Veronika Lozovaya is an amazing doll artist born in Russia, based in Washington USA. Her unique style is described as Gothic. The artist shows the beauty of sadness and destruction in her works.
I invite you to discover the story of Veronika and the world of Dark Alley Cats.
Tell us something about you.
My name is Veronika Lozovaya. I come from a small northern town of Russia. I loved to draw as long as I can remember. I dreamed of getting a degree in art, but I guess I was too scared thinking I was not good enough to be accepted. After school I studied linguistics and psychology at the university and ended up working as an English-Russian interpreter on a gold mine, which I enjoyed doing. On the job site I met and married my husband, an American expat. Right now I live in The United States with my husband and my 4 year old son. I am a stay at home mom. Since I don’t have to work I can really concentrate on my dolls, which I love. It rains a lot here in Washington and this is he best type of weather to feed my creativity.
When did you first discover your creative talents? How did you started to make this lovely cats? Why cats?
I had this urge to create since I was a kid, I remember that I couldn’t just play with toys and dolls, I had to alter their clothing, cut their hair, do their make up with a pen. My parents used to say they would never buy another doll for me because I would ruin it anyway, but I realized that changing these dolls made them more personal to me and helped develop my creativity and grow into a natural artist.
I pretty much tried to work with every media out there, looking for a perfect way to express myself. I did polymer clay sculpting, sewing, knitting, needle felting and other crafts. I fell in love with the Gothic look. Since then my Gothic mood shows thorough all my art projects. The idea of a Dark Alley cat was like a light bulb in my head, it literally was. It came to me one night and I absolutely had no idea where to start. The Cat is a part of Gothic culture, so I could not think of any other animal. I wanted to come up with something new. In my head I had this image of a dark, brooding, mischievous, shady and at the same time attractive Gothic dude – the type of guy many girls and myself are so attracted to, and I wanted to show this character through a cat. It’s like some people believe when a person dyes they can become any other creature in their next life. I spent a couple of sleepless nights, I made several trial dolls, cut up some of my husband’s old sweatshirts for materials, a lot of that error stuff went into the trash basket. This is how my first whimsical Dark Alley Cat was born, a street cat with human eyes and human personality.
Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from within. I have so many stories in my head, some of them last for years. My cats live in my imagination, I never have to do sketches. I can get inspired by one word I hear somewhere and then develop it into a cat series. I get inspired by the music that I listen to. For example, right now I listen to Nightwish „Imaginaerum”. They are a Finnish band I have loved for years and my recent Circus Cats were inspired by their new songs a lot. There are also times when I just go with the flow and let the cat tell me his story before I tell it to my buyer.
How will you describe your style?
It is difficult for me to define a particular style I am working in. It is a mixture of styles. One of my online friends put it this way: ” They are very steam punk-ish/goth, dark, with these captivating eyes and then there is this gorgeous and oh-so-adorable heart-shaped nose … it’s like this perfect balance of … everything…” . I couldn’t find better words than these.
Do you remember who bought your first doll, can you show us this doll?
The first Cat I sold was Sam. I will never forget Sam. The lady that adopted him took a bunch of pictures of him and wrote a little book about his journey. She sent the book to me, when I got it in the mail I was blown away.
When have you started your own business and how?
I accidentally came across Etsy on the internet, a couple years ago, that is when I started selling my creations online.
Can you tell us where should we pay attention, when we want to turn our hobby into business?
My dolls are a hobby that pays the cost of materials and brings me some extra money. I think the word ‘business’ would be too big. I have to cut down on supplies and materials. I spend too much on my cats, because they are like my children and I want them to have the best of the best. So I guess you should really pay attention to your expenses if you want to make a profit. Second is quality, you have to make sure you put out a good quality product.
What are you working on now? Would you like to give give us a preview?
At the moment I am working on the dolls for the Friends of Teddy online show. I will have to make at least 5 dolls (maximum of 10 dolls). It will be my very first show and I am very exited about it. The showwill feature animals by 75 talented bear and soft-sculpture animal artists from all over the world. The cats that I am working on now are being made especially for this show and must not be displayed anywhere, this is one of the show rules. Preview and voting will start on June 29, the actual show will start on Friday July 13 and will last till Sunday July 15, 2012. Everyone will be able to purchase their favorite animals in this time frame.
Do you organize workshops or master classes? If yes, please give us some information about this.
I do not do workshops. I still feel there are so many things I need to learn to improve my skills, I would feel funny trying to teach somebody else. I find new and better ways of doing things all the time.
What materials and accessories you use making your „Dark Alley” dolls?
I sew my dolls out of schulte mohair, same material bear artists use, knit and cotton fabrics. I use felting wool, polymer clay for claws and teeth. I stuff them with poly fill and poly pellets. I color their faces with acrylics and pastels. I spend a lot of time in local craft stores, looking for little accessories, buttons and trims. I also like to paint buttons and hand dye most of my fabrics for doll clothing. I try not to overload my dolls with lots of little details though.
How long does it take to make a cat?
Usually takes me about 1 week to completely finish a cat.
Who is buying author dolls, today?
Anyone. Mostly collectors of dolls, plush and Teddies. It can be someone who can easily afford expensive art work or someone who will pay in installments because they like the doll so much and simply have to have it in their home.
Finally, what advice would you give a young artist just starting and wondering where to start?
What I would suggest to someone just starting out is to be patient. It might be very frustrating for an emerging artist. Success does not come in a day. Give it time. You do have fans out there, you just have to find them and let them know about your existence, let them discover your art. You don’t really have to be perfect. Believe wholeheartedly in what you do. If you put your heart and soul in it, it will shine through in your creations.
Note! This interview was first published on 17th of May in 2012 on Revista Atelierul .
Translated in romanian language as well.
You can see new works of the artist on the Dark Alley Dolls , follow the artist on Instagram and Etsy.