Everytime I think of Argentina, my mind always goes to Patagonia and its wildlife but also to bright colours. But it is so much more than that.
I guess that is also what reminds me Carina Povarchik’s work, a mix of the black and white and seriousness of fine art painting and the bright colours and happiness of her illustrations.
Carina is 39 years old and lives in San Rafael, a well-known city of Argentina famous for its vineyards, its mountains and the Diamante river (River Diamond) that flows across the city.
Carina is so nice that she agreed to be interviewed straight away and she offered great advice for those who love the arts and would like to live from them. Let’s meet her…
What’s the origin of the name ‘Catru’?
Catru (C) : When I was born, my parents wanted to call me Catruska, an Ukranian name, but it wasn’t allowed at the time. One of my cousins – with whom I shared house with for some years while I was a little girl – started calling me Catruska. I grew up and then Catru was a cool nickname for being a teenager, and my friends loved it. Then I just grew up into someone that was all day with computers and Catru was always an easy way to have an account anywhere online. It’s short, easy to remember, and usually it’s available. Plus it has always been a reminder of other times for me.
Were you the one designing your own logo?
C: Yes, my fault.
Why did you start painting?
C: I’ve been always a crafty soul. I painted abstract stuff and sold it in the street when being 5 years old already. I have always loved creating, things, artworks or computer programmes.
Painting is another way of creating. Personally, these are not my words, but I believe that the quest of an artist is to remind others of the beauty around.
Which artists inspire you?
Do you have a background in Arts?
C: I have a background in computers. For four years now I have been having private portrait drawing lessons with a local artist. When my budget allows me I also attend online courses in digital illustration and things related to children illustration.
Portrait drawing has been the fundamental thing that made me learn arts.
Do you work full-time as an artist?
C: Not yet, is my wish of course, to make a living completely out of my art, but for now I do have another job. I teach about computers at the local university.
Which type of materials do you use in your work? Why?
C: I love so many materials. As a children illustrator, I usually work digitally, with a Wacom Cintiq. The book I recently finished illustrating, Shimmer – songs of night, written by the author Raven Howell and published by Clear Fork Publishing – was made entirely digital.
I also paint with acrylics and Indian ink when crafting my handmade notebooks. I also love watercolours, or sculpting in small scale – air dry clay or sometimes sculpey clay. And I love the feel of real pencils and graphite for portraits.
In the future would you like to try different mediums on your artworks?
C: I’m always trying different things, is part of who I am, I need to vary. But I’m also very practical, and digital is really an amazing tool. So, even If I love to sketch or paint with real stuff, not sure I would include those material for commissioned works unless they are local commissions in my town.
What do you mainly wish to transmit to others with your art?
C: That’s an easy one for me: joy, happiness and lightheartedness.
Why children’s illustration?
C: Because children know how to play. Everything is possible yet for them. A crocodile is flying in the sky while singing and carrying a backpack? Yes, that’s possible for them. I just love their minds and hearts. They are what we have as most precious. My mantra is to teach people to have magic to fuel their souls.
What should a new artist do to try and illustrate books for children? How did you manage to do it?
C: I’m pretty new at it, so I’ve been learning as fast as I could the details about it. Personally to get a literary agent I think is key. I’ve heard is tougher to get into the industry without an agent. Agents know people. They are in touch. They know art directors, publishers, authors. So, it’s very important you get one. I was lucky as I got mine through Twitter.
She has been the one getting me two book projects so far, and we haven’t been together not even a whole year so far. Try to engage yourself out there, online events for fun are a good one. Make yourself visible and interact with people and other artists you admire. Show your work. Engage in all things about children books. Participate. Read a lot of children books if possible. There are so many awesome stories and illustrators out there.
If you already have a portfolio of children illustration, consider joining organizations like Society of Children Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). If you can, go to their meetings. I can’t, I really life far away from everything, but I would go to each and every meeting they do if I could. Is really a great fun way to connect with the people in the business.
You also do amazing portraits; how do you combine your two different types of ‘drawings’?
C: Thanks. I think that learning to draw portraits has been a key thing in order to improve my drawing/illustrating skills. Even if my children illustration style is very loose and gawky, I know I can illustrate things I wasn’t able to draw before. When you draw faces you really need to improve your eye in order to see shapes, volume, shadows, lights, proportions. Artists say it all the time: you have to learn to draw to be able to make good art.
Where do you mainly sell your work?
C: I sell it in various places. The handmade notebooks I make, I sell them at local craft fairs; I my original paintings and drawings, usually locally; my digital illustration is sold online. I sell art prints through my website as well as at my Etsy store, and I also have a shop in Society6 .
Sometimes I get commissioned works through Facebook and then I can post them in my Etsy shop for example.
Is it hard to balance the time you spend making your art works and the time you have to spend on social media to promote them?
C: Yes, I’ve already spent many years online learning the how to. And let me tell you, I’m sure I still don’t grasp it very well. I’m sure there is the smart way to do it, and then all the ways you go through while learning. I feel like I’m still learning.
Which social media do you prefer? Why?
C: It depends. My favourites are Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I use Instagram to show not only all the styles I make, but also some personal pictures once in a while, and some more behind the scenes. I use Facebook pages to show more children illustration.
Twitter I use especially to connect with other illustrators and people in the business. I got my literary agent through it for example.
I feel like Twitter is the perfect place to really connect in a helpful way with others in your topic. Plus there are really fun events to participate in. But my fans are more active in Facebook . People love to share and see your stuff, and there is really a lot of people using it.
Instagram is perfect for a portfolio place. People get to see all your pictures in a fast glimpse. Of course, there are artists that use Instagram to show only the professional style they work on. And others, like me, that like to engage fans in their personal lives also.
Which method do you think is best to gain more followers?
C: From what I’ve learned so far, and what from I believe, I do not spam. Second I don’t make generic mechanical posts. And try to post two, maybe three times a week, to have some frequency. Although I have to improve that a bit.
In Twitter I gained a lot of followers by doing events related to illustration that I find fun to participate in. Not only I gain followers but I also find awesome people to follow. On Instagram and Facebook, I really don’t know.
Do you believe that more followers equals more sales?
C: Active followers, yes, those who are real fans of your work. The people that get to love you and your work are precious. And then it makes sense, the more people you reach and sees you, the bigger chance, online, you have to get sales.
Do you attend craft fairs? If so, which ones?
C: Yes, I have a local craft fair in my town, San Rafael, that I attend for almost four years now, every weekend. Sometimes I attend it a whole month in the summer (during weekends). There are also many craft fairs throughout the country that last about 10 days, which are good ones too. It depends more of my energy and how many pieces I have already stocked up.
Which is your advice to new artists/crafters trying to live from their art/craft?
C: Persevere. And always get better at what you do. Is a tough road and it can be full of uncertainty but it’s also full of joy and satisfaction.
You can follow Carina’s work through the below links:
Be happy and smile,
Note: All pictures here are by Carina and feature her art work.