“I strongly believe you will reach your stars, and so should you.”
Russian artist Alina Drozdova joined Lake in the beginning of 2019 with an inspirational coloring book titled “Girls Can Do Anything”. It was an homage to all the potential and possibilities women of the world carry within, and her message still resonates strongly with our users. She is now adding a new chapter to her story with another woman-centered coloring book titled “Ad Astra", but this time she found her inspiration in constellations and mythology and created her own kind of stellar goddess.
Alina was kind enough to (virtually) let us into her colorful world and talk about how she almost missed her true calling in life, about the city she loves, the things that inspire her, and much more.
Enjoy your read!
Hello gurl! How are you?
Hi! On this warm and sunny day Iʼm better than ever, I hope you are too!
You live in Moscow. Tell us a bit about that vibrant city of yours. What is your favorite or most inspirational place to go to?
Moscow is my hometown and maybe thatʼs why I love it so much. It is very energetic and crowded, but at the same time, you can always find a quiet place in parks and boulevards all over the city. It can be so different depending on the time of the year! So vibrant and cheerful during the sunny days of spring, summer or early autumn, and yet so surly, gray and kinda melancholic during the cold season.
“Moscow definitely has its own personality — as for me, if it was a person, it would be a beautiful young woman, strong and smart, sometimes frivolous, and with a contagious laugh."
Moscow definitely has its own personality — as for me, if it was a person, it would be a beautiful young woman, strong and smart, sometimes frivolous, and with a contagious laugh. I love walking across the city center, especially around Tverskaya, Lubyanka, Kitay-Gorod. This year I even moved closer to the city center, so I can visit all of my favorite places by foot, and feel this energizing vibe of the big city.
This year has truly been difficult and challenging for a lot of us. How are you coping with these strange times? Has the lockdown severely affected the way you work and live?
Quarantine made me really anxious and depressed at first. It was emotionally hard: I felt scared, lonely and blue. Looking through social media was overwhelming, because there was so much information and activity, that my anxiety got worse and worse.But some time passed and it started to be a new normal. The strange thing is that I became even more introvert during that time. I wanted to spend more time with myself and take care of myself too. Reading books, journaling, meditating, yoga — these simple things were of great help to me in finding my inner peace.
I work from home as an illustrator, so it didnʼt affect this part of my life so much. My daily routine was pretty much the same as before quarantine. But the fact that it was impossible to go outside made me crave just that, haha.
Could you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into art? Is it something you have always done?
I love this story, thanks so much for the question!I was a creative one since childhood — always drawing, writing poems and prose, creating stories and characters. But I never actually took it seriously — I didn’t go to any art school, and it was just a hobby. I prioritized studying, and never thought of art as a profession! Seems like I just never realized it was even possible. Thatʼs why I went to medical university after school (a serious one!) and stopped drawing altogether. After a couple of years, I realized that I couldn’t live like this. I started creating art again and it felt awesome, but was hard at first because, of course, I had lost my skills during all that time. I graduated from university but I haven’t worked a day as a doctor.Establishing myself as an artist was challenging too — I underestimated my work, but the support of my friends and family helped me a lot in building my confidence and finally becoming a freelance illustrator!
“I was a creative one since childhood — always drawing, writing poems and prose, creating stories and characters."
What is your daily routine when working?
First thing I do after I wake up, is to drink a glass of water! After that, I have my morning routine: some exercises to awaken the body, journaling or meditating a bit, feeding my cats and cleaning my place. After that, I start working, while I watch a TV series or a YouTube show. I often work from bed, which is definitely a bad habit haha, I just canʼt resist the comfort.
How would you define art in a tweet?
Art for me feels like creating magic with a pencil instead of a wand.
“Art for me feels like creating magic with a pencil instead of a wand.”
Are you more into digital, or do you like to create in the good old analogue way as well?
To be honest, I love both. Digital art gives me more sense of control, it has limitless possibilities and it is handy on the go. I also do all the commercial work in digital.
Analogue art is often more messy and personal. I like to draw sketches about my daily life and things that simply come to mind without any pressure. My favorite mediums are pencils, markers, watercolor and fountain pens. I also love mixed media techniques: watercolor + colored pencils are my fave!
I know this is not a simple question, but can you name the 3 biggest influences on your art?
Saskia Keultjes who made me feel more confident, free and valid as an artist. Check her out, she is totally the best. Barbara Canepa, whose charming comics and characters shaped my sense of style a lot. I love the Witch comics, but my favorite work of her is Skydoll. Asinastra, who was one of the first Russian-speaking illustrators I saw online. The coolest thing is that I started to follow her pretty early and saw her growing and becoming more and more successful, which was really inspiring!
Your latest coloring book is called “Ad Astra,” and it’s all about starry girls, constellations, night skies, and magical vibes. What’s the story behind it?
The magical and mysterious world of stars and constellations has attracted me since I was a child. I remember learning planetary symbols and the Greek alphabet in junior school just for fun. I also loved Greek mythology a lot and had tons of books on this subject. I grew up, but the charming power of the unknown vastness on the universe intertwined with mythological motifs still resonates with me a lot. It makes me feel whole and, at the same time, a part of an endless world.
Do you have a favorite constellation?
I love all the characters of the “Perseus and Andromeda” myth but if I had to pick only one, it would be Cassiopeia! I love the story behind it: Cassiopeia is sitting upside down on her throne in the sky holding a mirror as a symbol of her vanity. Her arrogance and vanity led to her downfall, and in some way, this story makes me more aware of such feelings in myself.
I even have an old self-portrait where I compare myself to Cassiopeia.Btw, there is a Russian band The Retuses, who have a song called Cassiopeia which is also meaningful for me. Its melancholic vibe resonates with me a lot. So many coincidences!
Your first coloring book is titled “Girls Can Do Anything,” and carries the strong message that girls are no different than boys - they can achieve anything and be good at anything they set their mind on, which by the way, totally resonates with us. Women are a central character in your new coloring book as well. Is that your way of empowering women?
It definitely is! Women inspire me a lot, not only esthetically but with their aspiration to be powerful, strong, equal and independent. I had hard times accepting my femininity as a teenager, mostly because of all of the cliches and preconceptions around women in our society. I was trying to make friends with boys mostly, positioning myself as “not like the other girls”.Thatʼs why I am even more proud of being a woman now. I want our society to become a society where no girl feels the need to deny her femininity as something shameful and unworthy.
“Women inspire me a lot, not only esthetically but with their aspiration to be powerful, strong, equal and independent."
One of the first women who made me think that there was something wrong with what I was doing was Rosalind Franklin — I got acquainted with her biography at university and it changed something inside me. Sheʼs kind of a superhero for me, and the chemist in “Girls can do anything” was created with her in mind, as the most inspiring woman in science for me.
What superpower would you want to have and why?
Thatʼs a tough question! I wish I could see the magic and beauty in everyday life and let other people see it too — kind of like x-ray vision, unleashing the beauty of the simplest things in the world. Most of us are struggling with this, and it often isn’t easy to recall this feeling of awareness even if you already experienced it. Rays of sunshine on the wall, the smell of fallen leaves, and spending some time in silence are like small keys to happiness and serenity which are missing from our daily lives. Thatʼs why I want this so badly that I wish I could have it as a superpower even it is quite a simple thing. Or maybe Iʼd like to be able to talk to cats, haha.
Social media has become an essential marketing platform and gallery for many artists. How have Instagram and other social channels affected your business?
Well, this canʼt be underestimated — social media made it possible for me to become a professional artist. I love that nowadays, thanks to social media, people can share their work and find clients.
But itʼs not easy for sure — I personally have some issues with social media from time to time, cause it takes a lot of resources, I easily get tired and demotivated and I still don’t feel confident enough to share my personal life.
As already mentioned, “Ad Astra” is your second coloring book with Lake, which of course, makes us super happy. What made you go with us?
I saw that beautiful coloring book by Tonia Tkach and I was delighted by the whole idea of coloring books made by different artists. Then I had this “what if…” thought. I was working with linearts so much — well, maybe it would be suitable for coloring books too? With that idea in mind, I contacted you and — voila! — this is now my second book on the Lake app.
How has working with us helped you?
It raised my confidence a lot, especially in working with foreign clients - I was really uncertain about my English skills. To be honest, Lake is the best partnership Iʼve had since I became an illustrator — the team is so great and friendly, it kinda feels like family to me, so it’s totally worth it! After the update, my confidence grew way more - my artwork is now on an AppStore, whoa! That’s something to be proud of.
“To be honest, Lake is the best partnership Iʼve had since I became an illustrator — the team is so great and friendly, it kinda feels like family to me, so it’s totally worth it!”
Why do you think people should try mindful coloring?
Any type of mindfulness is essential to keep a healthy mind. While coloring, you are not only mindful — you are also creative. What could be better?
“While coloring, you are not only mindful — you are also creative. What could be better?”
Itʼs a relaxing, soothing way to spend some time with yourself and treat your inner creative self. Coloring is simple and accessible, which prevents you from creating too much tension and putting too much pressure on yourself and allows you to have a couple of quiet minutes anytime and anywhere.
Just curious, can you tell us more about your recent projects and what have you been up to recently?
Speaking of commercial projects, at the time I am working on a tarot deck with a US client, and on the illustrations for a Russian hair dye brand. As for personal ones, I enrolled in a watercolor course last week, inspired by the artworks I saw on the Artlife Fest gallery I visited here in Moscow. I want to spend more time on personal relaxed drawings to allow myself to feel more freedom and learn some new techniques which I think will enrich my digital works as well.
Where can we see your art and follow you?
And one last thing. What is your message for all the young and aspiring artists who are just starting on their path?
«Ad Astra» - is part of the Latin phrase «Per Aspera ad Astra» meaning «through hardships to the stars». And this is probably the best description of every artist’s path, as the biggest hardships are in our own minds.
“«Ad Astra» - is part of the Latin phrase «Per Aspera ad Astra» meaning «through hardships to the stars». And this is probably the best description of every artist’s path, as the biggest hardships are in our own minds.”
So I want you to believe in yourself and in your abilities, even if it seems impossible. Creating art is the greatest magic in the whole world and the most accessible too — if you just give yourself permission to create no matter what. Surround yourself with inspiring things, read encouraging books, express yourself. Treat yourself by buying artsy stuff — that «fake it till you make it» thing really works. And please remember — it’s never too late to start! I love Julia Cameron’s quote on this topic:“— But do you know how old I will be by the time I learn to really play the piano / act / paint / write a decent play?"— Yes. the same age you will be if you don’t.”
I strongly believe you will reach your stars, and so should you.