Studio Sweet Studio: Illustrator Viktorija of AndSmileStudio
My new interview series, Studio Sweet Studio will give you an insider's peek into the workspaces of some of my favourite creatives (and give me an excuse to nose around myself). I'll be chatting to my talented friends about how they have made their studio space work for them and getting some top tips along the way too. I love seeing where other people work don't you?
To kick off the series I paid a visit to Viktorija of Andsmilestudio. I first discovered Viktorija's work at a Crafty Fox market way back when in Brixton. Her work was quite different back then and I bought a panda shrink plastic brooch for my friend. It wasn't until later that I got to know Viktorija through instagram and I think the first time we hung out and chatted properly was probably on a colour walk with Xanthe Berkeley in April 2016, where we bonded over our love of dogs! I have many of Viktorija's illustrations in my own studio space - three original paintings by her hang above my desk and I admire them every day and her Girl Power printhangs on my gallery wall.
Before Viktorija showed me her studio we went to nearby Portobello Road market to have a rummage through the treasure. I bought a pretty darn adorable basket bag for a tenner and Viktorija picked up some lovely vintage plates for a few quid. We were beginning to flag after all of our thrifting, so we went for coffee at Liboa Cafe. OMG, the pastel de nata are so good, the best I've had since I was there.
Viktorija moved into Kindred Studios, near Maida Vale in West London in September 2017, having previously worked from the spare room in her flat. She shares a beautiful light-flooded space in the converted school building. Kindred is home to over 160 artists working in various disciplines. Viktorija took me for a tour and it really does have a magical feeling to it, everyone was so friendly. I had a wonderful time being nosy, poking my head around doors and through windows at other studios in the building. I'll have to go back and interview some more of the artists there.
Name: Viktorija Semkonova
Occupation: Illustrator, Andsmilestudio
Studio Location: Kindred Studios, West London
How have you found working in the communal studio space after working from home for so long? Do you find you're more productive?
I enjoyed working from home, I quite like being on my own. However, here I have more space and I now have dedicated working times as well. It's a beautiful shared room. I'm always productive in the mornings, after lunch I'm sleepy and then I get productive again after five. When I was at home I'd sometimes work in the evenings until 8 or 9, but I leave here before that time now. If I stay late I feel anxious now! I think I probably am more productive here because I'm surrounded by other people and I can't watch Ru Paul's Drag Race all the time! It works both ways though, if everyone's procrastinating then it's easy to do the same. One of the things I like most about the studio is that you get to meet different artists and creative people. There are so many different forms of art here, it really opens your eyes. It's a very special studio with lots of wonderful people. We have lots of events here - we had a Christmas party, an open house and there's going to be a Crafty Fox market here in June too.
Do you enjoy having a commute to work now?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Less so if I take public transport (then I can catch up on podcasts and social media). If I'm cycling into work (from Hammersmith, on Mildred the mint bicycle) it's more fun and it's so fun to cycle through London, though I did enjoy having a commute to work which was exactly 4 steps.
Do you have a favourite time of day in the studio?
All the time is my favourite! That space is something really special – even in the winter it's so bright and beautiful. The sun moves from my side of the studio to the back throughout the day, so it's always changing. I haven't had a summer here yet so I'm looking forward to seeing the late summer evenings.
How many people share the space you work in?
There are seven including me and we're quiet creators. Three illustrators (including me), a photographer, a writer, a printmaker and a mixed media conceptual artist. We all have different schedules though, so there's normally a max of three of us in at once. We're all quite quiet and it's a very chilled vibe – we all get along really well, I feel quite lucky. One of the nice things about the studio is the canteen, I always meet new people here and love finding out more about the work they create.
Do you play music?
I find music too distracting when I'm planning or writing things, so sometimes I listen to Coffitivity, an ambient sounds app which mimics coffee shop background noise. When I draw and paint I listen to podcasts in headphones too. I have quite weird taste in music, so I'll be listening to Beyonce or Grimes and then I'll listen to classical music. My sister is a violinist and will give me tips if I text her.
You said to me earlier it's taken a while to get the space looking how it does now. Is the space how you want it now?
Yes, it's taken me some time to get it how I want it and I've moved things around it make it functional for me. I've got an adjustable stool and a tall desk, so I can stand to draw or pack orders, but if I'm tired I still have the option to sit down. I then have another desk which has my printer on. I keep my paint and art supplies I often use within easy reach.
Have you got any storage tips for us?
My space is quite small, about 5 square metres, and some of that is space I need to keep clear for the common area. My desks are arranged in an L shape in the corner, so take up as little space as possible. I keep supplies that aren't so pretty in IKEA and Muji storage boxes under my table. These are full of various papers, art supplies, products and packaging. I don't have so many products these days, I mainly sell prints which don't take up much space, so that makes it easier.
Tell me about the work you have on your walls and shelves.
I did an exhibition last week, so some of the work is from that – the black and white pieces. They're quite different to what I normally produce, but it was nice to create something just for me and they really reflect where I'm at right now I think. Whatever I'm working on at the moment I put up where I can see it. I tend to work on loose sheets of paper rather than sketchbooks so it's nice to put the work in front of me to remind me where I'm at and what I've done.
What's the surrounding area like? Will you share your favourite local spots?
The studio is in between Westbourne Park, 15 minutes walk from Portobello Rd, 10 minutes away from Queens Park. It's a residential area and local corner shops are filled with fruits, Middle Eastern sweets, freshly baked bread and nuts. They look like nothing special from the outside but are well worth a visit to stock up on snacks. Every Friday I go to Portobello Rd market (the antique bit) to stock up on cute cups, plates and old photos. I usually stop for a coffee one morning a week before work at Pedlars.
I came away feeling so inspired from Kindred! Make sure you catch the Crafty Fox market in June if you can. You can see what Viktorija's up to on instagram and buy her beautiful prints from her website.
Are you dying to see more of someone's workspace? Would you like to show me around your own studio? Get in touch to let me know!