Kira Shaimanova‘s art is a unique conflation of sculpture and illustration…or rather, it’s a super stylized sculpture work that when photographed — and thus rendered in 2D — appears as if it were an illustration. The Russian born artist moved to Toronto when she was 5 years old where she currently resides and makes her art. Showing an early penchant for all things artistic, Kira enrolled in the Ontario College of Art & Design (aka OCADU) where she just earned a degree in illustration. “I was naturally skilled in art, or you can say I got passed down the art gene from my mom,” says Shaimanova. “I was lucky my family supported and supports my artistic talents and had let me pursue it fully.” Currently part of the “She Creeps” group show in Toronto, and having just signed to the Lunch Agency, it’s evident Kira’s just getting started. Read our Q&A with her below…
How has Toronto influenced your work?
I live more so in the rural part of Toronto, up north in Woodbridge, about 15 minute drive from the city. It’s hard to get inspired up here, it’s basically full of houses, parks and small plazas. Being in the city definitely helps get the wheels turning, there’s always interesting people, so many noises and tons of art galleries to visit. It’s nice to see what other illustrators/artists are coming up with these days.
I love your style — it’s very unique, sort of half sculpture, half illustration. How did it develop?
Believe it or not, I had the toughest time finding my style for so many years. It was one of the hardest things to achieve for me as an artist. My work for a long time looked like 10 different artists.
During the summer before my 4th and last year at OCAD, I had taken a random doll making class my mom’s friend had recommended. I figured I’d do a month long class for the fun of it and have a handmade doll in the end. During the first class we started on a doll’s head. I fell in love instantly. I was working on the doll’s head during the whole subway ride home. I decided this would be my form of illustration, this would be my niche. I was so overwhelmed and excited about it. I wanted to propose this style to my teachers for my big thesis series in 4th year, and to my surprise they let me further develop my technique and see what would become of it. I also then found the wonderful works of Chris Sickels and Liz Lomax, who also do a form of sculpture illustration.
Are all the pieces developed specifically for an outlet, or do you just make them for art?
Making dolls and creating sets, is definitely an outlet for me. I feel horrible if I neglect my art for 2 days straight. I feel I always need to be creating, not only for the purpose of making beautiful illustrations, but to also have a message, a concept. I find that if an artwork has no concept or some sort of story behind it, people can’t relate to it, have a laugh or feel really drawn to it.
Hit the Jump to continue our interview with Kira Shaimanova, and to see 3 more galleries of her work including early sketches and development shots…
“I picked 3 top celebrities that are just plain strange and bizarre…It’s a look at the extent to which people must transform themselves to captivate the public and constantly remain in the spotlight, no matter how extreme.”
For instance, Ladder to Sexess with the gentleman crawling up the leg-stairs with the money coming out of the woman’s dress. And what was the inspiration?
This one of my favorite pieces, conceptually as well as a lot of fun to create. I had this random idea come out of no where and I knew I had to sketch it quick before I forgot. This was simply a personal piece I wanted to do for some time.
Is there a message to the piece?
The piece is about how people may further their career financially by having sexual relations with a boss or someone of higher power. I thought I’d would be fun to switch around the roles of power, having a female boss versus the typical male boss.
So what was the inspiration for the Mad Hollywood? Do you remember the moment the inspiration struck?
The Mad Hollywood series was done for a gallery show called “She Creeps”. The theme was that it was an all girl show portraying the bizarre and eerie, just in time for Halloween. I had wanted to do more celebrity portraits for my portfolio, but somehow had to make a creepy twist so that it fit into the “She Creeps” theme. I picked 3 top celebrities that I thought were just plain strange and bizarre. I decided I wouldn’t just simply do their portraits. This series is look at the extent to which people must transform themselves to captivate the public and constantly remain in the spotlight, no matter how extreme.
Kira applies her magic to the lovely visage of Lady Gaga…
Can you make us some office furniture?
Maybe miniature furniture to rest finger puppets on.
What’s the first thing you remember doodling that could be deemed “art”?
The image I keep reminiscing back to would be a pencil drawing I did in the first grade. In class we were supposed to draw a self-portrait of what we wanted to be when we grow up. I drew myself as a figure skater with pigtails and a skating dress. I did figure skating at that time, but I only liked it because my mom did (it was her dream). This drawing got a lot of attention from kids in class. I believe I still have it somewhere.
Who are your art and/or design heroes?
I’m a big fan of Mark Ryden, Tim Burton, Anita Kunz, Shaun Tan, Chris Sickels and Liz Lomax. They’re all very inspiring.
What’s the most interesting piece of art you’ve seen over the last year?
The most interesting and beautiful works come from Alexander McQueen’s final collection. The craftsmanship and detail in each garment is simply breath taking. I’m very into fashion and photography, I get a lot of inspiration from various photo shoots.
What’s your most treasured material possession?
Meaning if my house caught on fire, what would I grab? I think I’d grab my photo albums and my journal.
OK, last question: If you were lost in a supermarket, in what aisle would we find you in?
Most likely in the bakery section munching on some cakes and cookies. I love desserts!