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Inside the Artist’s Studio with Offset Illustrator Yevgenia Nayberg

Offset by Shutterstock is a hand-picked collection of extraordinary, engaging imagery from top artists and storytellers around the world.

Offset artist Yevgenia Nayberg loves translating a story into painted motifs and digitally-rendered illustrations. We recently visited her Brooklyn, New York studio for a glimpse into her world. Nayberg’s workspace, full of ephemera and works-in-progress, is an interesting insight into the life of a busy artist; she shows her paintings in exhibitions, does theater design, and makes conceptual illustration for books, album covers, graphic novels, and editorial clients.

Yevgenia Nayberg in her studio by Lindsay Comstock
Yevgenia Nayberg in her studio by Lindsay Comstock

Upon arriving at her studio, we are drawn to several paintings laid out on the floor. They’re part of a larger project she’s working on now — a “humorous dictionary on data,” she says with a laugh, admitting that she doesn’t know very much about data. She has them all spread on the floor because she needs to look for the “rhythm of color” among the spreads. “The author is a great explainer,” she says, explaining that she creatively interprets his definitions of a specific concept or word into her illustrations.

Photo by Lindsay Comstock

The book project is a good example of her working process: First she conceptualizes the project’s narrative through drawing, then she paints it by hand, and then she scans the painting, adding in digital components — sometimes text, sometimes photos, and sometimes additional design elements.

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Illustrations by Yevgenia Nayberg
Illustrations of the artistic process by Yevgenia Nayberg

Nayberg says she’s been a painter for literally as long as she can remember — from the age of four. She attended art school in Kiev, where she was born and raised, moving to the United States at age 19. She studied at Carnegie Melon briefly, then Cal State Long Beach, where she received her master’s degree in theater design. She lived in California for eight years before moving to New York City almost a decade ago.

Of her process, she says, “I like things that are related to literature because I like to write, and I like to find the visual equivalent of the metaphor.”

One of Nayberg’s works-in-progress by Lindsay Comstock

“Style is much more than the way you lay your strokes,” she explains. “When you’re technically versatile, you find what to do with it. It’s a challenge to find clients who embrace your range. I want to keep an effortless style, a lightness of being in my work.”

In keeping with this “lightness of being,” she says she has to make an effort to not aim for perfection (her background is very academic). “I think it takes me more time to make it look like I don’t know what I’m doing in a way. Expectations have shifted; people want that playfulness, that effortlessness. It needs to look like you inhaled, did it in a second, and exhaled. If it looks like you were sweating, that’s not good — even if it’s anatomically correct or technically impeccable,” she says. “It’s hard work; it just shouldn’t look like it.”

Gay male couple kissing in window with pride by Yevgenia Nayberg

For her background in theater, Nayberg says she’s interested in the “theatricality of life more than a somber observation.”

And through these observations, she says it isn’t difficult to translate the stories of others onto the canvas. “You just have to care about the story,” she says. Recently she illustrated a biographical story of one girl’s journey from Somalia to Nairobi, Kenya for the Nike Foundation. “If you’re an illustrator, that’s what you do; you take someone else’s story and you make it your story.”

Illustration by Yevgenia Nayberg

She also regularly takes on illustration jobs for Insight Magazine, which publishes research articles. From this publication, she’s learning about many different subjects. “I feel like I’m getting my MBA through them,” she says.

She recently completed an assignment “about authenticity and how people get tired of being inauthentic when they have to pretend to be nice in their daily existence.” She explains that her illustration is based on a classic painting by Davide called “Murat,” about a man who was killed in a bathtub. “I like to put little inside jokes into my work.”

Photo by Lindsay Comstock
Woman holding a mask relaxing in a bathtub by Yevgenia Nayberg

Working on editorial projects allows Nayberg to be “a new person every time.” She continues, “I have a lot of freedom mostly. If there’s something else I’d like to try I will later. Stylistically I definitely want to go somewhere, but I’m not sure where yet.”

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Offset artists are visual storytellers with a deep passion for their craft. Images in the Offset collection are gathered from world-class and award-winning assignment photographers, illustrators, and agencies, with a focus on unique content with narrative, authentic, and sophisticated qualities.

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Top image: An illustration of a woman doing yoga by Yevgenia Nayberg

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