Today on the blog, we meet with an incredible artist who creates illustration influenced by the games from her childhood: Toma Vagner.
Developing her skills between the small Russian island of Sakhalin and New York, Toma soon became a renowned illustrator.
From rubik’s cubes to Jenga to paper cut-out dolls, let's discover her amazing illustrations all powered by Prodibi!
A few words about you. How did you start creating illustration?
I'm from a small island in Russia called Sakhalin. I came to New York in 2013 to study art and have been living here ever since.
Now I work as a full-time illustrator, but I also make a lot of personal drawings and series of images on the side. I've always been drawing, so illustrating for a living came about rather naturally.
Did you try other art forms? Or drawing has always been your favorite one?
I'm all over the place and have quite a few hobbies (not all of them related to art - chess, juggling, playing the guitar). In terms of art forms, drawing is what I do and enjoy the most, and practiced for the longest time.
Where do you get your inspiration from? Are you inspired by the work of other artists?
I have an eye for good design and well-made things; they encourage me to create my own work. There are many inspiration sources for me, most of them are outside of the illustration field.
On the other hand, the way I approach making images doesn't come from a mere inspiration, but from a drive on the inside, willingness to sit down and make something good just because I want to, and have a list of ideas and things I'm obsessed with. I used to say that I'm inspired by Japanese bubble gum wraps and IKEA manuals - that's true, but these are just a few of a myriad of visuals that I'm fascinated by.
It all comes down to what you have to say. Inspiration can be a nice push to bring yourself to start working, but you never know if you'll be inspired today or not. So I prefer to rely on my work ethic instead.
Can you briefly explain your creative process for a great image?
The image starts with an idea. Sometimes it's almost a ready composition in my mind, and other times all I have at first is a vague subject or an object.
Some of my subjects in the past included a rock-paper-scissors game, Jenga, make-up, guitar pedals, lost guitar pick, and so on. I make an image out of the theme I keep thinking about at the time. I use many photographs as a reference if I can't get my hands on the real model or object.
I draw with a ballpoint pen and color digitally or using acrylics. I play around with the image and keep working on it until I'm fully satisfied with the result.
Is there a particular client you dream to work for or a specific goal you wish to reach?
It would be great to create something for Nine Inch Nails, maybe a tour poster. I'm a big fan.
Other than that, I'm just curious to see where my path will take me. I'm often surprised when I open my email box - names and clients that I'd never expect to see there are interested in what I do, and I couldn't ask for more.
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Do you have projects for the future like workshops, travel, etc.?
My future is a bit uncertain now - I'm applying for artist visa so I can stay and keep working in the US, so my plans will depend on that.
If approved, I'll participate in a couple more Comic Cons around the US next year.
I'll keep doing what I do nevertheless.
To see more from Toma:
All photographs copyright Toma Vagner and used with her permission.
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