The character’s birth - Nastia Calaca

Talent has to be nurtured. It has to be protected and carefully developed inside of us. If we look at our talent like our offspring, we realize how much his beginnings are fragile. We have to feed him through our minds. To constantly search for a new unpolluted spring of water. The spring that will water our creativity. We have to train our offspring, to teach them the basics of survival, and through time build up new techniques essential for life. Each step must be done carefully because each step is essential for its development. That's why we turn to people who already have some experience. The experience that will help us in our own creative journey.
We had the pleasure to talk with a very talented Nastia Calaca. And here is her couple of thoughts...Read them carefully!

Where are you from? Where does the art journey start for you?

My name is Nastia Calaca, and I’m an independent ceramic artist from Ukraine, currently living and creating in Haarlem, the Netherlands. Since childhood, I have always dreamt of becoming an illustration artist, creating intricate illustrations, reinventing beloved book characters, writing new versions of my favorite stories. But one day, while being in Summer Art School in the Czech Republic , I unexpectedly stumbled upon ceramics.

We unconditionally fell in love and have never parted since. Long ago, just after receiving my BFA, I started doing workshops for beginners - both kids and adults, in my teaching studio in Kyiv, which was one of a kind at that time. Also, I have created a successful small ceramic brand, selling my works and putting smiles on people’s faces worldwide since 2016.

What is the first emotion that drives you towards creating an art piece? Do you recognize the connection immediately and let yourself flow on the creative process? Or do you "bake" the inspiration for some time?

Every piece I create is truly unique; even the copies I make on demand are different to the original. Each one has a mood and character of their own; some gain a wee bit of weight, some get a few new charming little wrinkles, and every one of them hopes to be loved and cared for by their new owners. By working exclusively by handbuilding and handpainting techniques, the final result always produces a surprise. Occasionally, something or someone REALLY far from the original idea. So it is a huge gap between the character’s birth where somewhere deep in my head the idea takes hold during an unexpected event (while chewing a warm croissant in a cafe, or having a dentist appointment, or trying to have a proper 8-hour sleep) to following the various steps to grow him/her from a sketch to a finished sculpture.

In truth, being a strict and demanding artist who prefers planning, discipline, and structured work to the chaotic stereotypical way of doing things, animals in suits was the furthest thing from my mind. One day, I was working on a custom sculptural portrait, and during the last stage (with the whole sculpture nearly finished), on a whim I decided to replace the head of a charming blond woman with the head of a reptile and put a slug as a pet instead of the pug dog requested. I had no intention to surprise my client, but that idea just popped up without any warnings or any logic or explainable reasons. I loved it, they loved it more, and a new collection was born.


What is the back story of your design? Because every one of us sees the world through separate lenses. How hard it must be to transfer it to other people?

I consider my sculptures versatile and understandable, playful, sometimes humorous, and somehow narrative. While I try to avoid using exact images or book illustrations as a base for my artwork, I come to them through my personal interpretations and childhood memories. I believe that almost every human being in the world, despite having different backgrounds and everyday life, will recognize something of his own in my characters, discovering and recalling his personal meaning and story that all came from a safe place - childhood.

When it comes to making a living from your art, what are the main struggles? And what would be your advice for starting artists?

Sometimes, for the majority of artists starting out, the main sore spot can be a banal lack of understanding from their family, who are fantasizing all kinds of horrifying scenarios and do not hesitate to share it in all its glory with you.

So if you are that black sheep, who unexpectedly decided to accept the challenge on becoming the pioneer and dive into the unfathomed depth - it will be wise to find someone from the same orbit who can offer you sound advice and consistent emotional support. Generally speaking, it is truly important to build self-confidence that lasts. So, if you were not lucky enough to discover that you are a secret offspring of some wealthy parents, it is better to save some money beforehand. It will allow you to focus on the art process, challenge and develop yourself as a professional artist.

What do you prefer, single pieces or storytelling through a whole project? And what approach do you use in each case?

During the last two years, I created two non-commercial series of work, "Fairy-tale Teapots" and "Dressed Animals collection".

In the nearest future, I expect to continue working on a collection that was born last year - anthropomorphic sculptures that are mainly based on various well-known children book characters, however without strict association with anything in particular. People from different countries recognize the various character in my works: Britons see The Wind in The Willow characters, Russians the Queen Frog fairy-tale, younger generations even see the characters from Wes Anderson animation movies.

Why do you use certain materials? What connects you with them, and makes you feel they are perfect for your art piece?

Ceramics is a unique medium that allows everyone to get something out of this world - just imagine, that for a couple of hours you can make a creature from a piece of mud and only your bare hands.

What does ART, in general, mean to you?

I’m afraid to sound somehow cheesy, but for me it is the only possible way of living - the truly serious and important thing, that allows you not to take life too seriously.

The FOURLINEdesign team would like to thank Nastia Calaca for sharing inspiring thoughts with our community.