Don’t be afraid to try new things. When graphics tablets first appeared, I didn’t begin to use them right away. It was hard for me to get used to it and because of this I missed a few years of working with it, but now I am glad that I use this tool because it has many advantages.
As a part of our series about “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became An Artist” I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew Tarusov.
Andrew Tarusov, artist and animator. Andrew was born in a small town in Russia, and by the age of 25, he had graduated New York Film Academy. Now he draws illustrations for many global companies such as Disney, 20th-century fox, Rolling Stone, Playboy, Cosmopolitan, etc.
He has over 15 exhibitions under his belt (Disney Alternative in Bratislava; Art Battle Final, Beneath the Valley of the UltraKitten, RAW Artists in LA, etc). He has received 2 awards over his 10-year career as an artist: Commission, People’s Choice Award 2017 Playboy x Sevens Foundation, NFT Art of Gender & Sexuality, 2021
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
When I was a child, I lived in a small town in Russia and dreamed of having my own exhibitions and writing books. I was irresistibly drawn to painting and deeply fascinated by art. My parents always supported my endeavors, although being doctors they were far from the world of artists. Four times a week they took me to art school. Later they traveled to another city to support me during exhibitions at a vocational art school. I am grateful to them for being part of my journey. After vocational school, I enrolled in the University of Cinematography (VGIK) in Moscow and became an animator. Then I enrolled in the New York Film Academy’s LA campus, which partners with Universal Studios. I lived in the US for five years and during this time I managed to work with Disney, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Cosmopolitan.
For me, the main driving force behind my design activities was the feeling of calmness during the process. I liked to invent and create my own worlds, so later I got into comics. These days I regularly arrange exhibitions, and publish books and comics with my work. My achievements are not a stroke of luck, but hard work towards a dream.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I always enjoyed observing what happens behind the scenes: how work processes take place that are not seen by the audience. When I was studying at the university, I worked behind the scenes at fashion shows. While I was studying to be an animation artist, I realized that I liked drawing static pictures more, so after graduation I started doing more illustration, magazine advertising, and personal projects. I combined my two main interests — erotica and drawing — in my work. My love of people-watching and sketching and observing how creative projects are made became my job. Through my creative work and meeting people in the community, I became immersed in Kinky culture. That’s how I ended up creating a book with erotic sketches from the Kinky parties.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
The most interesting and unexpected thing happened to me in 2014 ahead of the Winter Olympics. I created a crowdfunding project on boomstarter to raise money for printing a calendar about the Olympics. For the first two weeks nothing happened and then my post went viral. Literally overnight, I woke up famous, immediately raised about 50 thousand dollars and TV reporters came and invited me to go on live broadcasts.
It was a very sudden and interesting experience for me and gave a big boost to my career.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I am currently working on preparing a big project of comics, a “pinapocalypse”, done in an Action Comedy style. It’s a story about two girls from the 1950s who fight zombies and aliens. This comedy project is executed in the style of B-movies and pin-ups. I’ve been working on this project since 2015 and plan to release it early next year.
I recently finished the book project with sketches from Kinky parties, and now it’s in print. KINKY SKETCHES is an art exploration of the culture of the mysterious kinky party scene. In this project, I captured that behind-the-scenes, that exclusive experience, that inspires me to create. The illustrations in this book capture the sincere emotions and feelings of people who are in an open and free party atmosphere. For two and a half years I have been sketching from life during these parties. I never modified or put the finishing touches on the drawings after the parties were over. I think it was important to leave everything as it was, because it is precisely in the imperfection of the sketches that the spirit of the party is conveyed.
I initially attended a Kinky Party as a guest. I was inspired by the work of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec who was famous for painting in Parisian cabarets and at the Moulin Rouge in particular. Since I was a little kid I was fascinated by the way he painted people: in his pictures he conveyed their shortcomings and did not seek to idealize their looks, but painted realistically and with love. His creativity and treatment of the characters in his works inspired me to make sketches and drawings at the Kinky Party.
At first I was shy and afraid of being misunderstood by the project’s founders and by the guests of the parties, but the creators of the project supported me. I began making sketches during the pandemic lockdown when the parties were being held on zoom. After the party ended, I sent my sketches to them, and everyone really liked my work so I was invited to participate again.
At the first offline party that I attended, my workplace was a huge chair and the guests came to me. I drew them, then they left — this was quite boring. So I came to the conclusion that it was more interesting to approach the guests myself and draw them in motion. When I see that something extraordinary is going on at a party, that people are enjoying interacting with one another, I get my iPad and start drawing. Capturing people’s emotions and their mutual pleasure is very interesting and intriguing. Taking pictures at the parties is not allowed, so these drawings and sketches are that secret thing, a real exclusive, that I go after.
I think that these kinds of sketches at private parties have several positive aspects to them. For the party organizers it’s an advantage that I upload the sketches the next day, making it the fastest visual documentation of the party. For guests, these drawings are special because the person in the picture can recognize themselves, but other people can’t. In this way, this kind of image helps not only to preserve anonymity, but also provide memories.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
My idols are Dita Von Teese, a burlesque show performer and fashion model, and the film directors and producers Edgar Wright and Tim Burton. They inspire me with their love for their work, with their fantasies and their creative work. When I lived in Los Angeles, I was lucky enough to get to meet them, say hello and take a photo with them. I also had the opportunity to be involved with the work of Tim Burton in the online promotion of two of his films ― I drew pictures for these campaigns. I like what I do because I can meet and talk with interesting people while I’m drawing. Various burlesque dancers and porn stars write to me asking me to draw them. I follow their work on social networks, so it’s interesting for me to interact and talk with them in person.
Where do you draw inspiration from? Can you share a story about that?
Cinema is my main source of inspiration. I love it in all its variety of forms: from modern films and movies about superheroes to Hollywood classics. I especially like films from the 1950s, Italian cinema from the 1970s, American horror movies from the 1980s, and anime. Inspiration can be found anywhere. Lately I have been often using neural networks and image generators to get something new and unusual.
Burlesque shows are another source of inspiration for me. The visual and emotional components of these shows energize me. It was these sensations that brought me to create a book with erotic sketches from the kinky parties, after all there are not only various sexual practices at the parties but also burlesque performances.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Artists usually do something to beautify this world. I like the idea that art is created to entertain people and distract them from their routines. I regard my creative work as entertainment and so I hope that in this way I bring joy and happiness to people’s lives. I do not make pictures on serious topics, but at the same time I always clearly voice my position through my art.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
1. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
When graphics tablets first appeared, I didn’t begin to use them right away. It was hard for me to get used to it and because of this I missed a few years of working with it, but now I am glad that I use this tool because it has many advantages.
2. Don’t stress out about comments on the internet.
I got used to dealing with negative comments on the internet fairly quickly, but in the beginning they did worry me. I understand now that they don’t mean anything and I am glad to do what brings me pleasure.
3. Prepare for the long run.
The path of the artist is a long one. You need to be prepared for the fact that it will take many years to become famous in this field, much longer than in any other entertainment industry.
4. Take a break.
You need to take breaks and rest more frequently. Sometimes it seems that sitting and drawing is not so difficult to do. But it is. It also works and it requires rest.
5. But you have to work a lot also!
To reach the top, you need to work A LOT. This is very important especially today when the pace of things is accelerating and you need to be ready to provide high-quality pictures for social media almost every day.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I believe that good education is important, so access to good quality education should be available to everyone. Having good quality education helps people think critically, make their own decisions, and draw their own conclusions. I think it’s important to study art, take care of nature, and be kinder to each other.
Sexual education prevents violence in this world. That’s why I’m happy to work with the Kinky Company who is providing sex education and helping people become more aware of these issues. I am happy to support a positive sexual culture with my art.
We have been blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she just might see this.
I am very inspired by Quentin Tarantino. I consider him an outstanding film director and storyteller. I dream of talking with him about how it is to work in the film industry and discussing good but underrated films. I would like to share my ideas and comics with him and maybe he would be interested in them, then we could do a collaboration. That would be very cool!
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
It’s Instagram @askandy or Patreon.com/tarusov for the paid content (18+)
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Andrew Tarusov: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became An Artist was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.