Hi Victoria, it’s great that you could find the time to do an interview with us. It’s a great honour and we’re excited to get some interesting insights into your life and work! So let’s get started…
Perhaps you would like to introduce yourself first?
Thank you for reading the Hahnemühle edition of the blog about me, I hope my story inspires you to draw and challenge yourself.
My name is Victoria Kagalovska – I am a fashion illustrator, an artist from Ukraine. In addition, I am a mother, influencer, TikTok and YouTube blogger, entrepreneur and founder of my own clothing brand with my illustrations.
I have been an artist all my life (like all of us) but I started learning and mastering this profession in 2016. I am a historian by education, and an economist by secondary education. In the art field, I am self-taught and started drawing while I was on maternity leave. I paint mainly in watercolours, less often with oils, digital and markers.
For six years in the art field I collaborated with famous brands such as MAC Cosmetics, Saks Fifth Avenue, Escada, Fashionary, Florasis, Snapchat, Wine Enthusiast, Verve Records to name a few. I was the ambassador of Royal Talens and launched da Vinci branded brushes.
I also sell my paintings. They are bought for private collections and printed on clothes and accessories. I get good reach across my social media with thousands of people reposting my pictures and videos on Instagram and TikTok. My illustrations are published in books and well-known magazines in Ukraine, China, Brazil, Canada, Ukraine, Japan, etc.
The heroines of my paintings are beautiful women in bright colours. These can be real or unreal people of different nationalities and cultures. I like beautiful female features. Sometimes I can be inspired by a beautiful profile, a casually noticed reflection on the face, a beautiful show from fashion week…
Art for me is a way to make the world a better place, to inspire others to create and to incite happiness in those who stop to admire it – even those who have no idea that they like to draw.
So, you are a fashion illustrator. For all those who have no idea what that means: What exactly is that?
I am a historian by first education. Therefore, I want to tell you that all artists who draw people in clothes are to a certain extent fashion illustrators. Fashion is one of the most vivid markers of eras; from clothes we immediately understand which period the image belongs.
In the 17th century, when the first fashion magazines began to appear directly, fashion illustration became a separate art form. Designers and fashion designers began to depict sketches of future dresses or drew guests at social events. This is where fashion illustration as a genre started.
Initially, these were illustrations to show the customer what the clothes would be like. Over time, illustration turned into a separate form of art, and now many brands not only draw clothing collections, but also order illustrations for their advertising campaigns.
What is the difference between a fashion illustration and an ordinary image of a person? In Fashion illustration, the model is always shown more advantageously (as well as on catwalks, this is usually a tall model). The proportions of a person have changed and the legs are elongated. Also, the proportions of the body are often completely changed and the face, thin build, etc can be changed. In the illustration, full stylization of the figure is allowed, almost everything can be changed (this is why I like this genre).
The main idea is to portray beautiful clothes and convey the mood, not to show a realistic image. Among fashion illustrators, we now know many leaders of fashion houses such as Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld and artists such as David Downton, legendary in this technique.
Illustrating and fashion are of course two things that go wonderfully together and harmonise with each other. But why did you choose fashion as your motif?
I can’t say that I chose Fashion illustration. I think fashion illustration chose me. As I mentioned, I am a historian. My first fashion illustrations were redrawn dresses from 19th century fashion magazines. I drew historical dresses with pageants, as well as clothes in the Empire style. A little later, I started to draw modern fashion illustrations.
Since childhood, I drew people, myself, and I also sewed clothes for my Barbie doll. In high school, I drew clothes for myself, and a seamstress brought my ideas to life. I love drawing all those curves of fabric on a woman’s body.
Clothes are not just a fabric that covers the body. Similarly, fashion is not only about trends. Through clothes, we show ourselves: our mood, attitude to certain events, our belonging to a certain culture or simply a way for us to speak to the world without words. For example, when women took off their corsets or put on men’s trousers and revealed their ankles – these were revolutions of consciousness.
Maybe that’s why I’m so attracted to fashion illustration?
Would you say that you have your own style or approach to your illustrations?
I don’t know if I have my own style. But I know that most artists are looking for it, sometimes they even concentrate on it more than on the drawing process itself. I would really like to have my own distinct style and I think I’m still searching for it. But my followers always recognize my illustrations. Therefore, I think that after all, I already have a certain style.
People often say that fashion itself is also its own form of art. What is your opinion on this?
Of course! Fashion is something unique and original. It is the driving force of progress. In search of better, more interesting, higher quality, people create new technologies and make breakthroughs in science.
Fashion has changed a lot in recent decades. Some people like it, others don’t. There is couture fashion, where clothes are works of art that can’t be worn every day such as unique styles created for the Met Gala. Then there are everyday things. Everyone can choose their own. I like this freedom and variety as well as styles in drawing.
For some time now, you even own your own fashion brand for clothes and accessories – KAGALOVSKA. A great idea to be able to wear your impressive works. We can only congratulate you!
Has it always been your dream to own your own fashion brand?
It was not a dream in the literal sense of the word. This is one of those professions in which I thought I would like to try myself – similar to the restaurant business which I also do. I tried to realise my desire of becoming a designer starting with a brand promoting my merch. My illustrations should be able to continue life on clothes and to be available to a large number of people.
I think many illustrators will think about this idea. Before the war, I actively developed the brand, but not now.
In fact, it takes a lot of time and money. Therefore, at some point I had to choose between drawing, brand and other businesses. Grow into big offline stores or stay online.
I decided to change the concept and release limited capsules, I no longer aim to develop a network of stores.
Did you ever think that this dream would become a reality?
Of course! If dreams can be realized by earning money with hard work, then you just need to work hard – that’s exactly what I do! I dream of higher and global ideas that may be beyond my reach and that I cannot so easily influence… but that’s another story.
In your career, you have worked with many different brands. One of them was our partner da Vinci. With them you developed the unique “black & white Signature Edition” artist brush with your own fashion illustration layout.
How does it feel for you to hold something with your own name in your hand – whether the artist brush as your own signature edition or your own fashion brand KAGALOVSKA?
It was and is a great honour for me to have created such collaboration like signatured brushes with da Vinci. I am very grateful to each brand for choosing to work with me.
What does it mean to see my name on a brush? It’s like having a personal magic wand. Moreover, with its help, artists create magic all over the world.
Thousands of reviews, notes, recommendations for and from my community … I want these brushes to be one of the most popular in the world (it sounds modest), so I do everything to get this brush seen by millions of people in my videos.
This is a really versatile, very high-quality and incredibly beautiful brush. I would 100% use it even if it had another artist’s name on it.
Seeing my name and illustrations in magazines, books, on clothes or on brushes is always somehow strange for me. Sometimes I can’t believe it is me until 2 years later when I see the brush in stores.
It’s a cool feeling, really. Gratitude to everyone involved and the Universe.
Speaking of artist materials… Which Hahnemühle paper do you personally prefer to work with and why?
The first time I tried Hahnemühle paper was in 2018, when I came to the exhibition in Frankfurt for the first time. I tried the Leonardo paper and it was a complete hit. I found my paper. For the next year, I spent time getting to know which stores in Europe sold it (this was when we were travelling a lot and I would bring back art materials from my trips). I tried other series, sketchbooks, and everything I wanted.
I thought that nothing could be better, but Hahnemühle surprised me. When the new series The Collection Watercolour came out, I realized that now I have another favourite paper. More precisely, Leonardo was able to become even better. Since then, I have been using this paper religiously; I do not use any other paper for watercolour. In this line there is a series of 300 gsm and 640 gsm, I use both. My favourite texture is “cold pressed”.
Is illustration the only technique you are passionate about or do you also try out other techniques from time to time?
Oh, I am constantly searching I hope I always am. If you were following my social networks from the very beginning, you will see that I started drawing with markers. At that time, I thought that markers are the best thing there is.
You have built up a large community on your social media channels and inspire many people around the world almost daily.
Would you like to leave a few motivating words for your community or for aspiring artists in general, to show them how they too can be successful one day?
Thank you for such praise. So, the total number of my social networks has been more than 1 million subscribers for a long time. I have blog on Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube. I did it myself for six years (learned to draw, shot videos, edited, uploaded and promoted them). Now I already have a team that helps me do all this.
When I started drawing illustrations, I thought that one day I would draw with Dior or another famous fashion house. I haven’t yet fulfilled this plan (or dream of what to call it), but I’ve already done illustrations for MAC and Marvel, and many global brands, and I think that to some extent my plans have already come true. To all my followers, I always say that limitations only exist in your head. Only you set your own boundaries. Set high goals, work on yourself, don’t stop and keeping reminding yourself that you are destined for success. Remember, I am self-taught, you can do it too.
Last but not least, we would be very interested to know what we can expect in the future. Do you have any ideas, plans or even upcoming projects you would like to tell us about?
I have an ambitious plan to sell my paintings for $2,000,000 and to use these funds to open an art restaurant in the centre of Kyiv. I would like to create such a place where artists from all over the world can come. Now, it sounds like a strange dream-idea, but I really hope that one day I will be able to invite all of you to my place in peaceful Kyiv.
This sounds really exciting! It would be wonderful if this project could be realised one day. We want to sincerely thank you for the fascinating insights and wish you all the success in your endeavors and in your future, Victoria!
Watch Victoria’s latest video on her channel here: