INTERVIEWS

Get to know our amazing artists and prepare to be inspired!

Dima Kashtalyan

Illustrator Dima Kashtalyan is a believer in the beauty of uniqueness and the power of making a difference through art.

Having started out his career as a graffiti and mural artist, Dima's style is beautifully detailed and evocative, just as you would expect from such a talented creative working with mural projects around his country. Dima loves to gain inspiration from anything in the world, from writers and musicians to inspiring public figures, and he has certainly come much far in his career; all of this without necessarily following "trends", which he believes depersonalise the industry and the art of being an illustrator.

Dima understands the weight that art and creativity have on human life, and their importance in communicating messages that will shape the world in a different way. That is why he will always want to be his true self, at all times, especially when designing new work.

(Interview credit: Creative Pool editorial team)

How did you get into the industry?

I was into hip hop culture when I was a teenager. Once I saw graffiti in a magazine and was impressed by it. I started drawing letters, but I also always liked to complement them with characters. One day I realized that I liked drawing characters more and I focused on them. I learned to work as a graphic designer and make stock vector illustrations. Step by step I developed my own style and completely switched to my personal author work.

Where are you based now and who do you work for?

Right now I'm based in Minsk, Belarus but I'm getting ready to relocate to Kiev, Ukraine.  I work for several mural projects in Russia and Belarus, preparing sketches for them. Also I create several author’s graphic works on paper and currently attend a sculpture course.

If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?

First and foremost, I like to create by hand and see the result of the work done. I will note that before becoming a designer and after illustrations, I studied to be an engineer and worked in various jobs. Such as a worker in a car factory, a builder, a sales manager, a realtor. That said, if I weren’t in my current industry I would be glad to be a professional chess player.

Can you explain your creative process?

It depends on the goal or project. If I draw my artwork first of all I look for any interesting idea that I would like to illustrate. I do my artwork based on this idea as I want. If I have a commercial offer I analyse what the task is and what the customer wants to receive.

The first phase of work is always analyzing information and thinking about the concept and format of drawing. After that, there is work on sketches and approval. The last phase is the implementation of the project in its final form, after which there may still be some improvements. Probably the main part of the work is always the analysis of information and reflection on the idea and its future implementation.

How would you describe your style?

I use original detailed technique and I would call my style dot-work, pointillism, stippling.

The main rule that I follow in my work is honesty and awareness that I am responsible for how the audience feels. I believe that creative work is an extremely important part of human life, so it should be treated with care and intelligence. All my pictures are a reflection of my inner world, my emotions, my life position and principles.

Which individuals do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?

There are many artists and illustrators who inspire and motivate me to do better, more interesting work and develop. I will not single out someone because there are too many of them and this list changes over time for me. At the same time, I will note that not only artists or illustrators inspire me. It can be both creative people from other professions, such as musicians and writers, and completely unexpected people, who are not directly connected with creativity, but they do something amazing or are original strong personalities.

If you had to pick one ideal client/employer, who would that be and why?

It would be a professional well versed in art. it would be a person or a company who respects me as an author and as a person, who sincerely likes my style and will trust me. It would be the one who understands my work is time consuming, original and he is ready to evaluate and pay for it at its true worth.  Also, I would be glad if this person or company strives to do their work with the highest quality and original, the product of our cooperation. I would be happy that the result of our cooperation was a large-scale product that inspires others, gives me writing for reflection, development and makes this world a little better.

How has technology affected the way you work?

I can say that technology is a wonderful thing and occupies an important, significant place in modern art. It makes my life easier or somehow improves the quality of my art. I am an advocate for more classical painting methods, I like to hold a brush, pencil and work on canvas, paper or wall. I like it more than drawing on the computer. It is important for me to maintain a balance between classic drawing techniques and modern technology.

 

What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?

Some secrets I will not be able to reveal. I try to engage in mental activities, travel, communicate with new and interesting people, and discuss. I try to follow and analyze what is happening in the world. I also try to find time to study the past, watch classic films, read classical and non-fiction literature. I regularly go in for sports.  from time to time I try to try something new. It is very important to switch to something different from drawing. It is important to rest in time and be filled with energy for new achievements. I always strive to do better and more interesting than yesterday, and I want to move as far as possible along this path. This path has no end, so I am always motivated.

What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?

The main thing I am proud of is that I am respected by colleagues from different countries, professionals with a name, they are happy to communicate with me and support me. I am glad that I am invited to various international projects and my art is appreciated all over the world. This is very important to me and motivates me to develop and work with new energy. I would like to note that for me, as a person who started my career with graffiti, the most pleasant projects are international mural festivals and drawing on facades in an urban environment. I think my best projects are yet to come.

How do you recharge away from the office?

The answer will be similar to where I get inspiration. I recharge from a change of environment and type of activity, from travel and nature walks. Various cultural activities: theatre, classical cinema, literature, exhibitions and so on. Communication with friends and meeting new interesting people is very important. I go in for sports with friends and alone, I play chess.

What is one tip for other aspiring creatives looking for work?

The main advice is to work a lot on yourself as a person and on your creative skills. Now there is a lot of competition and it is important to try to find your original handwriting. It is important to do not only qualitatively but also differ from others. It is important to be able to present yourself competently and be open to the world and communication.

What is the one thing that you would change about the industry?

I would change the race for trends. I mean, in the world of illustration and Art, there are a number of trends, visual styles, which authors somehow follow and try to emulate. This greatly de-personalizes the industry and makes authors very similar to each other. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish one from the other. At the same time, customers, curators and other people on the other side of the artist also indulge this trend.  I don’t know what this is due to a reluctance to take risks and look for something new and with insufficient qualifications and a lack of a sense of beauty.

Any websites, books or resources you would recommend?

I recently read the book “The De-humanization of Art" by the Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset. I recommend it.