My grandfather was a hunter and a fisherman and made up stories about forest creatures for me every night before I went to bed. My grandmothers took me into the woods mushroom gathering and berry picking and she also told me stories — not only about animals, but about leshys and forest spirits; mermaids, who lived in the springs; baba yaga, who had her home hidden in the deepest of the forests... Of course, those were fairy tales, but deep in my heart I always believed there is real magic dwelling deep in the woods. When I grew older, I was swept away by the wonders of Tolkien's Middle-earth, and elves and dragons joined my list of favourite magical creatures.
Every summer I took my sketchbook with me and sketched every day, filling the pages with landscapes and studies of plants and flowers from my grandparents' gardens. Gathering pieces of bark, twigs and dried berries from the forest, I made jewelry and decorations that I pretended were designed by the fair folk.
When I was 17, my family moved to the United States. Facing so many changes in life, growing up in a new world, I almost forgot my love of the faerie and fantasy. I went to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago majoring in graphic design, however magical and fantastical subjects kept coming up in my drawings. After two years as a graphic design major, I realized I needed a change and transferred to the illustration department at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY. In 2000, I graduated from Pratt with a BFA degree in illustration.
Now I am a fantasy and children's stories illustrator. Among my inspirations are medieval illuminated manuscripts, Northern Renaissance masters, Russian folk art, Native American art and contemporary fantasy illustrators and film concept artists. My most recent publications are illustrations for Orson Scott Card's InterGacalctic Medicine Show magazine and Stories for Children magazine as well as cover and interior illustrations for Glitter Rose, a short stories collection by Marianne de Pierres published by Twelfth Planet Press. In November 2010 my concept paintings of jewelry and fantastical weapons were part of "Steampunk: Tomorrow as it Used to Be" exhibition in New Zealand. I also participate in the 2011 Sketchbook Project, organized by the Brooklyn Library.
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