VSS Illustrator Interviews

In doing these interviews, we hope to give you a glimpse into our artist members' unique personalities, a new perspective on their wonderful work, and the opportunity to know what inspires them!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tatyana Starikova

Tatyana Starikova is our talented featured artist this week. From watercolors to digital paintings she makes it all look easy. It's great to read about her background and I'm excited to see more of her art on the VSS in the future!

How did you get started in illustration?
My illustrating life started when I created illustrations for our high school newspaper. I decided then that my future career would be art related.
What is your favorite medium? Can you describe your usual work process for us?
My favorite traditional medium is watercolor. I also enjoy exploring digital painting and illustration using great tools offered by computer programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, and Painter. I love both mediums equally and find it hard to choose one so I switch between traditional and digital mediums from time to time, depending on my inspiration or project requirements, and have fun combining them as well. I like to keep a digital “doodle” folder on my desktop for quick sketches using my Wacom tablet while I am working on the computer.
Do you write as well as illustrate your own stories? Which comes first for you?
I don’t consider myself a writer, but stories always live inside of me. One day I hope to write my own story. I have lots of ideas! Visual definitely comes first.

Do you illustrate full time or do you also have a day job?  How do you balance the different aspects of your life?
I have a day job as a graphic designer/illustrator at a medical college and do freelance illustration on evenings and weekends. To keep balance in my life, I have to be very disciplined and careful about how I spend my time. It is not easy for me, but illustration is what I can’t live without, and I stick to my schedule the best I can.
Where in the country do you live? Could you describe your studio and include some photos? 
I am so lucky to live in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley, where the great Hudson River School artists found their inspiration and at the same time close enough to New York City to enjoy its museums, endless attractions and energy.
My studio is on the lower floor of our house. It is divided into two areas: for office and painting. I love my huge closet filled with fun stuff – art and craft supplies.
Tell us about your education and training. Did you learn more through school or your own experiences?
I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts and Education in my beloved country Ukraine. I was teaching art to students at the elementary and middle school levels for 5 years in the city where I was born. America gave me a great opportunity to continue my education in Computer Arts and to work with great talented artists and designers at a gift company and at the graphic arts studio at the medical college where I work now.
While art school gave me the foundation for my illustration career, working together with other artists in studios gave me an appreciation of others’ unique visions and talents, and invaluable opportunities to learn quickly and with great intensity from their experience. 
Please list any of your publications and let us know your website.
Last year I created illustrations for a story “Celebrating Easter in the Dark” published by Highlights Magazine for Children.
Please see more of my work by visiting my website at www.tatyana-starikova.com
Tell us about your current project.
I am working on a picture book “Woolly the Bully” written by my husband Jon Harris. It is a story about how a goat and sheep overcome bullying to become friends.

Who are your favorite children’s illustrators or authors?
My favorite illustrators are Mary Blair, Alice and Martin Provensen, Ivan Bilibin and many, many others. I love fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen and Oscar Wilde.
What inspires you?
I find inspiration in many things; reading folk tales; a barking puppy (especially when he is “singing” while my daughter is practicing her music – I get the biggest kick out of it!), landscapes in any kind of weather, children playing, animals wandering across the backyard, learning something new.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A teacher. I had a very nice teacher in elementary school and wanted to be just like her.

What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
Spend time with my husband and daughter, play with my dog, read, walk outside, watch movies…and talk to my friend on the phone!
What job would you like to have if you weren’t an artist?

Any advice you’d pass along to illustrators just getting started?
Keep illustrating, both to keep in practice and to build a portfolio. Also, explore other visual artistic media and genres.


  1. Your work is so lovely and entertaining. I can see that you have more than one style for your paintings. The scientist in you comes through as well *:)

  2. I love your use of color. Your work is lovely!

  3. I love your use of color. Your work is lovely!

  4. Hi Laura, thanks for sharing your work and process. All of your images are beautiful. I am especially drawn to the first with the girl, boat, canoe and lilypads. It is magical!