An Interview with Tribambuka: On Realising Your Potential, From a Spark to a Masterpiece.


Tribambuka – Artists Feature – VAA Member of the Month May 2023

Multidisciplinary artist and award winning illustrator and animation director, Tribambuka, explores the ways in which the smallest scribble can become a fully fledged artwork, how Joseph Cambell’s Hero’s Journey has been central to her own journey as an artist, as well as managing the day to day tasks required in running your own art business.

Her practice is concerned with the themes of shifting identity, home and belonging. As a British artist with Russian roots, she takes a critical approach to the complexities of her heritage through a contemporary lens of feminist thought and mythological thinking. Her striking, figurative visual language is an amalgamation of the artistic elements found in Russian Avant-garde, French Analytical Cubism and Fauvism, as well influenced by the revolutionary spirit of swinging sixties. She was ormally trained in the traditions of the Russian Analytical school of painting at the St. Petersburg State Academy of Art and Design, which opposes the canon of academic education and takes its roots from artists like Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Pavel Filonov and Natalia Goncharova.

‘Follow your bliss! Your work is play.’

I‘m not good at sticking to a certain routine, but at least in years I’ve learned when my peak hours are, and not trying to force myself to change anymore. I’m doing my best work in the evenings, and mornings are only good for warming up, research, emails and meetings. So I’m letting myself to start slowly (unless I do commercial work for clients in the same time zone), and then doing the work requiring the most focus in the afternoon, evening or even at night. I usually cycle to my studio up the river Lea in East London, do some digital and admin work first, and then get my hands dirty with painting, printing or sketching. I’m trying to to keep my peak hours for work by limiting social outings in the evenings (which is not easy in London though)…

What does a day in your life look like?
Describe your creative process, from the first spark of inspiration to the finished product
They Say I'm Different - Tribambuka

I always carry sketchbooks with me, to make sure that spark doesn’t go unnoticed! Because you never know what can trigger the next project – any tiny scribble can be a seed of an artwork.

My sketchbooks is my playground, the judgement-free zone, where I play and explore the themes I’m thinking of. I tried to dedicate sketchbooks to certain project, but it rarely works – ideas just grow organically wherever they want, so I gave up and it is just let things happen there. Then – if I have a theme for the next show – I pick ideas from my sketchbooks and start developing them large scale, be it painting or graphic works. I also usually read a lot on the subject of my research, and make a playlist too – to keep me in the mood. And then I just launch on the creative journey, that could be either absolutely joyous, or a total torture at times.

Once I have the works ready – the least favourite part starts – admin work, photoshoots, inventory, archiving, posting on socials, updating the website, applying to open calls, writing statements… It’s like when you have a baby – actually being pregnant and giving birth – is just a start!

‘Daring to launch on this journey is a success already.’

I used to be a buddhist for many years, and I guess it defined my outlook for a while, but at some point I have decided that art could be my tool and a vehicle to explore my path in life and the world, so I’m on this journey now, forgetting all I’ve been told and learning things anew, sailing into the unknown without any maps.

It may sound a bit cheesy, but I do think that success is when you fulfil your purpose as an artist before you die, realise your potential and leave some impact. Like in the archetypal Hero’s journey – when you hear a call – you have to answer it! And daring to launch on this journey is a success already.

Also success is when people get something out of your work, when you make them feel or think, when you make a little change in the world. And on more grounded level success is when you have a large and light studio, of course, and don’t have to worry how to pay your rent or mortgage and just worry about the choice of colours for your next painting!

And all of this – because of your art.

Do you have a particular outlook that guides you? What is your definition of Artistic Success?

Free Today- Tribambuka
What piece of advice has helped you most in your career?
Eurynome - Tribambuka

Follow your bliss!! That’s a main idea of Joseph’s Campbell Hero’s Journey, and being guided by that I actually changed career twice in my life and I’m happier and happier the more I’m true to my calling. That actually also answers the question about the outlook in life.

Resisting the call is the worst thing that can happen, and doing things you don’t love takes you further and further away from your path. You have to be happy doing something for 8 or more hours a day. Finding it is the most important thing. I don’t know if it counts as a career advice – but it was for me.

Once someone asked an established artist how to find one’s style. She responded – forget the style, your main goal should be not to lose joy. Once it’s gone – it’s all pointless, who needs style if doesn’t bring joy anymore? Your work is play.

That is probably the best career advice!

Finally, is there anything you would like to say to the artist you were a year ago?

Go for it! Trust yourself. But don’t put all eggs in one basket, plan ahead and don’t count on success, looks like it’s a long ride!

Furies - Tribambuka