Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Lidija Nagulov and I’m an illustrator. I started illustration in the least standard way possible I think. I studied Japanese language and literature. And then started working in administration, and then finance. Logical progression from Japanese to finance… and then very randomly started drawing and then kind of became obsessed with it. And now I’m an illustrator. So anything is possible I guess!
Once you found your love for illustration, how did that develop into a career?
Again, the least expected path possible. How it started was that I was playing a Facebook game called Fluff friends, which is as stupid as it sounds, literally. You had your little pet, and you dress them and they have their room, etc. There was a community around this game and there was a forum attached to the game. So very soon, a bunch of us from the game had met up. And at the forum, you could have a signature that could be an image. So people would draw these images and be selling them for game currency; there was a whole economy in there. People would pay a lot of money (virtual money, but in order to have virtual money you bought it with real money) for these little pictures. And one girl had a signature that was a unicorn hunched over on top of a cloud pooping little marshmallows. I said to her “This is adorable, where did you find this?”, and she said it was from this site called “Threadless” you would like them. I googled what Threadless was, and it’s a crowd sourcing website. At that point, they would give $2000 for every design they printed. And they picked 7 a week. Most of us stumbled on it and thought “I could draw pictures, why not!”
At the time, I had a great job. My job paid very handsomely, so I wasn’t in the market for money. But the idea that someone could give me $2000 for something I drew, just seemed like magic! This became extremely exciting for me, so I started drawing. It took me over two years to get printed, but I actually got printed three times in total. But in the meantime, there was this amazing community that was there that would share tutorials, talk to you, and give you feedback. So that was my art academy essentially. I learned all these things from these people. The first time Threadless printed me, I couldn’t believe it. I just had this incline to draw. Once you fall into it, we want to do more and more. I started to have more clients and some pretty fancy clients. And once I moved apartments, I had to leave the office job anyways, and decided I wouldn’t look for another one. It went from you know “I work in finance admin. and I kind of like to draw.” But now it’s, “I am an artist, this is what I do,” and it’s actually paying the bills so that’s pretty amazing!
Can you describe your process of designing our menu artwork?
I did a bunch of initial sketches, and then I did a bunch of individual illustrations with micro pens. And my big discovery is that the 0.05 micro pens are the best. I drew individual flowers, made a bunch of those to use and then once the micro pen drawings were done, I went to the library to scan them. Then I go into Photoshop and I strip the backgrounds and I do all the colouring digitally. I’ll draw additional details digitally as well. Like the desserts on the cover were actually all drawn digitally, I didn’t sketch them out first. I use my graphics tablet, and you can achieve any kind of colouring you want digitally.
What 3 art tools could you not live without?
Wacome Mobile Studio Pro. It’s an independent drawing tablet, but it’s a whole computer on it’s own, it’s amazing! That’s really the end of the list. That’s all I need. I normally use scrap paper, I started drawing with pens and pencils I just found. I’ve learned to really like that approach and to not be fussy about certain products. Oh! One more thing I really like is the Mirco pens, 0.05.
If you could give advice to anyone who’s trying to become an illustrator, what would you tell them?
I tend to approach things with a certain degree of caution. And I know a lot of illustrators, and you can do it, if you really really want to. But you have to really, really want to. It’s not like other jobs where you just learn your thing and you start doing it. In art, that doesn’t exist. Somebody once very famously said that, “Illustration and design is a great field to become an overnight success in 3-5 years,” and it is so true. There is a period of time where nothing will be happening. No-one will care. You will draw things, you will post them, your mom will like them. maybe your friend will like them. And it’s hard because you could do that for years. But you really need to like the process, even when you hate it (which you will). So just be aware there is this valley of darkness you have to walk through, but then there is light at the end!
Can you talk to us about a project you’re really proud of?
This is something that made me jump up and down a lot. At the beginning of this year, the ad agency Ogilvy called me to work on a project for Coca Cola. And I thought “oh my gosh, what?! I know who they are! Everyone knows them!” I said yes. They had a ridiculous deadline, they wanted three posters done almost instantly. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but they came out amazing. They’re actually sending them to a bunch of ad festivals, they won two silvers at the Dubai links festival. So that’s kind of crazy! Another one is for a Chinese mobile company, Meitu. They had a cool idea, they invited I think nine artists, ton design custom boxes for their new M8 phone. There’s also a case that I designed that goes with it, wallpapers, etc. It was really cool!
Do you have a favourite spot in Toronto?
I have a lot. I go down to Queens Quay to mail out my Etsy embroidery kits and there;s an incredible spot there. There are boats that look like pirate ships, and there’s a little pink chair and you can sit there, look at the lake, it’s really relaxing. Around here, there’s Istanbul Cafe around the corner that I like to sit and sip Jasmine tea and sketch. The roof of my building actually has a little terrace. When the weather is just right, it’s a great place to sit, sometimes my son and I go eat up there. So basically, anywhere outside!
Here’s the final artwork for our current Summer 2017 Menu cover:
And the Bill Cards:
Check out more of Lidija’s work here: