Who am I?
Your personal artist
My very first memories of life are strongly visual. I was two, I was still bound to my crib. I explored the world with my eyes. At three I began to draw. I drew a dog – my favorite thing on Earth. My parents immediately began supporting my obviously obsessive drawing habit. Raising a child in Soviet Russia, however, was no easy task in the early 80’s. My parents couldn’t buy me paper or pencils, or brightly colored markers – all the things that many American kids consider standard household items. I had a few pencils and pens from my mom’s drafting supply, and some colored pencils appeared eventually – they were all mismatched. I had a lot of graph paper – another thing I’m sure I inherited from my scientist parents – and cardboard. There was always cardboard to draw on.
The important thing is not to buy into the idea that labels sell quality as well as talent and skill. Learn first, upgrade as needed.
I grew up not knowing that there was anything wrong with not having art supplies, or new clothes every year, or food every night for that matter. I grew up having fun being a kid, playing outside in the sun with my friends, human and canine alike, doodling the rest of the time. I grew up making art, and watching my parents smile over my shoulder as I did it. I was truly happy. Today, when I teach coloring and drawing, I often speak strongly against getting hooked on brands, or seeking out fancy pencils hoping that they will somehow improve your art. I preach making art with what you have, because true art comes from the heart, not from brand labels and price tags.
This isn’t to say that high-quality products are bad. I work mainly with Black Widow pencils for instance, and my recording studio is filled with high-end camera equipment. The difference is, I didn’t use name brands to learn art. I learned art, and then got quality supplies as a reward. The important thing is not to buy into the idea that labels sell quality as well as talent and skill. Learn first, upgrade as needed.
Art is contagious and wonderful.
A pivotal point in my life that put me on a path of creating a community was making the decision to not continue with my pre-med studies, take half a year off to clear my head, and start from scratch in a fine arts school. Growing up, drawing and painting have always just been a part of me, so when it came to selecting a college major, I felt that using my heart and soul as a potential career was somehow demeaning. I decided to follow in my parents’ footsteps and go into science. But while I did great in my studies, inside I rapidly withered. I needed this experience it turned out, because once released into an art environment, I was like a fish in water, and never doubted my path again. Today I share my art and my skills with the world. Art is contagious and wonderful. I’m now building a community of like-minded people who will each go off to spread the awesomeness of art to others.
I love being able to tailor lessons to individuals and spend face-to-face time with them, teaching them what they wish to learn on their personal artistic journey.
While I explored many realms or art over the years, ranging from classical painting to designer tattoos, I am most proud of the time that I joined the adult coloring community. Due to a totally freaky chain of events, I was invited into a coloring group on Facebook and within six months I published my first line art book and created my first tribe – the Facebook group for colorists.
After ten published books and numerous coloring events, I began posting coloring and drawing tutorials as blog posts. Those were very well received, and colorists began demanding video content, which was … terrifying! I’ve avoided being a video presence for years, but finally came to realize that the only way I can get closer to my audience is to speak to them directly. So, I started a YouTube channel. A year later I gathered over 2000 subscribers and post high-quality art and coloring tutorials based on the desires of my audience.
The YouTube channel, in turn, inspired the creation of my Patreon community, where I offer private lessons to my top tier patrons. This is where I really shine. I love being able to tailor lessons to individuals and spend face-to-face time with them, teaching them what they wish to learn on their personal artistic journeys. To me, this is most rewarding part of being an artist and a teacher.
The next logical step from this evolution of my community was to gather everyone: the patrons, the YouTube subscribers, and the Facebook fans, in one friendly and easy-to-navigate space, where they can interact with each other. And so the TALM community was born.
I am very proud of all of my colorists and illustrators, but most of all I am proud of my drawing student Laurie, who is in her 50s and has never drawn before. She is now totally hooked on drawing still life compositions in black and white charcoal. Watching her bloom into a growing artist, watching her hunger for collecting new skills and shortcuts, listening to her stories about how she “sees the world differently” now, is beyond gratifying. Art is my whole life, and having been able to open that door for someone else and witness their happiness and confidence skyrocket is incredible.
I watch Laurie interact with other TALMers and form clicks based on common interests, and it gives me a million ideas. I see a future where TALMers collaborate and inspire each other. I see many sparks like Laurie’s lit all over the community.
So, who AM I, as a person?
To give you a taste of my personaluty, I’ll have to take you back in time, back to my tattoo days. I was a private tattooist for ten years, designing personally tailored tattoos based on my clients’ dreams and feelings. I had a very simple but a very strict code. I never repeated the same tattoo design on more than one person, and I never took a job that didn’t speak to me or one that I believed was a mistake. I’ve turned down significant financial offerings based on my principles, including turning down a multi-thousand dollar tattoo commission for an 18-year old girl offered to me by her father. Yes, she was of legal age, but she had no idea what she was doing. These weren’t her images or beliefs that I was asked to permanently put under her skin. They were a fashion statement, or a brand, or whatever her father thought he was doing. It was just not ok by me. I turned down his offer, and his increased offer. When he laughed at me, saying that he will just take her down the street tomorrow and get the job done for half the price, I shrugged. At least I bought her a day.
That is the level of my integrity. That is the same integrity that I practice when I teach. Now, no one’s quality of life is in danger when choosing the right shading technique for a coloring page, but my followers and students trust me with their art journeys as well as with their emotional well being. Many TALMers draw and color as stress relief or as therapy. It is my responsibility to tailor my teaching style and lessons in a way that treats them respectfully, entertains them, and offers them tools that they can actually apply, instead of speeding ahead or just showing off my professional skills.
Integrity is a big part of who I am an artist. I make sure to give more than I take on Patreon, and when it comes to my YouTube content and during my private lessons, I take care of my followers rather than expecting them to take care of me.
So, come join my community, get to know me better, meet some awesome creators, and share YOUR story. I’ll see you in TALM.