Artist Spotlight: Dinara MirtalipovaSeptember 11, 2015
It's been a bit of time since we've profiled one of our fabulous Red Cap Cards artists, and we're so happy to step into interview mode with our newest recruit, Dinara Mirtalipova. Dinara currently lives and works in Sagamore Hills, Ohio with her husband and daughter, Sabrina. Her art work is complex, lovely, and reminiscent of eastern European folklore. Along with her illustration work, she is also the founder of Mirdinara Kitchen, and is currently working on the grand opening of her brick & mortar shop, Mirdinara Home + Gifts. We adored chatting with her here and are excited to introduce you. Make sure to click over and see her new designs for Red Cap, here.
You are originally from Uzbekistan, but your bio says that you “landed in snowy Ohio” — how did you end up there?
Shortly after graduating from college my family and I moved to the US. At first we landed in LA, but even hot Uzbek summers felt like nothing before the LA's firing pot. So we moved to New York. But it still felt very temporary as the city is enormously huge and uncomfortably noisy for folks like us. So eventually we found ourselves in Cleveland Ohio and simply fell in love with it's beauty and nature. Yes, the winters are very cold and rough, but it's so beautiful here all year long.
Did you always want to be an artist, even in childhood?
Nooooo, not even close. Being artsy was such a norm in my family, it was considered more like a hobby that people normally do after they get home from their real work. Growing up I just couldn't help but to doodle all over the back pages of my notebooks, but I never considered applying for an art institute after high school. I thought computers will be the future so I dedicated four years studying computer languages and coding. There are parts of me that regret that I was so lousy about my passion as a child. I wish I could go back and learn so much, but then I think it made me who I am.
Your work is so intricate and seems to be influenced heavily by Russian folklore–what inspires you most about that genre?
Growing up I was surrounded by folklore. My one grandma was a native Uzbek who spoke broken Russian. My other grandma was Russian who found a shelter in Uzbekistan during World War II and stayed and learned the language. We always celebrated both cultures and traditions. I think I fully realized how vividly it runs in my blood only after leaving the place of my childhood. I never thought I would become so sentimental about it, but nostalgia just pours out of me and I can't stop it. It's something about the wall carpet above my grandma's bed, about the bright textiles that women wear, the songs my mom sang to me and the architecture of the ancient buildings.
You used to be an artist for American Greetings and are now a freelance illustrator–what are the pros and cons of working for yourself?
It was a privilege for me to serve my good nine years at American Greetings. For someone with no degree in art, AG replaced college teaching me about technical skills like paper sculpture, paper engineering, building a repeat pattern, working in Photoshop and Illustrator, preparing files for production, hand lettering, calligraphy, silkscreen, block printing, and I can go on and on. It was a great school for me! All that technical knowledge plus my art style made me ready to eventually go solo after my daughter was born. She was a screaming 24/7 baby and I was very sleep deprived, plus we both developed separation anxiety as we were both crying every morning before me leaving to work and while at work I missed seeing her little face and holding her so terribly. That made me take an important but difficult decision to leave my cozy comfortable nest at AG and to dive into an unpredictable world of art licensing.
On a positive note, being a freelancer allows you to build your own schedule. I'm not a morning person, so taking a little longer in the morning is very crucial to me, not even mentioning skipping the angry 45 min morning race to work. But on the global scale I'm pretty much working towards my own goals, day after day building my own brand and giving the companies and the people who support my product the promise that I'm here and I will always draw for you. It is also the excitement of fun collaborations.
How do you balance motherhood, home life and work?
It's not easy, I'm not going to lie. I'm working mostly at night when Sabrina is asleep. There are nights, of course, when she still wakes up at night and needs me, but as she gets older she understands that mommy works at night. She started pre-school, so I have the morning hours to emails, quick file tweaks and phone calls, the afternoons are usually dedicated to after school programs and museums.
Did your daughter, Sabrina, inherit your love and talent for art?
I believe every child is artsy and every child loves to paint. I have never met a child in my life that refused a brush. She's still too little to declare whether she loves art to that degree. I'm not pushing her at all. Art is necessary for a child's development just like dancing or running, so yes, I am certainly exposing her to different art programs. But I'm not going to influence her decision to make it her thing when she grows up. I'm rather very curious to see who she will become as an adult.
What is your dream job (besides what you are doing now?)
That's the one I'm doing right now. There is no other dream job. I guess I'm living my dream now. I might sound like a maniac, but I go to bed thinking of illustrating this and that and I wake up and I'm still day dreaming about art. I can do it 24 hours non stop. Before Sabrina I could draw all night long and still go to work. With Sabrina I can't afford not to sleep, but on some Friday and Saturday nights I do stay longer then my usual because I know that in the morning there are other family members who can fix her breakfast in the morning and I could stay a little longer in bed.
What inspires you?
Everything. Nature, flowers, forest, movies, songs, fashion, books, stories, colors, shapes, people, animals, antiques, museums.
Which artists, designers or illustrators are your favorite?
I really admire classic artists. They absolutely fascinate me. The quality of work they created before the computer era is so astonishing! The wallpapers by William Morris leave me speechless, I love collecting some old books by Alice and Martin Provensen, Roger Duvoisin, postcards of paintings by Ivan Shishkin. There are many many other great names that I bow before and compared to them the current art seems so insignificant.
A sneek peek of Mirdinara Shop, coming soon!
What do you enjoy in your “free time?”
In my free time I draw. Yes, sorry to sound so boring, but that's what my free time is for. I draw with no theme in mind. I usually put on a music, typically there's one particular song that I favorite at a time and I keep listening to it on a repeat. I like “blind drawing,” that means drawing without sketching first or any concept in your head. Just the paints and the brushes. That's like reading a good book–it takes you to unexpected places and the final piece turns out like nothing you could ever see coming. With my busy schedule I can afford that free time only on a Friday or a Saturday night as the rest of the week is usually filled with jobs and family. I also try different techniques, like wood carving, block printing or pottery making. During long winter evenings I like taking different art classes and attending workshops. Art can be so versatile, it's like a galaxy of endless possibilities.
Images courtesy Dinara Mirtalipova