An Interview with Illustrators Irina & Olga Ert, Masters of Visual Storytelling

We last caught up with you back in August 2013, and were enraptured by your melding of modern illustration with ancient folklore. What have you been up to since then? Is there anything that particularly stands out for you, in those intervening years?

Yes, there is. Now we are applying our skills to animation. We have started to learn how to animate, how to build up a story, work on character design for an animated film. It’s such an incredible area, and there is a lot we have to learn! And we are trying – last year we took animation course at Arts University Bournemouth and had a great experience to study animation there.

Also we work on illustrations for ancient tales. For example, tales of Buryat culture. One of these is the story about princess Angara, who is the Goddess of the river. So we work on creating the underwater world of lake Baikal. It’s so interesting!


I know a lot of artists are often embarrassed by earlier work, and some even like to pretend it doesn’t exist. Do you look back at your body of work as a whole, or are you focused on the present? Are you still proud of your earliest professional work?

Well, we try to focus on the present but from time to time we look back anyway. Sometimes we can find some good ideas to develop in our past works, analyzing them from a new point of view. Our progress is the most inspiring thing for us!

Irina Olga Ert

Has there been a conscious effort to develop or evolve your style, or is it a more organic process you’re perhaps less aware of? Has your process changed at all?

We learn something new every day so our development can be named ‘conscious’. Recently we have finished a “Color and Light” course so we can work on colors with a better understanding. Also we constantly research and read about Asian cultures and tales. And one of the goals we are trying to reach now is good storytelling.

As for our creative process, we’d like to say that we have seen how animators and visual development artists for animation work at AUB and it influences our creative process anyway.

Irina Olga Ert


Having a sister myself, I know that it’s not always sunshine and rainbows, however well we might get along. Working together professionally must add a whole other dimension to the relationship. How do you divide the work between you, and how do you find working together as sisters? Are there ever strong differences of opinion regarding where the work is going?

There is a lot of pluses. First of all, we both have similar visual tastes and can understand each other easily. This communication helps us to create without any doubts.

Secondly, we get better results working together just because we get an honest feedback from each other. Imagine to get almost immediate feedback from your own sister!

Of course, if you always criticize each other it won’t be so productive. So we hope we find the way how to balance it.

Irina Olga Ert

And finally, what currently inspires you, and is there anything coming up this year that we should keep an eye out for?

Now we are inspired by incredible works of visual development artists at animation such as Robert Kondo, Dice Tsustumi, Nicolas Marlet… We collect concept art books on animation to get inspired.
Also we are inspired by films of studio “Ghibli”, sculptures by Dashi Namdakov, works of Zorikto Dorzhiev.

We have been inspired by Buryatian and Mongolian ancient folklore, their clothes, style, traditions. Also all things related to Buddhism are a great source of inspiration too.

We are going to publish a couple of books this year. One of them, as we said before, is “Angara”, the Buryatian tale about the princess of underwater world. So stay tuned!



Thank you so much for your time. It’s been great to catch up and learn about all the developments in your world.

For our readers, you can follow Irina and Olga Ert at the following links:

Published by

Alex Irish

Alex Irish

Alex Irish is a British writer of fiction and art appreciator.  He currently resides in Santa Fe, NM with his wife.  He has been published in numerous litjournals over the years as well as editing one singlehandedly for a while.  He enjoys experimental literature and anything involving taxidermy.