Talking to Yulia Pustoshkina over the duration of a few weeks and diving deeper into the artist’s universe with each conversation became truly an exciting mood lifter and created a lot of warmth with the winter slowly creeping in. Yulia’s vibrant paintings, filled with joyful, weird and humorous characters, are the perfect escape plan from our daily grinds, terrifying news and the difficulties that naturally appear with living a life in this world. And this is precisely what Yulia aims for:
I believe animals radiate kindness and happiness, they make a viewer smile and wonder. The main message here is kindness. It also reminds us that all of us, animals, birds, flowers, and humans, are just small pieces of nature, this giant Universe. So every tiny component is equally important. Humour is a significant feature of my work. It has become my signature style, I believe. There is a dash of humour in every painting I make. I think it reflects my own personality.
Continuing the creative legacy of her ancestors and empowered through the knowledge shared with her, Yulia knows the beauty of a supportive, nurturing and inspiring environment. This positivity and comfort are present in the painter’s compositions and shared with the world through her quirky characters. We can feel Yulia’s joy while imagining her pieces and how she reaches out to the viewers to take us with her on this journey of wandering around and dreaming of a surreal universe far away from reality. Her humanised characters become figures to identify with, laugh about the weirdness and wonders of existence, and just smile without a single worry.
These days, it is difficult to remove ourselves from all the negativity and horrifying circumstances of our world. Still, we all know that art has the power to fill our hearts with positivity, tenderness and hope. Sometimes we just need to allow our minds to dream and hold the imagination and curiosity we used to cherish during our childhood close to our hearts. Yulia’s paintings are the perfect ground to embrace this, and I am sure, the joy of her works is contagious – just follow us!
Exclusive interview with Yulia Pustoshkina
Please introduce yourself and your work to the readers.
My name is Yulia Pustoshkina. I currently live and work in Sydney, Australia. I came up with the description of my style as Folkloric Surrealism, which draws inspiration and painting techniques from my Russian background and, at the same time, inspires me to create contemporary creations. I work with oil paints. My painting technique is finely detailed, aiming to achieve a look and feel intersecting surrealism and realism.
What inspired you to become an artist?
I grew up in a family of very creative people; artists, designers, and craftsmen. I have learnt various skills from each one of my ancestors. My biggest inspiration from them is my dad, an artist of his own. I have always wanted to be like my dad; his creativity and sense of humour are infectious. Having seen my grandfather painting realistic landscapes with oils, also watching my father’s creative process of designing a cut-out wooden shape, the whole preparation of it, and painting a scene on the surface: All of this certainly affected my creative soul, and I was pretty sure even at a very young age that my path in life will definitely be in art. Everything that surrounded me from my birth was creative; the house we lived in – the furniture, the conversations we had, the aspirations we shared. So becoming an artist as I am today was meant to happen most logically.
Did your family members encourage you to be creative? How did they support you?
As mentioned above, I have acquired various skills from different members of my family, my ancestors. I have always been very close to my grandmother. We shared similar interests, such as astrology, herbal healing, Tarot cards, and gemstone meanings. We composed some poetry and used to send them to one another via mail as we have lived in different cities. Most importantly, my grandmother taught me handicrafts like sewing, embroidery, all sorts of textile tricks and embellishments, and jewellery making. Even in my adult life right now, I am still inspired and use the knowledge or, most probably, her blessing when creating fashion accessories for myself. Likewise, my mother has taught me to sew and knit and crochet. I only wish I had so much more time when I could continue to make my new garments. The number of compliments I receive every time I wear something I have made myself instantly directs me to my beloved ancestors. I feel like a heavy and happy sponge that has absorbed all the creative capabilities of my ancestors.
I am forever thankful to my family for becoming who I am today.
Why animals? What draws you towards their rather than human existence?
Throughout life, I have noticed that dogs, for example, have unconditional love for their owners, compared to humans, where untrust and dishonesty play a role. I, therefore, lean towards positivity, the perfect existence, and kindness. Nevertheless, I see my animals behaving like humans. Their anthropomorphic characteristics speak for themselves; you can read their faces and see their emotions and feelings. Whenever I go for my daily walks, I always notice what is around me, noises coming from the trees, and I know or imagine that the birds are up to something. When I see animals, I can almost talk to them, and they understand me, or rather I understand them. Of course, I might be imagining all of this – I do not know, in this case, it is all the cause of my imagination about the animals that draws me towards them.
What are the stories you aim to tell through your work?
To describe in a couple of words, it is kindness and love I aim to show in my paintings. I put a lot of effort into designing a composition. No random things, objects, or settings exist, be it a landscape or obscure clouds. I contemplate every tiny detail. Choosing characters for a painting is also a very thoughtful process, as I want the optimum chance to deliver the overall idea of the scene. Therefore, I select those particular animals or birds that can convey so. I like it when viewers of my artworks manage to find and pick the tiniest details that you may overlook at first glance, but they are there, and they carry a purpose to understand what is happening in the scene. Of course, I can always share the meaning of this or that scene with the viewer, but I also like when my art collectors see something very different in my paintings. It is also a part of the creative process.
One of my favourite stories in my paintings is about travelling. My characters are almost always on the go to some distant lands, and they may be flying or walking towards a valley or into the cosmos. This explains my love for travelling. It is always enigmatic to discover new places and new encounters and live through new feelings and emotions. I love all that, which is why it is seen in my paintings.
Some other stories include love and care, where some of my favourite animals, such as dogs, cats, rabbits, and foxes… too many to recall. I do not stick to a few particular animals, I think I have painted quite a variety of them by now. I portray my characters with such love and patience. Everything they do has meaning to it. I believe my animals radiate kindness and happiness, they make a viewer smile and wonder. The main message here is kindness. It also reminds us that all of us, animals, birds, flowers, and humans, are just small pieces of nature, this giant Universe. So every tiny component is equally important. Humour is a significant feature of my work. It has become my signature style, I believe. There is a dash of humour in every painting I make. I think it reflects my own personality.
So your main aim is to spread joy and happiness through your work? Positivity?
Yes, our, human, primary purpose of life on this Earth is to be kind and loving to everyone and everything, to yourself in the first place. With the recent passing of my beloved brother, a talented creator of his own, I am changing my life direction and path towards more spiritual well-being. I am discovering on my way and confirming once again the knowledge of how inspiration comes to me as an artist. It is incredible to know that our minds can reach unlimited possibilities, and as an artist, I am fascinated even more now by what else I can discover, and get inspired with to take my imagination to a higher level. I look forward to my future work bringing a new direction towards spiritualism – but let it not worry my art collectors and fans who love the humour and lightheartedness. I will keep that for sure, along with the discoveries of where the higher conscience might take me. I am thrilled and fascinated even thinking about it, as I am a dreamer. I would like to couple this new direction with the recent inspiration I have received while travelling through the African continent: starting with the magical and enigmatic Egypt, through the mighty Kenyan and Tanzanian African safaris, meeting face to face numerous animals, the pride of this planet Earth, through the curious island of Zanzibar and into the luscious forests of Madagascar. I have met so many animals on my way that I can hardly wait till I put onto canvases every new idea I have collected. I see myself as a traveller and observer who walks this planet and then expresses everything contained in my mind on my canvases. So yes, my main aim towards people is to spread joy and happiness through my work.
What do you love about being an artist? What excites you about your profession?
About my profession, every person has a purpose in their life and coming to the Earth, we have to accomplish this purpose as best we can. I intend to spread the meaning of kindness through my work. My task here on Earth is to inspire others to achieve in their creative pursuits. Many people, mostly starting artists, approach me wanting advice or to share my experience of how to do this or that in the art world. I am always positive and aspire not to fear and just go for it; go for your ideas and plans, and do not be ever afraid if you fall or something fails – you gain a valuable experience that will eventually lead you to success. The level and meaning of success are very personal. I consider myself a very successful artist only by observing how the warmth and positive energy radiate in the dance between the viewers and my artworks. I see people as they react and emotions lighting them up from within. I am very grateful to my numerous art collectors as they provide the necessary grounds for me to continue to create. I thank you all.
As an artist, freedom is the key word: Freedom to express myself and, in return, to receive the vital energy to continue.
I am happy that I have this field of achievement as an artist. With every new work, I strive to create a better result and outcome of a new painting; never stopping to achieve better and better, or change direction is one of the most important aspects of a growing artist. There is no limit here, which excites me; I can never get bored.