T.E.S.T. Interview: ezhilin

We hope to introduce you to all the great etsy sellers to be found right here in Toronto. Here at the T.E.S.T. blog, we plan to interview them all. This is the seventh in our series, an interview with ezhilin.

Tell us about yourself and your shop:

I am a Toronto-based, Russian-born graduate architect, artist and architectural illustrator. I have graduated in 1986 from State Academy Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, Faculty of Architecture, Leningrad, Russia (now called St. Petersburg), and hold Master of Architecture and Art Degree. In 2003 I became a member of American Association of Architectural Illustrators (ASAI). I’m also member of the international Urban Sketchers web community.

I opened my shop last fall in order to showcase the fine art post cards, which I printed after my sketch book for Biennale Clermont-Ferrande Carnet de Voyages in France. Right now, my shop has artistic post cards, prints, graphic novels and some original art pieces. Watercolors mostly, that my wife and I have created during our travel on Middle East. There are also numbers of unique Niagara Falls views I have done upon my visits there in spring 2008.

My wife, a professional illustrator and designer (BFA, Parsons School of Design, New York and Paris) - also runs an Etsy shop “LiliesOValley” - Babywearing Clothing and Boho Baby Couture - hand made in Canada, by one mom for another. Together with my wife we have founded “Éditions Tchaï” and our small press books and postcards are sold at Toronto independent bookstores such as The Beguiling, Labyrinth and Pages.

What is your creative process? How do you decide what to draw and paint?

It’s natural. I paint, sketch and draw urban views all of my life. About 5 years ago I became very interested in 'Carnet de Voyage' or the Travel Sketches genre. The Art of Carnets de Voyage is a very unique art niche. I create my artwork in situ as well as in my artistic studio. The sketches are accompanied by written comments, which become a part of the art. Those written observations help me to share some interesting facts I have learned while painting and sketching. Eventually those sketches will be combined into the completed project that consist of drawings, watercolors, sketches and prints, as well as mixed media pieces such as collages with newspaper clips and tickets, all rearranged into an intrinsic structure of an artist's bookwork, like, for example, 'Toronto Graffiti' book which is on showcase at my Etsy shop. 'Toronto Graffiti' is also available in a French version. This book is a cross-art object, since it combines two genres in one – sketchbook and a comic book.

Many items in your Etsy store depict Toronto buildings and landmarks, what are some of your favorite spots in Toronto?

The 'Toronto Graffiti' book - an architectural-artistic study of the metropolis of Toronto - live sketches and studio artwork, was created during years 2006-2009. In 2008 my wife and I - became only North American artists invited to the Biennale Clermont-Ferrande Carnet de Voyages in the town of Clermont-Ferrand, France, as participants. Especially for the Biennale, we have created a French language version of the 'Toronto Graffiti'. My wife speaks French so she was involved in translating and editing. I also reproduced the best spreads of the 'Toronto Graffiti' as a series of art postcards.

While working on the 'Toronto Graffiti' project I have discovered a totally new Toronto, a Toronto one will not find in travel guidebooks. By sketching down my city of Toronto I wanted to share with my fellow Torontonians, and those unfamiliar with our city, the joy I have lived through during the process of creating this project. I also believe that urban life as seen by an urban sketch artist can be as exciting as an exotic voyage to a far-away places.

Tell us a bit about your graphic novels and how you develop your stories and drawings.

Many artists dreams of transferring their paintings into cinema – "moving pictures". If artist loves story telling, becoming a comic book author is a natural "next step". In November 2005 we have founded a small independent publishing house Éditions Tchaï. The name Éditions Tchaï used as our creative name if we participating in particular art events together or separately. Now in little less then 5 years of activity we published under that name near 14 titles in English, French and Russian. Those very small run editions include illustrated classic literature, quality independent graphic novels, artistic comic book and an anthology of memoirs. I think the "memoirs" will be the key word here because all of our stories are spun from the very matter of our lives. We are especially proud to mention that four recent titles of Éditions Tchaï were purchased by an acquisitions librarian of multicultural and multilingual publications at Library and Archives Canada. Those titles are: "Sketches of Time/Zarisovki Vremeni" - an anthology of memoirs, dedicated to the history of classic art education in Russia; a short graphic novel "Dollar" set up in Toronto with humor and some elements of sci-fi; "La Poule Mouilée/The Wishy Washy", "Ah, Gilgamesh" and "Hungry Heart".

The novel "Ah, Gilgamesh" written by my wife is available in my shop and Éditions Tchaï. Graphic novels "Dollar" and "La Poule Mouilée" - the chapters from our compilation volume "Memoz. Volume I" - are also available in my shop.

Do you have any favorite graphic novelists and comic book artists? Who are your influences?

It's Joann Sfar, Marjane Satrapi and Jacques Ferrandez. I like Sfar’s philosophical allegories; documentary life slices of Satrapi and Ferrandes’s reality of set design. He even travels to the places his stories sat up into and draws sketches there.

What are you working on right now and do you have any events or projects coming up?

Toronto Graffiti hard cover full edition in English. The new volume of memoirs – “New Oriental Tales” is on a way as well as our Cuban Carnets de Voyage. We also have a big fictional graphic novel project you may see at our web site.

Any advice for new sellers on Etsy?

Patience and vive la création!

Check out Eugene's etsy shop, wife's etsy shop, their web site and blog.

Interviewed by Geneviève Jodouin on March 20 - 23 , 2010.


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