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Zhanna Tuz

Work / Illustration

“I want to represent the symbols and influences that shape the world”: Illustrator Zhanna Tuz

Zhanna Tuz is a Russian artist who is studying illustration and graphics at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. In her latest project, the illustrator has conjured up a bewitching universe populated by green women, multicoloured snakes and glowing dogs against a backdrop of bright yellows and deep purples. When asked about the inspiration behind her recent work, Zhanna says that a number of factors fed into her magical creations.

“I’ve spent a lot of my time over the past year sourcing unusual pictures for a group project. My friends and I set up a website where we would write fictional stories inspired by the strangest images we could find on the internet. It was a lot of fun imagining the stories behind truly odd pictures,” Zhanna tells It’s Nice That. Gradually, the artist explains, the oddities and quirks subconsciously seeped into her own drawings and paintings. Without realising it, Zhanna’s focus had shifted; she was now imagining similar stories in images rather than words.

Her latest drawings were originally produced for a comic book about dreams and astral travelling, which the Russian artist had worked on alongside the writer Insar. Through her work, Zhanna explains, she wanted to visualise the invisible. Zhanna’s unconventional drawings and unorthodox compositions stretch the viewer’s creative muscles. Her drawings prompt us to imagine what a mystical world populated by ghosts and angels would look like. Witchcraft and the occult played a central role in Zhanna’s creative process: “I was drawing lots of sketches with a mountains of pencils, colouring pens and rulers around me. I usually put on a movie while I work. This time it was about Merlin. I was up drawing until 8 AM. I woke up having no idea where I was. I’m sure the film played a part in my creative output.”

In order to represent abstract thoughts and imaginary worlds, Zhanna relied on bright colours and absurd scenarios. The illustrator explains that she also drew inspiration from the meeting of two artistic eras; digital art and drawings of the classical age. “The rise of computers marked a moment of transition. Ordered graphics and electronic aesthetics only served to strengthen the subordination of ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman art as well as the age-old Russian iconography.” Through her drawings, Zhanna attempts to resurrect these antique aesthetic styles and reimagines the classical characters in surreal parallel universes.

“Ultimately, I want to represent the symbols and influences that shape the world. By removing recognisable contexts, clothes and scenes of everyday life, I wanted to be left solely with the essence of a person rather than the actual person themselves.”

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Zhanna Tuz