A Palette of One: Aiste Stancikaite’s Single-Tone Portraits Add a Surreal Twist
Interview by Mike O'Donnell / Editor
If you’ve ever scrolled through an illustrator’s Instagram, you can usually get a read on the moment when they discovered their preferred color palette. Their artistic voice can suddenly feel at home when delivered with the right tones. In the case of WNW Member Aiste Stancikaite’s work as of late, it’s a palette of one color at a time, and the result is entirely expansive rather than diminishing. With an interest in paying tribute to the finer details of a subject’s parts rather than its whole, a single-tone approach best encapsulates her exploration of essence. Aiste’s work also takes on a surrealist edge that would likely be absent with an entirely lifelike palette. As the Bristol-based illustrator notes in our interview below, “I love how colour adds this surreal twist to a very realistic drawing and makes it much more engaging, eye-catching, and unusual. These red figures almost become beautiful, alien creatures rather than everyday humans you’d meet on the street.”
Tell me a bit about your creative background. Who is Aiste Stancikaite and how did she get here?
I was born in Vilnius, Lithuania, and studied for my degree in painting at the Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts. After graduating, I put painting and drawing aside for a while and took up photography, mostly for practical reasons as I was traveling and moving a lot. In the back of my mind I always knew that I’d go back to my “roots.” I picked up a pencil again about three years ago and haven’t stopped drawing since!
How would you describe your creative style? Do you recognize a signature style that links your projects?
My work always has a focus on detail and texture, whilst maintaining a balance between abstract and figurative. I love creating intricate pencil drawings, but I try to keep the compositions very minimal and clean by letting one main subject take center stage and leaving the rest of the image to the imagination.
Your latest single tone colored pencil portraits are stunning. What excites you most about this project?
Thank you! I think coloured-pencil portraits and figures are my new obsession! I love how colour adds this surreal twist to a very realistic drawing and makes it much more engaging, eye-catching, and unusual. These red figures almost become beautiful, alien creatures rather than everyday humans you’d meet on the street.
How many colored pencils do you go through per portrait?
I use a single colour tone for each portrait and use up at least one and a half pencils, depending on the size of the drawing.
Which of your projects are you proudest of and why?
I think my recent work in coloured pencil is something I’m proud of - it's really what excites me most at the moment. I hope to develop a really strong series and exhibit them at some point this year. From the client side, I’m really pleased with some recent cover illustrations I was commissioned for. One was for an architecture magazine called The Possible, and another for a newspaper published by a French creative agency C'est La Vie.
What would be your dream project or job, or is it already on your resume?
Any project that gives me complete (or almost complete) creative freedom is my dream project. It would really allow me to produce my best work and something to be proud of, allowing me to really think outside the box of the initial brief.
Why do you make things?
Good question. I can’t not draw. It’s like an addiction - when I’m working on a drawing, I’m already thinking about the next one and how I could make it even better. It's a never-ending cycle I suppose. It’s when I truly have time for just myself, and everything else is put on pause.
Who are your biggest creative influences?
I don’t think I have a particular person that influences me creatively. I find most of my inspiration through photography, interesting architecture, good light, and simply observing people day to day.
What do you do when Not Working?
My work is also my hobby, so I mostly work when not working! I always have a personal project on the go. Aside from drawing, I also love to read, watch films, or sit in a cafe with a coffee and just people watch.
What’s something you’ve learned on your creative journey that other creatives should hear?
I feel like I’m still too new to this to be able to give advice to others! But what works for me is to focus on just one thing. Before settling on drawing, I tried doing a lot of things at once - to be a photographer, a painter, an illustrator. It's only since I started dedicating my time to one thing that it started producing good results.
What’s next for you? What are you working on now?
At the moment I’m working on some portraits for Audi and an exciting collaboration with some amazing designers creating a series of movie posters to celebrate inclusivity and diversity. I’m also developing a bigger body of work in coloured pencil that I'll hopefully exhibit sometime this year.
What do you want to see more of in 2019?
I want to spend more time doing and working on things that I really care about. And I’d love to see people around me doing the same; it can really be inspiring!