Interview with Svetlana Novikova of svetlananovikova Etsy Sho
I was born in Moscow, Russia. I always loved drawing and painting since I was a small girl. When I turned 19, I made a big decision to come to the US to pursue education. It has been pretty challenging in a beginning, because I had to learn a new language, and get used to a new culture. After I graduated from a University of Maine, I moved down South, and later met my husband in New Orleans. Eventually we moved to Austin, TX, and we’ve been living there ever since raising our son.
I’ve been doing art professionally for over 12 years. I do custom paintings, graphic design, murals, and I also teach art locally at a private school and at a studio. In my free time, I try to paint as much as I can.
How did you get interested in cats?
I enjoy painting different subjects, and among them are also cats. I started painting cats and other animals about 11 years ago. At that time, I was exploring different themes to paint – figurative, esoteric, abstracts, etc.
Animal portraiture began as an experiment that later turned into a significant and enjoyable part of my art career. You can say that I made my first ‘online’ art debut on eBay.
In early 2000s, eBay was becoming a pretty neat place for artists to sell their artwork, it offered a relatively good exposure, and it wasn’t yet overcrowded. So I began offering some of my artwork there.
As an experiment, I decided to also try also painting some animals - cats, horses, and dogs, and list them on eBay.
To my pleasant surprise, my animal artwork sold very well, and people began sending me photos of their pets to paint. That’s basically how I got into doing pet portraiture.
I enjoy different attributes of doing animal works. Just like people, every animal has its own personality, and I love trying to capture that in my artwork through color, composition, and brush strokes. Specifically with cats, I am drawn to their mysterious nature.
How old were you when you had your first kitty?
I had a black cat named Tishka when I was about 7. One day he got ill, and my mother took him to a vet. But when she returned, Tishka wasn’t with her. She said that he run away on a way to the vet. It was very sad, and kept hoping that he’d find his way back home somehow. When I got older, my mother shared with me that Tishka had to be euthanized, as he was terminally ill. However, to spare my feelings, she didn’t tell me about it.
Please describe your creative process.
Since I paint different subject matters, my creative process varies. Specifically with animal portraiture, I usually use photos that people send me.
I like to experiment with different media, but some of my favorite ones are watercolors, oils, and acrylics.
Working with watercolors is very peaceful for me because this medium demands great focus and precision. I also love the feeling of translucency that can be only achieved with watercolors.
I feel energized when I work impressionistically with acrylics and oils using palette knives. Palette knifes give paintings a spontaneous feel and a beautiful texture.
As an expressive person, I am naturally drawn to dramatic and vibrant colors.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you consider other ways to sell your products?
Do you sell your products in a local store in your area?
I mainly sell directly from my studio. I also occasionally display and sell my artworks locally at cafes, restaurants, and art shows.
Have you been successful at selling your products on Etsy?
I’ve had some good sales there even though I don’t heavily advertise on Etsy.
Have you always been successful, or did you end up getting a lot more traffic after being featured on a specific blog?
In a beginning, I wasn’t Internet savvy, and naively thought that if I had a website, people would find me. Although, customers did find me, it wasn’t consistent. Eventually, I learned that having an online presence takes some work. It really helps to participate in online communities, use social networking sites, learn a little bit about website optimization, etc.
Do your customers ever give you new ideas for products?
Yes, sometimes people ask to paint things that I’ve never done. Particularly with animals, I often get requests to paint new breeds of pets.
I know you have featured a Ragdoll Cat - after all, that's how I found you - through Flickr. What is the story behind that Ragdoll cat that you painted that was on Flickr?
I don't really have an interesting story behind that picture, someone let me use a photo for a reference, and I painted it (because I really liked that cat's expression, he was really cute). I hope it helps 🙂
Are you a one wo/man show?
Yes, I am a one woman show.
Do you have a blog?
Yes, my blog is www.MoodyArtist.com
I try to post events, new artwork, art tips, and more. I may offer free pet portrait contest there soon, so please bookmark it for updates. You can also connect with me on Facebook.
I also have some videos of my artwork on YouTube.
Do you do custom ordering? Can someone return it if they don't care for it?
Yes, I offer custom portraits, originals, and Giclee (museum quality) prints. It’s important to me that my customers are satisfied with the quality, so I work with them to resolve any issues.
I also wanted to let you know that when you order Giclee prints through my website, you can now select from a variety of frames, and mattes to make artwork better match your décor, and thus saving yourself a trip to a framing shop.
Can you share a story with us behind any of your products that you especially enjoyed working on? Maybe because of the story behind the kitty?
Painting commissioned portraits of rescued animals and pets that passed away have always been very meaningful projects to me. I feel humbled and honored as an artist when a customer tells me that my painting made them cry because I managed to capture their beloved pet’s soul and personality.