Translating Emotion Into Art With Nadaskii

Nadaskii is a self-taught illustrator who began learning about digital art while living in Morocco back in 2015. She’s since found a cozy niche by learning to capture subtle emotions through the light and color in her images.

If you enjoy the quiet moments in life or see the magic in a person’s day-to-day routine, you’ll surely grow to love Nada’s art (and thoughts).

Hey Nada, it’s great to have you here with us! Please go ahead and introduce yourself. We’re all eager to learn more about you and your work.

Hello! Thank you for having me here! My name is Nada, but I go by the name Nadaskii online. I’m a digital artist from the Middle East with a passion for visual storytelling. I love translating words, emotions, and sounds into colors and shapes. Finding magic in everyday life is another big passion of mine, and I always try to show that in my work.

I enjoy taking my characters on little journeys somewhere between reality and dreams, capturing moments of peace and stillness. I get way too excited to build a narrative using the space around them, setting up a mood that mirrors their emotions and intentions. I feel that we are more connected to our environment and surroundings than we might know and that it’s all just a reflection of who we are.

I love pondering on thoughts like these while painting. I love painting. I also love Pelicans, they are some of the weirdest creatures out there, and I find them oddly entertaining, though I have yet to see one in real life.

How’s life in Morocco?

I started my whole journey in Morocco. It’s where I decided to drop everything I was doing to begin learning illustration from scratch.

The country is so beautiful, with a rich, vibrant culture full of colors and flavors. An artist couldn’t help but get inspired by it!

Since I was there at the very beginning, I was feeling lost. The wonderful thing is that a quiet walk down through the bustling streets was enough to console me and give me the strength I needed to keep going.

I have moved since then, and I currently live in my hometown in the Middle East. I don’t get to move around as freely as I want, mainly because of this country’s conservative culture and politically unstable nature, but I live by the sea, which is enough for now.

Being an artist here can be challenging in many different ways. One that really stands out is being so far from the industry and dealing with the utter lack of resources and opportunities. Luckily, I feel I’m slowly overcoming these obstacles.

My biggest wish is to travel from one country to another, sketching what I see and sharing it with the world. Oh, and having a diet consisting of cake and only cake.

You’re self-taught, right? How did you learn everything you needed to know? Were there any particular resources that really stood out?

Oh yes! I am self-taught, but if I learned anything, it’s thanks to the artists who shared their knowledge with me. I think there are even more resources and affordable options for anyone looking to learn about art these days. Artists are sharing their processes and offering tutorials more than ever on YouTube, Patreon and Gumroad.

I know the process of learning a skill on your own without guidance can be daunting, it can be a lonely road as well, but you don’t have to let it be this way.

There are so many great communities and Discord servers to join. Surrounding yourself with people with similar goals and interests so you can encourage and cheer each other on can be one of the most rewarding experiences around.

I can’t recall how I actually managed to learn. The whole process was messy, and there was a lot of trial and error. Sometimes I’d learn a lot just from a random tutorial I stumbled upon on Pinterest. However, one of the first resources that completely changed how I draw was It’s a website with a set of free exercises to learn how to draw basically anything in a 3D space using ink and paper, it was so challenging I didn’t even go through with all the exercises, but I noticed an immediate improvement in my work after.

Another one is the book Framed Ink by Marcos Mateu-Mestre. He explores how to frame a scene and think about it from a compositional perspective, it was mind-opening, and I had fun trying to practice the principles in my work.

My favorite book about colors is definitely Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter by James Gurney. I also don’t want to leave out the Schoolism course Painting with Light and Color with Dice Tsutsumi and Robert Kondo, which was essential for me in understanding how to practically use colors in my work.

If you’re aiming to pursue art professionally, dedicating some time to learn the business side of it is really important.

You must understand contracts and pricing, and I find to be a superb resource when I want to see current rates for illustration. If you want an alternative, there’s also The Graphic Artists Guild Handbook.

To me, learning art was more than just trying to master a skill, and I discovered so much about myself in the process. I came to know what I’m capable of and how to keep going after falling so many times.

Your use of color and light is absolutely brilliant! Do you have any advice for beginners who want to improve in these areas?

Thank you so much! Hmm, I would say observing light in life around you is essential. See, it’s not just about doing paintings from life but also paying attention to how light behaves at different times of the day or on specific materials.

I also love studying color palettes and lighting in movies, and I’ll pause a million times to take screenshots so I can paint them or just stare at them later. I know, watching movies with me must be oh so fun.

I always recommend using references because it’s 100% okay if you use them the right way by avoiding plagiarizing another person’s artwork. I do this by either taking my own reference pictures or going online to gather a few images with similar moods to the one I want. I like to then keep those open in different tabs or on a 2nd screen.

So for me, it’s mostly about observation and giving yourself enough time to digest new information. It might take a while before all of it translates into your work, but as long as you keep going and stay consistent with your practice, you’re going to get where you want.

Please don’t forget to be kind to yourself and rest. A clear mind will provide solid ground for growth.

I read that music is one of your biggest inspirations, along with movies and the sea! Do you have any pieces influenced by an album or song you like? What do you usually listen to while you paint?

Oh boy, I love music! I must have music playing all the time while I’m painting because the whole process becomes so tedious otherwise, haha~

I tried listening to podcasts or audiobooks, but it just felt like I was getting interrupted all the time. My mind gets divided between what I’m listening to and the art I’m trying to create. For that reason, I love listening to music without lyrics the most. These songs puts me in a calm and focused state that gets my creative juices flowing, even if the instruments are a little aggressive.

Post-rock/metal is usually my go-to genre, but I listen to pretty much anything from any country or genre. Discovering new music makes me extremely happy and inspires me infinitely, though these days, I’m switching between jazz classics and the Silent Hill OST.

I have one artwork that was directly inspired by the song “Instagram” by Dean. I was enchanted by how he expressed the loneliness of social media and feeling disconnected from reality. It’s actually a feeling I’m very familiar with. The lyrics “stuck inside a square ocean” resonated with me so much that I couldn’t go without painting it.

What are some of the messages you want people to find in your work?

Painting is the one place I always come back to whenever I feel lost. Anything can happen at that moment because the limitations of our world cease to exist on a blank canvas.

When it comes to personal work, I always try to draw for my own joy or because I want to comfort myself and process my own emotions without putting much thought into how they might be perceived by other people. I do this because if I sincerely feel the moment and put my heart to it, someone else is bound to feel that same thing when they see the final piece.

We have more in common with each other than we may know. I find comfort and peace when I paint, and if my art can be a warm place for other people too—a place where they find hope, feel comforted and understood, even for a few seconds—then that is all I honestly want.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome as an artist, and how did you do it?

Learning to paint was quite a challenge itself, to be honest! I have to give myself a pat on the back for not giving up too soon. Following a career in art can feel like an uphill battle because it takes so long to see any results worth mentioning. Of course, the wait is ultimately incredibly rewarding.

I already talked about how living so far from the industry has been a real obstacle.

What I find most challenging is having to navigate the art world through only my computer screen, having zero connections, and feeling like an outsider for the majority of the time.

I often felt left out during con seasons because I could never travel and attend events. I also miss out on a lot of opportunities since not all studios are open to remote work.

I feel that things have changed a bit since the pandemic and that some of these walls are slowly coming down. I like to believe that if there’s a will, there is always a way.

Many artists try to grow their fanbase using social media, but it doesn’t always work as well as we might like. What’s the big secret? How can an aspiring illustrator successfully build a fanbase around their work?

Oh, I’m not sure if I’m the right person to answer this since I’m still figuring this out myself.

There’s a lot of pressure from social media to always share and stay relevant. It is designed to keep you addicted to rewards and punishments, and there’s a big emphasis on numbers.

Sure it is nice to have my art seen by so many people, but being forced into these games with rigid algorithms killed some of the joy of sharing art for me. It brings me so much unnecessary anxiety that I stopped paying attention to those rules as much.

Maybe this is why my Instagram is not growing at all. I try to take it a little easier and remind myself that having a big following is not equal to success, nor is it an indicator of how good I am as an artist. I try to be kind and honest with myself because I know how that automatically affects my communication with the world.

The most important part of social media is sharing creative energy, putting more positive content out there, and making each interaction as human as possible.

Do you have any advice for people who are just starting out and want to find their niche in the art world?

To me, this is more of an organic process. When I started out, I wanted to make semi-realistic surreal/fantasy artwork, but as I progressed and experimented, I felt more comfortable and happy with my current style.

I suggest you give yourself some space and time to experiment. Don’t be afraid to fail and make lots of ugly drawings.

Challenging yourself and trying different things is really important because the more you know yourself, the closer you are to finding your niche and style.

It also depends on your goals and what type of work you want to do in the future. I had no concrete plans initially; all I wanted was to make pretty pictures, and I guess it turned out fine. If you make something you enjoy, there must be someone else in the world who likes what you do as well.

I believe that as you grow, acquire new knowledge, and understand yourself more, you will align more with your true voice.

What’s next for Nada?

Ah, there is so much! I get so excited just thinking about all the possibilities.

Right now, I’m still trying to find my place and balance in the freelance world, but once I feel more comfortable, the first thing I want to do is release an artbook! I’ve always wanted to make one to hold my artwork together.

Being a digital artist, I never really get to see my work in a physical form, and I feel it’s always a little distant from me. I’m always afraid it’ll be forgotten because of the fast-paced nature of online platforms where it is hosted. I feel that having it organized in an artbook would keep those pieces alive and protected somehow. I love the thought of it sitting on someone’s coffee table or bookshelf and just finding a cozy spot in their home.

When I get a chance, I would love to do it through Kickstarter. I’ve watched many amazing artists do that, and every time I see one, I get so excited as if it is my own book.

If you enjoy Nada’s work, consider visiting her Linktree or following her on Twitter.

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#illustration #music