Art Feature & Interview
Thorn Literary Magazine is thrilled to present fall guest editor Courtenay S. Gray’s exclusive interview with Ieva Ragauskaite, the brilliant illustrator behind the colourful compositions that have inspired us and captured our hearts.
Q How old are you?
A I just turned 26 this year.
Q Where were you born?
A I was born in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, and I have lived there for most of my life.
Q Could you tell me about how and why you first started creating art?
A It feels as though I have been doing it forever, so to pinpoint one moment would be extremely difficult! I know that most artists, including myself, will say that they have been creating art since they were incredibly young, which sounds like a cliché, but it’s so true! Art has always followed me mostly because my older sister is a very artistic soul herself, and I guess I looked up to her. My true art journey began with my studies in art school, at that point I was very aware that I was an artist, and that I wasn’t playing around—I realized I’m actually creating art.
Q What artist/art movement do you most identify with?
A That is an interesting question… I identify with female, feminist illustrators and artists. It’s a very understanding and uplifting community—I proudly present myself as a female illustrator because, for a very long time, the art world was a man’s game.
Q What motivates you to produce art?
A Like most artists, (at least I think so) we just cannot stop. We have to create; we want to be seen. I would say that it’s an artist’s instinct.
Q How do you work—what is your process?
A A small percentage of my work begins with an idea. If I’m working on personal work, then I just begin sketching, and I will see where that will take me. I wish I worked more traditionally, because now most of my work is digital and that is how my process goes—from digital sketch to digital artwork. I love browsing the Internet for inspirational pictures that I use in my art… Lately, I have been making digital collages, and I love it very much. One of these days, I will take a stab at actual collages, cutting out pieces of paper and gluing them to create works of art.
Q What has been a key experience/moment in your art career?
A This year, I was invited to participate in an all-female exhibition in Cambodia. The theme of the exhibition was to recreate and showcase what strikes us most about Cambodian culture. I presented three illustrations of famous Cambodian singers from the 60’s (known as the Cambodian rock’n’roll era) and one modern figure. It was a very emotional event for me because my family was visiting at the time. It was an all-female exhibition dedicated to Khmer women, and, I, as a foreigner and an outsider, was welcomed to be one with Cambodian culture.
Q You have travelled a lot, what took you to Cambodia?
A Yes—I love traveling! For the past five years, it feels like travel has been the most defining thing in my life. Cambodia just happened—I was traveling solo in Southeast Asia when one evening I flew into Phnom Penh from Ho Chi Minh City. I spent three days in the capital, and decided that I would like to live there. I had no job and nowhere to live, but I just fell in love with Cambodia.
Q What is your favourite or most inspirational place and why?
A Even though I’ve been to many spiritual and inspiring places in the world, I feel that my workflow is best in Europe. I feel like I gather all this information, all these pictures and memories while traveling so I can go back home and create. While abroad, I am inspired and while at home (I refer to the whole of Europe, not just my home country Lithuania, which I feel very disconnected from) I can process all the things I’ve seen and create art from that. One of the places that strikes me the most for really stimulating my creativity is Sri Lanka and, of course, Cambodia.
Q What are your goals for your artistic career?
A I really want the illustrators that have inspired me artistically to see my work and think it’s cool! It’s a simple career goal to be recognized, but I’m a very simple person!
Thank you Ieva for your time, it was fascinating to hear your story!