Freelance illustrator Alena Tkach shows her whimsical sketches for games and children’s books in this sneak peek from issue 125


I have always been drawing as long as I remember. Drawing has always been something natural for me, like a thing that anyone can do. When I was small my parents had no time to bring me to an art school for children, so I wasted lots of paper and sketchbooks at home and notebooks at school. However, the understanding that drawing should become something bigger than a hobby was not easy.

I like animals a lot and I was fond of biology in general at school, so I applied to the university to become a geneticist and I was going to start a career as a scientist. The crucial moment was the beginning of the animal’s physiology course in the third year of studying. Students had to dissect a frog, cut its head and take away its skin just to study how the nerve impulses go to the muscles. And that was the last straw for me. I understood that I am not a biologist like that; maybe I am a naturalist and artist. So in a year I applied to the Academy of Design and Arts.

I draw because I enjoy it; it’s my way to say “Hi” to the world and to make someone’s day better with my art. Most of my works are digital, but I like doing pencil sketches because I enjoy working with real materials. Digital sketching is faster and easier but pencil sketching is more joyful.

My sketchbook is a story of my artistic life, encouraging me to move on. Most of my sketches are done for work projects, but sometimes I do them just to have fun. Each sketch is a good starting point for a new piece of art, because I am sure that each new drawing teaches us something new and enriches our experience a bit. If I do not sketch the ideas coming to mind I may lose them. So sketching is also a good way to free the space in my mind for new ideas, not trying to keep everything in one place.

An illustration inspired by Tove Jansson’s The Summer book, a personal project ©Alena Tkach

An illustration inspired by Tove Jansson’s ‘The Summer book’, a personal project ©Alena Tkach

Inspiration and Ideas

I find inspiration mainly in nature. Since I love animals, plants, mountains, forests and everything I can reach in my life, every trip gives a great power to go ahead. Also I spend some time watching online galleries, Instagram, blogs and Behance portfolios of contemporary illustrators. I work mostly with children’s illustration and there are a lot of artists in this field to inspire me: Emilia Dziubak, Chuck Groenink, Oliver Jeffers, Polina Tsareva, Lisk Feng, Amélie Fléchais, and Oren Haskins.

Sketching for the 'The Summer book' by Tove Jansson ©Alena Tkach

Sketching for the ‘The Summer book’ by Tove Jansson ©Alena Tkach

I was lucky to meet my artist friends in a company we used to work for. We had a lot of awesome fun and a productive time together, helping each other to improve skills and evolving as artists. We all left, became freelancers and started an art group KADKA. We have our blog and sometimes we co-operate for some projects. I appreciate our collaboration very much.

Sketching for the cover of the book 'Lines', a personal project ©Alena Tkach

Sketching for the cover of the book ‘Lines’, a personal project ©Alena Tkach

I get most of my ideas in the morning because I am an early riser. Another good way to get new ideas is to travel, it’s quite good the refresh your mind and review your art, to experience new routes. For me good ideas are always something new based on something old. In fact I understand the idea is good when I receive the audience reaction. And in such a way I recognize that something inner and personal which I tried to put into my works was accepted and understood.

Close-up of the 'My First English Words' project

Close-up of the ‘My First English Words’ project ©Alena Tkach

See the rest of Alena’s article in the full issue of 2dartist 125!