Anait Semirdzhyan is our Featured Illustrator for March! Anait moved to Seattle with her husband and twin girls from Armenia in 2012. She majored in Economics, never planned to make a profession out of illustration but kept it as a hobby. In the last four years, people started noticing her illustrations as she continually raised the bar with her work, and it became much more than just a hobby. She now dedicates all her time to illustration and is currently looking to get signed with a traditional publisher.
Can you briefly explain your creative process, favorite mediums, etc?
My favorite tools are pen, ink and watercolor.
My process starts from sketching with a pencil, then I outline everything with a Micron pen or a regular dip pen and color it with watercolor. Sometimes I use colored pencils as a touch-up, to give some texture to my drawing. Then I scan my art and, if needed, edit it in Photoshop. I do color my line art digitally sometimes, it's fun, but I definitely prefer traditional media.
Where do you find your ideas? Do you have a process?
When drawing something for fun I usually start without any roughs, right away on watercolor paper, and I don't know what it is going to be at the end, some kind of improvisation. Those are my favorite works. When I'm asked to illustrate something, I start drawing lots of thumbnails to find the idea, composition, etc. Searching for reference images on Internet works well too.
How do you deal with creative blocks?
I force myself to sketch something every day and just work through the block. I wish I knew a better recipe!
Who are your illustrator heroes?
Oh, so many of them, but my top 5, in no particular order, are Norman Rockwell, Lisbeth Zwerger, David Small, Erin E. Stead, Eric and Terry Fan.
Did you have any favorite children’s books as a child?
I grew up on Soviet children's books and European fairy tales. Poems and tales by Korney Chukovsky were my favorites when I was a preschooler. When I grew up it was The Little Prince by Saint-Exupéry.
What’s inspiring you and your work right now?
It could be a beautiful movie, a person at the street, some funny situation, and even my own mood. My critique group inspires me a lot too, ever since I joined it a few months back. Every time after our monthly meetings I'm full of ideas and itch to work.
Any words of wisdom you want to share?
Draw every day! Enroll in a critique group (thanks, SCBWI, for all the help and support in the last couple of years), and use social media, this is the best way to stay connected to other illustrators all over the world.
Thank you, Anait!