This extensive hardback portfolio of Vania Zouravliov’s work includes a wide variety, from black and white vignettes to large detailed drawings. They include magazine and CD cover designs, as well as illustrations for books and classic erotic novels.

There is less erotic content in Vania than there is in Filth and the EPS Scarlet Library, but we have chosen to include all the work in the book to demonstrate the breadth of Vania Zouravliov’s imagination and artistic skill.

In the book many of the images are printed on fairly dark coloured backgrounds, which in our view detracts from the graphic power of Zouravliov’s creations, so we have chosen to desaturate these drawings to bring contrast and clarity back to his work.

One of the Vania drawings as printed in the book, on a dark brown background

The introduction to the book includes responses to several important questions which help to understand the artist’s inspiration and technique.

What are the key works that have inspired and shaped your drawings?

I learned how to draw by closely studying the works of the German masters. The basis of my technique was formed by looking at engravings and drawings by Dürer, Martin Schongauer, Lucas Cranach, and Hans Baldung Grien. At various other points in my life, I’ve also been inspired by artists such as Wilhelm von Kaulbach, Max Klinger and Eduard Thöny.

Why are there such strong Japanese influences in your drawings? Is it Japan seen from the perspective of European japonisme?

I was introduced to Japanese ukiyo-e together with everything else, so I’m as comfortable in the world of Utamaro, Yoshitoshi and Kuniyoshi as I am in the world of Bilibin or Doré. When it comes to contemporary Japanese culture, high fashion and design are the areas I find most innovative and inspiring. I’m deeply in awe of Rei Kawakubo and her work. She’s most definitely one of my heroes.

Your multi-layered images seem very complex. How do you structure them?

I usually have two or three key elements in every drawing, including one or more main characters. Everything else is background. Decorative elements and costumes are there just to support the main image without overpowering or distracting from it. Most of what I do can be described as portraiture. People in my drawings are hardly ever caught off guard; they stare right back at the viewer. I usually do very little or no sketching. I have an image in my head, which I draw lightly onto paper, and then I determine what the darkest parts are. Finally, I add details and tone to the drawing until I feel that the image is completely balanced.

Vania was published by Berlin-based Die Gestalten Verlag.