Interview of Leia Kaprov by Sophie Pellegrini
Hey Leia! Tell us a bit about yourself!
Hi! I’m an illustrator currently living in the San Francisco Bay area with my partner and my cat, though I’m originally from Israel, was born in what is now the Ukraine, and have lived for a while in Germany.
After graduating with a degree in Architecture, I decided to shift directions and went on to pursue my current career. I’m always learning new things, experimenting with new media, and trying new techniques.
When and how did you get started in the arts?
My art journey began in my early childhood. My parents gave me a set of watercolors and after they saw that it could keep me occupied for hours, they figured out that art supplies are the key to my happiness (and their peace and quiet) so they kept them coming. After I got my first computer, I discovered Photoshop and all the possibilities it held for me, from manipulating my pencil drawings to creating new and exciting things. That was also about the time I started uploading my pieces to the internet. I was fascinated by the possibility to have people connect with my art and the opportunity to share my ideas and give form to formless things through illustration. I’ve been on the same journey ever since.
What do you most like to illustrate? Why?
I like illustrating strong women. Earlier in life I was interested in gymnastics and dance, and I think that often shows through in my choices of subject matter. I often draw pieces that are inspired by the mood I am in or an experience I want to share. I also like drawing animals and anything that has to do with nature.
What inspires you? Any particular artists, books, films, etc?
I love old illustrated children’s books. When I was little, our house was filled with children’s books my parents brought with them from the Eastern Bloc; those were some of my earliest inspirations. I still find that naive aesthetic very inspiring, but I have also found other sources of inspiration over the years. I’m very inspired by pop culture and fashion, I like to tie my art into what’s current. I’m also inspired by folk and Oriental art; I love to look at the unique compositions and choices of color.
Tell us a bit about your work process.
If I’m working with a brief from a client I would normally read over it and make a list of word associations. From that I would try to form a cohesive idea and sketch out thumbnails on paper to try and figure out the composition. Then I might continue working on the sketches on my iPad or choose to work on paper with inks. I love the messiness of inks, usually I work with layers, digitally overlaying layers of inks on top of each other. After I’m satisfied I would scan what I created into Photoshop and continue to color and add onto my piece digitally. There are times when I choose to work solely digitally, but even then I try to bring a handmade feel into my creations, incorporating some textures or other handmade elements. It is a little difficult for me to explain my process since I like to work in many different media so I don’t get bored, but you can see some of it in my Skillshare class.
How do you spend your time when you aren’t creating art?
I like to listen to music, hula hoop, read books, watch TV shows with my partner and my cat, and travel. Traveling and exploring different cultures has been very influential on my art.
I see you write about mental health on your Instagram account often. What are some ways you self-care when balancing art, work, and life?
Self-care is very important for every artist who wants to continue making art in the long run. Burnout is very real, and I regularly check in with myself to make sure I am in a good creative place mentally. Once art becomes a job there are other things besides the creative process that come into consideration; like accounting, billing, scheduling… Those can become stress factors. The first and most simple way for me to self-care is ask for help when I need it and also be able to say “no” to certain things. I also started practicing mindfulness and it’s been helpful in clearing some of that mental clutter and helping me focus on my goals.
You teach an illustration class on Skillshare. Tell us about this!
In my Skillshare class the students get to learn how to make a digital pattern out of ink drawings. It’s a chance to see a glimpse of my creative process, that I’m very excited to share with others. Here’s a link to the class with 2 months of free premium Skillshare membership.
What’s one skill you wish you had, or could learn more about?
Oh there are so many things I would like to learn! If I had to choose one I’d choose animation. I did get to animate gif versions of my work in the past, but it’s not something I’m doing regularly and I would definitely love to practice and get better at it. Over the past year I’ve invested a lot of time into learning lettering and experimenting with different styles, and I think having a skill like that to work on at any time keeps me engaged and improving.
How can we keep up with your work?
Yes! Let’s keep in touch 🙂