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Artist Spotlight

Artist Spotlight: Elena Bespalova

Born in Moscow, Russia, Elena Bespalova has been drawing since the age of five, wanting to become an artist for as long as she can remember. She was a graduate of the 1905 Memorial Moscow College of Art, and was hired shortly thereafter by Nival Online, working as a lead character artist for Allods Online, a free fantasy MMORPG. She is now working on projects of her own, a graphic novel called Nettlebite and a rich range of speculative freelance artwork.

Last ShotHi Elena, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. First off, can you walk us through the creation of “Last Shot?”

Hello! I began this work by creating a simple black and white sketch. My artistic process usually starts with a sketch. Next I worked on perfecting the outlines and finally I applied the color. I spent only a couple of evenings working on this piece, as a result, it looks sketchier then my other works. However, I like it mostly because of the idea. I always enjoy creating something that can be a part of a larger story.

“Last Shot” looks as if it’s the final moment in a larger story: What were you intending to convey with the painting?

A couple of years ago my fellow artist and I had a conversation about giant robots. We discussed a possible plot that would include them. I ended up with an idea of a huge and proud creature. It would look as if it came straight out from the legends but ended up defeated by much more smaller men. So in the picture the small fighter with the gun literally has the life of a giant in her hands.

By juxtaposing the man and the robot I wanted to assert the idea that the power of the mankind over its planet is overwhelming.

Tell us a little about yourself: How did you get into artwork?

I always loved to draw. As a child I spent countless hours drawing Disney characters and anime heroes. My passion for drawing grew during school years. I became interested in digital games and computer graphics. A PC at home helped me to further develop my interests in digital art. After I graduated from the college I entered into the game development industry, where I keep working today as a concept artist.

In addition to work in the game development industry I enjoy creating book illustrations. Drawing comics is my other passion.

Your various online profiles have a wide range of speculative illustrations and paintings: do you have any books or films that you count amongst your influences?

My art is influenced by Japanese animation to some degree. I still like anime a lot and I watch it when I have free time. I think that anime have a great graphic style and often as not their plots have unusual twists. I am inspired by anime art and it helps me to come up with interesting ideas for my own creations. My favorite anime serials are One-Piece, Naruto, and Kuragehime. Also I found very interesting Haibane Renmei and Alien Nine.

What about science fiction or fantasy? Are you most drawn to (no pun intended!) when it comes to artwork?

When I was a child, I always thought that an ordinary life is boring. Books and cinema provided an outlet for my search for extraordinary experiences. When I was eleven I found a book in a pile that my parents bought recently. It had no name or picture on its dull black a cover. Imagine my surprise when I opened it and plunged headlong into the great adventure I never knew it could be. This book was John Carter of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. So at that moment I told myself: I finally found my kind of thing that I could draw all my life and never get bored. So my favorites are Glen Cook, (The Black Company series, Darkwar), Tim Powers’ Dinner at Deviant’s Palace, Robert Sheckley and Roger Zelazny’s various books.

You mention on your DeviantArt page that you like early Andre Norton: what about her earlier science fiction appeals to you more than her later works? 

I like Solar Queen for its adventure spirit and great ideas in each of the small stories. It has a great old school feeling; its characters and situations have become a canon for a future sci-fi TV series and movies. Some of the later works seemed a bit naive for me, especially The Witch World.

You come from Moscow, Russia: What changes do you notice between your work in the art world and the rest of the world?

I am interested in the art created by different cultures of the world. I choose to learn about various cultures and their art, because I want to be able to recognize the cultural and artistic influences that are affecting a contemporary CG artist.  It helps me to understand the source of inspiration the other artists tapped into.  Since the foundation of my art education is very traditional and academic, my compositions tend to be rather clear, balanced and simple. I value readability of the elements and patches and I strive toward clarity of the elements of design. But in general the outcome of my artistic process depends on a task I need to perform.

What work do you have coming up? Anything you’re particularly excited about?

Yes! Since September I have spent almost all of my time working on a graphic novel featuring the adventures of Ashgan and Karavenn, two main characters of my novel. I plan to upload a ten page one-shot around January 2012, and then I will be working on a main book. Hopefully the novel will be published in France next year.

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Andrew Liptak

Andrew Liptak

Andrew Liptak is the Weekend Editor for The Verge. He is the co-editor of War Stories: New Military Science Fiction, (Apex Publications, 2014). His writing has also appeared in io9, Gizmodo, Kirkus Reviews,, BN Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Clarkesworld and others. He lives in Vermont.