Not long ago, I received a beautifully illustrated book in the mail titled A Visit to Moscow, written by Anna Olswanger. The graphic novel takes place in the 1960s and is inspired by a rabbi who traveled to the Soviet Union as part of a rabbinical delegation to visit Jewish victims of government-sponsored anti-Semitism. I approached Anna for an interview who suggested another point of view and she directed me to the talented illustrator, Yevgenia Nayberg, who graciously agreed to answer my questions. Welcome Yevgenia Nayberg!
GG: Tell us how you became an illustrator.
YN: This is not something that happened at a specific point. I illustrated my first book when I was five years old. I always loved to read and visually interpret what I read. My mother is an artist, so observing her and her colleagues gave me an early push.
GG: How did you come to work with Anna?
YN: Anna had been my literary agent for several years before she approached me for this project. At that point, I can safely say she knew my work quite well.
GG: What is your favorite illustration in the book and why?
YN: I like the portrait of the KGB agent. Somehow this image manages to express all I was hoping to convey: The fear, the ease, the intimidating elegance. I've lucked out with this one, both emotionally and in terms of the technique.
GG: What techniques and resources do you use?
YN:I sketched everything out by hand but did all the final work digitally.
I looked at many Soviet photos from the sixties, mostly for historical research ( cars, architecture, clothing, etc.). Tarkovsky was very helpful for the mood.
GG: How do you get inspired creatively? The subway, mostly. It contains the entire universe.
GG: Do you ever get illustrator's block?
YN: Not really. Sometimes I struggle with a technical element. Usually, it means that my drawing doesn't look as effortless as I would have liked. Otherwise, no. I am a professional and I can unstick myself pretty efficiently!
GG: Did the illustrations go through many drafts?
YN: They went through many initial drafts of my own, but once I submitted them to the editor, most illustrations stayed the same. There are always modifications at a later stage, but that's expected. The cover did undergo many changes.
GG: What are you working on now?
YN: I am working on a new picture book, that I had also written. It's a biography with a twist.
GG: Anything you wish to add?
YN: If you want to know more about my books, including my latest, I Hate Borsch! you can preview them on my website www.nayberg.org and find them at your local bookstore and library.
Bio: Yevgenia Nayberg is an award-winning illustrator, painter, and set and costume designer. Her illustrations have appeared in magazines and picture books, and on theatre posters, music albums, and book covers; her paintings, drawings, and illustrations are held in private collections worldwide. As a set and costume designer, she has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Endowment for the Arts/TCG Fellowship for Theatre Designers, the Independent Theatre Award and the Arlin Meyer Award. She has received multiple awards for her picture book illustrations, including three Sydney Taylor Medals. Her debut author/illustrator picture book, Anya's Secret Society, came out in 2019 and received a Junior Library Guild Gold Selection Award. She's an author/illustrator of Typewriter and Mona Lisa In New York. Her latest book, I Hate Borsch! was published in 2022. Born and raised in Kyiv, Ukraine, she now lives in New York City.
To follow Yevgenia:
When you subscribe to the blog, we will send you an e-mail when there are new updates on the site so you wouldn't miss them.