To draw and think

June 14, 2012

Mina Milk studied to be an economist and ended up becoming an illustrator. She likes leopards and she lives in London. Mila’s exhibitions happen in Great Britain, Russia, France and Spain. Snob magazineDiesel UKLee CooperKira LaoLazy GramophoneNutshell magDreamerunitedSekta are among her сlients.

How did you get here?
Frankly speaking, I ran away from the problems. After 4 years of studies I had no desire to be an economist, and I have always wanted to draw in peace. That’s how I’m here.

What did you lack at home that you have now?
I used to lack calmness, time and tasty food. Here I have it all: cozy room to work in, a possibility to study old printing techniques, free museums and great weather.

Do you work with local employers or Russian ones?
I work with all of them. An illustrator’s job knows no bounds: the Internet makes the world smaller and the clients closer.

Is there a difference in the approach to the projects or in the organization of the work? Are the professional demands the same? Who pays more?
There are some fanatics in Russia, who understand why they need illustration. It’s interesting to work with them, and sometimes they even pay. In London it’s business. Everything is clear, everything has its price. The clients from the top segment of the market pay enough, but there aren’t many of them. Other clients pay little or don’t pay at all, so you either work for portfolio or keep on looking for a more profitable order. But both here and in Russia a client not often knows what he/she wants from you, so you should work by intuition.

Where is it more interesting and better to live?
Everywhere. I mean, two months in London, one month in Moscow, one month in Sri-Lanka. The only problem is the weight of my computer and my scanner. It’s more convenient to live in England. There’s comfort and satiety, and it’s only healthcare that leaves much to be desired. I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy to fall ill here.

Do you communicate with local illustrators and designers or live in isolation? What illustrators do you like?
Well, it’s quite hard to live in isolation, even if you try. I mix with both and I like many of the modern illustrators like James Jean or Asa Wikman. Asa and I studied together and we’re good friends.

Does the local culture, local trends influence your style? Do you take part in any cultural projects, visit any exhibitions?
The local culture enriches you. I am interested in the lifestile, in the way of thinking. It’s a different culture, here conceptualism is in value. I take part in different projects all the time. Although lately I’ve been ill and stopped for a while.

How to compete with the local illustrators and why do the employers choose you?
It’s the same as elsewhere  if you have your own visual language, a good network of the people you want to deal with  it’s a success. I already have the language and I am working on the network. It’s a bit hard to get both when you study.

Have you studied at local art schools, special courses, master-classes in illustration? What do they teach and how?
I have deliberately come to England to study illustration, although I had practically no idea what it was. I’ve got it, I’ve learned, I’m very glad. In Russia I used to study at different art schools and there they teach you to draw. And here we are taught to think and to express our thoughts by means of drawing. I think a good artist needs both.

Do you ever go to Russia?
Yes, my family and my friends live there. And I am fascinated by the contrast  unless you live somewhere else you can never understand how interesting the life is in Russia. I want to move rather often  I want to travel much. And then I’ll have my own house and a centre of big cats breeding  they are almost endangered now. I don’t know exactly, where.

What do you miss here?
I miss my people, the richness of what is going on, the sincerity, the gloomy halls of the Zoological museum, the places I’ve known for 10 years.

Mina Milk's portfolio