Cover that started it all

I can’t start telling my story without giving an homage to very special cover.
My boyfriend and I moved from Atlanta (where I lived for 4 years) to NYC to pursue our dreams, me as make up artist, him as a photographer (check his work out at

We did not know anyone from our industry in the city. We tested in our little apartment in Astoria, dreaming of being the part of the bigger picture – sharing our work with the world.

We sort of grew up together, artistically (and emotionally as well). We guided each other through maze of often confusing aspects of fashion world, completely green and starry eyed, we never let go of each other hand.
We plotted, dreamed, drooled over glossy magazines, kissed, sat on our couch dreaming of fun things to come….hopeful.

One day, Michael was contacted by editor of a magazine( that shall remain nameless), she has seen his website and loved his work.
She offered him to shoot a beauty story that was due in a WEEK!!!
Theme of the issue was music, he was to shoot the story using his own resources.
You can imagine the excitement, the opportunity, finally, finally!

Being that our aesthetic is very dark and moody, Marylin Manson came to mind immediately.
I decided to pay homage to his evolution as an artist, through make up.
Michael presented idea to the editor and she LOVED it!!! She called the next day and told him he should use her friend make up artist for this.
With only few days left to shoot this, he told her he would like to use his usual team of hair, stylist and make up artist.
He told her he would love to meet her make up artist as well for future shoots (we are not bound to each other and work with other people freely).

Next day, she asked him to send the link to the crew he is using, and loved and approved everyone, except….take a guess….make up artist (SURPRISE!!).
She called my work very LA, what ever that meant? Michael explained to her again, that he has no time gambling with new artist on such a short deadline.

I was devastated. I felt like someone took my dream and crushed it in their hands.
Rejection by the magazine I liked and fashion person whose work I admired was very disheartening. I cried like a baby.

I was worse than Bridget Jones, I was walking around with greasy hair and drowning my sorrows in pint of Hagen Daas Coffee flavor. I had full orchestra of tiny little violins playing dramatic tune around my head.
Then I got angry, I pulled up my sleeves and The Dope Show was born.

That shoot was special to me, it was shot in tiny little room, with most amazingly gracious and patient model called Masha who just arrived from Siberia night before to walk at Bryant Park.

She was jet lagged, so I would lay her down on the floor of our kitchen, put the pillow under her head and apply her make up while she took little naps, how lucky we were to have her! Our comrades in 12 hour journey, stylist Oliv and hairstylist Seiji patiently weaved their magic.

Despite all of the obstacles like small space and long hours, we created something special.
That story of ours took a life and we were so proud. No matter how happy I was, this little voice inside was telling me not to get too excited about getting published, and I was right.
Our story ended up being the only story that was cut out of the issue.

The Dope Show became The Drop Show, oh my. So it sat there whispering in my ear for weeks, like Smeagol calling out: “My precioussssssss….”

After almost a month I decided I could not let this story go. I sat in front of my computer and at 10 o’clock at night started e mailing.
At 11 pm I received an e mail asking us do we have credits ready for the story and has it ever been published anywhere else.
As I read down the e mail and saw the name of the magazine my heart skipped, oh hell, it STOPPED!!!
It was CITY magazine! One of the magazines we drooled over, one magazine that inspired us so much with their fun, cheeky and imaginative stories.
Their issue with the model and the colorful crab on her head we kept in our possession FOREVER (and we still have it). That CITY was talking to us, at midnight.
I was to meet Fabrice Frere, creative director in the morning at his office, I could not believe this was happening.

There I was, shaking the hand of the man who without any politics, any pretension saw something and gave a chance to two unknown people, on merits of their work.

He slowly turned his computer monitor toward me, and there it was….Masha artfully licking her black and gold lips, daring the world to take a peek.

When I left his office, I cried, yes, like a baby again ( hey, I am Slavic, we are very dramatic). This time they were tears of enormous gratitude and an amazing lesson learned.

It was poetic that it was the CITY that gave us our first chance in our now beloved city. New York spoke to us.
New York is tough, it tests you, it pushes you and it inspires you at the same time.
Many more rejections came after that, but they gave me no tears, I had my wings.
Every insult, rejection, setback inserted another feather to help me fly. I knew that for every opinion, there are people who are willing to give me a chance.

Today I have an amazing agency that I am proud to belong to, so much under my belt and so many more goals to accomplish so many more lessons to learn. I welcome them, I am not afraid to keep on going.

People like Fabrice Frere, driven by vision, art and stripped of any mind games make this City for me. Streets are filled with them.

I know because I met them, they helped me grow as an artist and as a person. I met beautiful photographers, hairstylists, fellow make up artists, editors, art directors and many more.

They all have a story of their own, they all had cuts on their skin but they grew, became stronger but still kept their kindness and passed it forward.
Those are people I look up to, those are people I want to be. My light,my inspiration, my heart.
I am so ever grateful.

So there it is that beautiful girl on the cover of the magazine playfully sticking her tongue out, telling me not to take myself too seriously and to never give up.
So my dear friends, never give up, you are not alone.


  1. What a great story! I love seeing how you started out as a make-up artist, these photos are incredible!

    I don’t think you remember me, but we met once; I worked with your mom a few years ago at JV salon (I was the receptionist). She bragged about you non-stop, and obviously with every right – you are TALENTED.

    Keep up the amazing work!

  2. Thank you so much for reading, it means a lot to me. I would probably remember you if I saw your face.
    I will tell my mom that you were very first commenter on my blog, congratulations! (imagine horns and confetti falling from the sky :)).
    I brag about my mom all the time, so that is very mutual πŸ™‚

  3. Thank you Viktorijia! That was beautifully written! As a friend and one of my favorite make up artists in the industry, who’s boyfriend’s work is a huge source of inspiration for me as well, this resonates inside me so deeply! It was so moving and beautifully written, it made me emotional and teary eyed. It’s also one of the most beautiful stories ever! I think we must have the same orchestra of violins, because they are very difficult to ignore when they decide to play. XOXO Wendy

  4. Thank you for sharing this story with us. it is truly inspiring and gives me hope in those dark moments when you think you’ll never get work.
    I write a blog ( which I would like to feature your work. I’ve had a look through your boyfriends website and I would really like to show work that you have done together as a team (my boyfriend and I are a team too πŸ™‚ )

    Please let me know if you are interested and email me low res images that you would like featured. I will credit everything to your websites/blog. thanks and all the best for the future

  5. I love every single image you have ever put your hand to. You’re truly an artists’ artist and I treasure seeing your work and watching you grow beyond the wildest imagination. I wish you much luck and joy, Viktoria. You inspire me! xoxox Lj

  6. Ah! I love this…thank you for sharing not only your art work, but your thoughts. I am a Makeup Artist and breaking into the industry is not an easy task. I am continously looking to get better, and dream of working with the best and published over those magazines I continously drool over:) So happy that dreams do come true!!! Ps. your work is Amazing!

  7. Gurrrlllll this was just beautiful You know I think the world of you and well your talent is beyond words. Im proud to know you. A very inspiring story and one I will carry with me on those funky days when I want to cry as well

    Much love Lady

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