- Hi Julia. Tell us how you started out at
- Many years ago, when PicsForDesign was a baby, my friend, and mentor, a co-owner of PFD at the time, got in touch and offered the job. I had the time and the skills, so I said yes right there. It was the perfect fit and an exciting niche to be a part of.
- How many languages do you speak and how did you learn them?
- Belarusian and Russian are my native tongues, I'm fluent in English and Spanish and won't get lost/ bored, or go starving in Italy. I learned both English in Spanish in school, but of course, that's only part of the story. 
Following a selection process within a student exchange program for high school, I spent a year in the United States living in a host family, and before that would come to a family of friends in Spain to spend summers. 
My mom was a school teacher but then got into the travel industry and organized guided tours across Europe all by herself. She was amazing - loving, resourceful, relentless… We did not have much financially, but she made sure I had traveled more by the time I was 16 than any well-off kid in town.
She was also the one to talk me into applying for the exchange program in the States at 15 - which now I realize took a lot of moral strength on her part, as sending your teen daughter across the ocean for a year at this age is tough for a mother. Sometimes parents do need to have that strength to give their kids more opportunities. The US experience had a powerful impact on my character, linguistic skills, and subsequently - my career as a translator slash interpreter.
- Any advice for those eager to learn English? 
- I did spend a few years teaching English, during my University years and a couple of years after. Just like with pretty much anything, there is no magic bullet here, it all comes down to motivation and hard work. For professional purposes, spending a good chunk of time in the country whose language you are learning is key - that's the best way to sort things out in your head and think the way native speakers do. 
- Your children are bilingual (speak Engish and Russian). Are there any peculiarities to raising bilingual kids? Any insights to share? 
- Bilingualism is a fun phenomenon, and I truly savor this experience with my children - it's a whole world of challenging, funny and endearing, but mostly they are kids just like any other, only plus one language they speak without thinking much about it. 
I speak exclusively English to my kids and their father in their presence, my husband is responsible for Russian, it's the classic one-parent-one-language approach. As a parent, I owe it to my kids to give them everything  I possibly can - and being bilingual opens a whole new level of opportunities in our quickly changing and fast-paced world. As one song goes "our kids shall be better than us".
I find it cute that they use it as their language of choice to communicate amongst themselves, rather than Russian, which is technically the "majority language". 
- You run the customer support, raise three kids and try to live your life to the fullest. Got any advice on time management? How do you make things work and manage your time?
- Time is the most precious thing. I noticed that the less free time I have during the day, the more I manage to squeeze in. It's just the constant challenge of fitting the impossible into your day and having time for everything - keeps you on your toes and makes you more efficient. 
I am a heavy planner - writing out the things I want and need to do is a handy habit but also a form of meditation. I aim to work at peak intensity while the kids are asleep or in school to spend more time with them when they aren't. So I'm very motivated to be highly efficient. 

- What's your favorite and least favorite part of the job as a support specialist? 
- Favorite part - all problems solved, customers notified, inbox empty. I love helping people and making sure their issues are resolved as soon as humanly possible. Sometimes customers write upset, confused, even angry - I love when I can help in a way that makes them pleased and raises their mood, even just a little bit. 
Over the years I cultivated many great relationships with customers and artists, and it's great to exchange a few words with some of them from time to time, ask how they are doing, share things of your own. It's nice - and something not every support service can offer, I like to think. 
My least favorite part is making people wait - which may happen if the issue comes with some technical aspects to be sorted out first, or when things are simply out of our hands as a store. 
- What's the best way to relax for you?
- They say the best way to relax is to change the type of activity, and I could not agree more. We live in a  house and there is a bit of land around, so there is always something to do. Sewing, woodworking, gardening, bike rides (we have beautiful hilly countryside), board game nights with friends - you name it. Typically it's anything but screen time - there are too many screens in our life already, so we aim to keep our kids - and ourselves - away from devices as much as possible. 
Even if you catch me relaxing in the classical definition of the word (like watching a movie), I will still be sewing something, cutting out the fabric on the floor in front of the TV, or planning my next day.
Our cat Octavia (named after Octavia Blake from "The Hundred"), elegant Russian blue, has real trouble catching me on the couch, so the moment I land on it, she's right there curling up in my lap - in most cases, the poor thing does not have too long before I get up and keep at it. Our other cat,  ginger-and-white Dexter (named after Dexter Morgan, the murderous blood spatter analyst) knows better and just prefers one of the kids. 
And our dog Nyssa just follows me around and lies at my feet no matter where I am, and she can do that all day. 
- Anything to say to those reading this interview? 
- I'm very grateful to our valued customers and artists for their immense patience whenever they get in touch and we have to go through some standard motions to diagnose the issue correctly. I appreciate your understanding and I'm always happy to be there for you - whether it's to sort something out, put your mind at ease, or listen to some exciting news. Stay safe and healthy and stop by when you got some time - PicsFordesign is only going to get better!

Panda: "Have you ever wondered, what do the strong and brave men from tough places like Siberia do for living (except hunting bears)? Turns out they draw tubes for you! Today’s featured artist is a man of many talents, an old salt and a proud grandfather. You have probably seen his works in the Start catalogue and in the Exclusives. I was amazed to hear the story of Sunny_Rose’s life. After recording and translating it, I’m glad to share it with you!"

Sunny_Rose: "A small child, I believe, is not much different from a caveman. So, like a true caveman, I started painting on the walls. And now I'm fifty-four years old, and I'm still drawing. When I was seven years old, I won the competition for the best illustrations for the play "Red Devils", which was held in our city drama theater. I even appeared in the local news the morning after! I was also given a free annual pass as a reward.

My father was an excellent musician, a good artist and a skilled photographer. There were a bunch of books at home on all these arts. But, nevertheless, he sent me to study at a music school. Together with my older brother and two other friends, we formed a rock band. We played hard rock and heavy metal. By that time, I had already mastered piano, guitar and button accordion. My brother played the guitar solo, I sang. I composed music and poetry, he did the arrangement. Now my dream is to record the best on good modern equipment.


After school, I studied at the Khabarovsk Specialized School of Arts. Now it is called the Khabarovsk Regional College of Arts. Then I served in the Pacific Fleet for three years. There I also painted wall newspapers. Every year I took first places with my drawings in the Kamchatka flotilla, for which, two years later, I was awarded a vacation. In addition, in the navy, I got a good grasp of the technique of type. I studied the construction of letters and the general visual perception of the text. In those days there were giant ECMs, the computers in our present understanding did not exist yet. Everything was drawn, traced and written by hand.

I started studying Photoshop in 1998, when I worked as an artist for the newspaper "Vecherny Komsomolsk" (Evening Komsomolsk). At that time I was still young, I had many jobs at once. I served in the fire brigade (three days later), drew posters in the cinema, worked in advertising. I also was a leader of my own musical group and an accompanist for ballroom dancing. My day was not scheduled by the hour, but by the minute. I remember that even, having broken a toe, I drove my car with a plaster cast on my foot. When I arrived at the doctor’s for changing my bandage only in the evening, I had to take her home from work, since I already took half an hour of her non-working time. However, it was undoubtedly more convenient for her to get there in comfort than to get there by public transport during rush hour. But she still scolded me for it!

In 2000, I was invited to siberian city of Omsk, to the creative association "Skaz" (Fairytale). My main activity at the studio was drawing board games. They were published in Moscow at the factories "Rusalochka" (Mermaid) and "Zvezda" (Star), as well as in Gelendzhik at the factory "Technolog". In addition, I did not stop doing advertising, made storyboards for videos, recorded musical jingles, worked on packaging design for New Year's gifts, continued to drawcaricatures for newspapers. Of course, I won diplomas and certificates for the Skaz’s studio. But since I led a rather bohemian lifestyle, I met many useful people. I began to take orders for painting walls in restaurants and saunas. I also did stucco and sculpture. At one time I worked with airbrushing: at the bottling plant for bottled water "Nasha Voda" (Our Water) I painted a whole fleet of vehicles and a lot of boats.

Sometimes I tattooed my friends. For free.

 Another good source of income was the engraving of portraits on basalt mourning obelisks.

But life in Siberia was one big dangerous adventure for me. I was not happy. And I returned home only twelve years later, covered with scars from knives, axes and shovels. Both on the face and on the body. It was 2012. My mother lived for five more years, my brother only three, my sister went to live in Moscow. I got married for a second time only when I was fifty. To my first love, for whom I had previously composed songs.

Now I plant vegetables in my dacha, outside the city. Next to a huge lake. Around the forest. Ticks and snakes live there! Ha-ha-ha! Of course, there are foxes, hares and bears. The first two, due to their cunning and cowardice, are practically invisible, but hungry bears are sometimes very arrogant and aggressive.However, we are not talking about them.

Dear readers, I wish you to stay healthy, live long and prosper!"


You can find the artwork of Sunny_Rose here on our catalogue


PFD's Featured Artist: Misticheskaya

Artist's Profile: Misticheskaya

Real Name: Viktoria

Style/Genre: decorative realism

With PFD since: 2011

Inspirations: Henri Matisse, Gustav Klimt, Alexandre Dumas, Spring and romantic weather


Hi Vika, and welcome to our rubric! We received a lot of questions from your fans that wanted to know more about the person behind the virtual brush that creates the artwork they have come to love. So we had to group them into clusters, for your convenience :)

The first question is - how did you get into digital art? Did you have some training in traditional painting?

M: Hi everyone! Me coming into digital art was a gradual process. I am a classically trained artist, but I've always been curious to learn new things.

And if you learn to draw on paper using a pencil, you should have no problem doing digital art. These are just tools, really.

I: Why did you pick this name? Is this a part of your real life (last) name or does it mean something special to you, define you as an artist?

M: The fact is, it has nothing to do with my real name (Vika).When I was deciding on a name for PFD, my imagination betrayed me :). However, at the time, I had my first piece ready for sale at PicsForDesign, and just on the spot I came up with a name for it - "misticheskaya" (*meaning "mystic" in Russian). And this is how my artistic pseudonym was born.

I: What kind of person are you? What makes you smile? What makes you angry? What do you enjoy on a regular day when you are not creating and have some time to dedicate to yourself?

M: I adore my lifestyle: I do what I love, I have a wonderful family. It's crucial to have inner-harmony, and I believe I do have it. Looking out of the window, I equally enjoy a sunny day and a snowy one. Nature sets the mood just in the same way little nice things around us do. Like a morning cup of coffee or an intricate pattern on an autumn leaf.

I'm in awe of people eager and ready to change, reach new heights, learn something new and interesting, working tirelessly towards making their dreams come true. I'm also inspired by people doing what they are great at and enjoying their life. As for the feeling of anger - I get it when I see people impinging on the rights of others, or when I see injustice, defenseless people getting mistreated or humiliated.

I enjoy peace and regularity, but sometimes it's nice to have fun. Travelling is the best way to relax and experience an incredible emotional boost.

I: Does art inspire you in your everyday life, as opposed to being a way to earn a living?

M: Drawing is my life. I love drawing and therefore love my work. While creating each picture, I'm filled with anticipation; ideas just come pouring in while thinking through the composition, and these are extremely pleasant sensations, so I'm always impatient to get down to it. I'm definitely a very lucky person to be able to earn a living doing what I truly love.

I: It's noticeable that your work is very detailed. How long does it take you to make one tube? From start until it's put in store.

M: It's hard to just go ahead and give a number here, as each piece is different. After all, it's not just about the drawing itself, a big part of it is also coming up with the narrative, searching for the perfect light-and-dark solutions. Each illustration takes me a long time to complete.

I: How do you get ideas for your artwork? And how do you decide what to make this time? Is there more meticulous planning and research or pure inspiration?

M: My artwork reflects my mood. And my mood is always in expectation of the immediate future. For example, in anticipation of Xmas holidays, I feel like creating as my mood takes me. Or after rereading "Sherlock Holmes" I created a tube inspired by it. Ideas come pouring in from all around. I aspire to create something relevant and enjoyable, so that the viewers would love it.

I: Do any of the tubes you created for PicsForDesign have some special meaning to you? If you had to choose, which one would be your favorite ever and why?

M: I give my artwork my all. And put a lot of effort and emotions into creating each one. So it's very difficult to pick just one - each one has a part of me. But if I were to choose that one, I'd probably have to say it's my very first piece at the store - Mystic, because this is how my PFD story started. It has searching, lots of anticipation and enthusiasm.

First tube by Misticheskaya posted at PicsForDesign.


I: Do you have a sketch or a finished piece that you never released?

I have on such thing as unfinished pieces, due to the fact I'm a very determined person. First off, I think my idea through very carefully. The idea is born in my mind, not down to every detail yet, of course. I try to find those details later when creating a sketch. The original sketch undergoes changes as I move forward, can get erased and drawn from scratch, but sooner or later it all comes to a logical end.

I: Finally, a chance for you to say a few words to your fans :)

I'm so very grateful for having you. It's a great joy knowing my art is appreciated. Hope you find harmony, love and beauty around every day that goes by. Love you!

PFD's Featured Artist: Nocturne
Artist's Profile: Nocturne
Real Name: Anna Liwanag
Style/Genre: Semi-realism
With PFD since: 2012
Inspirations: Rembrandt, Sargent, Bouguereau, Caravaggio
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