We’re pleased as punch to kick off Year 12 with Issue 045! With 15 stellar stories by emerging women authors, it’s a bona fide treasure trove of speculative fiction. The issue is free to read on our site as always, but we also have print and digital copies for those of you who want to add it to your speculative fiction hoard!
To reflect the treasures within, of course we had to choose this amazingly detailed illustration full of curiosities for our cover image. The artist, Nataša Ilinčić, graciously answered all of our burning questions about her fantastical art. Get to know more about her below:
LSQ: Please tell us about the cover image “Magpie.” Is there a story behind this image? How did you decide on all the different elements in this art?
Nataša: The piece was inspired by a visit to the Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy of London, one of Great Britain’s oldest Natural History museums. The place has a real turn of the century feel to it – with Edwardian wooden shelves filled with jarred specimens, skeletons, and remains of now extinct species. I was so fascinated about its richness and atmosphere that I decided to turn its essence into a painting, centered on the fictional character of Magpie – a collector of oddities.
LSQ: Your artwork features evocative characters as well as breath-taking backgrounds.
Which factor do you decide on first? Does creating a background lead to a certain character, or do you find that certain characters inspire the setting you choose for them?
Nataša: It really depends on the painting, it’s different with each one. We often think of backgrounds are a mere container for the main subject of the image, but in some cases the background itself is the main character. I think that’s the case with “Magpie”!
LSQ: Each of your illustrations makes me want to know more about the subject! Do you create stories for each character? Does the image come first, or the story?
Nataša: Not every illustration has a story. Some of my pieces convey narratives (like the series of historical portraits I painted for A Compendium of Witches), while others are more focused on sharing a message, or an emotion. That was the case with “Threading Thunder”, where the intention behind the illustration was to explore the intimate relationship between music and
listener in an everyday, ordinary setting, that is so often saturated with noise.
LSQ: Fantasy seems to be a huge inspiration in your artwork. What draws you to this genre?
Nataša: Fantasy is a very broad term! The fantasy art community abounds with dozens of little niches – from digital illustrators working on roleplaying games, to traditional painters delving into folklore.
My art is heavily centered around mythology and inspired by dark corners of history and folklore. What mostly inspires me are earth-based religions and folktales. I love exploring the spiritual relationship between humans and wilderness with a new voice, but one that echoes the wisdom of ancient ways.
LSQ: Do you have a personal favorite of the projects you’ve worked on? Or one that was memorable due to its challenges? If so, can you tell us a bit about it?
Nataša: The biggest and so far most intense and personal project has been A Compendium of
Witches – a fully illustrated artbook featuring the personal stories of fictional witches from all across the world and in various carefully researched historical settings, ranging from the Paleolithic to the present. My background is in Archaeology and Cultural Anthropology, and so much of what I love and care about has been poured into this book – not only in terms of art, but
knowledge as well. I think it was truly the perfect project to celebrate women’s hidden histories and voices throughout the centuries.