Her felt animals are able to melt any heart, and you can immediately feel that behind such touching creatures there is an artist with a surprisingly kind soul who sincerely believes in a miracle. This artist is
Anna will talk in today's interview about why adults need toys, how not to forget about ourselves, surrendering to inspiration and what the main thing should be in any creativity.
— Anna, first of all, I congratulate you on the honorary title of the artist of the year! Please tell us how the image of "Baby and Mom" was born?
— Thank you, it is really honorable for me to get such a title. I know how many worthy items take part in this competition every year, to be chosen an artist of the "Item of the Year" is some kind of a plank, the level of skill, which now I definitely want to maintain and grow further.
The image of "Baby and Mother" was born not by accident. It was the order of one grateful young mother as a gift to the doctor, the obstetrician-gynecologist who helped many kids to be born, including, saving their lives. When we discussed the composition with the customer, we remembered the cartoon about Umka and a lullaby from it (Russian cartoon about a lonely bear, searching for his mother). It was the lullaby that inspired me. First of all, I wanted to create an image of a mother bear — a calm defender, affectionate, patient and infinitely wise.
— Could you share your emotions and feelings on the day when you became the artist of the "Item of the Year"? Have you celebrated this event or maybe you have seen new horizons, plans and goals?
— I remember this day very well, it was June, 1, the International Children's Day. I went to check the mail in the morning and saw a letter from Livemaster that my item "Baby and Mom" was chosen as the "Item of the Year". I remember how happy I was, how many warm words during the day I received from visitors on Livemaster. Of course, it is very nice, when the work of artist is evaluated like this. I really wanted to convey the mood of tenderness and love of a mother and a baby in this composition, and I was glad that I could do it.
— Anna, our partner Sony has prepared a luxurious gift — Sony A6500 camera with a zoom lens. Have you already used your camera?
— I would like to thank the administration of Livemaster and Sony for the wonderful gift! The camera is an important and necessary thing in the work of any needlewoman. I was very pleased to receive such a useful gift. I already have experience in using a professional camera, so it was easy for me to use my Sony. A beginner, of course, will need to study the instruction and practice a lot. The camera is very small and light, unlike SLR cameras, it is really convenient to travel with and easy to carry it. Metal body adds solidity to the camera.
— What pictures do you get with Sony A6500? Have you tried different settings and modes?
— Sony, like all cameras of this type, has a mode of manual shooting and shooting in automatic mode, which is suitable for beginners. I was very impressed that the Sony A6500 has a very light-sensitive matrix, the photos have absolutely no noise even in low light conditions. In addition, this camera has amazing clarity and sharpness of the image, the clarity of the image does not depend on the settings of the ratio of shutter speed and aperture, as in SLR cameras. Even when I use the lens to zoom in on an object, the clarity remains great. Also, the camera blurs the background perfectly, which is very important when shooting portraits.
The camera was equipped with a universal lens that allows you to shoot both landscapes and reports, and people, and does it equally well. An interesting find for me was a touch screen with a touch focus, it was very unusual. In some situations it turned out to be a very convenient option, but I lacked a standard focus setting, because when both hands are busy, it is impossible to specify the focus point. The camera is fast, it takes shots quickly, accurately, doing it efficiently. In addition, there is a number of modern features that allow you to transfer photos via WI-FI to your computer and smartphone.
There are also many features that I haven't figured out yet, because I'm not a professional :) Overall, the camera looks like a professional mucker, which is perfect for filming of any type and will be an indispensable thing, both in the hands of a professional and in the hands of an amateur.
— You've been on Livemaster for eight years. What toys were the first in your store?
— Now I am really ashamed of the first items that I posted on Livemaster, it is funny to remember now. They were three primitive toys made of cloth, scented with coffee. I was so proud of my items that I decided to try to sell them here. But then I realized that these toys pleased only me, and to compete with other artists on Livemaster I needed something more impressive, so the second time I opened the store about five years ago, when I already mastered felting a little, and I wasn`t ashamed to show my toys to large audience. As far as I remember, the first toys were cats, a bear, a hedgehog in the fog and a giraffe. The giraffe and the hedgehog still retain their place of honor in my store.
— You talk about your love to animals, especially cats. Please tell us if you have pets. If so, do they inspire you with their mood, poses, views on the creation of new toys?
— Initially, I loved cats and did not understand dog lovers. But when I got fond of felting, then, of course, I began to felt everyting including dogs, and then, studying their photos, character and mood, I was imbued with dogs and loved them. A few years later I decided to have a dog. Now I have both a cat, and a dog. The cat has already lived with me for seven years, this snow-white fluffy cloud Turkish Angora is Romashka (lit. Chamomile). We called her that for her naivety and cowardly nature. She was born deaf, and so she afraid of everything unknown and incomprehensible. Anatomy of a cat is difficult to study, because the body is not visible, it just inspires me with its presence and different cute poses that she chooses to sleep.
My husky dog, is a young male Baikal, for me he is a real helper to learn animal anatomy. He is perfectly able to choose the most touching poses and make sad eyes, these eyes have repeatedly inspired me to create my toys.
In general, I live outside the city, and I have many sources of inspiration around me: hedgehogs with their kids, raccoons, squirrels, caresses, and once I had to save a chick that fell out of the nest from stravation, which then turned into an impudent fighting sparrow. This contact with wildlife is very inspiring and gives rise to new images in my head.
— Why do you think adults need their felt animal toys?
— I have my own theory on the subject. It seems to me that in the modern world people often lack warm, positive emotions, a sense of wonder or fairy tale. So, people find it all in toys. They seem to return to childhood, at a time when the world seemed big, kind and magical. This applies not only to felt animals, but also to dolls, teddy bears and many other creatures. I really like to watch the reaction of people when they see these toys. Every time it is such a touching childish expression, so lively and sweet. The child is alive in all of us, and it is forever.
— Do clients often share photos, stories? Please tell us about the most interesting episodes of the fate of your toys.
— I sometimes hear from my toys and their owners. Mostly toys live a quiet home life, they live on shelves or tables. But one day, at the beginning of my career as a toy artist, a man bought a knitted bear from me at an exhibition. Then this man called me and told me that he gave this bear to his wife, a psychologist who works with children. His wife began to use my bear in her work with the kids, helping them feel better in the office of a psychologist. So, Mishutka became a professional doctor, I hope he was able to help many people.
— Often your toys seem to be characters of good fairy tales. Did anyone make up stories about them, or maybe you do it yourself?
— I think every toy owner comes up with some kind of a story, because in the soul of every person lives a belief in a fairy tale. But I also love to come up with some fabulous images for their animals, especially when the toy is not under order. Then I turn on the imagination, and I begin to imagine that this particular animal is not just a mouse or a cat, but a creature living some kind of life that people usually do not notice, but it has. I like to think that next to ordinary material reality there is a fairy tale, you just need to look at our world from the right angle.
— Your toys are dreams for them, they can please and warm the soul. What can please you? What gift can easily cheer you up?
— I am an aesthete, I love everything beautiful, created with taste and professionalism, refined. I love beautiful and masterfully made handmade things — jewellery, drawings, clothes. I dream of a collection of author's jewellery and a beautiful and elegant knitted shawl.
— You wrote that you start creating felt characters only in a harmony. Does it happen that you have to take a "sabbatical leave", or do you have secrets how to achieve peace quickly?
— Over the course of life, I learned to build my life in such a way that there are more reasons for joy, in addition, I stopped wasting energy on negative news, unpleasant communication and so on. I have not watched TV for many years. I have my own proven recipes of good mood — to watch some funny movie, get away from work and somehow look after myself, meet friends and have fun with them, go to a beautiful and cozy cafe and eat something delicious. To take it short, do something that will please and relax me. When you are not in the mood, it is better to give yourself a rest and not to start to work. We are all living people, and sometimes we need time for ourselves, for our feelings. Taking care of yourself and the ability to listen to yourself and your needs and meet them is my recipe for inner daily harmony.
— How much time does it take you on average to create one toy?
— The amount of time depends on the size of a toy and my inspiration. Some works are created quickly and in one breath, with some you have to work more, tune in to them. On average, one toy size 12-13 cm takes 5-6 days of work. Felting wool is a difficult and painstaking work, it requires a lot of perseverance.
— Please tell us how your workplace and workshop are organized.
— I do not have any special place that I could call a workshop. Now it is a desktop with drawers on which there is a computer, and next to it are necessary tools and wool. Of course, I dream of my own workshop, where I will create not only a working, but also a creative, fabulous atmosphere. I hope it appeares soon. I'm still working on the interior for it.
— Often artists like to collect all sorts of materials and useful tools that may be useful in the future. Do you have a lot of stocks and tools, do you follow the novelties that can facilitate the creative process?
— Oh, most craftsmen call themselves hamsters as a joke, and I'm no exception. I have decent stocks of various wool, fabrics, ribbons, inks, varnishes, adhesives. The list may go on, when creating toys I use many things, not only wool and needles. I love that I have this variety because it spurs inspiration. When you don't have to think about where to find the right thread or fabric for a suit, the toy is created much easier and more enjoyable.
— It happens that it is difficult for creative people to follow the schedule of sleep, food, walks. Do you follow these things, or do you work until inspiration "lets go"?
— The first four years of my "puppet" experience I worked until "let go". I could not sleep at night, get up early and run to the table with unfinished toy. Then, apparently, the resources of my body came to an end, and there was a period when creativity just did not have the strength. This situation taught me that inspiration comes easier when I'm cheerful and healthy, not when I look like a caricature of a crazy artist with red eyes. So now I observe a mode of sleep and rest, and my creative work brings me much more joy than before.
— How does it feel to be a famous artist? Are fame and responsibility connected with your work and tutorials easy for you?
— It is difficult for me to answer this question. Of course, I feel my recognition, but I am an expert in a rather narrow creative field — in the creation of toys, so we can say that I am widely known in narrow circles. In ordinary life, I do not feel any of this fame. Sometimes, when I come to Moscow for exhibitions, people recognize me, but more often they do not know me, but my works, so I do not feel any pressure or responsibility.
— At the end of the interview we always ask how to become a real professional. It is especially important for us and our readers to hear the answer from you. What would you advise those who want to do handmade and become a sought-after artist? What qualities should they possess, what should they develop?
— It seems to me, first of all, it is necessary to love the business, to be engaged in it. I'll say banality, but it's true for me. People become popular when they do what they love, without what they can not imagine their life. Then there is energy for development, growth, overcoming crises, development of new horizons. To go into some sphere only because it can bring income and is popular, without a spark in the soul, is an opportunity to get a quick emotional burnout, because failures (and they will be, they are an integral part of creative growth) will make you give up quckly. Creativity for me is sincerity. This is what is done for love and from the bottom of my heart. People always feel it, and this is what makes many artists in demand.