In the graphics art world, Natalie Sklobovskaya is that rare commodity — a quadruple threat.
Sklobovskaya is not only a driven illustrator, but she also enjoys computer programing, writing and playing music, and creating websites. Those talents enable a nice collision of creativity that have allowed her to draw comics, animate them, score a soundtrack and upload them to a website she designed.
It also makes perfect sense that she would be graduating with a double major in communication design from the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and computer science from the School of Engineering & Applied Science.
“Natalie is a dedicated, introspective person with a unique gift of communicating her many varied talents, from animation, illustration, web design, computer programming and music, in innovative ways,” says Cris Baldwin, assistant dean and registrar for the College & Graduate School of Art.
With so many interests to pursue, Sklobovskaya likes to dabble in all of them. But she has some favorites.
“I am more invested in illustration than programming,” she says. “But programming allows me to think more broadly.”
Sklobovskaya has accepted a junior designer position with the creative agency Manning Productions in Chicago. She is excited to work for the firm because of the diversity of projects it handles.
“Knowing web design and programming gave me a foot in the door that I wouldn’t have otherwise,” she says.
Sklobovskaya learned her computer skills as a child from her father, Nikolai Sklobovsky, and her crafts skills from her mother, Angelika Trofimova, who is an excellent seamstress.
But she began developing her design skills as a little girl, creating a book of illustrations to go with the stories her grandparents read to her in Russia. Sklobovskaya was born in Obninsk, Russia, but immigrated to the United States at 8 years old.
As a child, she learned to play the piano and then added French horn. When she was in 12th grade, she was assigned a biology report on insects. Instead of making a standard PowerPoint presentation, the Thousand Oaks, Calif., resident decided to create an animated Adobe Flash movie for the report.
She learned Flash in a week for the animation, then she wrote music and borrowed bits from other soundtracks for the theme. She and some classmates also assigned to the project wrote a script and put the whole thing together.
The end result was “very, very bad,” she says, but it solidified her interest in motion graphics.
“I absolutely love it,” she says. “I don’t have the motion graphics background yet and it’s the least focused direction I’m going in right now. But it would be a dream come true to work in a place where I can be around interactive graphics, sound and illustration.”
If she’s asked to write a story, which she also enjoys, Sklobovskaya said the topic that naturally draws her interest is World War II.
“I enjoy telling stories about World War II and history. I guess its because I’m interested in the European theater since I’m from Russia,” she says.
She uses the war as a backdrop for satire and critique as well as serious storytelling. She calls it her “great intellectual nourishment and inspiration.”
A side project that she has been working on for about two years and concedes she may never finish is a web-based comic book. The fictional war story primarily functions to spark her imagination.
“It has served me less as a finished piece and most in providing a constant stream of inspiration, a world within which to draw, animate and design characters, write stories and music, and do historical/visual research in a field I’m interested in,” she says.
While her interests vary greatly, Sklobovskaya says she enjoys the mix.
“I have many hats, and I like to wear them all at the same time,” she says, laughing.