Anna Kuptsova – 7 days of inspiration – Advent Calendar 
This season #ComesWith a lot of creativity and inspiration. In our 7 days of inspiration series we introduce an inspirational artist each day. Today’s artist: Anna Kuptsova, a fabulous illustrator and designer, also known as anniko_story. Because she inspired us so much this year, we wanted to get to know her and her way of working a bit better and share that information with you. Want to know, what makes her stile unique?
Now that Christmas is getting closer, how do you spend this time?
Christmas is always a special time for my little family and me personally. Apart from being an official excuse to decorate all the corners of my apartment with Christmas lights, it’s always a good time to slow down a little, reflect on my life and of course to spend quality time with the loved ones.
Cooking traditional meals, walking in parks under the snow and enjoying the Christmas atmosphere with friends and family is what truly makes me happy on Xmas.
How did it all begin?
How did you get started?
It’s a common thing for illustrators to say “I’ve started drawing since I could hold a pencil”, but it’s actually not far from the truth. I always enjoyed drawing (koh-i-noor pencils were my first weapon of choice). During my early school years, I was really inspired by my grandmother’s classic art books on drawing and sketching, so I started to take additional art classes.
When did you discover Wacom and how did it improve your workflow?
I’ve got my hands on Wacom tablet for the first time on my second year of university. There were no Wacom stores in my town those days, so I remember taking a trip to the capital city to buy it. I really enjoyed enhancing my traditional drawings using Wacom and Photoshop while teaching myself to draw digitally and mastering the software.
Which tablet did you use back when you started, which one(s) do you use today?
My first Wacom was Intuos 3 A4 (I assumed the bigger one was more comfortable). It was really good and served me well until it became incompatible with newer computer systems. Now I use Intuos Pro A5 at work and Intuos M size at home.
How did you find out what creative area you wanted to specialize in?
I’ve been involved in various creative activities for more than 10 years now and during this time I had a cool opportunity to try myself in different disciplines. I started as a web and game designer, then I shifted towards digital design and art direction. But during this time I’ve never actually stopped drawing. A couple of years ago I finally decided that creating illustrations is what really inspires and drives me, so now I dedicate my free time and energy to working on my personal and clients’ illustrative projects.
How did you find your own style?
I personally like to think that illustrative style is more like a journey that never actually ends. And that it’s not a static set of characteristics that your acquire. The more you practice and gain experience the more sophisticated and personal your art becomes. Style for me is a blend of your skills, experience and your inner self, the story that only you can tell. So my advice would be not to look much at the trends as they come and go, but to try to convey your own vision and story.
Tell us what motivates and inspires you
What do you do to get inspired?
When working on personal projects I often get inspiration from music, movies and photography. Living in a big city and having a day job doesn’t give much opportunities to travel, but you can always get your inspiration by listening to the songs and looking at the photographs of different places. So a proper night sleep, sunny weather and a beautiful music video clip could be enough to get me inspired.
How do you overcome the creative block? Any recommendations?
There are different ways to overcome creative blocks. Every artist faces it at some point. So the important part is to realize you actually did hit the block. Among the most efficient methods, I’d list – changing your routine, switching activities and talking to others about it. Because this is a pretty common issue, I did write an article in my blog with more detailed explanation on how to deal with creative blocks. You can find it here if you are interested.
Your creative output is truly inspiring, how do you get there?
How does your creative process look like? Which steps do you follow? What makes it unique?
I really feel the most productive in the mornings, so I like to start my working day with a brief plan of tasks that I need to accomplish. Apps and online schedulers don’t work for me for some reason, so I stick with a good old paper notebook. When working on personal projects I usually start with an idea or some image in my head that I find interesting to develop. It’s useful to look up for some references, but only after you’ve got your own picture in mind so you know what exactly to look for.
Usually I already know some particular colors I want to use so I prepare a rough color palette in a separate layer if I work in Photoshop. Some colors maybe change in the process, but I try to preserve the main tones and combinations. And of course there is always a place for a good cup of coffee with a piece of dark chocolate.
How much of your workflow happens analogue?
When working on a new illustration I like to start with quick sketches on paper to define basic composition first. These sketches are usually very simple and can’t be deciphered by anyone but me. After I’m happy with the composition I make a more detailed digital sketch. I work mainly digitally so all the real work happens either on a computer screen or on my ipad tablet.
So, that was work, what about your leisure time?
As you say you also get inspired by music, what music do you listen to?
The music I’m listening to through the day greatly depends on my current mood. I usually listen to indian or folk rock as well as lo-fi hip-hop beats when I work. I’m a little bit old-school with my music preferences, so you can easily find me listening to undying classics like the Doors or Rolling Stones all day.
Are you into gaming? Which games?
I usually don’t have much free time for gaming but I used to enjoy Borderlands, Mass Effect series and Divinity.
What kind of holidays do you prefer?
One of the best places on earth I could find myself in is near the summer sea. I was born in the Southern part of my country in a city only a 2-hour drive from the seashore. So, bright sunshine and the sea were always a big part of my life and the endless source of joy. Whenever I get a chance, I choose to spend my holidays by the sea or the ocean.
Do you have some take-away advice?
What challenges could aspiring artists face? Any idea how to overcome them?
Creatives are usually very sensitive folks. So feelings like anxiety, imposter syndrome and constant worries about income haunt most of us, especially at the beginning of an artistic career. It can really affect your mental health and even drive you away from creating your art. In my experience, the best thing you can do is to find someone with similar interests to talk to, even if it will just be a creative community of two. Unlike actors or musicians full-time illustrators spend most of their working day by themselves. So it’s extremely important to communicate with like-minded people and help each other.
What about your future?
What are open points on your life’s bucket list?
I would really love to launch my own illustration and design related courses one day (fingers crossed). And of course there is traveling. I’d like to visit as many places as possible. Some of the main points of interest for me are New Zealand, Japan and Canada.
“Thank you, Anna!”
We just love the insight Anna’s answers made us learn, don’t you? So we want to say “Thank you, for investing the time and your words of advice!”. We’re pretty sure, some of you can relate to Anna and might feel better now, or even inspired. As you know, she also started a blog with some fundamental tips and tricks to learn from. So be sure to keep her on your radar. And if you want some of her artworks to decorate your interior and spice up your life, you should check her Redbubble and Teerepublic profiles.