Make magazine caught up with artist and model Zen Sevastyanova in New York to discuss her work and creative process. Zen aged 27 comes from Russia, partially grew up in Poland but has been living in New York City for 8 years, having moved there to pursue her career as a model.
Q. What are your earliest artistic memories?
A. The first thing that comes to mind is a day my mom took me to a small gallery in Poland, it was a two-storey shop filled with paintings and drawings hanging one atop another, it had an exciting atmosphere. I saw a card stand with a simple caricature one-line drawing portraying a naked man filling the whole page with little boy-like genitals, cocking his head to the right, a sad impression on his face, being soaked under the rain. I redrew it instantly in the shop and proclaimed myself an artist aged eight.
Q. How has your work evolved over the years?
A. Now I know my work is psycho-sexual surreal. I’ve become better at reading my own symbols. From bare-bone ink on paper, I started exploring watercolour, cut-outs and other mediums and saw how they symbolically tell a story, too. I wanted to meet my characters and transform them. That’s why cut-outs are best to capture that – they are both two and three-dimensional.
Q.Describe your creative process, from initial inspiration to final artwork?
A. This particular process unravelled when I started hand-drawing small cards to give out to people with my contact details and intention. I placed my fingerprint in the middle, tagged it and drew a storyline around it, always different and unique in some way. I would give them out to people in a different manner, sometimes letting people choose blindly or which card is pulling them in… finger-print creatures started appearing on bigger format stuff in my dreams, imaginings and insights and I would draw them and landscape around them. After a bit, I realised it was more about the landscape and cut them out. Landscape became a creature itself and a whole new world unfolded from there.
Q.Describe your workspace.
A. On the go. Unpack. Create. Fold in. Being in different environments stimulates my creativity.
Q. What impact does living in New York have on you and your work?
A. Massive. This city is a kaleidoscope. A magnifying glass. A time machine.
Q.Where do you draw your main inspiration from?
Q. How do you feel fashion and art intersect?
A. Both are used as a means of self-expression. Both are forms of communication. ‘Value’ of both is entirely subjective.
Q. What does love mean to you?
Love to me means wanting for the other same wellness, abundance and bliss as one wants for oneself, truly listening and respecting boundaries.
Q. When are you happiest and why?
A.When I listen to my intuition and instincts. Keep my promises. Daily interact with plants. Take at least three to five minutes twice a day to check in with myself in stillness. Have a positive impact on people I love and strangers. Take a cold shower. Touch my body with love. Eat farmer-grown food. Express myself with clarity and conviction. Move. Learn something new. Successfully multitask. When I create and entirely melt into creation.
See more of Zen’s work on her Instagram feed here.