Women in Fantasy Illustration: Rebecca Yanovskaya

Women in Fantasy Illustration: Rebecca Yanovskaya

Welcome to the Women in Fantasy Illustration interview series. I am interviewing a selection of women whose work have made an impact in the Fantasy Illustration Industry.

Today I have the pleasure of sharing a great interview with amazing artist Rebecca Yanovskaya. Rebecca Yanovskaya was suggested for this series by another artist on Facebook and I am very happy she was. The first word that springs to mind when I look at Rebecca’s beautiful work is Epic. It only makes it all the more mind blowing that it is rendered in ballpoint pen. I hope you will enjoy the interview and closer look at this fantastic artist.


Ascent © Rebecca Yanovskaya

Ascent © Rebecca Yanovskaya

Photo of artist Rebecca Yanovskaya

Rebecca Yanovskaya

1. Please give a brief introduction of yourself, your career and your work.
My name is Rebecca, I am an illustrator from Canada with Russian background. I am a graduate of the Illustration program at Sheridan College, and recently began exhibiting at conventions. I work in ballpoint pen and gold leaf, and my one goal is to bring beauty into the world.

(…) My one goal is to bring beauty into the world.

2. When did you start drawing? And when did realize you wanted to make a career of it?
I remember drawing as the earliest thing I ever did. When I was bored, when I was excited, I would always draw things that I loved, to the chagrin of my mother who was constantly trying to get me to go outside more. I always preferred the company of my imagination, though, and the instant I realized it was a real career option was the time I knew I wanted to draw for a living.

I always preferred the company of my imagination, though, and the instant I realized it was a real career option was the time I knew I wanted to draw for a living.

The Guardian © Rebecca Yanovskaya

The Guardian © Rebecca Yanovskaya

3. What difficulties have you faced in transitioning into becoming a professional illustrator?
Being your own boss is one of the hardest things to do in this day and age. Not only are there tons of distractions, there is so much information out there that one could easily spend their entire month doing research and not actually creating any work. Forcing oneself to sit down and consistently draw, even when you’re not “feeling it” is a skill that only comes with practice. There is no one to give you encouragement, or criticism, except yourself.

Not only are there tons of distractions, there is so much information out there that one could easily spend their entire month doing research and not actually creating any work.

4. What do you like the most about illustrating?
Seeing the finished work that came out of your mind, with all its disappointments and faults, is one of the nicest feelings in the world. I also love the act of rendering an object or figure out, and knowing that the first few marks and the last few are all equally important in bringing the piece to life.

Reaper Mercenaries © Rebecca Yanovskaya

Reaper Mercenaries © Rebecca Yanovskaya

5. What do you like the least about it?
The uncertainty of my own vision is something that causes me great anxiety. I can never know if the ideas I have are going to hit a nerve with people, or if they will miss the mark entirely. Having to trust myself and my vision is something I wish would become easier.

(…) I can never know if the ideas I have are going to hit a nerve with people, or if they will miss the mark entirely.

6. Who are some of your main inspirations in your artwork?
As long as I can remember I have loved the work of Alphonse Mucha. He is, without a doubt, my greatest influence and the goal I strive to emulate. If I could recreate a tenth of the raw aesthetic pleasure he gives me, in my own work, I would be content. The classical sculptures of the Greek, Roman, and British spheres, and the neoclassical and classical paintings of Europe are also great influences. Great painters I always look to specifically are Klimt, Herbert Draper, Bouguereau, Waterhouse, Godward, and Alma-Tadema.

Alphonse Mucha: The Precious Stones (Ruby, Emerald, Amethyst, Topaz)(1900)

Alphonse Mucha: The Precious Stones (Ruby, Emerald, Amethyst, Topaz)(1900)

7. You attended the illustration program at Sheridan College, what was that experience like? Do you recommend college for aspiring artists?
I had an important time at Sheridan, that I wouldn’t give up for anything. I met enthusiastic, driven people there that I learned a great deal from. I also came out of my shell and that, I think, was the most important lesson I learned there. I would recommend college for any aspiring children who want to grow into adults, but not necessarily for artists, if finances are an issue. We are lucky to live in a time where a wealth of information is at our fingertips, and I think institutions should now serve the purpose of teaching professionalism, not technique.

I would recommend college for any aspiring children who want to grow into adults, but not necessarily for artists, if finances are an issue.

Photo of female artist drawing

Rebecca Yanovskaya in full illustration mode.

8. Tell us about your process, what lead you to using ballpoint pens as your chosen medium?
I had been doodling in ballpoint since middle school, and as a result refining my use of it. When I was faced with the art industry, I sampled every other medium in an attempt to find one that clicked with me, to no avail. My thoughts and ideas were simply clearer with a pen – and aesthetically I always saw monochrome as the most beautiful visual. I finally gave up on trying to be someone I was not (a great painter, or great inker) and decided to do the best I could with what I loved to use.

My thoughts and ideas were simply clearer with a pen – and aesthetically I always saw monochrome as the most beautiful visual.

9. What is the best advice you have ever received regarding your artwork and career?
The best advice I ever got, and became my Rule #1: “Finish your work”. Rule #2 is “Do more work”. No one will remember the illustrator who created one perfect piece and never drew again, and no one will remember the illustrator with great ideas in sketches but no pieces to show. It is and always will be a daily struggle to live by those rules, but the strides I have taken in following them have already paid off.

No one will remember the illustrator who created one perfect piece and never drew again, and no one will remember the illustrator with great ideas in sketches but no pieces to show.

Cairn Woods © Rebecca Yanovskaya

Cairn Woods © Rebecca Yanovskaya

10. You are fond of illustrating mythological stories, what draws you about mythology and have this always been a theme in your work?
Mythology to me has always been about bigger than life struggles, and a world which is better than life, more idealized. The personalities are strong, exaggerated, passionate, heroic, beautiful. These are all qualities I want to capture through my art.

Eowyn and the Nazgul © Rebecca Yanovskaya

Eowyn and the Nazgul © Rebecca Yanovskaya


Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this interview with Rebecca. If there are any professional female fantasy artists you greatly admire and would like to see interview with, please leave a comment with their name and a link to their website. I have future interviews planned with Cynthia Sheppard, Lisa Hunt and more.

Links:
Rebecca Yanovskaya’s Website
Rebecca Yanovskaya’s Blog

Kiri Østergaard Leonard
kiri@kirileonard.com

Kiri Østergaard Leonard is an award winning illustrator and artist from Denmark, currently living in Austin, Texas. She enjoys working on projects within the fantasy and children's illustration genre.

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