Ukrainian figurative artist

Interview, photo : Ljubov Dzuzhynska
Translation: Elena Savlokhova

‘Nothing ruins a target like a direct hit’. This is the key of moving forward. We always strive to better ourselves. Tasks laid before us become more complex and global. We constantly seek inspiration, and most oftenly from the external.

Alina Zamanova to me is an example of how one can achieve anything in life simply by doing it. She goes through life with an incredible lightness. Any idea that emerges in her mind always becomes a reality. This person scattered all the stereotypes of my perception and continues to do so. This person is an infinite inspiration. 

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Tell us a funny or awkward story from your life.
I was such a gossip girl in school and was very fond of lying. Just a tiny bit. Globally. I always felt that any story should be full of emotions and colours. So whenever I told a story I had to make it sound big. It happened unconsciously. Either way, there was this one time when I invited a friend over. Prior to that, I’ve asked my mother’s permission. I was 13. How did things get out of hand? That evening everyone thought it was my birthday and were at my door with gifts. I asked my mom not to tell anyone that it wasn’t my birthday. She took me to my room and said that if I didn’t return all those gifts immediately, I would be grounded, and there would be no party for my actual birthday in the summer. The fake birthday took place during the winter. I don’t even understand how things got so out of control that everyone thought it was my birthday. Most probably what came out of my mouth was: ‘Hey guys, come to my birthday party’. Who knows.

What was the last thing you’ve done or felt for the very first time?
I went to ‘Closer’. And I felt something. I really liked it. Though I would go there once every half a year, a year.

What is the most special gift anyone has ever given to you?
Ljuobov gave me some beautiful glasses made out of some weird glass. So far it’s on top of my list.

What were you like in high school?
I was such a glamorous chick. In 11th grade I’ve had enough of that and focused on studying. I didn’t go out much and spent most of my time with tutors and preparing for my exams. I got a highest grade in english but everything else was so-so. My grandmother is still saddened that I didn’t become an interpreter. She is hurt a little. She keeps telling me it’s not too late to change my mind. I keep explaining to her that I make more by doing what I do. I was also an emo kid in 7th and 8th grade. Followed by a slight glamour phase. I was searching for myself. I guess the last year of uni was when my style has formed. But I’m still searching. When I get lazy I go for sweatpants though but that is no good.

What question would you want to be asked at an interview and what would your answer be?
‘Did you take drugs?’. My answer would be ‘no’.

If you had the opportunity to produce a film with an unlimited budget, what would it be about?
I like horror flicks. Also short tv series like the ones Netflix produces. I’d rather spend a billion on a tv series than a film. I like films about deceased artists. Or about murders. So maybe I would create a narrative based on that.

Of all the famous artists that ever existed, whose life would you like to live?
They’ve all had such complicated lives. Subconsciously we invent pain for ourselves. There is even this direction of a ‘suffering artist’. I could say I’m one of those. I’ve tortured myself for 4 years but now I want to break free from this notion.

 And what artist is the closest to you in terms of style?
Henri Matisse. Not sure whether he is close or not close. I just really like his work. Basquiat is very pleasing. He’s a psycho after all. I’d love to comprehend what was going on in his head. I wonder what he felt when he lived in a box on the streets of New York City.

What film or cartoon reality would you like to live in?
“The Little Mermaid’. I love Ariel the mermaid. A lot-lot. I’m 23, almost 24 even. I think mermaids exist. And I hope throughout the course of my life their existence will be a proven scientific fact. I need to have that knowledge before I die.

Things you can’t unthink.
Where to find inspiration and when will the work day start. Today I woke up at 5 in the morning and my brain was already at work. I was thinking about the sketchbook and what I shall draw on those bags. Work. All the time.

What are the downfalls of your job?
Quite often you are alone. In this area mostly everyone is young. So everyone speaks to each other on the same level. The line between life and work is blurred. Informality occurs. And you know, it’s quite difficult to distinguish that line. You keep forgetting that these people are not necessarily your friends. You just work together. I regularly blur the line myself. Being alone leads to seeking friends. But once you eliminate those lines you have a clear understanding of who your actual friends are.

What country would you like to live in?
Ideally, it would be London. But London doesn’t want me yet. I applied for a visa but I was told ‘no’. I applied for a job and got a ‘yes’, but I didn’t get a visa. Then I applied for another job and got another ‘yes’, but still no visa. I’ve had 3 attempts and decided that’s it for now at this stage of my life. Maybe till I’m 30. I would also try living in the US.

What is life like in Ukraine?
Awesome. I like the architecture a lot. It’s great here. I like the fact that we have kind and sincere people. I am certain that you can find very good friends here. It’s difficult to feel a deep connectedness to people abroad. The mentality is different. In Ukraine people live by the rule ‘I will sacrifice anything for you’. Overseas your personal life is always above the problems of other people. But anyone will gladly help you out if it doesn’t interfere with their personal interests. I have a lot of good acquaintances that will always support me but it’s no more than that.

If it weren’t for art, what would you be doing?
I’d be an interpreter. I got a scholarship for it whereas I had to pay for studying graphic design. But I knew I didn’t want to be an interpreter.

Was there a moment when you regretted your chosen path?
A soon as I graduated university. I’ve spent the summer in London. Then the first 6 months of moving to Kiev. The loneliness I felt was unbearable. I was always on my own. I thought I wouldn’t be able to work. And I consciously chose to be a freelancer. If I’d choose to work for a company I would be doing that. I’d develop my professional skills and my portfolio. But I chose freelance. It was difficult and I even had thoughts of just working for some brand.

How did you overcome all that?
I don’t recall. Mom, Dad, Rustam, Ljuobov. I forgot that year. It was a sad one. It was scary and hurtful. Imagine a split personality only you are sane. How the human brain can completely transform one of those personalities to the point of blindness. You get panic attacks and you are terrified that you might die. Your mind can convince your body anything.

What superpower would you like to have?
Teleportation. Without a visa. A visa-free hero. Superhero. No one can stop me. Visa-free teleportation. And an automatic bonus where you know the language of the country you are visiting. A personal apartment as well. Preferably a loft somewhere downtown.

 What is beauty for you?
The non-standard. Something unique that one possesses. Yesterday I saw a small newborn octopus. Very beautiful.

 What is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen in your life?
Probably the ocean. It’s unbelievably beautiful.

 What animal would you be?
A visa-free bird! A Dragon! I want to be a dragon! I always call dinosaurs dragons. They were the first ones to witness it all. Maybe if I would be a dragon then I would recall my past life. When you are reborn, you remember what happened to you in another life. I would tell everyone about it. I would be a talking pterodactyl. I totally identify with all these concepts.

The nicest compliment you’ve ever received?
This morning I received a compliment from one girl on Instagram. She wrote that she has has been drawing all her life but she was never inspired by anyone. She follows me for about a year and I am the first person that inspired her. I almost cried. It was very nice. I’m in shock.

What’s it like to be an inspiration to others?
It’s a responsibility. I tend not to think about it.

 If you could change one thing about your life, what would you change?
Passport! Just kidding. I like my passport. I like the colour of it. I don’t like the look of an american passport though. And we can all agree that a british passport looks nice. What I would want to change is my attitude towards my own body. I get instant panic attacks whenever something minor happens. I’d want to get rid of that.

 What moment would you like to relive over and over again?
Closer! Elena [​ Âught​ ed. ] would have answered like that. I wouldn’t want to loop any life moments.