Masha D’yans is a creative force to be reckoned with. Her vibrant watercolor designs are saturated with color, inspired by nature and botanicals, and tinged with whimsy and playfulness. Masha’s card line is visually compelling – each card is a work of art, worthy of being framed. Love Masha’s work as much as we do? You’re in luck; this stylish artist has designed a 2016 wall calendar, illustrates children’s books and creates art prints. Her personality is as charming as her artwork. Check out her answers to our questions about her art, style and owning a small biz.
I love the term ‘watercolor mischief’ as a way of describing your artwork. Please tell me about affinity for watercolors and about the ways in which you make mischief with them.
Watercolor is the first type of paint I used at age 2. My work was pretty mischievous then and I strive to keep it that way! Lately, it involves playing with textures and collaging a bit.
Florals and nature feature heavily in your cards – where do you draw your inspiration from when creating your cards?
Can I say nature? Lot’s of things filter though my brain from just looking around. There’s such a visual bombardment on social platforms now, it can be pretty overwhelming. My tried and true inspiration-sparkers are walks outside and exhibits. Just the other day I got a nice idea from a chance visit to an exhibition at the Met of a nineteenth century Missourian river painter… and I don’t even like that kind of painting typically.
Your mom is a fashion designer, and collaborates with you on your stationery designs. How does your creative collaborative process work?
We go way back (to my beginning). This woman has always kept my style on-fleek thanks to her killer taste and skills. Nowadays I pretty much have to run everything by her before releasing it to the world – she gives me notes and sometimes actually contributes artwork to the cards! She’s the second pair of eyes I trust the most.
Does fashion influence your art or vice versa?
I try not to separate them… though I tend to procrastinate from the work of making art by doing something fashion-related. I cheat on one with the other.
A glimpse of Masha’s closet
Please describe your personal style.
A self-portrait by the then 4-year-old exceptionally stylish Masha
Once you completed your formal art training, how did you get your business started? Any advice to share with others who are starting their own creative enterprises?
Though my fine art education provided me with a negative amount of business skills, it did teach me to problem-solve and to be restless and resourceful. I had a chance to piggyback some of my illustrated cards (which I’ve always done for fun) on a print job I was art directing at a design firm. I sent those samples out, got orders and never looked back. Of course, then I had to figure out all the logistics on the go. Turns out there’s a lot of 24/7 minutia that doesn’t occur to you when you dream up striking out on your own. What keeps me going is that the cards I do are a direct progression of what I did as a child, before criticism, audience-awareness and other anxieties were a factor. My advice is to focus on what gives you a sense of play, take it seriously and build on it. Also use the Internet for info (but don’t get too distracted) and delegate, dammit!
In addition to your card line, you’ve got a 2016 calendar available, and you’ve collaborated on various textile and fashion projects. What are you currently working on?
I’m excited about a new set of cards I’m in the process of illustrating. They are meant to be collected or sent as a series over time (some customers say they keep my cards to frame which is the ultimate compliment). I’m also always kicking a few picture book ideas around.
Please complete this sentence: Snail mail is…
A) ..the fast way to the heart.
B) ..for the coolest, most romantic of humans.
C) ..a luxury you can afford.
D) ..fast becoming mostly junk, let’s claim it back for written keepsakes of endearment!