Gradwatch 2022: Katrina Sadovnikova, Arts University Bournemouth
“[It was] very bizarre – wine bottle fountains and people falling out of a fairytale house. Bizarre things with a lot of colour, a lot of detail, and mostly ink work, because I really love drawing with ink and a brush.” Sadovnikova’s madcap style continued to evolve at university – where tutors described her work as “20% scary and 80% silly”, says the artist. She prefers to think of it as 20% bizarre and 80% silly. So far, Sadovnikova has finished several real-life projects, including album covers for friends and artwork for a documentary – created by fellow Bournemouth grads – about misconceptions around periods. The artist hopes to continue working collaboratively, either as part of a collective, or at a design studio or brand – Lush being a firm favourite – before eventually going freelance.
“I just think silliness needs to come back. I was doing research this year for my dissertation, about 16th century wood carvings on churches that were very explicit – like the Sheela na gigs – and exhibitionist. They were just so silly, and on such important buildings as churches. I think it’s a very good juxtaposition, and people need to bring back the silliness in everyday life.”
As well as finding inspiration from the past, university encouraged Sadovnikova to incorporate new techniques into her work, including 3D. Although she says she was initially intimidated by the software (“it just looks like flying a plane”), the artist began teaching herself using online tutorials. “I started doing it with all different kinds of shapes and putting it together, twisting them, playing a little bit with light and colour, and that’s how I got my style,” she explains. History is an important source of inspiration for Sadovnikova, who loves tracking down some of the lesser-known visuals of the past and using them as a springboard for new projects. It was also her favourite subject at high school, where the illustrator says she didn’t get the chance to take any art subjects.
“Some pieces were drawings that would probably make people think I’ve done acid, but I haven’t,” says illustrator Katrina Sadovnikova of the portfolio that landed her a place on Arts University Bournemouth’s illustration degree course.
In their absence, Sadovnikova remembers spending lessons drawing, with her work gradually becoming more and more bizarre over time. “I was always very bored in high school, and it helped me develop my brain into how to make things out of nothing,” she adds.

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