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Meet Sveta Kudakova

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sveta Kudakova.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I guess every story has a beginning. Mine started in Russia, a city called Nizhny Novgorod. Born and raised there, I always expressed interest in art, but never really thought it was possible to pursue this path as a career. Everybody surrounding me were managers, economists, doctors, etc. So, the first degree I received after high school was an Economic major in Linguistic University. As a part of linguistics, we learned a lot of languages, so I believe it not only opened my eyes toward other cultures but broadened my horizons in terms of what can be done in life. And I clearly remember the moment when I had a thought of “I want to do art professionally”. It was my 21st birthday when my friend and I went to see animation “Up”. I was so touched and impressed, and at that moment thought, this is worth to be doing in life.

So, my last two years in economics were heavily spent online researching for any art classes I could find and any information on how this whole art side of movie business works. By the time I graduated from economics, I have already had some experience working in a bank and therefore have had a clear understanding that I do want to be a concept artist. It was hard to imagine this job in Russia at the time, and on top of that I realized that I needed training. Out of curiosity, I applied my portfolio to some art schools like Art Center College of Design in US, some concept art training programs in Asia, and others. Willing to mainly get some feedback, I was surprised to receive an acceptance from Art Center here in Pasadena, California.

Honestly, If not for support from my friends and, first and foremost, my family, I wouldn’t dare to go across the world and spend at least four years in Art Center. I majored in entertainment arts and had a chance to take various classes from different majors and meet so many great designers and artists from different areas of expertise. Now, being three years after it, I see it was one of the highlights of my life and really an invaluable experience. But little I knew, as hard as it was to go through Art Center, it wasn’t nearly so stressful as to what came afterward – the job hunt. Which is a story in its own. But after going through some internships, I settled as a freelance artist and now I see it as one of the best things that can happen to an artist.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Our reality is mainly our perception of it, right? Being a classic Russian, who is always waiting for something bad to happen, just like weather in Saint Petersburg, I see life as an Artist is a pretty bumpy road. It is not just the job search that can be soul-draining (as a freelancer you need to always be actively looking out for work even if you already got it), but living life as an artist may be hard. In my work, personal or professional, I am never satisfied with the result and it is really the thing that is driving me forward. It might be hard at times to be mostly unsatisfied, however I know that this feeling is what makes you a better artist. It is important to keep it a fun chase with yourself rather than with anyone else (and sometimes it is that healthy competition with fellow artists too). Learning to make this whole thing work is the whole trick, the rest is just a matter of routine and persistence. In the end, it is all worth it- to see the finished result getting a life on its own- getting alive on a movie screen or reaching out to readers in books.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am a freelance concept artist and illustrator working for games and movies, occasionally doing some work for publishing. My specialty is character design. When working on characters or illustrations I feel like I am a writer, animator, psychologist and a fashion designer at the same, trying to make an image look alive, believable and make it look good at the same time. I believe that my attention to the soul of each project is the key aspect that I am emphasizing in any work I do. The goal here is to make it unique, make it a Character that would stand out, rather than to make another empty shell. In the world filled with imagery, to my opinion, it is crucial to be able to connect with audience emotionally and to provoke response.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Nothing really. Except for maybe I’d try to have more confidence in myself from the very beginning. Though I believe our journey is what shapes us into who we are. So, every mistake is precious in its own way.

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Image Credit:
Sveta Kudakova

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