With a classic fairytale style, and a willingness to explore everything from medieval legend through to wild psychedelia, Sveta Dorosheva is the artist to turn to for beautiful, meticulous and ornamental illustration with a hint of magic about it.
Born in Ukraine and now living in Israel, drawing is her passion and she feels like she’d be virtually dead without it. She’s also an artist who engages physically with her work – everything is done by hand using traditional materials. And it shows – you can feel the concentration and imagination that’s gone into every stroke in her fantastical illustrations.
With influences like Harry Clarke, Kay Nielsen, Edmund Dulac and Arthur Rackham, it’s not hard to see where Sveta’s love of that fairytale style comes from. However, she has given it her own twist, adding a surreal Through the Looking Glass spirit to it. Ancient costumes, medieval emblems, heraldic symbols and renaissance engravings are also sources of inspiration, and she loves vintage botanical illustration too.
Though Sveta graduated from Zaporozhye State University in Ukraine with a degree in languages and literature, she’s been training as an artist all her life. On the one hand, she was an experienced art director and creative director in one of Kiev’s largest advertising agencies, on the other she studied anatomy and academic drawing at the Tel Aviv Classical School of Art. To ‘teach’ herself illustration, she threw herself in at the deep end and wrote and illustrated a children’s book, which is full of her own images, lettering and ideas.
In 2015, her book was published in Russia and Romania. It’s been an instant hit with readers, was nominated for the National Bestseller Award 2016 in Russia, and a US printing is planned.
An image begins when Sveta writes down her ideas in words – no drawings. When she’s settled on the clearest concept, the sketching begins and she starts thinking about the tonal scheme. Once she’s happy with a rough, she makes a clean pencil drawing on watercolour paper, and inks it before painting in the colour. If she wants a softer feel, she’ll leave out the linked line work and use straight watercolours. Sometimes, when working in black and white, she’ll use a ballpoint pen for a soft, engraved-like effect.
Sveta’s main style has been likened to Golden Age fairy tales – classic and vintage. When she brings modern themes and ideas into the work juxtaposition is created that makes it fresh, relevant and unique.
Her second style involves light line art, drawn quickly and with more expression and less detail. A silhouette, a dance, a fantasy scene. Usually these images are done using ink, a spot colour, or in pencil.