We are thrilled to have been able to catch up with one of our newest Big Draw Ambassadors, Ilan Galkoff. For as long as he can remember, Ilan has always had a love for creative things - from the performing arts, to illustration and more. We were lucky to steal a few moments with Ilan in the heat of his exams and the launch of 'Good Omens' to hear more about his creative endeavours...
Hi Ilan! We know that you’ve currently been managing the pressure of GCSE exams, alongside the launch of ‘Good Omens’ on Amazon Prime - so thank you for taking the time to talk to us in what we can only imagine is a very busy time! Of course, as I take it, you are far from unfamiliar with hefty workloads. You have been juggling school work with your various other extracurricular activities as well as your career in the performing arts for as long as you can remember! Can you tell us a bit more about you, your career and your creative passions?
Hi! I’m Ilan and I’m 15 years old. I think I’ve always been quite creative, playing a lot with lego when I was much younger and creating sculptures with the blocks. I also used to sing non stop when I was little, mainly inspired by my brother who also used to sing a lot. When I was about 7, my mum sent me to a one week theatre course at a small theatre near where we live. I got the main part, (I think I played Joseph in Joseph), and from then on, I would attend these courses every summer, putting on different shows every time. I was signed by an agent when I was 8 years old and I have been acting professionally ever since.
Being very creative, I have also found a passion for art; my main interests being graphic design and digital art. I started digital art in the software ‘Procreate’ about 5 years ago when I got my first iPad mini. I fell in love with it and as soon as an iPad was released with a pencil, I knew I needed one! For now, I mainly practice my design skills by designing artwork for friends and family. For example, I recently designed my school yearbook front and back cover and also an invitation for my Grandma’s birthday party. I have also managed to earn myself some pocket money designing and selling cards and T-shirts on online selling platforms. This helps to pay for some art supplies! I am very excited for next year when I will go and study Graphic Design full time at college. In the future, I really hope to be an actor/graphic designer. I would love to balance the two alongside each other if I can as I love them both so much. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see…!
[Examples of digital drawing on Ilan's Instagram account.]
I understand that you were just two years old when your teacher noticed that you had the makings of a West End Star, after flawlessly performing a pop song from start to finish in front of all the groups at your nursery. We love this story! From the sound of this, one would assume you have always been very comfortable performing to an audience; have you ever suffered from stage fright, or has performing always come naturally to you?
I can never really remember feeling stage fright in particular as I always feel relatively confident and well rehearsed before a performance. However, there is normally a sense of nervousness a minute or two before I go on stage. This normally goes away as soon as I start to perform. I also find that the smaller the crowd, the scarier it is!
We are absolutely thrilled to have you as one of our Ambassadors for The 2019 Big Draw Festival! This year’s theme ‘Drawn to Life: Creativity and Wellbeing’, is all about embracing the incredible health benefits and healing powers of a more creative life. Being someone with a very close relationship to all things creative, do you agree that engaging with the arts can have a transformative effect on wellbeing?
Absolutely. Being creative is not only something which I am, but also something which I so enjoy being. Quite frankly, I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I wasn’t creative. I recently did my art GCSE at school and out of all of my subjects, art was the one which I enjoyed the most and spent the most time on. I was so sad the day I finished it as I enjoyed doing it so much and loved using it as a distraction from the academic subjects, which are of course incredibly important, but to me just not as much fun! I find that art is an amazing way to relax and express yourself. I also believe that you don’t have to be naturally creative to be good at any art form; it is something you can learn with practice. An example of this is that until a few months ago, I was apprehensive to pick up a paintbrush as I was so used to painting digitally where I could remove a mistake with a two finger tap, this doesn’t work on a canvas though! I did however decide to push myself outside of my comfort zone and found a new love for painting!
[Ilan’s coursework on the theme of reflection - a copy from the work of artist Sarah Graham.]
We believe that drawing is a medium for thought and action. It is a fantastic tool for communication, creativity and expression! What role does drawing play in your day-to-day life?
I'm a very visual person, so I always find that making a drawing can be more valuable than writing notes. Drawing also helps me to relax and put any ideas I have down. I find creative inspiration from all around me and I love to take photos of anything interesting I see with my phone and edit it in one of my many photo apps. Art is all around us, everywhere we look. I often think that I spend longer looking at posters than the average person, looking at more than just the product it’s advertising but the thought process behind the design.
What is it that fascinates you about digital drawing, and how does it differ from putting pen to paper?
I am particularly fascinated by digital art because of the incredible results you can achieve with it. There is so much freedom which it gives you, and it basically allows you to create anything you can imagine! Besides from buying the hardware, in my case an iPad pro, digital art is incredibly cost effective as you can have a million different brushes and colours at your disposal to easily switch between, all in one. When I am designing something, I love to work with vector, my main software for that at the moment being Affinity Designer on my iPad. I love the bold, powerful effects vector designs can create and that it is completely scalable to any degree. Digital softwares give you so much creative freedom and that’s what I love about them.
[Examples of digital drawing on Ilan's Instagram account.]
From the performing arts to graphic design, what would be your advice for other young people interested in pursuing a creative career, but lacking the confidence to do so?
My best advice would just be to go for it. Something I’ve found about being creative is you have such freedom, so if there’s something you want to try, just have a go! I’ve been creating things and performing for years and in my opinion, the best way to improve is by doing. I learn so much every time I start a new project and it is this experimentation that helps me to progress. There are also some incredible resources on platforms like YouTube and Skillshare where some amazing creatives share their skills and I love using these resources to learn.
Finally, don’t be afraid to take every opportunity that is available to you. I attended a free session at the Apple store on Regents Street in London, which was being run by an artist that particularly inspired me. I took the opportunity to engage in the session by drawing an idea which was projected on the main screen. I was very fortunate that someone from the Big Draw was present and that is how my Big Draw Ambassador story began!
[Left: Ilan's final GCSE exam piece. Right: Ilan's first attempt at painting foil balloons.]
Thanks so much for chatting with us, Ilan!
Have you been inspired by Ilan's interview and The Big Draw Festival 2019 theme: #DrawntoLife?
Why not join our global Festival in 2019? Registration is now open! Find out more about the benefits of becoming an organiser here and other ways to support The Big Draw's mission here.