grivina. I'm 32 and I live in Russia. I am a freelance illustrator.

Oksana's illustrations simply blew me away. Her technique and style are simply adorable and witty, and the color palette she uses in each and every one of her creations is just perfect. People, who I believe are the most difficult things to draw, are her favorite subject, and you can tell. The expressions on the faces are so perfectly captured. My fingers are itching to draw when looking at her work; it's so very inspiring. She's definitely added to the list of my favorite illustration artists.

Your work is very diverse, was it hard to develop these different styles and become equally good in them?

To be honest, it is a certain problem for me to conform to one style. I started my work as an illustrator 4 years ago after a 14-year break and now I continue to learn. It is obvious that on the way to find my own style I tried different styles and techniques which were interesting for me at that time. The result is the eclecticism. I hope I will find my right way in the near future.

Can you reveal a little bit of your techniques to get to the stunning results of your finished work?

OK, I have no secrets. I use standard brushes in CorelPainter. At first, I take a common brush (such as Basic Round or something like that), then I use any of the blenders; recently my favorite one is Grainy Water. That is how I draw: brushes, blenders, brushes, and again, blenders…When the picture is finished I use Photoshop to fix up hue and saturation of the image, if it is necessary. I prefer working with curves and apply a couple of my own grunge textures.

What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?

I find a lot of inspiration in music. I have a pretty wide selection of stuff I listen to. Plus, my business is a combination of illustration, graphic design, and web design. They all require different skill sets and proficiencies, so I try to keep a healthy balance. I also like to cook. It's relaxing and creative in a completely different way.

Does your work environment have an influence on your inspiration or work?

The environment does not usually influence my work, but if I have to create when I'm not at my working place, I am at a loss at first, but after a while everything becomes alright again. I don’t like when somebody disturbs me from my work; that’s why I prefer working at night. I always listen to audio books (Russian classics or detective stories, when I need special attention to my work). I think that a good author or reciter is a 100% guarantee of an ideal result in my work. Of course, the theme should also be an exciting one. I like, for example, business themes because you can invent various metaphors about jobs which are connected with moneymaking (it is a very big sphere). And the most pleasant moment for me in my work is to create faces. I never know what I will finally get; it is a very unpredictable process and I like that.

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What makes a designed piece or illustration successful?

I am sure that a good sketch is 80% of a successful illustration. Even in children’s artistic school we were told: “A bad sketch won’t become better even if you paint it gold.” Color is another important thing. I am very careful with colors; sometimes I get the right color in no time (then we can tell about the inspiration and its influence); but sometimes choosing the color is a very long process which takes as much time as the drawing itself. Coloristic is the only subject which I have been good at since my childhood and which I needn’t learn.

How would your ideal day look like?

Every day is ideal and I am proud of such achievement. I don’t need to wake up when it is still dark outside or go to bed when I don’t want it because I must go to the office tomorrow. It isn’t important when my day starts (in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening or at night — I usually change my daily routine). I work till the moment I haven’t got any strength at all. I contact with customers by e-mail. And they live in different places of the world, so I can say that I do not depend on the time of work; I can create in any time I want. But in my future plans there is a point to sober down and get up early in the morning to start my work, not spending much time on Internet surfing.

More examples on Oksana Grivina's website.


  1. 1 Mark 10 May 2010

    Beautiful illustrations and a real eye for delicious color palettes!

  2. 2 Jo 11 May 2010

    Thank you for another great article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect way of presentation.