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SHORT STORY

Hi, I am Vaida, a London based, Lithuania grown illustrator. On this website you'll be able to shop my artwork, order custom illustrations and will be able find things that inspire me, women I admire, and my personal style snaps. Basically this is a catalog of everything I love. Hopefully, you'll love it too. 

 

LONG STORY

As far as I can remember I was always drawing, doodling, creating. But I guess the story of me as an artist really started in the summer of 1999. I was sitting on the couch at my grandmother's, with my mum sitting across the table waiting for me to make a decision: dance or art.  I was 9 years old, and for the previous 2 years I had been attending the one and only art school in my tiny town of Silale, Lithuania - studying dance. I loved to dance, but even then I knew prima-ballerina will not be my future, I was too tall, not flexible and I hated stretching (still do to this day). I also loved drawing, was kind of good at it and figured if I put enough work into it I can make something of myself. We couldn't afford both, so I had to choose.

So, 9 years old - I enrolled into same after classes art school, but this time into art classes. I loved painting but hated pencil drawing. In my third year a new kind of assignment was given - we had to design and illustrate clothes. First, everything had to be made out of knitwear, then everything had to be in denim, then it had to be inspired by Lithuanian folklore clothing, and so on and on for few weeks I was a little fashion designer. I loved it. Absolutely loved it! It was like a new world opened up to me, and honestly ever since then I knew I wanted to be in that magical world of fashion.

From then on, that was the direction I was going. I graduated from art school at age 14, and I sort of stopped doing most of the drawings, I only continued painting and making my fashion illustrations.  For a little while in my high school years I attempted to study architecture. I was the kind of nerd who after a five day school week took a three hour bus ride to Vilnius to spend the entire  Saturday at university taking pre-college courses. I did that because Lithuania didn't have a fashion industry or any good fashion schools and since at the time I didn't think outside the borders, I thought that was the right choice and something I could enjoy. I didn't. So, I had to come up with a new plan. After doing some research and with some help from my older brother  - studying fashion design in the United States became an idea. That idea turned into a possibility and then into reality.

I loved being a fashion student. I had big dreams and hopes. However, two years later and with associate degree in hand some of those dreams were shattered. After being accepted to transfer to Fashion Institute of Techonlogy in NYC  for my last year of bachelor's degree program I had to face reality of not being able to afford it. Unfortunately, as an international student I was not eligible for any scholarships and the tuition and living expenses would have buried me and my family in debt. I figured it was not the best way to start my life as an adult. So to London I went.

I got myself into retail: did visual merchandising, then became a window dresser. During that time I moved from London to Stockholm, Sweden, and then found my way back to the UK. Somewhere along those years I stopped dreaming, I stopped illustrating, stopped creating. Maybe it was just life, reality with its bills to pay, ends to meet, social life to have. 

By the Grace of God, three years ago my hand started to itch for sketching again, my heart missed the happiness that it brought. So, during one of my trips home to visit my mum, I dug out all of my professional markers that were left there and brought them back with me to Sweden. A while later a job opportunity to transfer back to London for the same position within same company occurred. I took it. On my first day at work back in London I got to meet my new colleague, a bubble of joy that is Frankie, or Toksie -  a woman with many names, but one incredible personality. We bonded instantly and not long after that her birthday came about. It was right around Christmas time so my bank account was drained from all Christmas shopping and coming up with a birthday present was a bit of a headache. I came up with an idea to illustrate her in my quirky fashion illustration style. We had already had our company Christmas party and the outfit she wore was so wicked! (her favorite word) I figured it would be perfect. I was really nervous when on our last day before we went on holidays we all gave our gifts to her. All I could think was "I hope she likes it, I hope she doesn't see it as me trying to get out of getting her a decent present like everyone else." She jumped around and cried, safe to say - she loved it. What I didn't know was that Frankie loves art, loves fashion, loves illustrations, and saw my gift as me turning her into artwork. I guess I was.

It sparked an idea, but I am too self-critical to ever think anyone would actually pay money for my illustrations. I was wrong. Actually, same Frankie was the first person to come to me and ask if I could do an illustration of her friend. After more encouragement from Frankie, my family, and even from my bosses, I decided to give it a try. So, I created an illustration shopping page, told all my friends and waited. To my surprise people liked what I did and actually ordered illustrations of themselves or their friends. Then I started illustrating celebrities and fashionistas of the world just for fun and for Instagram and they responded with likes, comments, and shares in their stories. I mean, people like Lena Perminova  and Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert, and even official page of Caroline Herrera share my illustration of one of their creations! For them to even acknowledge my art was the biggest encouragement ever, 

Obviously, not every month is full of orders, and not every illustration I do gets loads of attention, some of them I don't even like myself. But it is a start of a new chapter in my life. A chapter where I slowly but surely follow my dreams again, where I do something I love, where I try to believe the voice that says that my work is good and worth it, and silence the voices that think otherwise. I am not delusional and am fully aware that not everyone will like my type of art, or will be willing to pay money for it, but you know what, that should never stop someone. As children we dream big, we ignore the negativity coming from the outside and work towards our dreams, somewhere between teenage years and young adulthood we let outside world drown out the inner dream for the fear of everyone else's judgment. But if we are brave enough, or one day meet someone who believes in us before we do - that inner child, that inner dream, comes back to surface. And well, there is no stopping it.