Masha D’yans has been a favourite of mine for years now, and what better way to celebrate my 38th year on this earth, than to introduce her work to you! Her art is full of whimsy, mischief, and loads of colour - a definite feast for the eyes... Enjoy!
What does Creativity mean to you?
It’s everything to me. Its a way of seeing and going about life.
How do you expand yourself creatively?
By living and breathing and finding surprises and adventures everywhere.
Were you creative as a child? If so, how have you evolved through the years? Did anyone encourage you, especially?
I think everyone is an artist as a child. And then they stop for some reason. I grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia in a family of bohemians. My childhood was loosely supervised and mainly spent playing in the city’s palaces, public transport, courtyards and roofs, going to grown-up artists parties (clouds of cigarette smoke and all), avoiding authority, sharing funny stories, and making things out of found materials (a near necessity at the time). The same scrappy wanderlust continues to motivate much of my life and work today. My family mostly encouraged this chaos.
What inspires you most?
Nature. Does anyone say something different?
What turns you on creatively?
Music, humor, anything brilliant.
Do you have any gratefulness practices?
I’m not sure what that is. I try not to be a jerk, does that count?
Do you daydream often? If so, does it inform your work?
All the time. I’m doing it right now. What were we talking about?
A large percentage of my work happens in my head when I’m on a drive or sleeping or showering. My brain just wonders who knows where and solves creative problems for me at unexpected times. I just have to remember the good ones.
How does a relationship and/or children affect your creativity?
My super-husband keeps me alive, especially during work binges. If it weren’t for him, I would be dirty, lost and hungry.
Is there a Creative, past or present, that you would give just about anything to work with? Who, and why?
There are many but I have to say Alexander McQueen because I’m a fashion junkie and he was one of the the maddest visual geniuses and because John Galliano (another fave) went off the rails.
How do you care for yourself to ensure you’re available when ideas present themselves?
My husband does a lot of it! He teaches me meditation and someday I hope to get the hang of it.
How do you balance life and art effectively? Or, do you?
Honestly, this is one area where I could improve. Sometimes the rigors of running my own company interfere with some of the things I’d like to do–like nothing or paint or have a picnic.
How do you deal with creative dry spells? Do you make space for them, or push through?
I’ve been lucky in that I can usually find inspiration when I need to, whether in immediate surroundings or distractions. I think I’ve just adapted to the schedule of running a card company which requires constant lookout for ideas.
How do you deal with change, especially when it comes to creative mediums and passion?
Like most humans, I try to exert control over it at first, and then I give in hoping for the best.
How does criticism affect you?
It depends. If it’s constructive, I try to ‘learn from it.’ Otherwise, I start throwing things.
Has your work ever been copied? If so, how did you deal with it?
Yes. I started throwing things. Before seeing it as the ultimate compliment.
How important is self compassion to your creative process?
I can be a bit critical of myself, perhaps because I was born in Russia, where self-deprecation is a national sport. But I’m becoming nicer to myself; it helps to have a partner whose madness balances your madness.
Do you have any other mediums you use to express yourself creatively?
I’m a dabbler, and I get swept away by different ideas and mediums. A few months ago, I worked on wall tapestries along with my mom, and I am constantly remaking clothing and footwear that I find in designer sales and second-hand stores. I engineer paper into pop-ups, make sculptures out of found objects, make jewelry, arrange food (in what I think is an artful manner) on my plate and I hope to be free enough to get back to painting on things other than paper and computer tablet soon.
Do you enjoy collaborating, or prefer to work alone?
It really depends. The quality of the project is much more important than getting everything my way. It can also get lonely when you’re the sole decision maker so a fun collaboration would be a welcome change.
Do you work in a studio/space designed specifically for your creativity, or on the spur of the moment/anywhere inspiration strikes?
Mostly I work in my home office/studio. Sometimes I have to work in less ideal environments, but I’ve gotten pretty good at that too.
Is it important for you to have a creative, inspiring environment?
I guess. I have yet to do my best work while going through an airport security check.
Do you plan thoroughly for projects, or go with the flow?
Go with the flow, though I’ve been accused of being a control freak. What?
Do you have a preferred way of cataloguing ideas?
Notes on my phone because the envelopes from bills that I used before mysteriously disappear.
Do you utilize social media? If so, how?
What is your typical day like?
Wake up. I want to say pilates, but it doesn't’ happen so regularly. Breakfast. Hustle all day (incorporating various snacks and distractions) and then realize it’s dinner time. Try to get out of the house. Fail. Sleep.
Do you have any rituals that help to set your creative time and/or space?
I don’t know if this counts, but I like working while standing up. And I am rarely at the computer or drawing table without a cup of tea and NPR on.
Does spirituality and/or culture play a role in your creativity?
I believe inspiration is a form of spirituality, so yes!
Do you believe art can change the world? If so, how?
I believe in the possibility of anything. If people’s basic needs are met and they turn to art, they have less time to worry about attacking each other, no?
Do you believe that connecting with your creativity, or helping others to do so, can positively affect the world? If so, how?
Without a doubt. If anything, more connected, creative and fulfilled people is precisely what the world needs.
Are you active in your local art community? If so, how do you help and support each other?
Not as much as I should be. I make it to the galleries every so often, but business keeps me tied down a lot when the artists come out to show and play.
Do you surround yourself on a daily basis with creative, inspiring people?
My husband is the supreme sun of creativity and a beaming ray of beauty (he helped edit this). The answer is yes, my closest friends and family are all creative nutjobs.
What effect do you want your art to have on the world?
It would be awesome if my art could make people escape. Interpret that however you want.
What music, if any, plays while you work? What are you listening to at this very moment?
So glad you asked! I’m endlessly excited by all the musical creativity happening now. I’m OBSESSED with L.P. (my latest find) especially her song, ‘Forever For Now.’ Her talent is devastating.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
Do you have any advice for aspiring creatives?
Stay young, curious and weird!
Any questions I did not ask, that you would like to answer?
My childhood pet’s name was Hippie. He was a Scottie. I miss him.
Do you have any upcoming projects/collections to share?
Yes! Please visit our brand new, redesigned, just-launched website: masha.com
They tell me my 3 boxed card sets for Barnes & Nobles should be in their stores any minute!!! Also, my 2015 calendar published by Rizzoli (can you believe 2014 is waning already?). And there’ll be a couple of new pop-up cards of mine at MoMA stores for the holiday season.
Where can we find your art?