TOMATOZERO, nomad artists and the modern art scene
by Andrea Juanillo·
Over the years, we have collaborated a lot with Tomato Zero from STICKERBOMB to commissioned work. They're a great couple of artists who have inspired us a lot through their style, attitude, and prolific output.
How did you get started and what’s your inspiration with Tomato Zero?
We started like everyone else I suppose. Alex was drawing since he was a kid mostly for fun or to kill time, never aiming to build a career. But for some reason he kept on drawing. Through his teenage years and then later and that was the time the internet became more friendly to artists. Platforms appeared where you could upload your artworks and get public attention.
So that’s what we did. But we also wanted to spread our art in the physical world and we got into the Street Sticker movement. It was the easiest and most affordable way to make your drawings live in the real world, not only on the screens.
Back in 2010 we ordered our first Stickerbomb book and it became a huge inspiration for such a long period of time. We still have this book and haven’t peeled off a single sticker from it hahaha! Couldn’t even dream to be a part of this amazing project back then, and we were so proud to become a part of it not long after.
We saw that you are traveling a lot with your kid, where are you now and how is the art scene in there?
The pandemic caught us in Istanbul and we were going to Georgia, but our tickets got cancelled and we thought it would be better for us to fly back home to Russia. We live in a tiny city, 4 hours away from Moscow, surrounded by beautiful nature, pine forests, river, fields and stuff. It was calm, safe and quiet during the quarantine times and we feel pretty comfortable being here now, just waiting for the borders to open so we can start our travelling life again. The modern art scene simply doesn’t exist here, if we don’t talk about ugly graffiti and tagging, thanks God for the internet, we can follow all the cool artists and events online.
When did you first develop an interest in illustration and the arts?
In our early years when we were watching cartoons and reading comic books and sometimes trying to redraw what we saw there. But it wasn’t something serious until 2010.
Do you remember the very first paid job you had?
Yeah! Alex did some simple animation for one educational project. The amount of work was massive and the payment was tiny. This project made us hate animation for many many years ahead, haha. We had just started to return to it only this year.
What is your favourite piece of work you’ve done and why?
Well, usually we say the last one, because each time we really try our best, we use all the skills we have and all our knowledge, as if we would die we would be proud of that one last thing we created. But we have a huge amount of projects that we really loved working on and hope there are much more to come.
Do you have a specific workflow and any tools you prefer to use?
iPad Pro and Procreate are the best tools that ever existed! Really, its a pleasure to have it in our everyday working process and digital drawing has never been so comfortable before.
What kinds of commission works do you currently offer to your clients?
We are always opened to any cool projects. We do beer label designs now for a small brewery in France and its really thrilling because we never worked on bottle label design before. This particular surface makes us think differently and it's a very mind developing experience. We also have a huge Stand Up Comedy project at the moment where we have to make a visual parts for an annual festival and its also very interesting. We really have quite a big working experience from murals to t-shirt designs (and everything in between!), that I don’t think there’s something we won’t be able to create. Feel free to contact ;-)
What is the most difficult part of being an independent artist?
We can only speak for ourselves and maybe other artists have better time management mechanisms. For us the worst part is that we are always available and always working. The creative process is not separated from our life. Even if we don’t actually draw with our hands we are thinking about current projects. We actually never have days off, weekends or proper vacations. Our working equipment is always travelling with us. But at the same time we are able to work from any part of the world and are not tied to any particular place which means a lot for our «gypsy souls» haha!
What do you do to overcome a creative block?
For us the most effective thing is just to try and stop thinking about the block. A simple walk in the woods can help. Watching movies, skateboarding, playing ping-pong, good sleep, slow tasty breakfast, looking through books that inspire. Actually anything can help if you don’t get stuck thinking about the block and you can take your mind off it.
And how do you keep the work coming in and what do you enjoy working on?
The work just keeps finding us, we don’t do anything to attract it. We are very passive about it and somehow it works during all this years and we haven’t starved to death yet! It’s always easy when the clients know exactly what they want and they just need professional hands to create it. Or when they trust our vision completely and just accept and love what we create for them. Sometimes people have problems with expressing their needs or even understanding what’s best for the project and then we have to use our persuasion skills and its not always easy.
What challenges do you face today that are different than when you started?
At some point every project can be challenging but the whole process became much easier now when we have such a wide experience. We know how to draw stuff and we know how to do it really good and fast. We have developed our vision and taste and we meet clients who trust us and appreciate our skills and abilities. We know the price of our time and efforts now and we don’t get in to the projects where our desires are not respected. So throughout these years we didn’t only develop our drawing skills but also reached the level of self confidence that helps us work pretty comfortably now. But its been a looooong way!
And why does illustration matter more now than ever?
Wow! We now live in a world of visual culture. Design means everything. Most people buy different things because they like their look, not because they will last for years or they are actually well made. Also the growth of social media makes people chose things that can be photographed and showed to others as 'beautiful'. So it’s just different sides of the culture we live in now where the look must be bright and attractive. This makes artists of all kinds work intensively to create something that really catches your eye. But we must mention that illustration now has not only one purpose (to sell) but it can also attract attention to world problems, social movements and protests as well as injustices. We saw a lot of powerful illustration during these crazy times and its very inspiring!
Is there anything that you want to share with other independent illustrators/artists across the globe?
This might sound trivial but you just have to love what you do. Find the way to enjoy the process of your work and try to be independent from opinions, likes, followers and popularity, because this can come and go, but the real resource to keep doing what you doing lies in your artistic energy and ability to CREATE - Focus on that!
If you are interested in commissioning TomatoZero or need any illustration or motion graphics from anyone within our Studio Rarekind creative studio, you can schedule a call with us right here.