Daria Zaseda

Daria Zaseda portrait

Daria, can you tell us about your youth, your upbringing, family, friends, ideas and how you felt at a young age.

I grew up in Kiev. My parents divorced when I was thirteen and a half years old. I decided to stay with my dad. Usually kids stay with their mother, but I have a great connection with my daddy – he spent all his time with me, playing, telling stories, walking, reading books and discussing them. He was such an interesting man with a great sense of humor and fantasy, I could talk with him about everything! I remember our walks, when he told me stories about MAN – a cosmic hero that he invented just for me. MAN had a tiny dog Bass and a 2 meter tall cat Sinbad. He was a hunter who hunted for dangerous space animals for the Earth zoo. I was four years old when my father told me these stories and now I’m 40 and I still remember them.

So imagination was important when you were young?

As a child I loved books. My father taught me how to read when I was four years old. That opened a magic door to thousands of worlds that never closed since then. I was in love with classic literature, fantasy, fairytales and science fiction– it was my own kingdom where everything I could imagine was real. I’m an only child and did not have many friends so books became my family. There were books that I re-read dozens of times!

Did you like to draw or paint as a child besides reading?

When I was three or four years old, my father gave me big wooden panel, paper, glue, old magazines and some markers – and I was free to make my own art. When the board was full, he photographed the result and painted it white – for me to start a new imaginary journey. I think I owe my imagination and art career to those very first children’s quests. Most of all I regret that these ‘art’ photos are lost.

Were you dreaming about becoming an artist?

The irony is that I never wanted to be an artist before I started at the age of 36. As a professional artist, I mean. Painting came into my life the very moment when I was at the peak of tiredness and disappointment. I had a successful career in PR with my own business. Nevertheless, the world around me had lost its colors and happiness was no friend of mine anymore. I realized that something had to change.

I always wanted to paint. I was thinking about my dream lazily, passively and even timidly, because I kept telling myself: “How can you paint! People spend all their lives to learn”; “No one starts at 36”; “You won’t like it”; “You won’t make it”, etc. So I kept on dreaming until March 19, 2015 when I visited an art supply store and asked the people in the shop to “give me everything I need for oil painting”. So I came home, set a canvas on a windowsill and started to paint with blue. I had no Idea what’s what, and I just followed my hunches. When my husband came home he saw that everything – my dog, windowsill, window, wardrobe and of course me – was spattered with blue paint.

For the first three months I was only using my fingertips to paint. Then I moved to fingertips and a rag. Then I started to use a palette knife and a rag, later just palette knife. I rarely used brushes. My favorite colors and forms changed as quickly as subjects and senses. Only one thing remained unchained: every day I devoted two or three hours to my dream. By the end of a few months I realised that that was not enough. I was trying to find an extra ten minutes to draw everywhere and with everything I could find: watercolors, pen, pencil, charcoal pencil and ink. And I wanted to draw and paint more and more.

Did you go to art school or followed any lessons in painting?

I didn’t take any courses or lessons; all I had was this great desire to create! Later I started to learn from articles and books. But at first all I had was a consuming passion and voraciousness. Technically it was more difficult for me than for people who are trained to draw and paint, but psychologically it was easier: I didn’t know how to do it, so I began experimenting with different methods and techniques. I enjoyed the process and was free from fear of failing to meet any standards.

One and half a year later, I spend at least twelve hours a day painting. I tried various techniques and different materials: oil, acryl, graphics, watercolors and pastels. So the next step was to dedicate all my life to art and making a living as an artist. My life changed forever and even the birth of a child last year did not stop me from working.

Can you expand a bit on why you were at the peak of tiredness and disappointment. What kind of business did you have? Why did it lose its colors?

I was a partner in a law firm. I was responsible for administration and public relations. We built our company very slowly and hard, working for 12-14 hours a day. No vacations, no days off, no sick leave. I was crazy about this business, but after five years I felt very tired and this tiredness grew into a depression. Not because I was out of love with my job, but because I loved it too much and gave it everything I got.

Today my aim is to be an artist. That’s my future. Since I discovered painting, everything illuminated; everything was bright again.

How is your career as an artist working out. What are the reactions on your work?

As for my career, It was quite overwhelming the last four years. I’ve had eight personal exhibitions, nearly thirty group shows and this year my solo show was on the Venice biennale. More than 400 works have been sold over this 4,5 years and more than a hundred were given to charity projects. My paintings are in private collections in more than fifteen countries including Brasil, The Republic of South Africa and Australia. I have a lot of reviews on Facebook, people send me lots of personal messages. I even have a special album with photos of my paintings hanging in their homes. It’s the most important moment for me – when people fall in love with one of my paintings.

Any wishes for the future?

Never stop growing as an artist!