Ilyaev is a 27 year-old freelance artist and English teacher currently residing in Japan. I first encountered her artwork many years ago on DeviantArt, and I am honored that she has agreed to let me feature her work here. Her smooth, uniquely-styled digital paintings stand out from the crowd and have a very relaxing and cozy feel to them.
She grew up in the UK with her young mother, and despite not having much in the way of funds to buy art supplies, she managed to satisfy her artistic drive by drawing on the back of scrap work papers given to her by her aunt. Growing up, her biggest inspirations were Disney, anime, and video games. When she reached her teenage years, Ilyaev discovered pre-raphelite art, which led her to discover Alphonse Mucha, who became an influential source of inspiration for her.
She started learning how to paint digitally when she was 13, but didn’t try traditional painting until she reached high school, and her natural talent with the medium caused her art teacher to do a double-take.
Her biggest motivator was her IT teacher in High School, who took her under his wing and let her borrow his art books and magazines on digital art. “I’m still aiming for the day I get in one, so I can send him a copy to say thank you,” Ilyaev said. “Unlike other teachers who scolded me for drawing and doodling, he encouraged me to use art to do my work.”
She had a year of formal art education in the form of a Foundation degree. “I enjoyed it, but I didn’t really do well. I never really understood how to get good grades in art school,” she said. “I could draw, I could paint, but I never seemed to check their boxes and they wouldn’t explain it.” In the end, she became frustrated and sought a video game degree instead. After receiving her degree at a first and 2:1, she went on to attend “Dare to be Digital“, an international competition in games. “It was great, and I got to work on games and do art all the time.” After that, she moved to Japan.
When it comes to tools, Ilyaev says she has tried pretty much all of them. “I enjoy digital art because its more forgiving. If you mess up its much easier to fix the eye being a bit big, or a bit too far on the right, where as traditional medium you may have to start again. Though I’m currently enjoying inks with water colour. You can layer the inks like a value painting (black, grey and white) and then add colour after. Which feels like a nice, solid technique. Usually I use my little Wacom Draw and computer, or my Surface tablet when I’m away from home, like this week where I’m in a hotel for the week for work.”
She is currently being commissioned to help create a comic book, which she is not yet at liberty to talk about, but she has very high hopes for the project and is very happy with the direction in which it is going.