Mananiko Amarilla Kobakhidze lives and studies as a graphic designer and illustrator in Tbilisi, Georgia. At 25, she shares the belief that we all encounter and harbor inner selves as often as other human beings. Her work accentuates these beings – and ways of being – in familiar form, inviting us to see we all experience them. We asked her to share her thoughts on giving life to our monsters, and share a bit about her process for some of our favorites:
So, you work with physical printmaking, as well as graphic design, photography, and illustration. Is that right? What medium have you been playing with most these days?
It all started with photography, long before printmaking and illustration. I tend to make very graphical and defined colors, movement was a key, not “poetic beauty” or “fine art” (painting). Then I passed all exams to art school and there was less and less time for photography, eventually I became obsessed with book illustration and poster design and graphic design. Drawing in any expressible way is my playground today.
What influences do you feel most often growing up and now studying in Georgia?
Hm, think I stay aside of cultural stuff and that’s why I think my illustration or works are sometimes not fully understood, I just don’t like to be in step with the flow.
We share your love for Stranger Things, and people rave about various components – the font, the soundtrack. What makes the show meaningful to you?
The 80’s are my favorite :)) It’s like the era of color in the 21st century. Dresses, accessories, music everything – the show is like my favorite 80’s ^_^
What other narratives, media, or creators inspire you?
Ballet, music, movies, books, people in the streets, sounds, everything. It’s like a tickle for my brain and then everything expresses itself on paper.
How long have you illustrated? Have you created any self-illustrations?
I’ve been drawing since childhood, mostly I was “just drawing”. After Academy it became more serious. So I’ve been illustrating for 6 years I guess 🙂 Mostly they all are my self-portraits, inner self ones, from what I see and hear.
There’s such rich feeling in your work. Are characters based on people you’ve encountered?
They all are real, just they all are reflections of what I see, and there’s a part of me in them as I said before.
“Monsters” keep making an appearance so I have to ask, can you describe the characteristics that invoke that for you? What makes for a “monster” in this world?
Monsters are friendly characters, if you remember Where the Wild Things Are? “There should be a place where only the things you want to happen, happen” – Maurice Sendak. Those monsters are things to happen and a place is my paper. They are really friendly, just a real side of every human being, which we shouldn’t be ashamed or afraid of. We hide monsters and sometimes, they are much more beautiful than we think they are.
Could you translate this caption? What inspired this?
It was a school assignment to make posters, so I did this one based on Der Himmel Uber Berlin (“The Heavens/Sky Over Berlin”, “Wings of Desire”). I think this was my first attempt to make a monster, to show one and to tell a story about angels hiding from us, not seen.
What were you envisioning as you designed this poster of Trump? What do you think might come next?
Well, it’s going to be an everlasting, idiotic political game he’s going to play and I think the whole world is just TRUMPED because what the United States does influences every single country. If a crazy non-political, selfish man is going to rule a country full of possibilities it’s going to be a disaster. I tried to make it a bit funny that way.
We’ve talked about street art in Tbilisi before, and the shift to street marketing you witnessed. How do you think artists can collaborate with businesses toward profitable and genuine work?
Most of the artists are denying paid jobs, but it’s still hard if you want to make a living out of what you do. So you have to compromise, between paid work and what’s really a reflection of oneself.
How do you balance professional and personal expression in your design workflow? What makes it difficult? Where are some natural intersections?
Sometimes I do a very boring job, but I still try to make intersections between what I really want to express and do and what I’m doing at my job or other paid work. It’s a miracle if you are paid for your art and a great pleasure, but mostly I feel framed if I’m not working for myself. So I hope it will change, or I will change it. But there are some places for “crazy people” like me :))