Living In Harmony With Nature In Love And Unity: Interview with Antra Svarcs
Being a nature enthusiast and inspiring social-minded illustrator, Antra’s work is harmoniously filled with energy and tells the story of the best side of humanity. Recently stepping out of her comfort zone and moving from Melbourne to Los Angeles, she is always up for new challenges and cherishes every bit of it where day to day life feels like an adventure. AWW talks with Antra about her vision, her drawing and her state of mind.
AWW: Love the colours and the energy in your work! They are often related to different social issues, like equality and sustainable practice. Are there any messages you want to convey?
Antra Svarcs: For sure; as I’m becoming more intentional with my practice, I’m aiming to have my images communicate the things that I really care about. Celebrating the natural world and positive interpersonal connection are themes that I anticipate will continue to run through my work. I’m wanting my images to be representative of the world that I’d like to live in. I’d like them to inspire joy and optimism, and show the best side of humanity. Hopefully my visual contribution to the world can be a positive one, and I will keep angling for that in my creative decisions moving forward.
AWW: You have been working as an Associate professor for almost 4 years, what motivates you to step outside of your comfort zone and start your career as an illustrator?
Antra Svarcs: Yes, I’ve been teaching at Monash University in Melbourne since 2016. As I’ve recently moved to Los Angeles, I’ve had to put that on pause for now. However, I do think it was teaching that was a bigger step out of my comfort zone than illustrating. I’ve been creating imagery for as long as I can remember, so a career as an illustrator was a pretty logical extension of that. While the role of teaching was the bigger shift, I’ve found it so rewarding and enjoyable. It’s challenged me to think even more deeply about visual communication and to better articulate ideas relating to imagery and communication systems.
AWW: Are you a cat person or a dog person? What’s your best memories with your pet?
Antra Svarcs: I am first and foremost a cat person. I’ll love and try to befriend any cat I come across, no matter how scraggly or mangy. Unfortunately my cat Podzina (little button in Latvian) passed away earlier this year at age 17. She was incredibly affectionate and the best cat there ever was. I’m unfortunately not in a position to commit to a new pet, but I’m trying to befriend a particular cat who frequents our front yard. The cat is pretty skittish, but I’m slowly trying to win its confidence with some treats. I got a pat on the other day.
AWW: You’ve moved from Melbourne to LA this year, how’s life in there? What do you love about living in LA?
Antra Svarcs: I’ve moved to LA this year, which seems like a crazy move with everything that’s going on in the world. However professionally and personally, there’s lots of opportunity for me here, and it very much feels like the right place for me to be at this stage in life. While unfortunately a lot of LA’s impressive culture; music, galleries, comedy, bars and restaurants, have been inaccessible due to the pandemic - I’m still able to enjoy the proximity of really impressive nature. The national parks of Sequoia, Joshua Tree, Yosemite and Big Sur, are all within a day’s reach!
Additionally, I’m living in Venice very close to the ocean and have recently started surfing. I’m definitely more drawn to nature than the trappings of a city, and so to be able to be out in the water, and feel the full power of mother nature so close to home, is really such a treat. Finally, people will tell you that California has great weather. This statement has proved to be so true. It really is unreal. It’s gorgeous every single day. Coming from a city like Melbourne, famous for having four seasons in a single day, it really feels like a luxury.
AWW: We love Curiosity Taught the Cat, the animation you illustrated for the Singapore Ministry of Education kindergartens, so much! Have you encountered any difficulties during the project? Or any interesting behind-the-scenes to share with us?
Antra Svarcs: This was a really fun project to work on. Particularly because I was fostering three tiny kittens during that period and so I had this beautiful complete cat circle; I was spending time at home with these kittens, then going into the studio and spending more time working on kitten illustrations. I illustrated the characters first, supplying ‘turnarounds’ to the animators, and then moved on to creating the full environments.
I think the biggest point of tension would have been the colour palette. The client had a particular vivid palette in mind, and I’ve been drawn of late to more muted, earthier tones. We went with the client’s preference (of course!) but overall I’m really pleased with how it all turned out. I was really blown away with the talent of the team at Passion Projects and Oh Yeah Wow. They expertly breathed life into my static characters and world. It’s always such a joy to see my illustrations brought to life.
AWW: As a nature lover who enjoys outdoor activities, how do you spend time during the lockdown? What comforts you the most when you cannot get out for adventures?
Antra Svarcs: For most of the time while I’ve been in the US, it has been possible to travel to go hiking and camping, so I have very much enjoyed doing a bit of that.
As for the city; at a time where a lot of people are feeling the weight of the monotony of the day to day life, I feel lucky to be experiencing something new and inspiring. I can simply walk or ride 5 minutes in a new direction and can see something or somewhere that I’ve never seen before. I’m really cherishing this period where day to day life feels like an adventure.
AWW: Do you find any artists or accounts that inspired you? Could you recommend 3 of your favourite Instagram accounts?
Antra Svarcs: There are so many! At the moment I absolutely adore Karl Larsson’s work, Cynthia Kittler’s and Marcelo Vehlo’s.
To find out more about Antra Svarcs please visit the artist’s IG account | @antra.svarcs
All images provided by Antra Svarcs.