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- author Jackie French

Thursday 9 March 2023

Meet The Illustrator: Yulia Gorkina

Yulia Gorkina (aka Yulken)

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
I think of it as naive, joyful, bright, and a bit messy.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
I’d say mobility is pretty important for me (being a mom of two boys, I sometimes have to work in a cafe while waiting for them from their hobbies). I worked hard to move more to digital tools. So If we talk about tools, it would be my iPad. And if I think about other items, it would be my books. And a cup of coffee :)

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
I couldn’t choose just one! As for my commercial work, I use my iPad with Adobe Fresco almost always, and for my personal work (that’s in sketchbooks most of the time))), I have my gouache, colored pencils, and neocolor II wax pastels.

Name three artists whose work inspires you.
It’s so difficult to choose! Let’s say Fiep Westendorp, Mary Blair and Tove Jansson.

Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why?
I think about beginning of XX century in Europe with it’s Art-Nouveau movement! This period looks so prominent to me, I feel like there were big dreams and hopes and people didn’t know yet how much sorrow and dark days there will be in XX century. And in Art-Nouveau (especially in the architecture) I feel like everything is possible! All the shapes are so elegant and feel so warm.

Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator?
I can’t think of any big ‘aha!’ moment… Growing up I didn’t have illustration as an option and studied IT. But drawing was always in my life. I’d say Walt Disney was a big inspiration as I remember copying illustrations from a medical encyclopedia with Disney characters and feeling absolutely happy. And after moving to another country I’ve been studying new language and looking around me more and I’ve discovered that picture books are so fascinating and I really wanted to make them.

Can you share a photo of your creative work space or part of the area where you work most often? Talk us through it.
We are going through a huge renovation in our house - the roof should be changed and there will come big windows and a lot of light. So one day my studio will be there. But right now I’m settled in the livingroom-to-be (as there’s also renovation going on)) where I have a little table and a bookcase. So it’s pretty messy and temporary right now. But I sit just in front of the window. And there’re so many birds visiting our little bird-feeder and they are so funny to watch! Woodpecker and nuthatch, robins and little tits. I’ll miss them when I’ll move upstairs!

What is your favourite part of the illustration process?
The beginning of the process, research, gathering information, sketching and the part closer to the end when the biggest part of uncertainty is left behind and you can see that it’s not that bad after all!

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
I’d say show up to your practice everyday even for as little as 15 minutes and create before you consume.

Yulia is a colour addict, passionate sketchbook dabbler, picture book nerd, bike fan, and camping enthusiast. In 2009, she moved to Belgium following the smell of chocolate and waffles. There she discovered the world of children's illustrations and never looked back. In her little studio, she creates playful and bright illustrations inspired by her two boys, nature, travel, friends, and dreams of a world where people smile more and feel loved.

For more information, please visit Yulia's website or follow her on instagram.