Digital Artists Document Life 'On the Go'

by Awl Sponsors

This post is brought to you by the Samsung Galaxy Note®Pro.

Life has never been better for artists, designers and creative professionals on the go. An expansive array of new technologies and apps now allow artists an unprecedented level of control and precision over their work. Tablets, specifically, offer artists an ease of mobility that allows them to capture inspiring scenes wherever they appear.

In celebration of the digital artist on the go, The Awl equipped two working artists with a Samsung Galaxy Note®Pro and asked them to document a passing scene from their everyday life. Check out their amazing submissions below.

Valeriya Volkova

Last January Valeriya Volkova’s art found its way on to reddit and proceeded to explode onto the much coveted front page. Hundreds of thousands of views and comments later, HuffPost named Valeriya as one of the artists who is on their radar. Valeriya’s work covers everything from city life to offbeat portraits to anthropomorphized pizzas — all exhibiting her trademark surrealist, psychedelic style. Check out Val’s original submission.


What was your inspiration for the image/scene you chose?

A couple weeks ago, I bought a little pot of cactuses at the big flower show here in Philadelphia, and took the subway home with it. I thought the alien-looking succulents and cactuses made for a great image in juxtaposition with the dark steel train interior, like little train riders of their own.

How is working on the tablet different than other mediums you’ve worked with?

I’ll always have a special spot in my heart for paint and paper, but the tablet offers so many benefits, especially for drawing on the move! My favorite thing has been the ability to sketch in color, without carrying a million pens or having to mix paint outdoors. I often have an issue when I see a fleeting scene or landscape I like while traveling — I’m inspired by a particular shade or combination of colors, but can’t get those colors right when I later get to my art supplies. For example, I was on a train going by the Hudson river a few weeks ago, and the sky, cliffs, and icy water made such amazing strips of color — and I had no way to capture those exact subtle shades and the combination they made! I have to rely on my memory for stuff like that, which is sometimes fun and sometimes frustrating. Sometimes I’ll try to take notes that are like “lightish grayish blue next to dark brownish pinkish color” and am later clueless as to why I wrote it down and what those colors are supposed to do next to each other. With the tablet, I can pull it out and have the right shades down in seconds! I did a practice landscape on the tablet with a photo I had from that train ride, but I think it would have been amazing to have had the tablet there in person. I was also surprised by how organic drawing on a tablet feels — in particular, I was using Sketchbook Pro, and some of the brushes that come with it feel like you’re really sketching with colored pencils or markers. I had been doing a lot of actual painting before this project, and I found myself enjoying the tablet more in contrast — it’s so much less tedious to put down a big area of flat color, or to change things around. I feel like my drawings are almost an interactive game on it — for example, I love being able to move or rotate elements around with my fingers!

What artists have had the biggest influence on your style?

I’m always absorbing new inspirations and influences, but I would say my earliest artistic inspirations came from animation — I spent my childhood in Russia, and watched a lot of amazing cartoons from the 70s and 80s, which were all done in such distinct styles, from watercolor to claymation. It really inspired my love of crafts and wacky characters. When I moved here in the 90s, Nickelodeon cartoons of the time were really amazing, and shows like Hey Arnold probably still inspire my love of drawing towns and goofy urban scenes. Aside from that, my earliest “real” artistic influence was probably Salvador Dali — he’s probably cliche to cite as an influence, but as a kid I was always attracted to the spontaneity, weirdness, and small details of his work. I’m always in awe of detail-oriented artists — my favorite painting for as long as I can remember has been Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights”, and I still look at it from time to time to remind myself just how interesting and involved a world contained in a rectangle can be.

Val also submitted some additional drawings she made while experimenting with the Samsung Galaxy Note®Pro. Check them out below, along with the real scenes that inspired them.


Miryam Prodonavic

Our second artist, Miryam Prodanovic, is a Texas native. She was raised in Dallas by parents of Czech and Colombian origin and attended the University of North Texas, where she received a BFA Drawing & Painting, Minor in Anthropology. Miryam’s work is “informed by spectrum of terrain and climate seen in North and South America, Europe, Russia and the backyard.”

Miryam claims a wide range of creative influences. In addition to finding inspiration in her training in dance and music, she is also particularly fond of the computer art of Ringo Starr. Here’s Miryam’s submission.

What was your inspiration for the image/scene you chose? When/where does it take place?

The scene I chose to depict is of the stage in my favorite music house in Red Hook Brooklyn. It is a tiny place, tucked away from usual NY where characters of all kinds come out from under rafters to perform their songs. I enjoy going here to step away from crowds and see individual humanity displayed clear as a bell. I wanted to show in the picture the comfort of the velvet curtain wrapping the stage area, and a performer expressing something from the heart.

How is working on the tablet different than other mediums you’ve worked with?

Differences between the tablet and other mediums begin with the physicality of a digital interface versus a tactile one. At first I was confused by this, thinking that drawing had to be completely different from anything I would do in another format. But as I explored the options in the app for how to change the mark and realized that the tip of the stylus actually reacts to speed of contact with the screen, I became very excited about the device. The second difference that struck me is the portability of this tool. I cannot bring all my pencils with me everywhere I go, nor a canvas. It is a comfort to have the option to draw without the bulk of materials on my person when out and about. The third difference that impressed me while using the tablet is how quickly one can make changes to an image. Paper breaks under layers of marks, and erasers don’t always work. The tablet screen is so clean!

I used SketchbookPro to create my images. I liked it! It seems to me a perfect middle-ground between MSPaint and Photoshop! Much more than just the basics, but not overly complex. After working with this app for this time, I am now interested to see how one could transfer the files into a program that can animate a string of drawings together like a film. That would be very interesting to me.

What artists have had the biggest influence on your style?

This is always a difficult question to answer. I am influenced a lot by nature to be inspired to draw in the first place. But artists I respect a great deal include Kara Walker & William Kentridge for their success in tying multi-media to their interests in making imagery. I often work with Swoon & Nicola Lopez who are printmakers that create very intricate and ornate installations. Their practice reminds me that while simplicity may seem pure, to decorate a piece of work for longer periods can build something amazing over time. I cannot leave Egon Schiele out of this list, as his mark-making is truly the most beautiful I can recall. The raw and romantic immediacy of his lines will always be present to me.

Check out more of Miryam’s art below.