Interview for Kampen comics festival

I was interviewed by Dutch publisher Paul Reichenbach for Kampen comics festival. Here is the English translation of the interview:

Paul: Hi Dmitry. We know your beautiful paintings in The Battle of Kampen Graphic novel, but we know very little about you. Can you tell us something about yourself?

Dmitry: Hi Paul! I am from Belarus. Very little is known about that country, probably because it’s not a part of EU. It’s situated near Poland, Latvia and Lithuania and looks pretty much like The Netherlands, mostly plain landscapes, fields and forests. However, it’s much colder there. When I was 9 years old my parents asked an artist to give me private lessons in drawing and painting. But when the school was over I needed to choose a career and somehow I decided against art and went to Belarussian State Economic University. There I studied and started working as an economic software programmer. Several years after graduation I realized that I’m not happy with my job and I want to get back to art, thankfully I have already started earning as a freelance illustrator. I studied drawing and painting at Belarussian State Academy of Art.

Paul: When I first saw your drawings, I was astonished. It is so different from the styles I know. Your work has a very personal style. How did you come to this?

Dmitry: Thank you! I’m still not sure if I have an established style though. I like watercolours a lot and I’ve been painting with them since childhood. To me, this medium is very poetic and unpredictable as you never have total control over it and sometimes it feels like everything is happening by itself. You need to be fast and gentle and the paint will reward you with something beautiful. I also tried oil painting and I find it great, unlike watercolours you can take your time and make corrections along the way.

Paul: You made comics in a realistic style before. It was published by MadeGlobal. How did you do that?

Dmitry:  As I said earlier, I’ve been working as a freelance illustrator. I got a contract for illustrating a graphic novel by an American author and after that, I decided to do my own graphic novel. I wrote a story and started illustrating it. At the same time, I got work for MadeGlobal publishing and decided to send them my story. The publisher liked it and even invited me to meet with the authors in London. The book was published by that time and I met great historians and authors. It was a life-changing event! My wife is among the authors in MadeGlobal as well. She wrote and published a great biography about Jasper Tudor, and runs a website about the Wars of the Roses.

Paul: You are one of the artists who made an icon for the Icon museum in Kampen. You chose Joan of Arc as your subject. Is there a special reason that you have chosen her?

Dmitry: When I first heard about this project I instantly thought about Joan of Arc. My wife took me to Rouen before, a town in France where Joan was kept in prison and then burnt alive. And since she is a famous historical figure and a Saint I thought it would be good to paint her.

Paul: This painting for the Icon museum is different from the ones you make for the comic books. What do you prefer, to draw comic books or paintings? In other words, how do you consider yourself, as an illustrator or a painter?

Dmitry: I like both but the real oil painting on canvas would always be better to me than a print. It’s something more physical, you know that the artist was touching it and you can see learn how he was painting it by taking a closer look.

Paul: During the Kampen comics festival your new graphic novel The End of the Robber Knight will be presented. Tell us more about it.

Dmitry: It’s a thrilling story about a rich and powerful medieval landlord and the siege of his castle. I hope the readers will enjoy it.

Paul: The End of the Robber Knight is based on historical facts. For the Battle of Kampen graphic novel, you could find a lot of references from pictures of the reenactment of this battle. For the Robber Knight story, you had to use a lot of imagination, because there are no pictures left of the castle and so on. How did you succeed to make it look so authentic?

Dmitry: My wife helped me in gathering references and supported me in everything.

Paul: You did The Battle of Kampen and now The End of the Robber Knight. Do you have more ideas in this direction, or will the next project be something completely different?

Dmitry: I am new to the Netherlands and I don’t know much about the history of this country, but I
am greatly impressed and inspired by it so who knows

Paul: I have seen a fairy tale that you wrote and illustrated. Did you write more of this kind of

Dmitry: Yes, for now, I have 4 stories about a brave mouse who has lots of adventures and also a story about a frog who wanted to sing in the opera.

Paul: I’m certain that we will see a lot more from you. Thank you for answering my questions.