Ilya Avakov is a trained industrial designer who creates wonderful works of automotive art in his spare time. Form Trends catches up with the 36-year-old artist from Lermontov, in Russia’s southern Stavropol region.
When did you start to paint?
I’ve been of drawing since childhood, like all designers probably. My parents are creative people: my father is an interior designer and my mother a sculptor. I grew up surrounded by their creative spirits. Then when I was 15, I began preparing to enter the Institute and drew all that is required for admission: a plaster head, still lifes. At 17 I entered the “Saint-Petersburg state art-industrial academy named after A. L. Stieglitz.
Why do you paint cars?
I paint cars to distract from the main work. I hope that painting will replace my main job.
When did you know you wanted to become a designer?
At 16, I visited St. Petersburg and saw the exhibition of student work industrial designer. The exhibition was called MODULOR.
I see you graduated from St. Petersburg State Art/Industrial Academy in 2001 — Did you also study vehicle/transportation design?
Yes, we studied vehicle/transportation design. My diploma project was on the topic of ceremonially car for a parade.
What was your first job after graduation?
I started working at PVG in St. Petersburg. I was a designer of POSm (design of outlets). Then I designed exhibition stands in the company of Twins design 2008-2009. Then I worked at Rostselmash (harvester combine) as lead designer 2009-2013.
You work in industrial, graphic and environment design — can you explain what you do?
My main job is designing children’s toys for the company Magneticus. I also work as a freelancer as an industrial designer and Illustrator. I’ve designed a steering wheel for a combine harvester while working at Rostselmash; and a scoop for washing children’s hair for ROXY-KIDS called the Dino Scoop.
Tell me about how you approach the design process
I can identify several key stages: First I study the analogs, next stage is sketching and third is the adaptation of technical requirements.
How did the opportunity to create artwork for Bentley come about?
I really like the works of Camilo Pardo. I can say that his work inspired me to take up the brush. So the Bentley painting was made under the impression of Camilo Pardo’s creativity. Artists and designers whose work influence me include Camilo Pardo, Michele Leonello, Vadim Artemiev, Sangwon Seok, Markus Haub and Rafael Varela.
Tell me a little about what you do currently.
I’ve been doing car illustrations for a LUC Chopard classic weekend rally Moscow for a few years. I’ve also begun to exhibit my work in galleries.
Tell me a little about your artwork. I see you paint with oil a lot. What else do you use?
I paint using different techniques and materials, often oil on canvas, acrylic on paper. I usually draw on a tablet in Photoshop. When creating a work (oil, acrylic, digital print) the original sketch is the most important. Mostly I do it on the computer in Photoshop and then start to work on a large format.
What medium do you enjoy working with the most?
At the moment oil on canvas is my favorite technique. Now I experiment with the technique of digital printing on canvas and subsequent refining of paint (mixed media). This technique allows to convey the expressiveness of the initial sketch.
I see you’ve drawn/painted some modern but also a lot of classic cars. What’s your fascination with classics?
Originally I chose the car for the paintings out of respect for a brand and model. But now I have a certain method in creating my paintings. I’m always looking for a good photograph (camera angle, light, shadow) and guided by an abstract look. It’s not so important if it’s a modern car or a classic. While there is, of course, something that unites all my chosen cars, it is the proportions of the cars themselves generally – a sports car, coupe or four-door sedan – that influences my work.
What’s your favorite car? Why? It is very much difficult to choose just one. I like the proportions of the Bentley Continental coupe. It is an emotional choice.