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Diana Novich is an exciting artist from Russia who’s art somewhat oddly focuses heavily on US media, TV shows, and movies. She is producing some of the highest level fanarts from anyone in the world right now. Her pieces are multi-layered and often have deep and hidden meanings that you might not pick up on unless you are a fan of the media she is referencing.
These pieces are so dense with interesting information you can often take something different away from them with each viewing. In this way Diana Novich reminds me a lot of the work of Chiara Bautista, Chiara does a lot of the same hidden meanings and visual storytelling elements in her work. Chiara is one of the most well-known artists in the world right now, so I feel the same is well within reach for Diana.
Every time I see a new Diana Novich / Holepsi / Withoutafuss piece pop up on the social media feeds (mostly Tumblr) it’s guaranteed to be a treat. In the following interview, we ask her about some of her favorite media properties such as Life Is Strange, Mr. Robot, Stranger Things, and Star Wars. Diana Novich is an artist primed and ready to take off into hyperspace like the Millennium Falcon!
Urban-Muse.com: You are a Russian Artist, Urban-Muse has a long history of highlighting Russian Artists, Issue #1 cover Artist (this issue) Aleksei Vinogradov is also Russian, from St. Petersburg. Urban-Muse is an American company, based out of Los Angeles. This is an interesting time for US / Russian international relations, there are constant news stories and conspiracy theories. Often the US and Russia are positioned as enemies, however, in my personal experience, there is really not the case when relating to the art world. We all seem to get along well and love the same things. What can you say about being a Russian Artist, especially one that seems to focus heavily on Western/US popular culture?
Holepsi: Art is a universal language that is beyond country barriers and political conspiracies, I believe. And I can’t personally think of any drastic differences between being an artist in Russia or being an artist in the US, especially if you distribute your work through the Interwebs (besides DeviantArt getting banned in Russia from time to time, but that’s another story). As for me being mainly focused on Western culture – I was in fact born in Seattle, WA, therefore I was surrounded by US pop culture since young age – American TV shows, cartoons, music, etc. It all kind of stuck with me, even after moving to Russia. But I still have a deep appreciation of Russian heritage, even if my artwork doesn’t reflect it.
Urban-Muse.com: Your “Life Is Strange” pieces are my favorite fanarts by ANYONE for that game. It’s also one of my personal favorites for art in general, can you talk a bit about “Life Is Strange” and it’s effect on you?
Holepsi: Thank you! I think the art I did for Life Is Strange really helped me shape the mental image of what I actually want to do with my artwork, which is symbolic illustrations if you can call it that. Using small and minor details to tell a bigger story behind the piece, kind of the same way “Life Is Strange” handles background songs and inconsequential notes for narrative purposes. Not to mention that I love the way game uses bright scenery and warm colors in contrast with it’s dark and dispiriting topics – another thing I somewhat carried into my work. So overall – not without downsides, but the game was a great experience that slightly brightens up a hard period in my life.
Urban-Muse.com: You also did a wonderful Mr. Robot pieces, first off, please do more! Can you talk a bit about that show?
Holepsi: Thank you, I can guarantee I will! I don’t know what to say about the show – it’s remarkable, even thought I almost died of boredom while watching the first 3 episodes. One of the most unique and dizzying shows I’ve watched in a long time. Plot aside, it’s a pure pleasure from the aesthetical point – the shot composition, music and almost meticulous attention to details are always something I appreciate while watching a movie or a TV show. Also, Rami Malek.
Urban-Muse.com: Star Wars also seems to be a favorite subject of yours, can you talk about your feelings about Star Wars and the new films that have been coming out?
Holepsi: Well, I’ve always loved Star Wars, especially The Old Republic era. Nothing much to say here. As to the new movies: I think they do a good job of paying homage to the original trilogy, bringing the feeling of adventure and childlike wonder that the sequels were lacking. Am I still pretty (angry) that Disney nuked the entire Expanded Universe and canceled Star Wars 1313, though? Absolutely.
Urban-Muse.com: What is your creative process like? What are your favorite tools?
Holepsi: My favorite tools are my Wacom Intuos4 tablet and Photoshop CS6 (and whenever I get to do traditional art I always go for watercolors). As to process: I usually start with a vague concept in mind and proceed by searching random reference pictures for inspiration, then turn on some music that flows well with my concept and let my mind loose. The process itself changes from piece to piece, and I almost never end up drawing what I originally had in my head, unless it’s a very specific commissioned artwork.
Urban-Muse.com: And finally relating to your subject matter, Stranger Things. Stranger things has been a real phenomenon and is almost universally respected and loved, atleast here in the US. How do you feel about it? Do you expect to do more Stranger Things pieces?
Holepsi: L-o-v-e it! It reminds me of the good old days watching X-Files and Twin Peaks with my father and not caring about paying off the loans. Sadly, it’s not that popular in Russia. But nevertheless, I will absolutely draw more.
Urban-Muse.com: What would be your advice to an artist who wants to improve their work?
Holepsi: I don’t know if you would call it advice, but: find several artists whose work inspires you and micro-analyze their techniques. Going beyond simple admiration and actually studying and visualizing the way they use lines, shapes, and colors really helped me to improve my art, personally.
Urban-Muse.com: What do you do when you find people who are being just too negative?
Holepsi: After years of training I’ve mastered the skill of “ignoring what I don’t have to notice” and use it at any given opportunity. Some things are just not worth the time and energy.
Urban-Muse.com: You’re an artist who is very big on Tumblr and isn’t on some of the other social networks. Can you talk about Tumblr’s importance to you as an artist and your work?
Holepsi: Tumblr has a very active creative community, and due to a very simplistic reblog feature, it’s way easier to get exposure than it is on networks like Twitter or Instagram. Also, considering the fact that Tumblr’s main content are memes and cat pics, there’s no pressure to post profound artwork all the time. So, despite having a lot of flaws, I find Tumblr to be the most profitable and easiest platform to post art on.
Urban-Muse.com: Thank you so much, Diana, for taking the time to talk to us!
Holepsi: It was a pleasure!
You can follow Diana’s work here: