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If you're interested in an official quick version of my bio, here it is.

Dinara Mirtalipova is a self taught illustrator/designer. Born and raised in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, she eventually landed in snowy Ohio. Dinara studied Computer Science at the Tashkent State University of Economics, however her true passion was always patterns and illustration. Raised in Soviet Uzbek culture, Dinara inhabited Uzbek/Russion folklore that still influences her work. 

For a long time Dinara has been among illustrators and designers at American Greetings. She left her creative role at AG in February 2014  to pursue her ever growing freelance career and to start a new chapter as a free spirit independent designer.

Currently Dinara works from her home studio in Sagamore Hills, OH. She uses a wide range of materials and tools, like carving lino blocks, gouache, acrylics and many others. She has been working with many great brands, publishing companies and ad agencies and she is continuously looking forward to making new friends.

And if you really want to know what makes me as a person I tried to group some questions I get asked a lot:

Where are you from? 

I was born and raised in Uzbekistan. No, Uzbekistan is not Pakistan, as, believe it or not, many people assume. It is a Republic that was once with the former USSR. I speak Russian and not so fluent Uzbek (unfortunately). The culture there is so mixed and braided - during The World War II many nationalities has found their shelter in Uzbekistan and stayed even after the War was over. My Grandma, my Dad's mom, was one of them. She was a young Russian girl who met my Uzbek Grandpa and never returned to Russia. My other Grandma, my Mom's mom, was native Uzbek. So growing up I soaked up both cultures and folklore as we celebrated Christians and Muslims, Russian and Uzbek holidays. 

Were you always artsy?

As a child I was a doodler. My parent looked at it as a norm and I grew up with an idea that art was just my hobby. My mom has always been artsy. She had a "real" carrier as a translator/journalist, but her evenings were always filled with crocheting and embroidery. My dad traveled a lot for business and he was like a chest full of stories of how other cultures lived and their habits. He always had some leftover coins from the countries he had traveled and as a child I started collecting the coins he brought home. So growing up, I wanted to travel so badly, My biggest fear as a teenager was that one day I would die and never see an ocean. Maybe that's why I still tend to draw many sail men and mermaids.

Did you go to an art school?

No, I didn't. After graduating from high school I had no idea what I wanted to do. I picked Tashkent State University of Economics, majoring in Computer Science because I wanted to have a real profession and I thought that was the future. But shortly after graduating my whole family moved to the US and I found myself in a part time on-call position at American Greetings helping with cutting out some prototype cards for the presentations. As soon as I entered the AG doors I realized I wanted to be an artist. But going back to school was not so easy, I tried a few times but eventually gave up on that. Instead, I took full advantage of diving into library books and self education. American Greetings pretty much replaced my college, it taught me about paper engineering, silk screening, hand lettering and illustration. I was completely swollen by it's world. You know how it is typical for people to complain how they don't like their job, that was never my case. I though I was living my fantasy and I literally couldn't wait to wake up and go to work and after work I couldn't wait to come home and try all those things I just learned at work. 

Being a parent

I divide my era by "Before Sabrina" and "After Sabrina". Before Sabrina I could easily stay up all night and then go take a shower and go to work and still look fresh. After Sabrina was born, she totally rocked my world. She was this cutest thing that my husband and I created and she completely has stolen my heart. I held her in my arms 24/7. She has never been an easy child - as a baby she cried all day and all night, and she never slept and challenged my ability to complete jobs. She refused to take a bottle, so day care wasn't an option, and as she got older she was very sad every morning as I was leaving to work, so eventually I made a difficult but important decision to go solo and left my creative role at American Greetings. Since that day things are a bit easier. We wake up and cook breakfast together. Sabrina started pre-shool and goes there three days a week for three hours. I'm working from my home studio in Sagamore Hills, OH. I'm juggling freelance and I take Sabrina to different classes and museums.

I know many moms who gave up on their career and dream only because they became fully involved in their child's life. I'm nowhere to blame anyone as every person makes that personal decision. For me it was impossible to stop doing what I love so much. I get a lot of help from my husband and the Grandma and Grandpa. Things are a bit easier as my child is getting older. I simply just take her everywhere I go, if it's a business meeting, she would be sitting there coloring, if I'm painting - she's painting, if I'm silk screening, she sure would be there poking her little nose, if I'm carving rubber stamps, she is there playing with the roller and inks. So, in other words, my creative life and being a parent is completely woven together for me. I'm not expecting my child to grow up as an artist, but showing her a bit of my world would certainly be beneficial to her.

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Why do you do what you do?

For me art is not my job. For me art is the way I entertain myself. What's great about it as it's never the same and it always different. It's like solving puzzles or figuring out a mystery. As busy as my life gets at times, I like finding quiet moments to just sit and draw, while listening to some nice tunes. Usually that happens at night, when the entire house is asleep and it's just me and my nigh owl named Matilda. I like drawing without sketching and with no intentions. It's like reading a good book - you never know what the ending is. Sometimes I start with a face thinking it's a princess, for example, but it might actually end up as a sword fight scene of many fat little vikings ))