Interview: Sergey Nikolaev

Der russische Künstler und Illustrator Sergey Nikolaev schafft farbenfrohe, leicht retro-angehauchte Bilder mit hohem Wiedererkennungswert, von denen einige schon seit längerem meinen Computer als Wallpaper schmücken.

Aufgrund der Sprachbarriere leider nur ein recht kurzes, dafür aber höchst sympathisches Interview.

The Past

Diskursdisko: Hi Sergey. To start things off, what’s your background? When did you start doing illustrations?

Sergey Nikolaev: I’m a designer, but I have an art education. Right from the start I tried to use my pictures in design. But my first profession always comes through.

The Art

I think art can’t have a system, art isn’t bookkeeping.

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Diskursdisko: How do you mainly produce your art? Do you have a system or method that you adhere to?

Sergey Nikolaev: I don’t have a system. I think art can’t have a system, art isn’t bookkeeping. If I need to do an illustration for anarticle, first of all I read the article and try to find interesting details, than I do sketches and scan them. Then I finish the job on the computer. Maybe, that’s a system?

Diskursdisko: What inspires you?

Sergey Nikolaev: I draw very well when I have no problems in my life. I don’t need excitement, loud things or to be found on a ledge at the top of a steep place. Am I boring? After all, an artist should be a little crazy. Am I right?

Diskursdisko: Your artwork is bright and cartoonish, with a little bit of a fifties retro vibe – how did you develop this style?

Sergey Nikolaev: I like to look at retro illustrations. Apart from the fact that it’s very good, artworks still feel the energy accumulated during the years of their existence. Who painted them? Who’s looking at them? What did people think looking at them? All this is very interesting.  These illustrations get warm. We want to achieve the same effect and do it now, not in 50 years… :)  I like humor. I think that art should have more positive emotions.

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Diskursdisko: When working for clients like magazines or companies, how do you keep up the balance between clients’ wishes and concepts and your own need to produce art? Do you feel there actually is any difference between “commercial” artwork and other art?

4_donperiSergey Nikolaev: It’s really difficult to keep the balance between clients’ wishes and my own ideas. But it’s a part of my profession as an illustrator. The best illustrations I have done have been illustrations without sketches, when the client generally trusts my style. Many things depend on the personality of the client.

Not long ago I had a job which at first called for an illustration in Suprematism style, and I was happy to do these illustrations. But at the end my work didn’t look like Suprematism, because the client made a lot of changes in the process. Of course, there is a big difference between commercial work and art, when you draw for yourself you have the best client. I would like to work for the moment when I will not have to choose, the effect would be amazing!


The Web

There is no shortage of new impressions in our age of the internet.

Diskursdisko: You’ve obviously got the website at sergeynikolaev.com , any other presences on the web you’d like to publicize? Social networking?

6_chelovekrasseyaniySergey Nikolaev: Of course. I regularly publish my works at my blog at livejournal.com and Flickr, Behance, and also Russian-speaking site illustrators.ru.

Diskursdisko: As you use the internet to showcase your art, are there any other websites you feel have influenced you, opened your mind or shown you new ways of creating art?

Sergey Nikolaev: There is no shortage of new impressions in our age of the internet. It’s often enough just to see some interesting movies on YouTube. Behance.net is interesting to me as a profile site. There are a lot of talented people per square inch. It is difficult to find so much elsewhere.

Diskursdisko: Of all the work you’ve created, or at least the ones showcased on your website, can you name a couple that you have a special love for or connection to?

Sergey Nikolaev: Perhaps I’m most pleased with the series I did for Gazeta newspaper and Best credits magazine. Incidentally, there was minimum supervision of the customer on these projects.

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The Future

I’m very pleased with the fact that in people in Europe are beginning to notice Russian illustrators…

Diskursdisko: Do you have any specific plans for the future direction of your artwork?

Sergey Nikolaev: I would like to devote more time to real art, not virtual. I want to paint, to make collages using a knife and paper, to put my works on the wall and touch their texture.  I’d like to see my works not only on the screen and in magazines.

Diskursdisko: Sergey, many thanks for the interview – is there anything you’d like to add?

Sergey Nikolaev: Thank you. I’m very pleased with the fact that in people in Europe are beginning to notice Russian illustrators; in art, there should be no borders. It’s very good that the World Wide Web lets you communicate with people, to share experiences, to be friends and cooperate with people not only from other countries, but even from other continents. I hope one day it will happen. Good  luck!

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Vincent Wilkie hat diesen tollen Beitrag verfasst. In seiner Freizeit ist er Musiker, Webdesigner und DJ.

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