What do Professional Illustrators Use?

Written By Alla Levin
August 02, 2016
Pattern by Lidija Nagulov

Lidija Nagulov Shares her Thoughts on How to Become a Great Artist and tells What Professional Illustrators Use

I’m not an illustrator, but I’m eager to enhance my skills in this field and gain a deeper understanding of the art of illustration. I have a multitude of questions that need answers, and I’ve identified the perfect resource to assist me: Canadian illustrators.

To address my quest for knowledge, I’ve embarked on a project to create a series of articles. These articles will be packed with invaluable tips and advice provided by accomplished illustrators and artists who excel in various techniques and utilize a wide range of tools.

If you’re someone who shares my curiosity about the world of illustration, this article is designed to be your go-to resource. In the following sections, we’ll acquaint ourselves with these artists, delve into their work, explore their creative processes, and discover what inspires them.

Let’s dive right in and begin this exciting journey of exploration and learning!

What do Professional Illustrators Use
Pattern Design by Lidija Nagulov

Today I have a wonderful guest Lidija – an illustrator and pattern designer. She was so kind as to answer a few of my questions and to give us a few tips on what do professional illustrators use.

Lidija loves painting nature, especially its smallest elements – flowers and berries, birds, fish, crabs, insects. Lidija`s incredible patterns and artworks filled up with positive emotions and love, taking your heart immediately. Let`s get started and see yourself!  

What do Professional Illustrators Use: An Interview with Lidija Paradinovic Nagulov

Lidija Nagulov, an Illustrator & Pattern Designer.

Where do you live and what do you do?

I was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (today it’s Serbia, we’ve had some unfortunate recent history), but recently I’ve moved to Toronto, Canada. We’re still settling in here but feeling more at home each day!

I’m an illustrator and pattern designer. Most of my work is digital but lately, I have been working with watercolors and pens, it’s a little scary to not have the option of ‘undo’ for all of your mistakes 🙂 My patterns are mostly made for clients in the fashion industry, and I sell them myself on various products and as art prints.

What is your background?

What do Professional Illustrators Use
Pattern Design by Lidija Nagulov

I studied Japanese language and literature at university, I actually have an MA in Japanology 🙂 My first jobs were an interpretation, office work, financial work. I discovered art pretty late in life – I was 33 when I first started drawing. But I think it’s never too late to get into something that really excites you!

What inspires you the most? Who is your greatest inspiration in Art?

That’s a very difficult question. Every day I see some new and amazing work of art out there. We’re so lucky that we live in this age when we can all share what we do over the internet and discover each other.

But I find that more and more I get inspired by people’s actions and their philosophies rather than by their work.

By now I’ve developed my own style and I know what I want to say with my art, so I’m no longer looking at other art styles for inspiration. But I do get inspired every day by the way people talk to their fans, the way people share their knowledge, the way they stand up for things they believe in.

What kind of tools and accessories do you use to create your Illustrations?

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Pattern Design by Lidija Nagulov

Primarily I’m a digital illustrator, ever since the very beginning, I’ve worked with a tablet and a stylus pen. I started in Illustrator but discovering Photoshop was a revelation to me – it gave me so much more freedom to make my work look more organic.

Later I started to draw linework with a fine micron pen, then scan it in and color it in Photoshop. A few weeks ago I first started playing with watercolors – it’s a big change from working digitally, and I’m really enjoying it! Any new medium takes time to get used to, but it brings new experiences and new ideas with it.

What do Professional Illustrators Use? What are the best brands that produce the tools and accessories for the illustrators? 

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Pattern Design by Lidija Nagulov

There really isn’t any ‘best brands’ outside of what works for you personally. When I’d draw on paper I’d take pens and markers from my office, and I’d draw on the backs of wrongly printed documents.

No special paper, no special inks, nothing. It worked really well for me because I could be free with that paper, knowing I’m not ruining anything valuable if I mess it up, and because I scan and process later in the computer it really makes no difference what paper I use.

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Pattern Design by Lidija Nagulov

Now that I’m doing watercolors it’s different because the piece I make is the final product – I bought the nice watercolor paper and a set of Winsor & Newton watercolors. I only got the smallest set, though, with 12 colors, and I use the tiny standard brush that came with it.

It’s easy to think that better tools will make you a better artist – when I first started using Photoshop I kept looking for new brushes to download, thinking if I could just get those good brushes my work will be better.

Today I use maybe three different brushes in total, two of which are the default brushes that come when you first install Photoshop – soft round and hard round brush.

Those are like 90% of all my digital drawing and coloring. It’s not the tools, it’s you – there are people who make amazing work from the thread, from broken glass, from wire, nails, bottle caps – you name it.

Start with the tools you have around you, and when you feel your work could use an upgrade, go slow. It’s easy to go into an art store and buy five different sets of inks and paints you end up never using.

Another bit of advice is to start cheap and move on to the better quality stuff when you know what you’re doing.

What kind of phone applications related to your professional activity do you use the most often?

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Pattern Design by Lidija Nagulov

I’m on all the standard social media:

  • Pinterest
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Facebook.

(Look me up, I’m under ‘Celandine Design’ at all of them 🙂 Outside of that, I don’t use any particular apps.

What kind of software do you use in your professional activity?

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Pattern Design by Lidija Nagulov

Photoshop is my best friend, definitely. It’s well suited to the organic work that I do.

I admire people who do stunning work in Illustrator but I could just never really find my rhythm in there – I can use it when I need to but I can’t make anything amazing in Illustrator.

What kind of advice would you give the beginners in illustration art?

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Pattern Design by Lidija Nagulov

The usual stuff – draw a lot, look at a lot of good work, think about why the good work is good. Steal good ideas from other people – not their artwork, but their techniques, their use of color, their control of values.

Look at the artists you love and ask yourself ‘Why do I love this person’s work? What tricks are they using to convey their message so well?

Don’t be afraid to imitate at first, but DON’T try to pass off imitation work as your own or sell it. With time you’ll naturally start to build your own voice and move away from the styles you once copied.

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Pattern Design by Lidija Nagulo

Another word of advice is this – yes, if you’re dedicated enough, you can make it as an artist. But beware that it’s probably harder than most ‘normal’ professions.

There is no recipe for successful art, nobody can really teach you how to make work that will resonate with people.
It takes a lot of digging, and a lot of doubt – the artists I know are some of the most insecure people on the Earth.

They are also some of the most wonderful, caring, bright and generous souls I have ever met. Connect with other artists – those who are better than you, and those who are just starting out, like you.

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Artwork by Lidija Nagulov

Everything is easier when you have company. Finally, never stop creating. Even if you decide not to make a living as an artist, even if you get a ‘normal’ job in a bank or a shop somewhere – keep drawing.

Making things makes your soul sing in a way nothing else can. That feeling of wanting to create something is one of the best gifts in life – don’t ever let it go.

Hurry up and see more Lidijas artworks on www.celandinedesign.com and follow latest updates on Facebook

Thank you very much!

I hope you enjoyed the first article with useful thoughts and tips on What do Professional Illustrators Use??

More interviews are coming up soon and I am looking for your comments below I am sure you have something interesting to share with me 😉

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