Arbitrary BordersOriginally from Kyiv, Ukraine, Anton Kotelenets is a talented illustrator and digital artist now living in Canada. Known online simply as Tosik, Anton's vibrant art and animations have won numerous awards with OCAD University, Creative Quarterly and Adobe.
Anton's unique illustrations incorporate a variety of styles and influences. Works like Wine O'Clock (above) echo Picasso's geometric cubism, while Arbitrary Borders (below), describing love without limits, references the conflict that borders countries like Ukraine.
Why do you create?
I remember, back in kindergarten the kids would line up for me to draw them something. So ever since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to become an artist. At that time, I obviously didn't know what type of artist I wanted to become, nor I had an understanding about the concept of having a career, but I knew I wanted to draw and paint something for a living.
“I enjoy manipulating shapes, colors, exaggerating the form and playing with different brushes...”
There are two main reasons why I create. First, is that I just love the process of it. I enjoy manipulating shapes, colors, exaggerating the form and playing with different brushes and textures. I enjoy translating my ideas and images that I see inside my head onto canvas, paper, or a computer screen for others to see.
The second reason, is that creating art is actually very therapeutic. I've been diagnosed with a range of anxiety disorders, so when I am in the zone of creating, I forget about all these anxious thoughts. It feels as if time and everything just freezes, while I am focused on the process of creating. I also enjoy visually communicating something I feel or believe strongly about.
Beast from the East - Foundation
I think what makes my art unique is my technique, and the way I see and depict reality. I was born in Ukraine, which at that time was part of the USSR, and back then it was looked down upon the left-handed students at schools. I was born a lefty, and so before I went to school my parents re-trained me to write with my right hand, however I remained drawing with my left.
Years later I developed the ability to draw and write with both hands. That being said, it gave me the ability to draw or combine various artistic styles; the way I exaggerate shapes, the colors I choose, the variety of artistic elements I combine and etc.
“The world and technology change and move so fast ... it's important to move with it.”
Where do you get your inspiration?
I get my inspiration from various of things, literally. From fashion magazines, illustration books, Instagram, Twitter, animation and so on. I also often go out and do live sketching on locations such as in subways, parks, coffee shops, malls etc. So, I get the inspiration from the things I see around me, which I depict in my sketchbooks.
What influences your work?
I think the live drawing and live sketching I did in the animation / illustration schools have shaped and influenced my work a lot. I also get a lot of influence and inspiration from other artists, as well as movements and styles like cubism and fashion art / illustration.
The Painful Truth
Where do you sell your art?
Mostly NFTs on Foundation, KnownOrigin, OpenSea and Hic Et Hunc. I also sell prints and I have illustrated (and continuing to do so) a lot of children's books. I promote my work mainly on Twitter and Instagram, and sometimes Discord (but not sure if it helps).
What are your future ambitions?
To keep growing and evolving as an artist. The world and technology change and move so fast that in order to succeed it's important to move with it, and to keep evolving and keeping up to date with things. I am planning to self-publish my first graphic novel, as well as hold a solo gallery show. Maybe have an art-related business in the future, will see.
“...keep drawing, keep experimenting and don't be afraid to make mistakes.”
Do you have any advice for younger artists?
My biggest advice to the younger artists would be to keep drawing, keep experimenting and don't be afraid to make mistakes. The more pieces you do the quicker you will develop your own artistic voice and your own style. You don't necessary create your own style, the style emerges naturally from hundreds of pieces and hours you put in them and from external inspirations (your visual library).
Don't be afraid to get inspirations from other artists. There is a big difference between getting inspiration from someone and copying them. Also, be flexible, be willing to change your style or your work if need to be. Experiment and always keep learning new things.
Thank you Anton for taking the time to answer our questions. You can see more of Anton Kotelenets' work via his Linktree or by following him on Instagram and Twitter.