Borislava Manova [werasworks]
What is your specialty in illustration?
Illustration and design of fictional characters (both original ones and characters from fantasy novels), cartoons, film characters and pop culture figures, sometimes comic strips and book cover illustrations.
What are your regular clients like? What do they expect from you?
I am an unofficial illustrator working with traditional media. Most of my clients are fans of my works and drawing style, and make their requests to me on the Internet. Their request is most often that I recreate characters (scenes) from their favorite novels or films, their original characters, their favorite musicians/other celebrities in my own personal style. I have also worked on covers and invitations, and have had several fantasy-based illustrations published in newspapers in my home country.
Is there a web address where we can see some of your work?
Have you completed formal art studies, or are you self-taught?
I have taken art courses for several years, yet I have graduated from a language school and not an art school. However, I have worked extensively with watercolors, pen and pencil, oils, and acrylics. I have practiced and perfected my drawing since my early childhood.
How did you get your first full assignment? What did it involve?
I have been fulfilling illustration requests for several years now and I cannot recall my very first serious assignment. However, I have concentrated on creating artwork based on Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels and others, as well as designing the original characters from my own novel and other writings. Therefore, I suppose these count as my first major projects.
What past or present day illustrators do you admire most?
As an aspiring fantasy illustrator and an admirer of Terry Pratchett's works, I would have to doubtlessly state Paul Kidby as the contemporary illustrator I look up to the most. Josh Kirby comes as a close second, but Kidby is definitely the one I find the most to learn from in the aspect of illustration and character design.
How similar are your current drawings to those you did as a child?
They are hardly similar at all. As a child, I used to draw mostly animals, and I attempted designing human anatomy similar to the Disney patterns. Now, my style is bolder, more detailed and, on occasions, bordering on grotesque. I now specialize in drawing human figures, often with demonic hints, emphasizing on the bone structure and the details in the visual flaws rather than the simplistic, wholesome beauty of the shape of the body.
What was your favorite comic book as a child?
I wasn't a big fan of comic books as a child. The only comic book I recall buying was the Donald Duck series, but I used to find the average Disney drawing style a lot more captivating. At age seven, when I first saw the animated movie Anastasia, I was determined to learn to draw in that very same style. Instead, over the years I created one of my own which I am quite content with.
Do you have a particular style, or does it vary a lot?
I can draw and paint in several styles, as I've spent a lot of time on observing the styles of other artists, but as a whole I have a strictly defined style of my own, which is more or less unique and which I hardly ever stray from.
What is hardest to draw?
To me, machinery and weaponry are hard to draw in detail. I rarely draw architecture in detail either, mostly because I do not find it particularly interesting. I am more fascinated by the structure of living and mythological beings.
What type of music do you listen to while you work?
It depends on the idea and emotion I am trying to convey, and there is always an idea or emotion in my artworks. Still, I can generally point out rock music as the main source of inspiration for the concepts of my art.
Do you have a favorite work of art?
It is hard to say. I am a passionate admirer of the Renaissance art, even though my drawing/painting style is far from that. I am also fascinated by the works of Salvador Dali.
What do you do when a client simply says "I don't like it"?
It has hardly ever happened, but on such occasions, I simply ask the clients to specify their requirements and preferences and redo the task I was originally assigned.
What new techniques have you been experimenting with lately?
I have been taking breaks from my usual style and made several attempts to paint traditional watercolor landscapes.
What part of your work do you do on paper and what part digitally?
I do all of my work on paper/canvas. After the image is digitally scanned, I sometimes adjust the brightness and contrast to make its colors resemble those of the original, but that is all.
What research do you do for your illustrations?
I usually look up the pages of the official illustrators of the work related to my assignment, or read/watch the work myself in order to study/envision the features, expressions, moods and personalities of the characters I'd be dealing with.
Do you have colleagues with whom you share techniques, tricks, ideas, etc.?
I wouldn't refer to them as colleagues, but I widely explore the better artworks posted on DeviantArt.com as well as similar art sites.
Do you have any specific goals as an illustrator?
My goal is to represent the characters I work on as well as possible: not only their appearance and expressions, but also their postures and movements, all their personality traits and inner struggles, the basics and details about what they are, what they are feeling and what they stand for. I strive to depict characters that can carry out valuable ideas.
What illustration web sites do you frequent?
The art website I visit most frequently is DeviantArt.com. It contains, apart from freely created art, large amounts of various illustrations and fan art, both digitally and traditionally created.
What are you working on now?
Lately, I have been working on original character design and scene illustrations of my own dark fantasy novel, which is due to be published within several months.
What advice do you have for someone who likes to draw and would like to make a living from it?
I would advise young aspiring artists to discover their greatest strengths in art, their own style and theme of work, as that would most probably determine which field of art they are most fit to work and find work in.
What do you do? How do you define yourself as an artist?
I am predominantly a cartoonist as well as a watercolor and oil painter, as I sometimes combine both of these forms of drawing/painting. I consider myself an expressionist, as all my works have a certain concept, idea, message or feeling behind them. Most of my artwork is an expression of my own opinion, emotions or experiences. I believe the thoughts and feelings of the artist add a specific kind of value to a work of art.
Do you upload your work to the web? If so, where could we see it?
What role does technology play in your creative process?
It hardly plays any role at all, apart from the means of listening to music, which is something that often inspires me to paint. As a whole, I work with traditional media and only use technology to adjust the quality of the scanned image of my original works.
Do you consider yourself postmodern?
I think of myself as a person who largely disapproves of the distorted values of today's society (a large amount of my works is dedicated to this disapproval); however, in the aspect of art, I do not consider myself a postmodern artist. In some ways, my art is quite conventional, albeit carrying unconventional messages.
Does it pain you to let go of a piece you have sold?
That depends on how personal this piece is to me and how much of myself I've put into it. Still, generally I don't feel bad about letting go of my art: I am usually glad about selling it to the purchasers if they truly appreciate my efforts.
Do you personally collect any items?
Not really, but I would find it an intriguing activity I could take up in the future, if I have the chance.
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
I do not remember most of the children's books I read in my early childhood, but the first novel I recall reading as a child was Jack London's "White Fang", which I read at age seven, and which had a great influence on me and my thinking as a whole. From then on, I read "Call Of The Wild" and many of Jack London's short stories, and proceeded to reading the works of Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, and Mark Twain. As a teenager, I got acquainted with the writings of Terry Pratchett. I myself wrote short stories (sometimes with longer follow-ups) since I was 11 and shared them with my friends at school. By the time I was 16, I had already come up with several of my original characters which would later on become the focus of my writing. A year ago, immediately after I got married, I intended to write a novel and dedicate it to my husband, and was randomly inspired for it by a song. As soon as I had finished it, I started finding ways to have it published.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
My favorite genre is fantasy; however, I am not too fond of the fantasy novels that follow a certain pattern. I am more interested in the unconventional fantasy novels with a lot of humor and character development in them. An example of this are the works of Terry Pratchett, which I am quite fond of.
Most of my writings and art can be found on either of the following web addresses:
My novel, poetry and short stories can be bought/downloaded here, where you can also read excerpts of them for free:
More about my novel:
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Whenever I can, I write immediately after I feel inspired, usually on paper when it comes to short stories and poetry. I write my larger works on a computer, but I always write their beginnings on paper. It isn't very difficult for me to start writing once I've sat down to write, so nothing unusual happens before the beginning of the writing process, with the exception of, perhaps, my listening to an inspiring song.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
Oddly enough, even though I enjoy reading, it rarely inspires me to write. Focusing on someone else's work too much affects my writing style and makes it more like the style of my read and less like mine. Music, above all, is what inspires me to write.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
I base my stories on character interaction through which the psychological processes between the characters are revealed. To me, a story has got to have more than a good plot and unique, colorful characters - it needs to contain an atmosphere, a message, and an idea. In fact, I usually let the plot develop by itself, depending on the characters' decisions and experience. A good novel also requires emotional/psychological intensity and character depth. I have read many stories with captivating, interesting plot and dull, underdeveloped, monotonous characters. In my opinion, character development is crucial for a good story.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
I always write in third person. I find it strange and unnatural to write in first person, even though my writings are often based on true events.
What well known writers do you admire most?
Among my favorites are Jack London, Mark Twain, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, and the revolutionary poets from my native country.
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
I base many of my characters on actual people - with their permission, of course, or on different aspects of a person's nature. Those characters of mine that are not based on real people I base on a strong emotion or idea, "wrapping" a set of human qualities and traits around it; afterwards, I mentally place myself into the character's background and position, discover and study their inner conflicts, and thus determine their temper, behavior, attachments, habits and life choices.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
I wouldn't say so. I find it easier to express myself in written form, and it is in writing that my vocabulary is richer.
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
Partly for myself and partly for the ones I love, and, to a great extent, for the people who may find help, understanding, guidance and encouragement in my works.
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
Writing based on personal experiences and one's own inner conflicts hardly ever solves one's inner conflicts in real life, but personally, it provides me with a great deal of material and inspiration for my writings.
Does reader feed-back help you?
In most cases, it does. Depending on the circumstances, flattery can be both motivating and distracting, and constructive criticism can be both helpful to improve oneself and discouraging (if in too large amounts). What I find most useful is finding out what part of my writing my readers enjoy the most and what they would like to read more about. It helps me work on what appeals to the audience.
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
I have participated in several competitions for young aspiring writers, often winning first or second place prizes. Usually, these competitions have had a strictly specified theme and were conducted only on a national level, but these events took place before I decided to write professionally.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
I share drafts with my closest friends. They cannot express a professional opinion on my works, of course; whenever I am looking for a professional evaluation of my works, I usually present my complete and revised work to publishers, critics, etcetera.
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
I believe I have found the style I write and would like to continue writing in. Of course, there is always room for development, but I have already found my strongest ways of expression.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
I write freely in my spare time, but when I work on a larger piece I try to spend as much time on writing as I can. My goal is to make a difference, if only a small one, in my readers' lives; to have my works bring them emotional support, comfort and confidence as well as understanding - to those who would be reached by the messages I try to convey.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
I prefer working in solitude and silence. Although music is often my inspiration, it is easier for me to work in a quiet environment.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
I write my short stories, essays and poetry on paper, while my novel work is usually done on a computer (although I insist to always have at least a small portion of my work hand-written. I correct my mistakes while I write, and although I do not print frequently, I make many copies and back-ups of my larger works so as not to lose them.
What sites do you frequent on-line to share experiences or information?
DeviantArt.com and Lulu.com. This way, I can obtain both the opinions of average readers and advice on how to improve my writing given by other writers.
What has been your experience with publishers?
I have not yet tried to officially publish my poems and short stories, but I will do so in the near future. As for my larger works, I have only finished writing one novel so far, and it is to be published some time this year. As for the publishers who have examined my work, I can only say that my manuscript has been approved more times than it has been rejected.
What are you working on now?
I'm working on the sequel of my novel, and a collection of short stories and poetry.
What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
I'd recommend that you read them again, revise the bits that you no longer like and make all the other corrections you find necessary, and present them boldly to an audience/try to find a way to publish them. A person is not eternal, but a person's creations always have a chance to live forever, and the result of one's creative genius should have a chance to shine and gain publicity.