Interview with Liiga Smilshkalne
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Using Watercolor Pencils in a Finished Piece
Value in Illustration
Interview with Liiga SmilshkalneArtist Spotlight
by Constanza Ehrenhaus
Are you a self taught artist, or did you go to school to learn?
Unless you count kids' after-school drawing activities then I'm pretty thoroughly self-taught.
Besides freelance work, do you do something else for a living?
Currently no, freelancing is quite good at stuffing every ounce of free time I have and I can't complain about the survivability either.
Do you feel that there is any disadvantage or advantage being an artist in Latvia?
It's a mix of both. On one hand, the art market in Latvia is pretty much comatose. On the other hand, it does lend a flavor of uniqueness to digital painting as such locally, since it's still a very rare beast here.
So all in all, I enjoy working at the domestic living costs for foreign prices, which isn't all that bad, and occasionally have a tea party with any folks that I might end up working with locally, where everyone is rather happy about getting enough people together here in the little Latvia that aren't strangers to digital art and Western concepts that accompany it.
One of your photomanipulations has caused quite a bit of a stir. What did actually happen?
I had the image in question gleefully sitting in my gallery looking all yellow and shiny, when a company named Team Evony came along and wanted to know if I'd be alright with licensing it for use in advertising materials and splash screen of their game, Evony.
I accepted, and we all promptly found out that they had a fairly aggressive advertising campaign, yellow boobies are something of an attention grabber when used in banners, and apparently they did not bear much relation to the actual contents of the game.
That's about all there is to the story, but I have to admit the feedback was quite funny. Half a year later, I'd still occasionally get people asking if Team Evony are using the image legitimately and if I'm aware of it. Don't get me wrong, it's awesome that people are looking out for each other, but the stir around the whole thing remains amusing.
Your palettes are gorgeous! How do you choose your colors?
Thank you! I don't have much of a system, but the underlying inspiration comes largely from observing nature. Also I find that no matter what the color scheme, things will look quite vivid and often magically click just by making sure the midtones are sufficiently saturated. And of course, both direct and ambient light source colors are super important in bringing unity to even the weirdest palettes.
What do you find to be most challenging in your artwork?
In no particular order of importance: perspective, eyebrows, keeping cute things cute.
What is your stance about fan art?
I don't find it particularly interesting to draw myself, though I've done a few pictures involving game fan art when they were needed for fan sites. Overall, fan art as such can be an interesting exercise in playing with the recognizability of established characters, though I am slightly bothered by a lot of young artists drawing exclusively fan art of one franchise to the point where they struggle to draw anything else. As usual, moderation in all things is the way to go.
What is with penguins, and why did you kill that one!?
The penguins are something of a small personal tradition between me and somebody else. I do have a certain difficulty in keeping cute things cute, so when deviantArt at some point held a contest that asked to depict one's personal interpretation of the end of the world, the dead penguin came to mind rather quickly. It was both because of the emotional value (both personal and the one that comes with cute things being killed in horrible ways) and the fact that I really needed to get some penguin related horror out of my system by that time, just to be able to keep the rest of them cute. So uh yes. In the next picture that penguin totally got better. I promise.
Where can our readers find your art?
My gallery at http://liiga.deviantart.com would be the best place to check, because that one is always up to date. I also occasionally post on other art sites as either "Liiga" or "Liiga Smilshkalne". It is awfully convenient to have an uncommon first name! Oh and should anyone be interested in large, quality wallpapers of some of my paintings, they can be found at http://www.cgwallpapers.com, just look for Liiga Smilshkalne in the artist listing.
Liiga is a fantastic artist. I stand in awe of her ability to create such tiny, intricate details. Every time I look at her paintings I find some small thing that I missed the first fifty times I looked at it, so every viewing it's like I'm seeing it as fresh and new.
"Liiga is one my my favourite painters, in part because we share a kinship, and similar styles and paths as artists. I find her skill with colours especially interesting. She's definitely a constant inspiration to me."
Liiga is a digital powerhouse of energy. Her work is so stunning and her grasp of light and mood is inspirational. It is unusual to find such strong drama and humor together, but Liiga often manages to meld these two qualities. Besides that, she's a warm and approachable person, and generously offers tutorials of her technique. She was one of the earliest members of Portrait Adoption, and I consider it an honor to work with her.
Liiga has the golden touch. The way she handles light and detail in her artwork is exquisite. I love the different moods she creates from her ghostly demons to her adorable penguins! Everything she does is unique. Add to this that she's an incredibly sweet and friendly person, and she definitely becomes one of those artists you are both incredibly jealous of and deeply inspired by!
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