Sveta working on the final draft of The Land of Haven map
I have SO appreciated all the love Sveta Dorosheva's been getting this past week as I've given little hints of the map. As many of you have noted, her work is out of this world gorgeous. You can check out some other maps Sveta's created here.
And I have a surprise for you all!
Sveta was kind enough to answer some interview questions! I thought you'd appreciate a behind-the-scenes look at the life of a brilliant illustrator.
So pull up a chair, cozy up, and enjoy the interview. 😊 (And don't worry, I haven't forgotten about the grand finale of this blog post! I've saved it for last!)
Interview with Sveta Dorosheva
MR: Hi, Sveta! Thank you for taking the time to chat. I'm a big fan of your work, and I'd love to hear about your career as a map illustrator--can you share how you got started and what has your journey been like?
SD: I never specialized on maps in particular. I have been working as a commercial illustrator for about a decade now. And since my graphics are mostly narrative, I did a lot of art for books, including my own. A couple of years ago my agency sent me an enquiry for a fantasy book map (it was "King of Scars" by Leigh Bardugo), and frankly, I took it for regular reasons of a freelance artist (big publisher + okay budget + the subject matter sounds like something I could do well).
I later learned just WHO and WHAT I was illustrating. And it's a good thing that I didn't know at the moment - responsibility for "creating something great" always makes the work worse! Anyway, the map turned out lovely, and after that map commissions just kept coming. Which, frankly, was a shock - I never knew maps were popular in books!
MR: I know your illustrations span many different kinds of projects (including your own published books!). What do you find is unique to map illustration? What are the particular joys and challenges?
SD: I am a big fan of antique maps and spend weeks in online museums and libraries to study them (and a couple of days in the Vatican map corridor:). From our standpoint in time, all antique maps are fantasy - fabulous beasts, unknown lands, creatures and monsters... They tried to convey the feel of a different world. That's something I try to do in my maps too. Creating the mood of a different world is the fun part. The challenging part is the actual map construction - what's where, composition, fitting it all on a spread, attending to the right placement, relation, proportion, distance, keeping things out of the book's gutter, etc.
Also, this is a point when I need to try and get into the author's head and SEE the major locations. What are they like? Even if they are fantastic, they still have some type of epoch and culture references, mood, character, scenery, etc. That's why I asked you so many questions:) Thank you for taking the time to answer them all! Most of the things I learn about the world I am mapping out don't make it to the map for clarity and lack of space, but they are indispensable for me - if I am clear about the world, the relevant mood weaves itself into every detail, decor and overall style.
MR: Can you share about your experience working on the map of Haven?
SD: I like it when the author has a draft, well thought through, which you had and which I found very helpful (you could show it, by the way, if you want to - to illustrate the process). That saves me the excruciating part of actually orienting in space - my guilty secret is that I am awful with actual maps, they lose me in a new city in no time at all!
After we went through all the questions about the world, all I had to do was render it in a style and manner, particular to this invented world. I often use the frame to hint at what's inside the book (key characters and objects, magical creatures, and overall genre). First I usually do a detailed pencil draft for everyone to agree on and make the necessary changes, and then go on to the final artwork. I draw by hand. This particular map was done with a usual black pen 0.5 on bleedproof paper for comics:). The drawing is always larger than it will be in the book - in this case, A3.
MR: Can you tell us about some other projects are you working on right now?
SD: You'll be shocked, but I have two more book maps in the works. 😊 And a book cover (it's a mystery novel).
MR: Lastly, how can authors or agents contact you if they're interested in working with you?
SD: My agents are at www.illustrationx.com/contact or email@example.com, or you can contact me directly if you just have a question or would like to talk - firstname.lastname@example.org
MR: Thank you so much, Sveta!
Everyone, you can find Sveta online on her website, Instagram, and Etsy.
Also, I highly recommend her gorgeously illustrated book, The Land of Stone Flowers: A Fairy Guide to Mythical Human Beings , which is absolutely as whimsical and adorable as you'd imagine.
Wren is a magic human from the island of Meraki.
Her people are natural enemies with the Mainlanders. Her father is the Dragon Master who works with the island dragons on the southern tip of the island.
Wren's mom, who has since passed away, used to call Wren "Dolphin." As a fun detail, can you spot the pod of dolphins swimming near her home?
Shenli is from a small village in the Coastal District in the Mainland. His village is known for their fishing skills, and if you look closely, you'll see evidence of that on the map. :)
Early on in the book, Shenli is forced to serving as a steward for Chancellor Cudek, and spends much of his time working in the castle.