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I. Komarovsky Chalk Art

I've been so excited to showcase the illustrations of Inna Komarovsky whom I've had the pleasure of working with while creating logo, branding and signage for Leaf Home Design. What I find so special about her is not simply her whimsical approach but also her uncanny ability to work with a very broad range of styles and clients, with very different needs and sometimes very different visual aesthetics. Clients have included Coolphabets, Boston Road Runners, Green Door Lab, RUNabout, Way Far Apparel, Interact Studios and Accelerate Learning among others. And Inna creates these designs without losing the elements that make her work unique, maintaining her innate style as a visual artist. She was nice enough to answer some of my burning questions about illustration and design, and also to share some of her work as well.

I. Komarovsky for Leaf Home Design

DS: Can you tell us a bit about yourself as an artist? What you find yourself making, if you attended school for it and whether that had any impact on your taste and what you make now?

IK: I currently work as a sign painter at Trader Joe's, and I also create digital illustrations and designs for two companies, and Accelerate Learning. I'm very interested in illustrating for educational materials, and I have a passion for language education. For my personal work, I've been using ink and watercolor in combination with digital techniques. I studied illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design. I often think about things I learned there, from my teachers, classmates, and from my own approaches to different situations, and I love continuing to learn and expand my options through practice and online resources

I. Komarovsky for Trader Joe's

DS: As an illustrator, what are some key things that you consider when sitting down to tell a story visually? And subsequently, what are the primary differences in working with/for someone else's story than when you sit down to imagine your own? How does that shift the visual expression?

IK: When I'm coming up with how to portray something, whether store signage or an educational illustration, I focus on the audience and the tone. I ask myself who will see this and how I'd like them to feel. When I started working at Trader Joe's, I asked the sign artist about the variety of styles that we could use, and he said that we could do just about anything, as long as it's "Joe's-y," which I took to mean playful, bright, and quirky. This allows for a lot of variety, and I try to focus on what styles can make the customers feel like they're in a fun place that is honest and human. In this work and in my educational illustrations, I strive to show respect for the audience. This is largely what inspires me to keep improving my work. I want people to feel clear-headed, respected, and engaged. These are key to creating a productive learning environment, and I believe that quality design and illustration really can help people feel this way. Above: I. Komarovsky for Leaf Home Design

Above: I. Komarovsky for Green Door Lab and below for RUNabout

DS: What advice would you give to someone who was looking into getting into illustration? Are there artistic tidbits as well as personality traits a person should ideally possess? ​​ IK: If someone is looking to get into illustration, I think it's great to think about whether they want to work with a wide variety of clients or if they want to work for one or two clients on a continuous basis. Some people love the variety of working with new clients all the time, and they develop processes for self-promotion, contracts, and payment negotiation. Personally, I've really enjoyed getting to work continuously for the same clients, because it allows me to get to know the brand, the people, and the goals more deeply, and there are fewer misunderstandings and logistics. It depends on what you enjoy personally, and you might want to try both. If I were to give advice to someone looking to build a body of illustration work, I would suggest setting aside even a little time each day, like 20 minutes, to do some drawing. When I do a little of something each day, I feel much more productive and confident that I am making progress. This is what I did to build up a portfolio of chalk art when I became interested in drawing with chalk ( I love using Pinterest to learn about what kinds of work appeals to me, and I love Skillshare, where you can take a wide variety of online courses that take you through illustration and design projects. When a certain style, medium, or field interests you, follow it, and continue practicing it so that you can see where that takes you.

DS: Who in your opinion is making exciting work now in either the painting field or industrially in illustration? IK: Most recently, I've been really enjoying the work of Nina Cosford, Isabelle Arsenault, and Melissa Castrillon. They I.Komarovsky for InteractStudios & Accelerate Learning have these very expressive and handmade styles that I find so inspiring.

I. Komarovsky for Way Far Apparel

DS: A favorite piece you've done for your own work and also as an illustrator. What was special about these experiences and final pieces?

IK: I worked with Green Door Labs to illustrate a set of games that encourage children and families to interact with the art at Detroit Institute of Art. I love the feeling of getting excited about art by looking into it more deeply and asking meaningful questions about it, so I was so glad to work on this project. This is a personal project that is one of my favorites. Some of my personal work takes the form of short comics that are focused on small moments. They often have a slow pace and not much of a punchline. I have been really interested in expressing myself in this way, but I have to keep experimenting and seeing how people respond to them. It's an exciting process!

Above: I. Komarovsky for Green Door Lab; Left, for InteractStudios & Accelerate Learning

Inna Komarovky is an Illustrator and Graphic Designer based in the Boston area. She currently paints signs at Trader Joe's and creates digital illustrations and designs on a freelance basis. Her interests veer towards an approachable, handmade style. She is passionate about illustration's role in education and enjoys lettering in different languages for personal projects.​

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