Aloha Gaia team spent a day in the studio of our friend and talented artist Natalie Rukavishnikova who told us about her childhood dreams of becoming an architect and a skateboarder, about the creation of her new studio, symbolism in artworks, and favorite Aloha Gaia jewelry.
Aloha! Tell us about yourself and your work. How did you get started, where did you get the education and when did you deliver your first project?
I was born in Moscow and grew up there, too. In my school years, I wanted to follow in my mother’s footsteps and to become an architect. Then I started to prepare for the Moscow Architectural Institute and at the same time helped my friend to work with props in the theatre. Six months before the exam I have changed my mind about becoming an architect and devoted my time and energy to the drawing, color theory and theater studies.
After school, I have entered the GITIS to become an art director. There, while I was studying, I created some personal works of art. It all started with notebooks and making sketches. From these sketches, I created final works, and till my graduation, I had gathered all of them and joined into a single story.
After graduation in 2015, I made an exhibition to see whether anyone was interested. After the first exhibition, I decided to continue. The exhibition was on the “Elektrozavod”. On my website, there is a publication about the event. There, I try to keep all important moments: the process of work on paintings, exhibitions, and interviews.
This is how my art began, and I try to continue to develop my knowledge and skills. Now I like to work with series, to compose a story through pictures. At this moment, by the way, I am making a new series for the exhibition.
To which extent, in your opinion, childhood has an influence on the future? What would be your answer to the favorite question of adults about your future career? Did you parents support you on your way?
The events that happen in childhood are the foundation of personality. They can be noticed also during adulthood, I think, throughout all life. Behavior and choices that we make are able to tell somewhat about our past.
In early childhood, I liked explorers, archaeologists, and travelers. And when I was 11 I started skateboarding and already at 14 did collaborations with Nike and Fresh Fiction. I thought that my life will be connected with skateboarding. None of my family members was an artist, so my decision to go to GITIS was perceived somewhat disturbing at first. But my mom has always supported me.
In many of your paintings, there is a forest. Is there special symbolism in it? Where do you get inspiration for your paintings?
Each piece has its value. Animals and nature are symbols of inner feelings and mental states. This is the language of symbols. For example, a branch of a weeping willow is a sorrow, a memory of the past and a desire to hold it. As for forest, it is something unconscious, freedom of feelings that lives inside.
The latest works are largely inspired by the Major Arcana and stories by Ray Bradbury about the circus. For example, “Something wicked this way comes”, “Corpse Carnival" and "The Illustrated Man”.
I also study the history of the circus – its origin, development, lifestyle. I am interested in every detail of this aesthetics. Mostly I am fond of the circus of the Victorian era. I think that this period is very interesting: the scientific progress had only begun and the world was still not well studied at that time. It was a great mystery, full of magic.
Do you have live models? Characters on your works exist?
Yes, I have live drawings. I work on sketches for my paintings. Sometimes one can guess who the person is, but it is not my goal. For a specific work, I transform my model look to make the image a bit more general.
How did you create the design of your studio? What are the essential things for your space to live and work?
I did it gradually. There are drawings, paintings and new materials to work with. I love to collect items with stories close to mine: sculptures, prints, books, crystals – it all inspires. That is how I filled the space which eventually has turned into my studio. This all required order and at some point, I began to treat the space as if I was working on its composition and palette.
Often I had to move and for this time I have chosen the factory space. I have searched for a bright, high-ceiling room for a long time and this one matched me well but I had to carry some repair works which took me a month to complete.
There were periods in my life when I had no personal space. Then I only drew in notebooks. So my essential things are always materials and paper, and space can be anything.
Do you have favorite smells? Which home incense do you use?
I like pretty common Zodiac incense, Satya, and Nag Champa. I love a series of wax candles with figs. And the smell of coffee.
What is your typical daily schedule? What do you like to spend your free time on?
Time is a precious resource, and in art, it is important to have a time management rule. I try to follow my schedule and wake up early. In my studio, I usually start with sketches. Then I work on private orders or personal works. I always have a 15-minute break every 2-3 hours. Basically, to answer emails or read my favorite books.
On certain days I make live sketches with the models, which eventually become a part of my works. Of course, it is not always possible to strictly follows the timing for a day or even a week. There are some works and circumstances that are the priority.
In my free time, I usually see my friends. Go to exhibitions, concerts, performances, and movies. Make cinema days at home, play Mortal Kombat, or go skating. And there are days when I just want to stay home with a book or Playstation.
How did you get to know Aloha Gaia brand and why do you love it?
Three years ago I helped to organize Lambada-market for Aloha Gaia: I painted the sign for this event.
Stones, crystals, metals and their combination have a special influence on people. I like that Aloha Gaia focuses on in every detail of its ideas and meaning behind the jewelry. The brand shares precious knowledge which eventually turns into an interesting game to explore the world and its history through jewelry.
Which jewelry from Sacred Path collections did you like most and why?
From this collection I have chosen Maasaw ring with hematite, also Paho, Askwali, and Navoti rings as well as Tawa pendant. I like their minimalism and harmonious way they can be combined with the jewelry from other collections. Also, I really like the new design of Luna pendant.
What are you working on now? What plans do you have for this year?
Now I continue working on an art series called “A Walk In The Dark”. I hope to finish it soon and create an exhibition.