When we first saw Mona's works, we were thrown back into time, reliving our childhood through her bold and vibrant colour pencil strokes. These bright imprints gave her characters life, and the friendly animals seemed like they were going to wave at you and play with you. Read on to find out more about Mona and her process.
Where do you draw inspiration from the most?
Old-timey children's books from East Europe. I’m natively Bulgarian, so I grew up with a lot of illustrations from Russia that were gorgeously stylised and coloured! I aim to bring the same feel to my own illustrations while keeping up with my textures and experimental play!
How did growing up in Eastern Europe have an effect on your passion and career today?
I don't believe it was any different from how fellow international artists have experienced it. I took part in some competitions as a kid and had the freedom to choose any hobbies I'd like, drawing being my main focus.
Like most art-related careers, being an illustrator for a living did not really reassure my parents a whole lot for my future—starving artist and all, haha. I did have a 2-year period where I studied accounting, but I quit after having a long talk with my mom, and I signed up in a Graphic Design course.
I don't think this had anything to do with culture. My parents, like pretty much all parents around the world, wanted a stable and successful job/career for their kids. Art can be tricky to get into, especially as a freelancer, since almost all that I've learned so far about managing myself and staying creative and focused, I did without the help of a university or a school.
What mediums do you prefer to use and what is the best and most challenging part about working with these particular mediums?
For a long time, pencils are where my passion lies, with the help of gouache, and most recently wax pastels! I am by no means a master with any of them and it's always a challenge to make them ‘like each other and play nice’. The biggest struggle—keeping points sharp and brushes clean!
How would you describe the Mossery Sketchbook to others?
A very inviting, personal treasure! While I did feel anxious аt the start, the intro pages where I can write some musings and aspirations did help to break in my new sketchbook. The extra pocket on the back is a must in every sketchbook for me and I’m happy Mossery includes that!
Tell us about your creative process—what is it like from start to finish?
I’m a very loose sketcher and I only use very light lines to guide my colouring. A lot of my process changes every time I start a new illustration. Sometimes I start with a base of watercolour, other times I go nuts with the pencils instead. Keeps it interesting and fun!
What is your earliest memory of creating art?
I’m not sure it is my own memory, but it's a repeated story from my grandpa, where he requested I drew him a donkey sitting on a wood stump. He was so impressed at the time that he keeps telling the story to this day. (I wonder if he kept the doodle.)
Do you believe in talent? Why?
‘Talent is a pursued interest.’ — Bob Ross
I love everything about the guy and I completely agree with his saying. If you enjoy doing something and you do it continuously, you can only get better at it! I don't believe in talent; I believe in passionate people.
How do you handle criticism, and what are some of the toughest challenges you've encountered?
To be perfectly honest, not very well haha! It is, however, part of the job to get feedback, even if it's bad. I am happy to say I am much more confident now and I’m able to understand that it comes from a good place. Taking a moment to let it settle in before you engage in a response does miracles.
What’s one of the best advice you’ve ever received in life?
My partner taught me to ‘be interested to be interesting’. Explore more, soak up as much information as possible, discover new subjects, crafts, environments, and perspectives—it will help you grow immensely!
In return, what advice would you give to your younger self?
Take a moment and stop worrying about ‘style’. Please, enjoy the process and fun you get of drawing itself, rather than the big picture and finished product!
If you’re given only one word to describe yourself, what word would it be and why?
I wanna say crafty. Not gonna lie, I had to take this question to the friends and got very mixed results, but in my eyes, I am crafty in the resourceful sense and it's the one thing I really like about myself! I like to thrift, repurpose, try new things with old things, and with my 10+ hobbies, I'm curious to learn more and have a bigger skillset to, well, be craftier!
How are you so "crafty" or rather, curious about everything? Have you always been like this since you were younger?
I believe I was! I remember wanting a dollhouse when I was young, but we couldn't afford it. So I gathered sticks, some scrap wood, paint, and some fabric, and with the help of my grandpa, we built a fairly decent house to play with.
I was hooked on making things myself with what's already available around the house. It's very rewarding to know you can create something from seemingly nothing. I love the things I acquire and sometimes have a tough time in parting with them. I can't think of a more thrilling feeling than finding a use for something old!
What's the most bizarre hobby you've ever had?
Oh boy, around the time I was 7-10, I did collect ‘garbage’! Things like old soda/beer caps, random things I would find on playgrounds and open markets after they've closed. I'd bring everything home and my mom wasn’t too happy about it. I did earn a nickname of Pippi Longstocking, which made me read the book, as she also collected random things and coined them as ‘treasures’!
Tell us a secret.
Sometimes, the back sides of my embroidery hoops are made from old illustrations! Don't go checking if you own one now. Keep it hush-hush.
You can follow Mona on Instagram or support her works on Etsy!