Artist Valeriya Simantovskaya’s Sensual Illustrations are Surrounded with an Air of Intrigue

In the illustrations by Valeriya Simantovskaya - Armenia-based artist and illustrator - silent and enigmatic figures stand out against minimal plain backgrounds in a game of geometries, contrasts and details

The protagonists of Valeriya Simantovskaya's works, with their features that are not always defined, are captivating with the intrigue and ambiguity of the stories they tell. Simantovskaya explores the human body in every detail, focusing on the intimacy of an encounter, on the dance of joining hands or of faces touching each other. 

Artist Valeriya Simantovskaya

The poses and stances of her characters leave room for the imagination and allude to commonalities with their delicate composure, which are in harmony with the surrounding environment. The use of neutral colors or pastel shades in strong chromatic contrast add a further level of reading. Sometimes it's just a hug or an intertwining of hands to reveal the sense of the plot, sharp silhouettes which stand out powerfully and capture the eye with their elegance and sensual movements. We chat with Simantovskaya to uncover more of her creative journey. 

Can you briefly share your background and creative journey with us? What made you want to become an illustrator or artist?

My journey began from childhood. I drew a lot, went to art clubs, and after school I decided to enter the Architectural and Art Academy, which became one of the main events in my creative path, because I can still feel its influence. There I received an education that was not quite typical for an artist, which was clearly manifested in my future illustrations.

What were some of your earliest influences? How did they shape the way you think and create?

I remember watching fashion shows on television with my older sister with admiration as a child. Then, for some reason, it was much more interesting for me to watch the models themselves and not the clothes they present. Their bizarre images, strange poses, and cold stern expressions fascinated me. Probably all this was reflected in my work many years later and was for me one of the earliest and strongest influences.

The protagonists you depict in your work are usually “emotionless” from the outside? What is the intent behind this direction?

I love understatement. Such a special mood of mystery appears where not everything is open to a person, it makes the imagination become more active. I like to shift emotions to body language - sometimes it seems to me that it is even more eloquent. According to the expressive poses and general mood, it is as if you can see / imagine the faces of these people and their intentions.

Can you tell us about the process of making your work?

There is no single script for this process, the catalyst can be anything - from beautiful weather and mood to a random post on Instagram. Often, I first make digital sketches on my iPad, and in the process, I decide whether it will become a full-fledged digital illustration or whether it has a fate to be painted on canvas.

What matter(s) to you? Have you been actively expressing such emotions/messages through your creations?

Almost always, the focus is on human nature - its complex and diverse states and attitudes and everything that affects them: society, in which he is forced to interact with other people, and spaces, either created and invented by his consciousness, or actually existing. I think that both of these factors make a huge contribution to the formation of personality and I am interested in exploring them.

Which project of yours has been most important to developing your personal style?

I can't single out any particular projects, I just feel that in the course of all my activities, over time, my style is constantly transforming, and I am with it. It's a very lively and natural process that you just want to give in to.

Your greatest indulgence in life?

The first thing that comes to mind is coffee. This drink makes me wake up well first, and then helps me stay awake enough to work well throughout the day. I really drink a lot of coffee and feel deeply unhappy if I don't drink at least one cup in the morning. 

I also love to draw in bed (the only exception is working at an easel). I know it's not very good for my back and I've tried many times to work at the table and even standing up, but every time, I always end up going back to the bed. A pillow with a blanket, a cup of coffee, my favorite music - and I'm ready to create!

Words: Emily Leung & Nikey Cheng
Published on May 11, 2023