Anastasia — Imagination and Style

We have already introduced our readers to an innovative new project of Windy Press, the Chicago-based publishing and production company. In just a few months they will release the platinum version of Who Stole the Moon, their bestselling children’s musical.

A critically-acclaimed Hollywood star, Alexandra Callas, who plays the Sleep Fairy, explained in that article the artistic side of the project, recounting the participation of world-renowned stage and film stars. However, it is not only actors and singers who are named in the credits of this new version of the popular book-app. Among the almost 200 participants listed in the project will be the illustrators and animators who painted the fairyland for young readers.

A traditional “paper” book, as a rule, has one illustrator. The publishing process of interactive book-apps, by contrast, more closely resembles the production of an animated film, with dozens of people involved.

Among Windy Press artists are people from all around the world, from the United States and Argentina, from Poland and Ukraine, from Israel and Russia. Although the artistic talent of the book’s main illustrator, Vlad Gerasimov, has already won international recognition, other talented artists working with Windy Press are just starting their ascent to success. Anastasia Kiseleva, born in the small ancient Russian town of Shuya, is one of them.

Anastasia learned about Windy Press from her college classmate, who bought a book by this publishing company for her child. Intrigued, the young artist looked up the site and came across an announcement that the company was looking for new talent. Not hoping for much, she sent her portfolio to Chicago. After several months, when she had forgotten the whole endeavor, she was given her first test, and later received an invitation to participate in the production of the platinum version of Who Stole the Moon?

“To be honest, I was not only happy, I was scared as well,” said Anastasia. “I was asked to use an artistic style that I had never encountered before in children’s illustrations.”

What helped the young lady was that she had received her education from the unique art college in the world-famous village of Palekh. Palekh’s brand includes jewelry boxes, brooches and other lacquered miniatures in bright golds and reds on a black background. In these original works, fairy tales and folk songs come to life. Moreover, in Palekh, Anastasia learned the art of traditional iconography.

“For a long time, we were looking for an artist who could combine the gift of an illustrator who knows folklore and fairytale themes with that of a professional fashion designer,” says one of the Windy Press directors, Brian LaVoy. “The fact is that our electronic musicals will have a life on stage, and this involves creating fabulous costumes for actors. Anastasia Kiseleva was for us exactly that multi-talented person. She not only graduated with distinction, becoming a professional iconographer and a master of artistic miniatures, but she will soon receive a degree in fashion design from another college.”

Outwardly, Anastasia is a beautiful modern woman, stylish and smart. However, her dreams are different from those of other young women, who dream of becoming actresses or businesswomen, or simply marrying a handsome prince. What made this ordinary girl choose such an unusual profession?

“I don’t really know,” Anastasia smiles shyly. “One time, when I was in high school, we had a distant relative visiting us. She worked in an iconography workshop and showed me an icon that had just been blessed by the church. I was astounded. It seemed to me as though the icon were spreading an unearthly and wonderful light.”

Whether this was spiritual illumination or simply an artistic discovery, or perhaps both, she cannot say now. But from that moment on her choice of profession was made, completely and irrevocably.

“We are specifically looking for young talent,” says the executive director of Windy Press, Yuri Mezenko. “Our unique mega-project, ‘The World’s 100 Best Fairy Tales’, is a long-term one. Therefore, our task is to create a team of like-minded people who would be able to join us on this thorny journey. Our musical book-app, Who Stole the Moon? is the first step in this direction. The next fairy tale, Puss in Boots, is also in production. We believe that Anastasia’s talent will shine in the constellation of our artists.”

These days, Anastasia Kiseleva is busy designing national costumes for the main character of Who Stole the Moon?, the young dreamer Berty. Her next assignment is to make sketches for the stage costumes for this production, as well as to develop a line of souvenirs. She plans to combine her artistic practice at Windy Press with graduate school. She also plans to establish her own fashion house, with an emphasis on the design of stylish children’s clothes. She even has her own brand, ‘Anastasia Kissé.’ But most importantly, the young artist has that special light to lead her along her chosen path, the light of talent.

By Alex Mashkowski