Introducing Dina Usmandi, a captivating and very accomplished illustrator from Ufa, Russia.

Introducing Dina Usmandi, a captivating and very accomplished illustrator from Ufa, Russia.

And although she received a degree in Law, her true passion and inspiration is illustrating for children’s books. Dina works with coloured pencils and other traditional materials, as well computer software for digital illustration.

Her witty characters certainly get our attention, and we feel through a humorous illustration, a serious topic can be better received or understood.

In 2019, one of her illustrations won a children’s book illustration contest organised by the award-winning British illustrator Elina Ellis.

When did you start illustrating?

I’ve been doing illustration since I was a child. Drawing amusing characters has always been my core interest. I have been drawing so much and so persistent, that at the age of 11 I even received a UNESCO certificate for a fairy tale illustration. School teachers were using my hobby all the time - I drew illustrations for themed lessons and decorated school for the holidays. All of that was a great illustrative practice!

Who has been the most supportive in your illustration career, perhaps your teacher, family, friends?

My illustration activity’s biggest backbone is my family: loving and supporting all my creating desires husband (him and I are real best friends) and my wonderful inspiring super creative daughter, who amazes me with her sense of colour!

Did you always think art was something that was going to be a major part of your life?

As a child I kept telling everyone that I would become an artist, but my life turned out so that I chose more pragmatic job of a lawyer. Working as a lawyer, I kept drawing and taking private classes of academic drawing, book design and characters’ creation. Passion for art has always been there for me. Thanks to my husband’s support, I did manage to admit to myself, that I’m not a lawyer, but an illustrator and I have always been that way.

What is your favourite subject matter to illustrate?

My real passion is children’s illustration, picture books, humorous and funny stories. Amusing and smile raising characters, their interactions on books’ pages - what really captivates me.

How would you describe your style?

My illustration style is full of humor, a bit cartoonish, kind, emotional. Despite drawing mostly digital illustrations, I like giving them features of traditional materials by using textures and adjustment with colored pencils, water color and even children’s finger paints.

What is your favourite collaboration to date?

I love creating illustrations for different stories so much, that my favourite work is always the one that I’m doing at a certain moment. I dive into my work and sometimes it’s hard for me to let my characters go after finishing a project.

What interested you about being represented by Illo Agency?

When I visited Illo Agency website for the first time - it was love at first sight. I wanted to become a part of this illustrators’ creative team, represented by Illo. Their talents are so bright and individual, that just looking through their portfolio is so inspiring!
Once I read Illo’s moto I had no doubts: I want to be with Illo!
And I’m so happy that Illo loved me back!
On closer acquaintance with the agency I was fascinated how modern, transparent and effective are the methods used to work with illustrators.

Do you have a favourite author, film director, or designer?

I mostly follow illustrators and children’s authors, that’s why my favorites are among them, but there are so many of them, that it’s impossible to mention everybody. Italian illustrators’ aesthetic inspires me so much, I especially love Ilaria Zenelato’ art. Talking about art books - I love ideas of Austin Kleon and Jeff Goins.

Are you working on any personal projects you can share with us?

Now I am working on the concept of my book for teenagers, where I am an author, illustrator and designer at the same time. The book raises different issues that bother teenagers - from tattoos and movies to accepting themselves, their emotions and bodies.
In this book I want to tell something I wanted to hear myself as a teenager, using illustration as well.

Do you listen to podcasts? If so, do you have a favourite?

The only Russian-language podcast I’m listening to belongs to Natasha Remish (@natalia.remish) - it is about empathy, learning and excepting yourself, relationship with kids and partners.

If you have any questions, or a project in mind for Dina, please do get in touch: [email protected]
at illo agency we pride ourselves in representing a collation of global illustrators, distinctly diverse in creativity and uniquely celebrated by like-minded clients across a range of commercial markets.