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Interview: Alena Kudriashova

Alena Kudriashova

Senior Interior Designer

Interior designer and sketching fanatic Alena Kudriashova talks about urban sketching, her tools and techniques and why you should be kinder to yourself…

Alena's Website

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Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?

Alena

I’m a workplace interior designer by day, and travel sketcher by night. I design work spaces (co-working spaces and offices) for international companies as my main occupation. I run sketching classes on weekends, travel to draw events and places and do travel illustration when I’m at home. That takes pretty much all of my free time. I’ve been based in Singapore for the past four years.

environment drawing with sketchbook
Sketching on a farm in Vietnam

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Who has had the greatest influence over your art and your desire to become an artist?

Alena

Not who; what! I found out about Urban Sketchers seven years ago when I was learning English and was looking for something to practice my reading with, that is what got me interested in sketching. Then I found a book by James Richards Freehand Drawing and Discovery, which not only answered so many beginner questions for me, but also helped me to fix some of the misconceptions I’ve gotten into my head thanks to my architectural education. Like the scary complexity of perspective that used to freeze my mind! I still think he’s one of the best teachers. He is also an architect, so we speak the same language.

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Which piece of work are you most proud of? Why?

Alena

My work is not a finished product; it’s a process – or, rather; a lifestyle. And I think I still haven’t done anything that I could single out and really say that I’m really proud of it. But I am proud of what I’ve achieved as an artist in general. I became a better teacher and inspired my students to pick up their sketchbooks more often, opening a new way of looking at things.

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What tools and techniques do you use, either for work or personal projects?

Alena

I use a fountain pen (Lamy Safari with M nib) with Carbon Platinum ink, watercolours, a Pentel and Holbein water brushes or Escoda Travel Kolinsky Brush set of three. I buy watercolour paper in an art store and bring it to bookbinders to make sketchbooks that are perfect for me; it’s a charity organization that employs and helps people who are in need of special approach.

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How do you get into the “creative zone?” Do you prefer a particular place or time of day?

Alena

I love mornings, before anyone wakes up and I love spaces full of light. My first quiet and slow cup of coffee is very important to me and sets the whole mood for the day. Currently my favourite place is my apartment with a big table near the window. I normally don’t wait for inspiration, instead I put on my favourite music and I just get to work! If I feel stuck, I get out and go for a walk. When I’m not working, I always leave my work-in-progress pages visible to me, sometimes just looking at them when I’m passing by is very helpful, and I end up dropping everything and jumping in to add or correct something in my drawing.

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What are your artistic ambitions?

Alena

The biggest one is to get to be a sketch reporter on a trip somewhere rare and interesting! And while I’m waiting for the opportunity, I’d like to publish a book, do a collaboration with a hotel on a series of artworks drawn on location, and a solo exhibition. And combine all of that with a full time interior designer job! Sounds difficult, I know, but not impossible!

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If you give your younger self some advice about art and your career what might that be?

Alena

Don’t be too self conscious about how good you are, and what kind of art education you do or do not have. Enjoy what you do first, and care about public opinion of what you do second.

Allow yourself to rest. It’s okay to say no to things and projects if you are tired.

Listen to yourself and to your body, a project that you don’t like will not make you happy or any richer, so be selective. Don’t put things into your portfolio that you didn’t enjoy doing. Be different. Be yourself.

Don’t work with assholes. Walk out. Your wellbeing is more important than money.

watercolour in sketchbook
Sketching on the airplane. Making use of the time during flights, finishing the sketches done during the trip, or drawing passengers

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If you had no limit on time or resources, what project would you most like to work on?

Alena

I’d accompany an experienced traveller(s) on trips around the world as a sketch artist and write about it.

I’d go places with charity organizations, to create awareness among people by drawing what I see.

I’d study something else like art therapy for kids or something I might not have thought about yet, something that’d enable me to help others through art.

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What can we expect to see from you next?

Alena

I’m working on a book featuring my favourite sketches from the past few years of travelling and living in Asia and more videos of me drawing! Hopefully, more trips and workshops, too. And I totally plan to implement all my artistic ambitions including the ones that require “unlimited resources,” one can’t achieve a lot by dreaming small right?

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