Natasha Novy is the lady who did the artwork for James Lemke’s superheroine character, “Sweet Raven,” recently featured here. Wanting to know more about the artist who brought Sweet Raven to light, I contacted Natasha with an offer for her to give an interview to Idol Features, to which she graciously accepted.
Born in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, Natasha now lives in the capital city of Kiev. Primarily a concept artist, she grew up watching cartoons and quickly developed a love for comics. She later discovered manga, which she has since embraced and her style reflects it, as evident with the above striking self-portrait.
Besides being a talented artist, Natasha is an outstanding singer and pianist. She currently sings backup vocals with the Kiev-based rock band Dominatos in their live shows. As a fan of classic American rock, Natasha has covered such well-known songs as Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” and Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” Read on to learn more on and then hear this talented lady. Photos and illustrations courtesy of Natasha herself.
NATASHA NOVY: I started drawing back in school. I was trying to create some characters and comics just for fun, but the process appeared to be so exciting, I went to art school. I’ve met people who shared my love for comics and since then, I’ve been drawing illustrations and comics all the time. Now it’s a job for me. I’ve been working with companies and things got more serious. But I still feel the joy, so I continue to do that.
CHRIS: Did you draw Sweet Raven as she was described by James or described in a story, or did you create her as you saw her in your mind?
NATASHA: When I’m working with customers who have their own script and concept, I always try to reflect their vision in the design that I draw because they pay their money and I’m not drawing just for myself. I respect their ideas and I’m doing this for them in the first place. If I have any offers, I tell them, of course, but usually I ask for references and James had a certain image of Raven from the very beginning. This helped to form the appearance that pleased everybody. Besides, James gave a lot of details in his description, so it was really fast and easy. Working on Raven was a pleasure because James and I have similar tastes and there were a lot of moments when he told me; “You drew it exactly the way I saw in my head!” Besides, he’s got a great script and it was exciting to illustrate it.
CHRIS: What other comic/manga characters have you created?
NATASHA: I’ve been working for some short stories, viral animated illustrations, my own stories, so there are really a lot of them. I can include some here so that you can take a look. I’m working on several stories now. Here is Eva (below), the main character. I made her up when I was 12, but only now I can draw her the way I see her in my head.
NATASHA: I was really more into cartoons because it was a bit hard to find comics in my city. Cartoons were so different from the US, Japan, Europe. I was watching them all the time I could. My hands knew how many times I’d have to press a button of the remote to get to the channels where they aired my favorite cartoons. When I was 13-14, I discovered manga and comics via the Internet. I think it started back then. They actually became the reason I started drawing so much. I was just trying to copy them.
CHRIS: Have you had a talent for drawing ever since you were a child?
NATASHA: I’ve never thought I had some talent and I don’t really think now. It all depends on who to compare with. But I’ve always loved to draw, even before going to school. Somehow the transition from quantity to quality happened to me and I worked a lot for that.
CHRIS: I understand you also teach classes on drawing manga?
NATASHA: Not on a regular basis. I prefer giving smaller workshops or lectures. It’s a huge responsibility to teach somebody and I still have hard time taking it. And I don’t like it when work gets too stressful, so I just create imaginary worlds. It makes me happier.
NATASHA: Unfortunately no, but I sure will go there.
CHRIS: What other artists would you say are your biggest influences?
NATASHA: In the age of Instagram, there’s an access to tons of artists and their works. I don’t even remember all the names. But to name a top five, I’d say Luis Royo, Julia Bell, Amano Yoshitaka, Gabriele Del’otto, and let it be Inoue Takehiko.
CHRIS: Besides books, where else has your artwork been featured?
NATASHA: There was a period of time I was doing posters a lot, but I prefer drawing, so I don’t do it much now. I’ve got a lot of friends who are musicians who have needed a cover for the single or album and I’ve been there for them. I don’t do it very often, but I like to know that my pictures become a part of something like that. You know, when people add the song to the playlist and there’s my picture in there! I love that.
NATASHA: No, I’m too shy and too short for modelling, but I like to create images, put on makeup, pick up clothes, so maybe I’ll do some photo shoots just for me and my Instagram.
CHRIS: Ever done any acting?
NATASHA: Only in kindergarten, and primary school (laughs).
CHRIS: Do you have any hobbies or interests that most people don’t know about?
NATASHA: I started recording music covers recently, a lot of people were surprised that I can sing and play. Even though, I started playing piano since I was seven. I never thought I’ll go this far. It started as a hobby, but somehow it captured a big part of my life, so now I’m taking it much more seriously. Art is wonderful to me in any form.
CHRIS: With that, I’ll thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Natasha. In closing, anything you would like to say to friends and fans?
NATASHA: Thank you very much for the interview! I’d like to say that if you love something or secretly dream about something, just go and do that. It should not be perfect, and it won’t be, but if it makes you happy you just owe it to yourself.
CHRIS: Oh, just one last question: What is your favorite Guns N’ Roses song?
NATASHA: It’s hard to pick just one, I love their first album a lot, though, maybe it’d be “Sweet Child (O’ Mine).” This song gave me a lot. It was the first time I recorded my voice.
Natasha performing her cover of the Cranberries’ “Zombie.”
Check out her Youtube channel for more.