Nadia Valavani, better known as "oldbrownshoestories." The truth is, I will not prototype. As long as I remember myself, the colors, the pencils, the papers gave me great joy and delight. As a child, I had the habit of painting everywhere, for example in all my mom's books, in wardrobes, my sister... etc. Later in school, I preferred to paint instead of I'm paying attention to the school lessons (fail). The truth is, that I have studied kindergarten teacher, but in the mornings i’m making handmade jewelry of metal and gemstones (under the brand “SHE & SHE Bijoux” which I run with my sister). In the afternoons I teach visual arts to children of primary and nursery school. Basically illustration is not well- recognized as a professional job where I live. So, I just started an instagram account by simply uploading the day's painting. I'm still trying to figure out some things concerning this field and my big dream is someday illustration to become my full-time job.
Where did the name Old Brown Shoe Stories (Oldbrownshoestories) come from?
I have always been fascinated by older eras, their aesthetics and the mystery that they have been radiated. The “oldbrownshoestories” is the stories that each human being carries with. The shoes of every man are the ones that accompany him at different moments, beautiful or not, at work, on walks, on dates, on nights and days. They are present in friendships, quarrels, successes, flirts etc. They have walked with us… and then they are forgotten somewhere. If they could speak, they would have told us many stories. For example, you buy an old shoe, which someone else had before. Who was the previous owner, what’s his story? I love the old objects and when I buy or find one, always intrigue me the stories that are behind. And I think this is the magic that you do not know, and you are imaging. Crazy, huh?
Describe your style in three words.
Colorful, humorous and self-sarcastic?
I love in your Instagram bio "All grown-ups were once children..But only few of them remember it." What do you feel is something most people lose or forget as they grow up?
All these that we love as children. As we grow up we form fences, boundaries and rules around us. We think more than we should. We worry about the slightest things. We don’t laugh. We forget to dream. We don’t dance. We are ashamed of our body. We hide our feelings. We stand in trifling things. In brief, we forget what really matters. We leave the moments to pass by. We have more impulse and less spontaneity. All these things that our younger ones weren’t afraid to do. And all these I try to remind myself.
What is most important to you about art and illustration?
Is its power and irresistible charm. Its sensibility. Through the art you can get to know other cultures and understand them. I think art can touch even the toughest person. The art shakes down borders, boundaries and discriminations. It is also the impression of the soul of each artist in his artworks. I can’t imagine a world without art.
How do you think people who are not very interested in art vs. people who are creative and artistic, view your work? The same? Differently? How so?
I think the same, regardless of the relation that each person has with art.
It seems as though your illustrations tell a story, how do you begin each illustration? What is your process?
Yes, the stories of people around me and my own. Certainly many times i am getting inspired by the Pinterest (I actually love Pinterest). Always I start with a basic idea (rarely there are initial sketches) and I sketch it with pencil and charcoal. Then I scan the sketch and i add the color digitally through Photoshop.
What do you like to do when you’re not illustrating?
Cinema and music are playing a big role in my life. With every chance i go to the cinema and I listen to music (loudly) and when I drive. I enjoy a ride in the countryside and taking photo or having a nice meal (I love food).
Do you have a favorite artist?
Hmmm the most difficult question. They are so many impeccable artists that I admire. If I start to name them I’ll probably forget someone. On my olbrownhoestories account I mainly follow artists and every time I’m scrolling down, I’m being in ecstasies.
Do you feel as though everyone has a bit of artistic ability inside of them or some are just born with it?
Of course. I think that everyone has an artistic ability. Just some discover it slowly, while others are living with the belief that they haven’t any.
Do you have any childhood memories or people you've met that influence your art in any way?
My mom and my grandpa, with their positive attitude to life!
What is your favorite song, artist or band you enjoy listening to while you work?
Well they are so many here too, Devendra Banhart, Nick Waterhouse, The xx, Brenda Lee, Etta James. I’m always getting in crazy mood when i am listening to the “The seed (2.0)” and this period i’m listening the “My God Has A Telephone” on repeat.