Annita Maslov extracts the Anima of prominent historical figures August 28 2017
Our next artist to exhibit in the Small Wall Project is Melbourne based artist Annita Maslov whose intricate drawings invoke a haunting, old world feel. She draws on characters from historical plots to play out her finely drawn scenes. Maslov started out as a freelance illustrator and now also works as a tattoo artist.
In her upcoming show ‘Anima’, Annita has represented the inner true self of her characters, through showing their unconscious actions as their exterior. Every illustration is of a different historical figure, ranging from philosophers to royalty, each with an interesting legend, tragic or fascinating life, or an amazing mind. Annita says “From what I know about each of these people I've illustrated, I've tried to portray my understanding of their personal essence - their anima - through the mood and accompanying imagery.”
We spoke with to Annita to discuss her process and ideas behind her latest body of work, 'Anima'.
We loved having your work on display previously at the ‘Moon Fire’ Occult Group Show at Outré Gallery, what have you been up to art wise since then?
Thank you! I spend most of my week tattooing, so the time I have off is a split dedication of working on designs for tattoo clients and illustrations for my upcoming show at Outre, 'Anima'.
Could you tell us about what you have been exploring through your work lately?
Lately I've been exploring back stories of historical figures. People that are known by name, but have interesting narratives that aren't very well known.
How would you describe the behind the scenes of creating an exhibition - how do you decide what to focus the work on ?
I've always found this incredibly hard! Usually my ideas are quite irregular in theme- I Normally feel inclined to change up the subject matter in each subsequent work to avoid tediousness. Though this time the theme came quite quickly. I was inspired by my current attraction of reading and podcast listening to interesting, and usually tragic, historical tales.
Fine liners are a staple in your creation process, tell us a bit more about the process behind making your work?
I'd start of by creating a digital mock-up of a rough composition, which would more often than not, change dramatically halfway through the inking process. I'd then lay down the pencil sketch and start dotting!
What is the idea behind your upcoming show at Outré Gallery?
My upcoming show is titled, 'Anima', meaning the inner personality that is turned toward the unconscious of a being; someone's character or individuality. Every illustration is of a different historical figure, ranging from philosophers to royalty, each with an interesting legend, tragic or fascinating life, or amazing mind. From what I know about each of these people I've illustrated, I've tried to portray my understanding of their personal essence - their anima - through the mood and accompanying imagery.
Could you describe one work in more detail?
One of my favourite pieces from this body of work is, 'Khutulun', based on a bad-ass Mongolian princess who was Genghis Khan's great-great-granddaughter. My favourite story is that of her superb wrestling skills. She insisted any man wanting her hand in marriage must defeat her in wrestling, and upon losing must gift her a horse. She subsequently ended up with 10,000 horses and no husband. I depicted her as a hawk because her bad-assery is on par with one.
Your artworks in this series reflect upon characters and individuality, how has your own character shaped your development in drawing and the progression into tattooing?
I think my interests have shaped my character and in turn shape my creative endeavours, so it's a bit of a feedback loop. In terms of the development, because I'm passionate about what I do, I naturally spend a lot of time on my work and subsequently evolve stylistically and technically. I decided to venture into tattooing because it's one of the more social ways of creating art.
Did you study drawing, or are you self taught?
I studied illustration after high school but the course wasn't too my liking; it was a bit too commercial. I started drawing as a toddler in my crib so I'd say I'm mostly self taught.
What would you say to someone who is trying to make it as a tattoo artist but lacks confidence that they could make a living out of it one day?
I'd say, just like any other career choice, if you're genuinely passionate about it put in the hours and give it your all. Realistically, In the early stages it may be difficult, especially as an apprentice because in most cases tattoo apprentices don't make any money. You may need to work another part time job, or have money saved prior. Though, in any case, other than financial strain and potential long hours, it should be a very enjoyable experience! I've loved the atmosphere in all studios I've worked in and most I've been to. If you put the hours into your craft, be patient, take advice and have humility, you'll see the rewards - the money would just be a bonus. On a side note- If you experience an apprenticeship that's abuse ridden you need to quit and find another studio. You should never feel the need to endure abuse and/or harassment.
For those wanting to get into tattooing, what do you think is the best way to get an apprenticeship?
Have a folio prepared. Make sure there's examples of style, good line work, and it would help if you included work of a few different styles to display versatility. The easiest way would be to call or email to ask if they're currently looking for an apprentice. Perhaps provide a brief bio and a link to an online portfolio, but definitely make sure you also have a physical folio ready to go.
How many years did it take you to make a living off your tattooing?
For a while during my apprenticeship I was working retail a couple days a week and later dropped that and just made some money doing freelance illustration. I was luckily living with my parents rent free so that definitely made it easier! I'd say it was about a year into tattooing when I stopped having the financial strain.
What other jobs did you have before you began doing tattooing full time? Mostly retail and freelance illustration. I also worked as a receptionist at a plastering company for a while. Incredibly soul devouring work. My only highlight was making phone calls to a couple of the labourers to tell them not to call adult hotlines with their company phones in my sultriest voice.
ANNITA MASLOV - 'ANIMA'
EXHIBITING IN THE SMALL WALL PROJECT
OUTRÉ GALLERY MELBOURNE
SEPT 22nd - OCT 2nd
Opening drinks Friday September 22 from 6pm to 8pm.
Words by Nicola Mitchell