Updated: Apr 20, 2020
The art of pencil drawing is a dwindling one to say the least, while artists have and likely always will use a pencil to some degree, the use of it in the final pieces is fading fast. Masha Prilutzki’s work is a breath of fresh air in the world of pencil drawing. Prilutzki’s drawing ability is marvelous and her use of outside elements to invigorate her pencil drawings is brilliant. Her drawings themselves often bare a distortion of reality, usually a surreal interaction between human and some outside entity, but her subtle use of color and gold leaf add a necessary pop to already enticing drawings.
Prilutzki has a vast body of work that she’s always experimenting with, finding new ways to use color, to augment reality, to take realistic elements and beautifully distort them. We were fortunate enough to go international and Interview Prilutzki on her amazing work. She gave marvelous, in depth answers that give a really nice insight into her work. For example, looking back at her drawings after discussing her background in costume design you really start to see some of the other elements she’s trained in come to life in her drawings. We hope you enjoy all of Prilutzki’s work as well as this fascinating peek into her process.
1. So first, I always like to ask about the artists background! What got you started in art? Any schooling? What helped form you into the artist that you are today?
My way as an artist started at a very early age. I once saw a badly drawn cartoon on TV, and I remember my self deciding right then and there, that I will become an artist just so that I could create beautiful cartoons so that they would stop showing kids this horror.
One should remember that I was born in the Soviet Union and I wasn't aware of the incredible world of Disney and that they basically saved the kids without me. Although my professional career ended up taking a different creative path, I am currently working on a series of animations for my husband's project.
Regarding my education, my foundation is a school of Classical Academic Drawing. I had the good fortune of meeting amazing teachers that believed in me, and I believed them. From that point on, my story took an interesting turn when I dove into the world of fashion. I majored in Fashion Design with the goal of becoming a stylist and a costume designer for the TV and Film industries.
I loved what I was doing and I had the honor to work in Fashion Magazines such as L'OFFICIEL and Marie Claire. After being the head costume designer of MTV Ukraine for a few years, I worked on a popular reality show and then moved on to the film industry. Visual art is my main focus now as I grow and work on making my mark as an independent artist.
2. You cover a variety of different subject matters, portrayed in a variety of ways, so what inspires your work from an imagery standpoint?
The main inspiration for my work is always the Person - the Character.I enjoy bringing out human character and emotion. That's why all of my portraits are alive, with both their strengths and flaws as they are honest.
For me, a person is a mirror that reflects the world that surrounds him and the reality he's engaging. Since people are different, each of them reflects his reality differently, and that is a very interesting process to observe. We are all like little pieces of a big puzzle, I just hope I'll get to draw as much of them as possible. :)
3. You use a variety of different mediums in your work, pencil, ink, goldleaf, etc., but how does each piece start? How do you decide which mediums you're going to insert into a piece? And how do you relate them to one another?
I'm a drawer by nature, so I never really considered working with dry media or paint. I'm in love with The Pencil, and since everything in art starts with a line, I see the pencil as a cornerstone of art. A Pencil is an extremely powerful and universal tool, so I love the simultaneous control and freedom it gives me. In today's art market, there aren't a lot of pencil pieces, so it is also a goal of mine to evolve and popularize this genre.
When it comes to using multiple mediums, that has more to do with different experiments I perform with my work.
But, it also carries with it a conceptual meaning as well. This is how I separate between the Spiritual and Worldly in my work. For the Spiritual part (the character) I use a pencil, and for the Worldly part (things) I use color, paint, and gold. I still do my experiments, and I feel like I'm on the verge of something truly interesting.
4. Some of your work relies on smooth, blended shadows but others stay more linear, relying on hatching as a shading technique. What drives these two avenues of your work? Do certain methods lend more to certain mediums?
Like I said before, a pencil is a powerful tool that allows you to use it in a variety of ways.
When the goal is a quick sketch or to convey an emotion, rough hatching and lines that are more alive, sometimes dirty even. But it's a great pleasure to see how an image emerges from chaos. You see how from chaotic and dirty lines, someone's deep and sad eyes are staring right at you. I use the principle of contrast a lot in my work when I want to put an emphasis on something particular.
5. Going more into color, you use color very interestingly in your work. It often occurs as a highlight, sometimes as a singular leading entity, it's rarely just a standard representation. So how do you decide if a piece is going to feature color? And how do you decide the use of that color? Does this decision relate to specific imagery?
For me, color is an aid, but not the basis. As I said above, I use color as a part of a concept, to separate the Spiritual from the Worldly. For example, one of my series is completely based on that concept, where I draw the people with a pencil and their clothes with color. Therefore, the use of color depends on my initial concept.
6. What goes into the planning of your more intricate, and less representational works? In a piece where you're really distorting reality is it rigidly planned out? Or is it just happening organically?
In principle, you can say I do Realism. But, simply creating copies of lifeless photographs or people is not very appealing to me. Therefore, I deliberately create "distortions in reality." I do it by picking a part of a person's face or character, and then bringing out, making it louder in order to grab the viewer's attention. This is my way of controlling his attention in order to direct it towards the meaning that is important to me.
7. I'm always fascinated by the use of gold leaf, what got you started in using this additive measure in your work? Was it a challenging method to master? What do you find it adds to your work both visually and in terms of narrative?
Gold leaf is not new to me, I studied it when I was in art school. Basically, when I started doing my experiments with pencil drawings, it was very easy to incorporate it. Actually the combination of a Pencil and gold leaf can be considered a classic since it has been in use for a very long time. The main difference is my approach to it, I mainly use it as backgrounds or as a way to fill some particular spaces, yet I also like to "draw" with it, using at as line. This is how I'm able to achieve interesting and detailed things with it.
8. Your work, while surreal, still features a lot of representational elements but you've also got quite the illustrative hand. Is a more cartoonish style something you plan on returning to at some point? Or possibly even blending into your current work?
This question is spot on. You are right since I'm educated as a designer as well, it shows it my work. In the future, I have this crazy idea of combining not only different mediums but different "genres" as well.
I see in it a promising direction for modern art.
9. Looking at your body of work, it appears that you work in series, experimenting with new things and seeing what happens quite often. Any new works experiments planned? Any other big plans as far as your work is concerned?
Well, my work in the fashion industry has its mark on me, and I like to create my works in a series, similar to a designer creates a new collection. I think it is the right approach if you are trying to communicate something to your viewer through your work.
I love to experiment and I don't see myself stopping. I have a few fascinating ideas and subjects I want to work on. Two of them are in working progress at the moment. One series with a red Pencil and gold leaf, dedicated to the subject of the human ego. And the other with a graphite pencil in academic realism. It is a bit unusual, you will not see human faces, but I promise, it is still related and very much about people.
10. Finally Plugs! Where can people find you? Any shows coming up? Anywhere that people can find you or your work, let them know!
You can find me on Instagram: @mashaprilutzki
This is where I usually publish videos of projects I'm currently working on.
I also use this platform to engage with my followers, where we sometimes have engaging creative discussions, or I answer technical questions about my work.
I try to make as many videos of my work process as I can because I want to share more than just the end result of what I create, but at the same time to be useful to upcoming artists that are learning to draw and trying to make their way into this profession.
It is very important to see the process, it shows the core of it and makes art more accessible.
I'm wondering a lot lately about teaching one day because I keep getting so many requests to do so.
So there's a good chance I'll be creating an online drawing course of my own in the future.
In the near future, I plan to finish the two new series, start working on new ones and enter a few art competitions.
Updates about shows, new series of prints, and much more, will be published on my Instagram account and on my website: mashaprilutzki.com