Aleks Shcherbakov AKA Aleks7even

Originally Published May 17th, 2017

“No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create, or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.” -Ansel Adams


When I was a kid I loved reading comics. Back then they were sold at the checkout of the local grocery store. In high school, I would always have a handful of Spider-man issues tucked away in my bag. I even went through a phase where I created my own comic series, “Mr. Squirrel’s Amazing Adventures”. No matter how many times I drew that stupid squirrel, it always looked like some sad mangled road beaver. I cannot draw, I never could. I believe that’s why I’m so excited by artists I meet who can create these fantastic illustrations, paintings, and other works of art by hand.


“Art is a microscope which the artist fixes on the secrets of his soul, and shows to people these secrets which are common to all.” -Leo Tolstoy

I first met Aleks at a local pub where we both had artwork on display. Aleks’ bio immediately caught my attention. It said something about his family being murdered by a giant squid. Now he is on a mission to avenge their death. Senseless humor and unrelenting sarcasm, I knew immediately I would like this guy. The world is full of artists who take themselves too seriously.

“I tried to write simple lines with humor tied in, creation shouldn’t be all that serious.” -Charles Bukowski


While Aleks is equally hilarious in person, he’s also one of the most dedicated artists I’ve met. The amount of time, commitment, and detail he puts into every piece boggles my mind. Aleks’ work is nothing short of genius, and I don’t throw that term around loosely. Call me dense but I can’t imagine how someone does that with their hand and a pen. Kaleidoscopes of floral petals arranged with mathematical precision, adorned by intricately penned skulls. He has an amazing series on his interpretation of the zodiac. His work often has a medieval feel to it, drawing inspiration from his Russian roots; a blend of paganism and eastern orthodox Christianity. Among his influences, 16th century artist Albert Durer and Russian artist/designer Art Lebedev.


“7th Gate @aleks7even”

Fantastic towering Russian architecture, beautiful female faces with ram horns, bearded philosopher creatures and the ever present squid tentacles wrapping around the subjects that fill the Aleks7even Instagram page.


“We are what we repeatedly do.” -Aristotle

Let’s not forget his long running daily mug sketches. How about a good morning machete to the face? Zombie latte? Horror-villain-themed, gnarled porcelain, full of hot espresso. The household utensils have come to life, and they’re out for blood or lust. A pencil makes sweet love to a pencil sharpener. Say what!? Its like I’ve fallen into some deranged nightmare inked madly, black on white. What would a fly on the wall of that mind see? Well, he’s probably drawn that too, intertwined with floral feminine attributes.




After photographing Aleks for an upcoming art-show, he agreed to sit down with me and talk about his creative process. I’m on a mission to pick apart fellow artists’ brains and figure out what drives us to create. It’s been a question that I’ve struggled with since I was a teenager. What is it that compels creatives to dedicate themselves to an art-form? We spend years learning, growing, and perfecting our craft. Why? Why create? We all have different reasons, but it’s my goal to find the common threads. In a culture where finding new forms of division has become mainstream, my goal is to use creativity as a uniting principle. My interview with Aleks is my first attempt at gathering this information and telling the story of the artists I know.


“I have to create. Everyday I just have to create something.” -Aleks

I met with Aleks late one evening on campus at IPFW. Escaping a voracious vacuum lady to a second level hallway, I asked Aleks my first question; Why create? He responded, “I have to create. Everyday I just have to create something.” He said it so emphatically. That quote has stuck with me since the interview. It stuck because I feel the same way. I think as creatives we all have this internal push to create. He went on to tell me that creating illustrations for him is a habit. Everyday he cuts time out to create something. His good morning coffee sketches are one of those routines, soon he will be reaching 100 consecutive days. “I want to see my work out in the world. Eventually my goal is to make enough money to give my art away for free.” “How?” I asked, “aggressive accumulation of wealth!”
“Creativity is a learning process, always continuing to build upon the skills that you have mastered.”
Throughout our interview many jokes were made, but the one thing Aleks was serious about were his tools. “Whenever I need to learn a new skill for a project, I see that as a new tool being added to my kit. You can do anything if you have the right tools.” Obviously having the right pen, paper, camera, lens, or paint is important. But, the lesson I took from this was that any obstacle can be overcome, if you’re willing to learn. Creativity is a learning process, always continuing to build upon the skills that you have mastered.  { Side note: a good way to know you’ve mastered something is when you can teach someone else that skill. }
“A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.” -Ayn Rand
Aleks and I conducted two separate interviews. One in-person and one through a Q&A email. The following is our Q&A.
Tim: Why do you create? What motivates you?
Aleks: Simply put, I create because I cannot bear not creating, there is a constant flow of inspiration from everything that surrounds me that gives way to new projects and ideas.
Tim: What gives you the most satisfaction from creating?
Aleks: Aside from obvious public validation? Just satisfaction from creatively executing concepts and seeing your ideas to their full fruition.  
Tim: What are some things you do to get into the “flow state” or “zone” to create?
Aleks: Nothing, to be honest, just a part of a daily routine.  
Tim: If you could tell your 20-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Aleks: Invest more money into the right tools. Acquiring skills is a matter of time, but proper tools are essential to accomplish that without getting discouraged in the process. 
Tim: If you could put one quote or saying on a billboard, what would it be?
Aleks: If you want more meaningful art, you should build a more meaningful world.
Tim: How do you overcome the times of doubt or the gremlins in the back of your head?
Aleks: To be honest I wouldn’t be able to accomplish this without my wife’s encouragement and support. Also working on multiple projects at once so there is an option to switch gears and revisit old projects with a fresh look.
TimWhat are some goals you set as a creative?
Aleks: It all comes down to learning new techniques. The more techniques you master make it easier to accomplish a variety of projects especially in the freelance market that is dictated by extremely constricting deadlines. 
“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” -Scott Adam
You can find Aleks everywhere online @aleks7even.
Check out his online gallery and store:
Along with illustrations, Aleks also creates amazing typography and design work. He helped me create my logo and business cards. I cannot recommend him highly enough.
I learned so much from Aleks during our photoshoot and subsequent interviews. I consider myself very fortunate to know creatives who are willing to share their insights, struggles, and victories. It’s my hope that by reaching out and meeting new artists, I will be able to document and share their stories. My ultimate goal from this project is to answer the question; Why create? While I may never find a definitive answer, reading these stories may inspire current creatives to press on in their endeavors. Or perhaps present the motivation to those who are taking their first steps towards a creative journey.
Whatever the case may be, let’s not take ourselves too seriously.



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