Dima Rebus


Julia Yakushova


Natasha Klimchuk
Bang! Bang! Partner


Olya Morozova
Bang! Bang! Partner


Katya Nizharadze


Dmitriy Karpov
illustrator and teacher



February 20, 2012

Once we were asked to find one who can draw a picture like da Vinci in two days. One day we won’t be surprised to be asked for a Brooks who is not Brooks or any other artist who is able to do the same work for less money. It’s expensive and complicated to hire a well-known artist, especially when his style can be easily copied. And when there is a demand, there is a supply. Many illustrators are now ready to draw pictures in imitation of famous illustrators’ works. Such attitude towards creative work spoils both the client and the artist. In this way, there’s no progress.

We spoke about style, imitation, inspiration and duplication to two illustrators, two art-directors and one teacher. The teacher even managed to lecture us on the questions we’d forgotten to ask.

There is nothing to moralize on but there seems to be something to think over.

Part One: the questionnaire

Can a person be a successful and asked-for illustrator if he/she isn’t original, isn’t unique?

Dima Rebus, a Bang! Bang! illustrator
This person can be successful but can’t be the one.

Julia Yakushova, a Bang! Bang! Illustrator
It seems to me that there’s the model of success in illustration that is popular in Russia or CIS. For instance, you can always make a lot of money when you deal with photorealism or storyboards. It is not a secret. And if you want self-expression you should study languages and try your luck in foreign agencies. 

Natasha Klimchuk, a Bang! Bang! Partner
People of different abilities can be successful in our country. To prove it just turn on your TV. An illustrator, however, is likely to find a well-paid job if he/she draws in all manners with comparative ease. And fame or money depends on the ambitions.

Olya Morozova, a Bang! Bang! Partner
It’s possible if you can draw like Norman Rockwell, Ivan Bilibin or Alexander Deineka.

Katya Nizharadze, a Cosmopolitan art-director
Even when you start with imitation you can finally find your style if you’re really keen on illustration. It’s just the formation phase. There’s no copying to be afraid of if it’s sensible. Any artist can be demanded for imitation. We don’t always know the final aim of the client. Maybe that’s the exact imitation what is needed. The advantage of imitating is that the artist is usuallyin the know what is popular and he/she takes it into account.

Jason Brooks


How do you like the tasks when you are asked to copy one’s style (with an example attached)?

Dima Rebus:
I haven’t been offered this sort of job. And I’m likely to refuse if I ever would be. That’s not the thing that I’m too proud of I can’t imitate famous illustrators. I’m quite happy that my own style is in demand. But you never can tell.

Julia Yakushova
I laugh and I get upset. And then I answer that I have my own manner, and I draw in that very manner. I am not an Alphonse Mucha to draw his pictures. There are many civilized and experienced clients who sent style reference links from your own website.

Natasha Klimchuk:
A habit causes indifference, that’s what Balsac wrote. There is a problem of incomprehensible distrust of Russian illustrators in Russia. The clients hardly ever refer to their portfolio.

Olya Morozova
Everyone should draw in one’s own style (if there’s one). It’s another thing if an illustrator wants to create something in someone else’s manner e.g. when experimenting with styles.

Katya Nizharadze
Individuality is no doubt the main force the artists use. But most of the clients focus on something that that has already been a success. They are not ready to take risk. And what is more, Russian publishing industry leaves much to be desired compared to Western one although things are changing fast now.

Frank Miller


There’s a belief that an illustrator is rather a craftsman than an artist. That is to say that he/she should pay more attention to the task details than to own self-expression. Is it true or not?

Dima Rebus:
In a sort of way it is true. But the tasks are always different. Even an artist can get a job when he/she can’t deviate from the theme. The difference between an illustrator and an artist is that an illustrator normally gets more tasks of this sort.

Julia Yakushova
Frankly speaking, this is the first time I hear such things. In my opinion every creative person at work faces the necessity to balance needs and self-expression. There’s nothing offensive in the word craftsman as soon as there’s no use of setting off an artist’s job against an illustrator’s one. And an illustrator is just another member of the team.

Natasha Klimchuk
One is always expressing oneself when drawing. Those artists who made portraits of Napoleon or Alexander also had to restrain their self-expression. Just to be on the safe side.

Olya Morozova
An illustrator is able to use technique. Mostly there’s a plot constructed by an art-director, and there’re just details that can be added to the layout.

Noma Bar


How to differ a work imitated from a work inspirited?

Dima Rebus: 
The number of works. If there are some of them, we can say that a person is inspired by some artist’s works. And if there are millions of the same borrowed style works it’s simply imitating, copying.

Julia Yakushova: 
Why? How can a person not imitate one’s style? Nobody has grown up in isolation.

Natasha Klimchuk: 
Even if an artist copies one’s technique blindfold, there must be difference in ideas, in plots.           

Olya Morozova: 
It’s super when an illustrator inspired by other artists creates something new and enchanting. Even if there is some resemblance to those pictures. But it’s a trouble when a person crudely copies someone else’s works.

Leonardo da Vinchi


Pin-up as a style of illustration was very popular in postwar America. Hundreds of artists and illustrators drew sleek-legged and plump-lipped girls. Now the magazines are demanding for slanting-eyed girls in Brooks’ style. Is there a difference between the copying of style and following the general trend?

Olya Morozova
An artist chooses the wrong path when he/she attempts to copy one’s unique and trendy style in order to snatch the piece of this person’s fame. Even when there were no computers every person’s work differed from another’s one in the thickness and frequency of shading or the tools the artist used.


Is it worth examining other people’s works in search of inspiration and interesting ideas?

Dima Rebus
For sure. But you should draw the line between being inspired and being lost in strangers’ view.

Julia Yakushova
Why not if there is much time and good eyesight?

Gary Baseman


How to become an imitated and trendy illustrator?

Dima Rebus:
I don’t know. Do your best. But the main thing is to get your own audience. The people who will like and understand you, your ideas and your ideals.     

Julia Yakushova
Think less about that sort of stuff.

Olya Morozova and Natasha Klimchuk
Train your brain, heart, eyes and hands. In this strict succession.

Katya Nizharadze
That’s the key to those looking for their style. We lack illustrators for women magazines. There are plenty of great artists but not many of those with the sense of humor who draw fascinating pictures of that sort.


What illustrators are the most popular (with imitators) in Russia?

Natasha Klimchuk
Frank Miller, Jason Brooks (this style has already set everybody’s teeth on edge), Gary Baseman, Noma Bar and Luke LaTulip are the most demanded for imitating. The Pixara cartoons like “Toy Story” are also very popular.

Luke LaTulip


Part two: Dmitriy Karpov's lecture

(an illustrator and a teacher of British school of art and design)


The imitation of one’s style is a must for an illustrator. It’s like completing the levels of assimilation of one’s experience. This inner energy of a stranger’s view provides has its own basis. We learn while copying. We learn from the imitation of one’s action, from the emotional exchange. It is as if we see the dance and automatically reproduce the movements. It’s a sort of a need. When one smiles to you it’s hard not to smile back.

However, the results of copying can’t be taken as a sort of creative work, they are not for sharing. That’s more about technique, the way you cope with the equipment. When there is some visual experience, we can speak about one’s style. It means that there is a mixture of techniques, approaches, nonverbal communication and metaphors.

Any style is a result of one’s search as well as one’s struggle for recognition. There are so many illustrators now, but very few of them try working with unconventional materials although they are easy to get and interesting to use. Even well-known masters are quite predictable, not many of them use digital technologies as the medium of self-development.




When asked for advice, I cynically recommend the following: 

Creative cannibalism. Copy everything you like. Stay hungry. Every godsend is a result of innumerous attempts to find.

There is no style. But some manner of self-expression that is usual for an illustrator. Don’t put into practice the pieces of “How to develop your own style” as you shouldn’t have it. Style leads to predictability of your creative potential. It’s an essential point. Style can’t be your end in itself. An illustrator should be flexible, should be able to look at the matter from different standpoints. Choose your symbolical language, choose the means of expression. 

The foundation if stylistics in illustration should always be the predictability of the due dateTrain tour speed. Try to work out the adequate working time period. Time will always influence the quality of your work. Get used to be quick and dangerous. Be beyond comparison.

There is always a background. No matter whether it is the admiration for concrete illustrators or different stratums of culture. Every style and approach can refer to many standards and models. Don’t be afraid of being strange.

Learn how to differ a copy from stylization. Love cultural allusion. Quotate well-known works of art and literature. It will always help you stay connected with the viewers and share your emotions. There is “No Country for Old Men” Everything is second in the world of constant reposting and copying.В So don’t try to copy, do the contrary.

Let character be your style. People feel the energy of your works, feel your temper. However you draw it should be in your own manner. Know what is natural for you.

If you try to imitate a trendy style in search of money don’t be in a hurry. Commercial illustration has its own rules.

If you want to start earning money quickly you should think of the tastes of your future clients. Analyze the field you want to work in. If you want to work with a concrete magazine find out if there is a niche you can find. If you don’t like money be personally involved. In this case you will also be asked-for.

Don’t listen to anybody. The story of every success is governed by the rule of chance. It’s natural only when you work more than all the business rivals. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Draw with your elbows if that’s the way you like it. And even if you don’t like the result you can be the only one who doesn’t.

Every style is good except for a boring one.