Irina Selaru is an illustrator based in London, drawing images that celebrate small moments and encapsulate a sense of calmness. If you are craving bold colours, grainy textures and the perfect combination between simplicity and detail, Irina’s work might just be perfect for you.
We have had the chance to pick her brain about her first steps as an artist, influences and creative process and we would like to share this with you.
'Art was no longer a moment but the reason for all my life choices'
What was the moment that sparked your love for art? Can you tell us a bit about your artistic background?
I don't know if it was a moment in particular. Looking back at my career and understanding my life a bit better, I think it was rather a mixture of multiple moments and reasons that made me fall in love with art. I grew up in a creative family where my dad would sing and play the guitar almost all the time after coming back from work. Part of his passion was instilled in me and my brother and sisters, as we all grew to be creatives in different ways. I also have a memory of me and my mom drawing in the kitchen while waiting for a pie to cook. I remember how fascinated I was by what she was drawing, and I wanted to be just as good as her! Creativity runs in the family, but in many other situations, art was no longer a moment but the reason for all my life choices.
Can you tell us more about how you managed to reach such a consistent visual language? Do you think your creative process and the subjects you choose have changed a lot during your artistic journey?
For me, reaching a consistent visual language was mostly about drawing a lot, experimenting and making instinctual choices that best represent me. It's an ongoing process which will hopefully never end, and the only thing I want to focus on is being honest with myself - drawing whatever and however feels close to who I am. Throughout the past few years, I learned a lot and managed to be more organised with my creative process. I am not sure if the subjects I'm drawing changed that much, but something I always manage to keep in my illustrations is this feeling of calmness.
Daily scenes are often found in your illustrations and animations. We always find your characters cycling, drinking coffee, and spending time with loved ones. Is your main inspiration our mundane world or do you find inspiration in some other unexpected places? Do you have any quirky inspirations?
Sometimes I like to get inspired by the little moments, probably to remind myself of how simple life can get sometimes when we focus on what matters to us. I used to stress out a lot about insignificant things, and sometimes I still do, but then I try to think about the beauty of doing something small. Inspiration can be anywhere - I think it's just a matter of filtering what you find interesting or not. Sometimes I like to draw my dreams, and they get pretty weird sometimes. I don't know why, but I never ended up sharing these on socials. Maybe I will in the future!
What is your favourite image you have ever created? Was there a project in your career so far that has made you feel that you have made it?
As I started to develop a style that feels close to who I am, I began to create more illustrations I am proud of. One of the most recent illustrations I have worked on that I can refer to in this sense would be an editorial illustration I did for SOLO Magazine. I love how this turned out, and I am proud that I managed to encapsulate a feeling of stillness and calmness through this image.
What is your dream project?
I don’t know if I have a very specific dream project, but I would love to see my work in physical form more often - maybe on books, games or packaging. It’s a special feeling when you’re working on something digitally and you get to see the final artwork on different products in real life. I would also love to work more on advertising projects.
Our next issue will highlight all the unseen works of art that were discarded. Do you have any ideas that you have abandoned? If so do you think you will ever finish them?
I think everybody does. Whenever I'm drawing digitally, I tend to keep almost every idea I get in a separate folder. It's very useful when you're feeling uninspired because you can always go back to an old sketch and reuse it for a new illustration to add to your portfolio. Maybe some of them will never end up becoming final pieces, but that's the beauty of it. At least for me, some of the sketches I make are more expressive than a final, detailed illustration, and I don't mind keeping them as they are.
Have you experienced creative blocks? Do you have tips on overcoming them?
I am still experiencing creative blocks from time to time, but I learned to cope with them a bit better. I would panic a lot in the past and couldn’t draw anything at all. As I mentioned earlier, one of the things I find very useful in this sense is to keep a folder with all the unused sketches, and whenever I feel uninspired, I just pick something from there. It’s a resource I keep adding to, but I think it’s all about finding out what works best for you and try not to stress too much about it.
Do you have any advice for your younger self? Do you have any advice for emerging artists that are trying to find their way into the creative industry?
I would doubt myself a lot when I was younger. I didn’t dare to believe in my skills at all and this would always bring me down. I still feel this sometimes, but if I could, I would just tell my younger self that there is nothing to worry about - everything will turn out better than I could ever imagine. As for other emerging artists, I would advise them to never give up on their passion. Keep learning and working hard, get your work seen by as many people as possible and they will notice your skills and love for what you do.
'One of my MA teachers said this: Creating something beautiful will never be a waste of time'
What is the best career advice you have ever received?
There are a few pieces of advice that got stuck in my mind in the past few years. One of the best ones was something I heard in an interview and it goes something like this: If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done. One of my MA teachers said this: Creating something beautiful will never be a waste of time. And lastly, something I learned on the way, but it was reminded to me the other day is that when you’re presenting your ideas to a client, always choose to present the ideas you are proud of. Otherwise, they will always end up choosing the one you like the least.
Do you feel that your experience as a woman has influenced your illustration practice?
To some extent, definitely. When I’m not doing commissioned work, I get inspired a lot by personal experiences and I usually tend to draw women to express different ideas.
Do you feel that womanhood is accurately portrayed in art & media? Are there any films, books or pieces of art that you think have nailed the representation of women?
I think it really depends on the reference. In some cases, there are still some gaps in how womanhood is portrayed, but at least in the UK, this subject has a healthier approach compared to other countries. I really enjoyed watching The Handmaid’s Tale which I think in some scenes it has an accurate representation of problems society still has when it comes to how women are seen.
Are there any women artists that you think we should check out?Do you have any women artists that impacted your artistic development?
Just to name a few, Livia Falcaru, Nini Tuan, Karlotta Freier, Min Heo, Aysha Tengiz, Paola Saliby, Gizem Vural, and Kelly Anna. As I was saying earlier, one of my first memories when it comes to visual art was drawing with my mom, so I think she played an important role in my artistic development and my choice to become an artist. Other than the illustrators I mentioned here who impacted me in different ways, I would also mention my sister who is a film music composer. She is crazy talented, and it’s always nice to have a chat with her about the creative industry and the similar struggles we both go through in this sense.
You can discover more of Irina's stunning images here - www.irinaselaru.com