Alisa Foytik is a Russian artist and a 6-year Shutterstock contributor. She currently lives in Washington, D.C., but lived in the U.K. for five years and has traveled every corner of the world. Her Shutterstars story is an inspiration — it includes a turning point from absolute misery to a dream job. Alisa recently visited the Shutterstock offices and was kind enough to grant an interview about her life and art. She shared some insights into her work style, advice for success, and a few of her favorite Shutterstock artists.
Q: How do you define yourself creatively and stylistically?
A: I’m always on the search for new ideas and new styles. I think a true artist should never stop changing and progressing. I started with drawing doodles and during the past years tried all sorts of styles, from vintage to high-tech with transparencies and lots of layers. The only thing that was consistent in my drawings was the hand-drawn style. I love to draw uneven and quirky lines using my Wacom tablet and Adobe Illustrator. When I had just started contributing to Shutterstock in 2006, I thought to myself, “What I’m really good at?” and “What makes me different from other talented artists?” I wanted to capitalize on what could differentiate myself and my work from other illustrators. After thinking for a while, I came to the following conclusion: I’m a girl (hee-hee—that’s kind of obvious) so all girly themes will be my best themes. I am also a passionate gardener, with great love for plants — so drawing flowers in a new unique way could be my strength. I also have a degree in fashion design and worked as a fashion designer for 2 years, designing wedding dresses — so everything to do with fashion and weddings is my kind of thing. I have travelled all over the world and love London more than any other city — so whole series of travel-themed London doodles were born.
Q: How do you decide what to illustrate and upload to your gallery?
A: My main goal is to give customers what they need, even if they don’t yet know what image it may be. So I often imagine myself as the customer, saying, “What if…?” For instance, “What if I was looking for a perfect Christmas card, or a leaflet, or designing a web page about dog food… What elements will I need to use?” I also listen to what people say, keeping my eyes open to trends and reflecting those changes into my artworks. I feel that ideas are in the air, all you need is just to be open to receive them and then put it on paper.
Q: Do you ever see your images show up in finished products, like ads or websites?
A: All the time! I love it! It is amazing to know that my design was chosen out of thousands of other beautiful images. The first time it happened was when I had just begun my Shutterstock gallery. I had bought a fizzy drink in a Pret A Manger, in Camden, London, and to my surprise there was my image, “Deck Chairs in Brighton” on this bottle. It was so encouraging and from that moment I knew I had chosen the correct career path. Yet the most incredible moment for me was seeing my images used at a London shop in Cambridge. One beautiful summer day my cousin and I were walking down the the main street in Cambridge, full of shops and cafes, and suddenly we see this shop covered with my images! From the signboard, window dressings, plastic shopping bags, wrapping paper, and cards, all covered with my vectors. I was shocked and it was great to see my design in real life. I took several photos of myself in front of this shop and found out that the owner of the shop personally bought my images on Shutterstock! Just incredible!
I also have a community of friends, some also Shutterstock contributors, that will send me links, photos, or actual items that use my images. Additionally I save the featured lightboxes that may showcase some of my images. It’s really important for me to know that my work is useful and people are using my images, giving meaning and purpose to my job. Also, by archiving these items, I can go back to them for inspiration and motivation and at times I share them on my personal blog: “alicedaniel – as a souvenir”.
Q: Have there been any adversities you’ve had to overcome to be able to focus on your career as an illustrator?
A: At some point in my life I found myself doing four jobs at the same time, trying to stay awake and alive. So I needed to make a decision, to work in high school full time, to keep my own photo studio, to run great voluntary social projects, or to focus on developing my portfolio on Shutterstock. Of course I choose the last one, because I like it the most and also it gives me freedom to travel, to grow professionally, and to just be myself. Since that time I’ve never regretted my decision; I’m sure I made the right choice. It’s getting better and better!
Q: Are there tips you can share with other contributors that would provide insights to selling designs?
A: This is a question I’m often asked. I have only one piece of advice for anyone who would like to be successful on Shutterstock: WORK HARD! You have to work every day, whatever the weather or whatever the mood you’re in. At first it will be difficult, there could be quantity over quality problem, but in the end the quality will come, you just need to try hard enough. I don’t believe in bad months or bad indexation of new images, with your next upload you could hit the top fifty. I have the set number of images that I create every day, there is no such thing as a weekend. So it’s just work hard, every day, but the beauty of my work process is that I can spend half a day rock climbing in the Blue Ridge, making sketches on the way, and then come home, process these drawings, and a new set for Shutterstock is ready!
Q: Are there any other contributors you admire in the Shutterstock collection?
A: There just too many! I think there are lots of talented, amazing people working for Shutterstock — real artists, trendsetters in modern design. When I just started drawing in Illustrator I was always inspired by delicate works of LenLis and quirky images of Elise Gravel and my friends and talented artists, smilewithjul, Markovka, and Gorbash Varvara. I also love the modern feel of Anna Paff, yusuf doganay, zolssa, and Lavandaart. And I could continue, because I also know and love the works of a lot of talented photographers! Over the years I became friends with most of the artists that I like on Shutterstock and we encourage one another and share our happy and sad moments. It’s good to have around other like-minded people who are passionate about the same things you are.
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Thanks Alisa! We really enjoyed your visit and speaking with you about your journey as an artist and Shutterstock contributor.
View some of Alisa’s images below and click here for more.