Nastya Khudyakova creates murals and teaches artistic skills. This time,  we talked with Nastya about her becoming an artist and the way to art. 

Now Nastya has her own workshop in the House of Artists, teaches children, and dreams of creating a mural in Kyiv. We talk further about the role of the joke in the work and serious attitude to all their ideas, how the projects are and the artworks are sold.

I think that I have always painted.

I don’t remember ever doing anything else. I drew all the school posters. I was constantly sent to some competitions and exhibitions. So I didn’t even have the idea that I could do anything else. Creativity has been in my life in various manifestations always and, probably, what I am doing now is the result of a long-term search for my direction. This’s the life I live and the way I go.

My parents have absolutely nothing to do with creativity.

I don’t remember ever doing anything else. I drew all the school posters. I was constantly sent to some competitions and exhibitions. So I didn’t even have the idea that I could do anything else. Creativity has been in my life in various manifestations always and, probably, what I am doing now is the result of a long-term search for my direction. This’s the life I live and the way I go.

My parents have absolutely nothing to do with creativity.

But I believe that creativity is in any activity. My father always wanted me to model shoes and be part of the family business. So I was sent to art school with the prospect that I would do shoes, but it grew up in something larger. In the end, everyone is happy, and my family supports me. I think that if there was no creativity in my life, I would be engaged in social projects, I would organize them. I really enjoy working with people. That is why I teach – communication fills and inspires me.

All the projects in which I participate are on their own.

But I believe that creativity is in any activity. My father always wanted me to model shoes and be part of the family business. So I was sent to art school with the prospect that I would do shoes, but it grew up in something larger. In the end, everyone is happy, and my family supports me. I think that if there was no creativity in my life, I would be engaged in social projects, I would organize them. I really enjoy working with people. That is why I teach – communication fills and inspires me.

All the projects in which I participate are on their own.

This is a process that is still incomprehensible to me. I just work, draw, create something, and it finds its application. And to say that I will never model shoes in my life, I can’t. Maybe one day I’ll come to this. So far, I’m interested in working with walls, with large formats. Everything comes from inner desire, and life already directs to what is worth doing.

I believe that if the idea came to your head, it means that the universe gives you this idea and is waiting for your answer.

I work with the idea that everything that comes into my head, I have to realize for some high purpose: maybe someone will see something in my work, somehow rethink something for themselves. I think that art can change the world, and creativity changes people’s minds. These thoughts inspire me to continue to create and work further.

I never thought I’d create murals.

When I entered the Kharkiv Academy of Design and Arts on the cathedral of monumental painting, I had no idea that the walls were painted there. I thought that “monumental painting” was just big paintings. When we started doing this, I realized that I liked it. However, even before entering the institute every time I saw murals in the urban space, I didn’t understand how it is possible to do it at all, and I didn’t even have an opinion that one day I would also create something like that.

I don’t want to talk about what I wanted to say about this or that job. I want people to see something of their own.

I have a series of works “I see signs”. The theme of the signs is generally very close to me. On the one hand, it is such banter that surrounds me, and on the other hand, I put a certain secret meaning into every work, which, probably, no one will ever know.

Artwork from a series of works “I see signs”

The theme of signs and accidents haunts me all my life.

I made my first mural by accident. I worked in Repinka and I was offered to make a painting – it was the coat of arms of Kharkiv. None of the teachers could do this, because they were all aged, and there were no young and active artists. So I was the only one who could potentially do it. Of course, I agreed and thought “сlimb on the wall and do everything.” I really liked it then, even in terrible weather conditions: it was raining, it was terribly cold but it was an incredible drive, adrenaline, and buzz from the work done. The result is an understanding that this wall was bare-grey to you, and in a week you are creating a project in this place. Physically, I was exhausted, that then I could not get up and hold the brush, but internally charged and filled with the work done to work even more.

During the workflow, there are always some ideas and projects that are postponed and accumulated.

So at the moment of a creative crisis, I always wake up wanting to realize some ideas that I have long dreamed of and that have been constantly postponed. I treat any crisis with serious work, load myself so as not to feel at all that something is going wrong.

I’m very self-critique. In each of my projects, I see shortcomings and at the same time, I love each of my projects very much.

For me, it’s not just a finished product. This is a whole story that consists of the process of birth, creation of the idea, its implementation, and all people you meet and contact during the project. The largest of all my projects, of course, is a 28-meter mural with killer whales, which broke the record of Ukraine and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records. All my life I believe that records beat athletes or people with some superpowers, but not artists.

Everything we do, even a small sketch on a piece of paper, can one day turn into something large-scale.

I have a mural called Time for Truth. It was created according to the sketch, which I did as a semester project in the third year. This story is that in life it is important to take everything seriously and surrender to all one hundred percent, even in the smallest and no one needs, at first glance, projects. You never know what this will pour into afterward and what it can become for the world.

I respect everything that people do.

Even if it’s a person who writes paintings without any art education, it’s cool, I respect it. I know what kind of work it is and what it’s like to prove yourself. I can’t say I’m inspired by someone specific. I’m constantly changing, my views and interests are changing. I love Roman Minin very much. He doesn’t know about it, but he’s an authority to me.

Everything starts with a joke.

At my first personal exhibitions, I was once told, “Nastya, people come to you, and you don’t give them anything. Well, do some stickers to make people please.” After that, I really thought it would be cool to do something that, when I came to the exhibition, a person could take it with him. Jokingly, I made stickers of my work in golden frames, using the idea that the real picture should be in a huge golden frame. Then people started gluing them to completely different places and sending me pictures. I noticed that sometimes the plot of the picture varies greatly depending on the place in which this sticker is a sticker. I had a Future job, its idea that we should build our future. When this sticker was pasted in the cemetery, I saw that the image completely changed its meaning and began to broadcast that we have only one future. Later, I added signatures to these stickers with job titles and links to my social networks. It’s so twisted that people have started gluing them in different countries: in the Maldives, for example.

Sticker with Anastasia’s work in Copenhagen

There are complex customers with whom it wasn’t easy to communicate.

Sometimes we change something so that it satisfies both me and the customer. It is important to negotiate at the sketch stage. However, it happens that after the approved sketch and the work is done, the customer says that he would like to change the shade of one of the colors. It’s loads up, but I’m quietly reworking it. Sometimes something wrong happens in the process: for example, builders didn’t bring paint on time. These are little things that temper and make me stronger.

Every day, all my dreams change and transform.

What was large-scale yesterday is no longer so great today. I want to expand borders, work in other cities and countries, create some significant projects. I don’t make plans, every day life dictates to me its rules and rhythm. I really want to make a mural in Kyiv. Maybe it sounds corny somehow, but this is our capital. There are a lot of cool works and murals created by famous artists from different countries. Being in line with these people is a very big achievement. In my opinion, the most interesting projects are those in which you encounter other people, a different culture and mentality. It develops you as an artist and promotes the creative process.

I began to notice that I was inspired not only by the good and the positive but also by something negative.

When everything is smooth – it does not cling at all, and flashes “beautiful” or “bad” inspire, motivate and give strength. Comments of important people are also inspiring. When they say something negative, you think, you start rethinking and changing. That is, criticism encourages change and helps to find the right way. A random comment by a passerby can change your whole life. It is necessary to pay attention to criticism but to take away the construct from it.

Most of my works are sold through an intermediary company.

They take a fairly large percentage for their work, so the artist gets less of the profit for his work, but it’s reliable and you have stability. So, several of my works are sold monthly. The company has a database of verified customers and in the long run, such interaction is more profitable than several customers with good offers, but also with the great risks and problems that can wait during the sale.

I recently got a studio at the Artist’s House for life.

They are given to artists who are in line, but the studio still needs to pay rent. The advantage of these studios is that everything is created there at the request of artists: wide doors, high ceilings, and windows on the entire wall so that as much sunlight as possible falls into the space. Now on our fourth-floor repairs are being made, after which my neighbors and I plan to paint a corridor. Most of the time I still work at home, and the studio has become a place to meet friends and conduct atmospheric creative evenings. There I teach children, we listen to music with friends, and there begins to gather a small library of art books, which are given to me by friends. At sunset, the whole room is filled with golden light, and in the evening you can observe the sunset and view the night city.

Translated by Evelyna Petrenko in the scope of Gwara Media’s volunteer program

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