Kristina Vardazaryan

Where did you grow up and when did you decide to become an artist?
I grew up in Ukraine, Kiev. I have always had passion for art; however, never got the chance to learn the skill growing up since I was too involved with the music school for years. When we moved to LA I picked up art in high school and in the beginning it was just a hobby. I have always thought I will become a composer or something that had to do with music and never knew that art will become so prominent in my life. It was a long struggle for me do decide between the two and I finally chose art when I was finishing my first term at CSUN (music composition major) and went to Art Center instead. 

Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? How did you develop your skills?
At first I was self taught. Then I went to Art Center where I really developed my skill. I wasn't very good when I started since I lacked the artistic fundamental knowledge and a lot of people that I was in classes with have been doing art longer than me. As you can imagine it was very tough to even compete or keep up with. The way I developed my skill, I think by having very good teachers and I have surrounded myself with people that knew a lot more about art than I did. In addition of course working a lot! I am very grateful that I got to learn from Michael Humphries, Will Weston, Lou Police, Richard Keys, Paul Rogers and many other teachers I wouldn't be where I am if I haven't met these great artists. I would encourage to take their classes.

Have you always been supported in your artistic path or has it been challenging to let your family and friends understand your choice?
My immediate family was always supportive of my career choices. I am very lucky!

What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
My strongest influence  growing up were definitely books, movies and mostly classical music. When I would play Chopin, Bach or even compose my own pieces I have always imagined scenery when I closed my eyes. I love painting dramatic scenes and I think it is because of my musical background.
Did you have a favourite subject to draw when you were a child and do you still have one today? If you do, what makes it so special?
I think I have always loved painting landscapes and that passion will probably never die. I find nature very beautiful and serene, it makes me want to capture that beauty on a paper. Plus I think you get best colors doing Plein Air and its fascinating how colors change in a day. 

From the initial client idea to the final work: what goes through your mind when you are designing and what is the method you use when starting a project? Could you describe it?
Well usually when the client describes what they want me to design, I try to imagine it in my mind approximately.  Then of course a lot of research to inspire me, thumbnail sketches and then I start painting. In my process I like showing my progress, just to see what the client is reacting to the most. Even if it is to show your references, it will give you a clearer idea of what the client wants so you don't put too much time and effort into something that doesn't work. It is best to have a lot of reference before you start painting, from my experience I finish any painting so much faster when I know what I am going for.

What is your process in colouring your art and what type of tools and media do you use?
Well at work I mostly paint with photoshop at work. However, on my own projects I like working with pastels, watercolors, etc. Then sometimes I finish it digitally, but preserving its textures and colors. 

What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
I love doing color keys, stylizing is fun as well. I think the least thing that I enjoy is sketching, I dont hate it though and I dont think its hard for me.  I have just realized that anytime I start a piece I cant wait to start painting it. I feel that when you start putting in colors, thats when the image comes alive, that is why I am never satisfied with just drawing. To me painting traditionally is more challenging. I love painting with watercolors and I find it hard to control it at times and you can never go back and fix a mistake. It is harder to control values because I am not as accustomed to mixing colors as I am used to photoshop. Other than that I enjoy doing different styles of art they all have their unique challenges and part of becoming a great artist is being able to solve and overcome those obstacles.  

What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work/collaborate with?
Besides my full time job at Paramount I work on my personal projects with my partner/boyfriend, Jonathan Hoekstra. We are always thinking of creating our own IP. Currently we are working on making a game and art for licensing. It is very exciting !

What is your longterm career goal and what would your dream project be?
My career goal, I would like to be a production designer eventually. However, I do not think that is the only way to go. There is so much that you can do with art these days, the possibilities are just endless! I would love to create something of my own some day.

What advise would you give to an artist who is dealing with an art-block? How do you boost your imagination and keep yourself creative?
To deal with art block I would suggest to just stop painting or drawing and to just inspire/feed your mind with art and movies that inspires you. When you feel like you don't know what to paint or draw its because you probably burnt yourself out. Take a walk somewhere, go hiking, etc. Helps me every time!

Concept art, animation, illustration, comics, there are lots of choices. When you’re young, sometimes you know only one thing: you love to draw. What should a young artist take into consideration to make the right decision when choosing an artistic path?
You got to do what you love the most. I chose animation because I love it. When you don't know where you fit in, my advise is to take internships while  you are in school and see if you like the job. Then by the time you graduate you will have a clearer idea of what kind of path you want to take. 

Many art teachers and schools suggest to their students that a commercial artist should always work in one consistent style if they wish to have a healthy career. In your own experience, do you believe this to be true?
I am not sure how working in one style will help you to have a healthy career. I think it is good and important to develop your own style. However, I think while you are developing your style it is good to be able to show that you can work in different styles as well. It makes you more diverse and you will have more chance on getting hired.

What’s your point of view about the industry today: what are the expectation for someone who wants to make a living with an artistic career?
Just working hard and doing the best that you can do.  There are so many opportunities of utilizing your artistic skills, you just have keep doing it and look for different opportunities. 

Who are the artists who inspire you the most today and what are some of your favorite designs out there?
There are a lot! Charley Harper, Alison and Martin Provensens, Joseph Zbukvic, Eyvind Earle and many others. 

Finally, Where can we see your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?
You can visit my website at ( ) and follow me on   ( ) and ( ). I also have an Etsy store ( )

Thank you Kristina :)