Russian artist Yaroslav Gerzhedovich focuses on the darker end of the artistic spectrum, creating haunting, often monochromatic illustrations evocative of barren lands and mystical intrigue. Taking cues from classical art and fantasy traditions, Gerzhedovich paints a picture (often literally) of other worlds and other times, easily sparking the imagination of the many fans who continually download his work. A Shutterstock contributor since 2009, Gerzhedovich has seen his art show up everywhere from websites to album covers, gaining more and more attention along the way. As this month's Shutterstar, he took the time to chat with us about his creative process and personal inspirations, and to offer his advice for other aspiring Shutterstock contributors.
How do you define yourself and your work?
I'm just an ordinary artist, mainly a miniaturist, who works with traditional techniques and mediums — acrylic, ink, pencil, paper. With computers, the internet, and designer applications like Photoshop, things change for an artist like me. I feel like my artworks get a second life in digital form. It's difficult to define my own style, but it seems to be somewhere between surrealism and fantasy.
What influences your style and the subject matter you select?
For the most part, I've always been inspired by classical European Art from the late 14th to the mid-17th centuries. It's an eternal source of artistic knowledge in the broadest sense. More recently, I've been influenced by the photography of the Victorian Era and the culture of the North American Indians.In addition to these influences, a variety of things in my everyday life — such as people's faces, clouds in the sky, scenes from movies, even simple phrases of two or three words — can instantly trigger a flow of ideas and images for future paintings.
How does Shutterstock differ from other image agencies?
The answer is very simple: higher income and the most user-friendly interface. I like the recent updates on the site, too, especially the Geo Map. It's extremely intriguing to see when someone downloads my work thousands of miles away from me, like somewhere in Mexico or New Zealand.
Do you ever see your images show up in finished products, like ads or websites?
Yes, I've seen (and recieved as a gift) a book by a British writer with my illustration on the cover. Also, some metal bands have used my images for their CD covers. Of course, they tend to download the darkest and most sinister pictures.
Are there any adversities you've had to overcome to be able to focus on your career?
If I was born ten years earlier, then maybe I would have had troubles related to the Soviet regime. But that collapsed in 1991, so my only real problem was finding the fortitude to continue painting and drawing, despite the financial difficulties. Then again, I think that most of problems of any artist are rooted deep down in the artist himself.
Can you briefly describe your process when creating for stock imagery?
Well, in the beginning, I just draw a picture on paper. It takes different amounts of time — from three hours to three months, depending on the size. Then I scan it and process it in Photoshop, sometimes minimally, sometimes beyond recognition. During the work process, I like to listen to audiobooks — anything from The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon to Stephen King novels.
Are there any tips for success you can share with other contributors?
In the most general sense, I would advise to always go your own way, without copying popular images. Of course, you need to study them, but simple imitation doesn't bring any joy or creative progress. I also think that there's no need to copy a lot of your own most successful images. It's much more interesting to try to understand why they're so popular and what attracted people to them, then to put that understanding into new works while making them different from your previous ones.
You can view more of his work by clicking here: Yaroslav Gerzhedovich Gallery.
Bonus gallery: Gerzhedovich also shared a selection of some of his favorite images. You can view some of those here: Yarsolav Gerzhedovich Picks!