Young artist Khalia knows that nobody is perfect and that we have to work on ourselves in order to achieve our goals. Her hard work is starting to bear fruit - in addition to new orders, she is admired by thousands of fans all over the world. How did she respond to my questions?

Tell us something about you and your career.
My real name is Claire, but for a few years, I’m known as Khalia. I love nature, animals, Fantasy and freedom. These things massively affect my work. I believe in what I’m doing, I am realistic and resolute. This is probably what stands behind my success as opposed to my peers. Many people in my age sit in bars or pubs, but I’d rather spend that time with a pencil in my hand or a tablet in my lap.

Image source: archives of Khalia

Are you a self-taught artist or do you have a formal art education?
Self-taught. Absolutely. Final exams are waiting for me this year and after high-school, I will probably choose university with a focus on social sciences. I had a tendency to enrich the walls of some artistic schools with my paintings, but after seeing works of local students, I realized that I am absolutely unsuitable for this kind of study. In addition to that, I’d feel restricted in such an environment. When I was younger I spent quite a few years in art classes, but I never took anything from the experience. Rather, I was disciplined by my own self-expression, which was so far from the class work we were given. It looks like my own leadership took me the farthest.

How would you describe your style?
I admit that I'm currently in the process of seeking my own style because I have started to take my work more seriously and I have just recently monetized it a few months ago. For me it’s quite clear that I‘m specialising in animals with a touch of fantasy, but I still vary on the border between realism and "fabulous" digital style type of contour, color and a few shadows. Maybe it's because it's a fast style, ideal for somebody who is attending school and wants to make some extra money. Although, I’d love to merge fantasy and realistic style in the future.

Image source: archives of Khalia

When did create your first works?
When I was about 8 years old. I became passionately and recklessly addicted to drawing. That was probably the biggest turning point of my life. I was actually falling asleep with a pencil and paper. It was caused by my infatuation with movies from Walt Disney studios. That was the time I finally decided to devote my life to art.

What is your favorite part of this type of work?
Well, I can work whenever I want. People usually don´t hurry me. I have as much time as I need and I need a lot of it for my self-expression,which I couldn´t get in any other work. Therefore, I plan to devote my energy to what I can accomplish in the comfort of my home, without limitations, commands, restrictions...

mage source: archives of Khalia

Your animals and fantasy creations are very realistic. Are you planning to pursue other motives?
I have decided to learn digital painting of landscapes, but it's just because I want to improve my animal artworks. I‘ve found that the background often makes bigger impression on people than the figure itself. Sometimes I even practice human anatomy, but I’ve never published those attempts. Although I think they are quite nice.

Who and what influenced your art, whether in traditional or digital format? Do you have any favorite artist? Which artworks are you currently interested in?
In first place is definitely Disney. I kept this style for years and even today, I sometimes make a few Disney-style sketches. His films give me a lot of inspiration. I am glad that thanks to them, childhood and playfulness breathes out from my realistic images. Furthermore, people from YouTube are helping me a lot: Sycra, Scott Roberson and Andrew Price.

What inspires you?
People with a style similar to mine. They are usually older, better known and more experienced than me, so they are a big motivation. I am often inspired by people I like, and then I can create work on the basis of feelings associated with them. Another great source of inspiration is music, especially an epic one like Two Steps From Hell.

What art materials do you like to work with and why?
I love creating digitally, because on computer you can work almost without limits. At least, I don´t recall anything that would be impossible to make. However you don't always have a notebook or tablet in your hands, so the second place definitely belongs to traditional drawing. Recently I am using the white pen and pencils. It’s good for practising realistic creations. The digital world just underlines those skills.

What would you recommend to budding artists?
Work hard. Draw, paint and never miss even one minute. When others see a plane in the sky, you have to see a dragon. Nobody is perfect - talent is just 1 %, the remaining 99 % is diligence, toil, sweat and tears. But it's worth it. As little kids, we were able to draw anything. Ask a five year old child to draw a giraffe or a Space Shuttle and they will do it. This confidence disappears as we get older and most of us simply stop creating. I'm probably fortunate that I am a child who never stopped drawing.

Image source: archives of Khalia

Do you combine digital techniques with traditional ones? If so, why?
Given that my scanner degrades the quality of traditional works extensively, every picture has to receive at least a minor adjustment. However, this is only about playing with contrast, brightness, colour tones and so on. Otherwise, I don‘t combine multiple techniques.

Are there some techniques that you would like to devote more to?
Definitely yes. I regret not trying to create with chalks. Paints and brushes never really attracted me, but drawing with them certainly would be an interesting experience. Maybe I would even surprise myself.

What is your process?
My process is very complex and lengthy, but I think it does not differ much from those of other artists. Firstly, I have to get an interesting idea or feeling. Then, I’m thinking about the overall composition and details for quite some time and finally, I can begin shaping everything on paper. Whether I am going to work on traditional or digital paint, I always make sketches on real paper. I find it more comfortable.

Can you tell us more about your latest projects? What artworks are you currently working on? Which project was the most interesting for you?
I really like one of my newest realistic digitals, which is a work titled "Brotherhood Love". It is a painting of two kittens, which was created as an order for a nice gentleman from America, let's call him Paul. A few months later, one of the kittens died from an unknown reason. Paul was very sad and the day after this event, he wrote on my DeviantArt page, how much my work means to him. He printed the image and now it hangs on the wall in his house. That is, I think, the dream of every artist. To be hanged on someone's wall, and remembered in someone's heart.

To date I have produced several larger format orders. Dragon on A2 and a mandala, with the same dimensions. Mandalas are not really a typical theme for me, but if it is for friends, I have no problem with any theme.

Image source: archives of Khalia

Which work of yours had the biggest success?
My realistic kingfisher. On deviantART in my gallery it has nearly 300 comments and will soon reach 4000 views. But the success also belongs to several other works, for example, 'The lion's eye'. Sometimes It surprises me what people like. I‘m personally not very satisfied with my first realistic works, however, other people like them, so I'm honored.

What are your plans for the future?
Successfully complete high-school and finally dive into everything that I didn’t have time to do before. I'm writing a fantasy book which I’m planning to create a comic for afterwards. I‘m very curious where life will take me, because right now, I’m successful in everything. I think, there are many things to be excited about.

Author: Jarmila Kacerlová