Vania Zouravliov

Posted inDesign Inspiration

By: Admin | June 1, 2009

Born in Vladimir, a medieval capital of Russia, Vania (a diminutive of Ivan) Zouravliov creates richly detailed illustrations that look like daguerreotypes. His work combines modern images with historical references and graphic elements from both the East and the West to create imaginary scenes that seem to come out of a lost myth. Zouravliov has described his pieces as having a Hoffmannesque feel, a nod to Nutcracker author E. T. A. Hoffmann, whose tales describe a dark world of children’s dreams and nightmares. Many of Zouravliov’s illustrations showcase his ability to portray these fantasies and fears, including the cover of the British Vintage Classics reissue of the unexpurgated Grimm Brothers’ Complete Fairy Tales and a drawing for The New York Times Magazine about the journey of a 14-year-old illegal immigrant. The son of an art teacher, Zouravliov began painting with his mother’s art supplies when he was very young. He eventually became something of a prodigy, which led to several appearances on Russian television as a child. Educated at the Edinburgh College of Art, he moved to London in 2000, and his work has been shown in galleries around the world.

Where do you usually draw?I draw at home and always listen to music very loudly while working. I also like having certain images or books around me to inspire me.

What’s the last album you played?Pan Sonic’s Katodivaihe.

What do you first remember drawing?I remember drawing evil hammerhead people at the age of 4. Contrary to what most adults would like to believe, a child’s mind can be a very strange and disturbing place.

What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?I would have liked to be a forest keeper.

Do any texts inspire you?As much as I love literature, it does not have a direct impact on my work. When I illustrate a text, I prefer to use it as an inspiration rather than instruction.

Is your work characteristic in some way of the country you come from—or live in?Half of my life so far was spent in Russia and the other half in the U.K. I feel that my character is unmistakably Russian, and my ideas are similar to those of the artists and illustrators of the late 19th century. They took inspiration from a variety of cultures and incorporated various elements of those styles into their work.

If you could collaborate with any artists you choose, who would they be?Rei Kawakubo, Bill Laswell, Paolo Roversi, and DJ Krush. I have nothing but pure admiration for their work.

What’s your most essential tool?I don’t feel attached to any of the materials that I use. I am only interested in the strength and beauty of the finished image.

What’s your favorite museum in the world?The Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

What’s the one thing that gives you inspiration tokeep making art?A strong belief that creativity is the only relative freedom we have in this world.

Do you have a motto or favorite quotation?Holding back the night With its increasing brilliance The summer moon

[The death poem of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, a 19th-century Japanese woodblock artist]