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Henry M. Robert

Greta and company

Seven facts about illustrator Nastia Sleptsova
23 April, 2018 - 15:56

Polar explorers, underwater animals, funny still lifes – some of Nastia’s drawings are an inspiration for adventures, and some, on the contrary, are full of comfort. Recently she staged a solo exhibit in Kyiv’s Orthodox gallery, organized by the Pictoric club of illustrators. Nastia showed us her characters and told about working with foreign publishers.

1 SLOVAK NOVELTY

The exposition centered on illustrations to the children’s book Greta put out by Egres, an independent Slovak publishing house. “The book is about a girl whale Greta who is known throughout the ocean for giving gorgeous concerts,” Nastia says. “One day Greta lost her voice. All the marine creatures are shocked. It turns out that the cause is dirty water in the ocean. Moreover, not only Greta, but also other animals suffered from pollution. The characters decide to get rid of garbage and do so.” Incidentally, the book was published by way of crowdfunding or, to be more exact, advance orders.

2 TO CHILDREN ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT

Nastia is very familiar with the topic of the environment. In the last while, she has been dealing with garbage segregation, reduction of the consumption of and pollution of the planet with plastics. The artist notes that there are drawings and tips at the end of Greta about how to minimize the glut of plastics in life. “One can use reusable bottles, textile bags for purchases and snacks, segregate garbage, and so on,” Nastia enumerates. “The book teaches children to use resources sparingly and see what impact each of our actions can have on nature.”

3 POLAR EXPLORERS AND OTHER UNUSUAL TOPICS

This work makes Nastia learn many new things from other spheres. For example, the artist studied in detail the history of an expedition of the English polar explorer Shackleton, when she illustrated a thematic issue of the Egres magazine. Some of these drawings can be seen at the Orthodox exhibit.

Nastia thus illustrated the story of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition 1914-17 led by Ernest Henry Shackleton. The explorers wanted to cross Antarctica through the South Pole, but the ship was icebound at the beginning of the expedition. This happened a long way from civilization, and they did not have an earthly chance of being helped.

“It is an incredibly terrible story of polar explorers sticking in a crisis and their captain Shackleton doing a heroic deed. He went out with a small group in search of help. It was very hard, but he rescued everybody, and the end was happy,” Nastia adds.

You will agree it is an unusual choice of theme for the magazine. In Nastia’s words, Egres puts emphasis on such themes as nature, environmental protection, and stories. “The magazine is done in Bratislava. Authors often went to small towns, mingled with ordinary people who create something authentic and have written about it,” the artist says. The magazine, which used to come out in a printed version, is now published online only.

4  FOREIGN MAGAZINES

Nastia mostly contributes to foreign publications. In addition to the abovementioned Slovak one, she has worked for Flair (Netherlands), Raketa (Czech Republic), Seasons (Russia), and Sister Mag (Germany).

“I can say that the Dutch magazine is intended for women. I drew a lot of illustrations for the winter issue. The theme was New Year and domestic comfort. It was interesting to me that a women’s magazine caries many illustrations. In general, it is a classy project,” Nastia admits.

The German magazine is in fact an online blog. The artist illustrated an article about chimneysweeps, which describes the history and particularities of this profession, including such details as health impact.

5 INTERNET SHOP

Nastia has a shop on the popular online platform “Etsy.” She sells there drawings, postcards, and cute brooches, for example, shaped as little houses and sweaters. This is why, whenever the artist draws something for herself, she takes into account whether the thing can be an object of the interior. Among Nastia’s favorite “free themes” are houses and nature.

6 SELF-EDUCATION

An applied-arts designer and teacher by profession, Nastia learned the art of illustration by herself. The artist, who currently lives in Lviv, was born and raised in Crimea and graduated from the Crimean Engineering and Pedagogical University in Simferopol.

“When I was only beginning to draw something for myself and trying to choose what to do, I read several interviews with foreign illustrators. This helped in a way,” Nastia recalls. “But I attended no special courses.”

7 BOOK STORY

Nastia likes illustrations in many, mostly foreign, books, and she finds it difficult to name the favorite one. Among the ones the artist likes is Jane, the Fox, and Me by the Canadian writer Fanny Britt with illustrations by Isabelle Arsenault. “Isabelle draws in simple pencil, and her illustrations are very moody,” Nastia explains her choice. Incidentally, last year Vivat published the Ukrainian translation of this book.

As there appear more and more books that consist of illustrations only, we asked Nastia if she would like to make one like this. “I have felt before that I was not prepared to take up books, but now I am more bold and inquisitive to think in this direction,” the artist answers. “Therefore, something may come up.”

By Maria PROKOPENKO, photos by Mykola TYMCHENKO, The Day
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