Illustration We Love: Arina Shabanova

We have been big fans of Arina Shabanova‘s fun and very funny animations and illustrations for a while now. We’ve actually blogged about her wonderful work a couple of times before so we decided we should probably interview her! Arina has worked for The New York Times, Google, Instagram, Converse and MTV International to name a few.

1. Hello Arina, tell us a bit about yourself

Hi there! I’m an illustrator and self-taught animator. I was born in Siberia, raised in the South of Russia, and now live and work in Moscow. I’m learning how to balance between commercial and independent work, also love digging into the animation world and discovering new facts about it.

MTV ident by Arina Shabanova

2. How do you make your animations? Do you do it all on computers? Do you draw storyboards?

I mostly work in digital, so all animations are made using computer programs, such as Photoshop and TvPaint, however each frame is drawn by hand. 

Yes I do storyboards, especially when it’s a big project, such as The Trembling Giant. It helps to keep track of my process and generally have an idea of what will happen at the end. But all of my storyboards are pretty general, as I like to leave free space for experiments.

Characters for Instagram website page by Arina Shabanova

3. We really love the animation you created for Jimmy Stofer’s The Trembling Giant music video. What was the creative process like?

Thank you! Everything started from the idea Jimmy had about the track. It’s about the Pando Forest, also known as “The Trembling Giant”. It has a massive underground root system, and is one of the heaviest and oldest known organisms on the planet, it survived all sorts of viruses, harsh weather, fires, etc, because it intuitively knows how to adapt.

So the brief was to do a minimalistic video for this track, and follow the story of the forest growing bigger and bigger, and thriving; depicting “man” trying to burn it down for some sort of greedy/corporate/selfish reason; then the forest sprouts once again and survives the fire, showing that nature finds a way to survive. But overall Jimmy was open to do whatever I had in my mind.

I wanted to add more depth and metaphor to the given story. This forest is one organism, and we, humans, and the whole world are also connected to each other. I wanted to tell a story through such comparisons, through transformations I wanted to highlight the feeling of one system and to show how we affect each other. 

During production it gained new layers and meanings for me. And I’m sure some people can reflect and see different stories here.

The mood of the track differs a lot from my previous works, which had more fun weird vibes. I like to experiment and try out different stuff, that’s why I decided challenge myself here. As a result, it’s a more subtle animated piece.

Animation by Arina Shabanova

4. Do you listen to or watch anything while you work? Music, TV, podcasts, etc?

In the early days of my career I used to listen to some music, but now it only distracts me. Do you know the story Richard Williams shares in his book “Animator’s Survival Kit”? 

But I can turn on something on the background when the work is monotonous and doesn’t need lots of thinking – like colouring or cleaning up. Recently I found instrumental music by an artist called Oliwa, it’s very calming and relaxing.

Illustration by Arina Shabanova

5. Tell us what your typical working day is like

My day has been truly chaotic until recent days. Now I’m waking up around 9am, doing a little meditation, sometimes yoga, having breakfast, then some laundry, and only then start checking my emails. Hopefully I do some work until evening haha.

It was a lot of sweat to come up with some kind of a structure in my day and keep it, as I’m doing a bit of everything, and this is a problem for me. But this daily routine has definitely helped me to at least find stable mental health.

Recently I started to reject work inquiries on all sorts of projects, as all my focus went on the project my husband and I are making. Can’t give you more details at the moment, but I hope to announce it pretty soon.

Illustration by Arina Shabanova

6. Do you have a dream project that you’d like to work on? 

I wish to do a children’s book and short animation. I guess I don’t have the guts to do that at the moment. It needs time at least to imagine myself doing it. 

Illustration by Arina Shabanova

7. Where would you take us for a fun day out in Moscow? 

I’m not the best person to show you around Moscow, to be honest. But I can offer you a run in the morning in the forest near my house (I don’t live in the centre of Moscow) or to join me at Jazz dancing class. Then probably to have a good lunch at Moscow-Deli restaurant and to wander around the streets discovering architecture, maybe to check out the Garage museum, buy the tastiest bread from Cookushka (my friends who do great zines about cooking), and then jump back into the cozy house to make dinner. 

Illustration by Arina Shabanova

8. If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice, what would you say? 

“Go outside, breathe more fresh air, there is no need to take so many projects.”

Illustration by Arina Shabanova

9. Who are your favourite creatives?

Lots of people produce very inspiring stuff! To put it in names, for example, I like Saehan Parc‘s art, Adam Higton‘s cutouts, Jonathan Djob Nkondo‘s animations, Nadine Redlich‘s sense of humour, Jordy van den Nieuwendijk‘s paintings. 

Illustration by Arina Shabanova

10. What are you currently working on? Do you have any exciting new projects coming up?

I’m working on very personal project with my husband Timur Makhachev. It’s a long journey, but very exciting! We can not wait to release some stuff!

Arina Shabanova's sketchbook

Take a look at Arina’s website 

Follow Arina on instagram and twitter

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