Nastya Kovtun and Kaylee Yang are not yet professional artists, and until this week they were far removed from the international art world. Sixteen-year-old Kovtun lives in a remote town called Chaykovsky in Russia’s Permsky Krai, whilst twenty-year-old Yang is a nursing student from Michigan, USA.
The Russian teenager has even broken a world record with her vibrant sketch. “Kovtun, who drew Eilish in a Louis Vuitton dress, is now the youngest person to have ever held a Vogue digital cover,” announced Vogue on Monday.
Both women were initially very sceptical when they opened a suspicious-looking email from the legendary fashion magazine. “If I may be honest, at first I thought the email was a scam,” confessed Yang. According to Vogue, their visual team had to send Kovtun a scan of its masthead and translations in Russian to convince her that the offer was real.
Vogue discovered the two extraordinary artworks through Instagram. Out of her millions of followers and thousands of fan artists, Eilish personally endorsed Kovtun and Yang.
Despite being only eighteen years old herself, Eilish became a world-wide success last year following the release of her album ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’. “Eilish, with her whispery vocals, hair in rotating sour-candy shades, and lyrics that explore the depths of teenage angst and depression,” explained Vogue, “has become the mouthpiece of Gen Z, connecting them in ways both globally apparent and subtle.”
Speaking about Eilish’s captivating lyrics, Kovtun remarked her “words are the strongest on the planet. They can make you cry, laugh, get angry or worry.”
Vogue’s rogue digital cover signals a broader change in the art world, fuelled by the interconnectivity of social media. Both Kovtun and Yang posted photographs of their artworks on Instagram, a platform that has enabled artists to immediately display their work to the masses without major funding. In the past, up-and-coming artists sought the support of galleries, museums or private funders for their work to be seen by an international audience.
After avidly listening to Eilish’s moody music, Kovtun became inspired. “It turned out that she [Eilish] is so young, but was already very successful. And I realised that I can do the same thing—develop and achieve something, regardless of age,” she told a local Russian newspaper. “And now you can develop regardless of where you live, because there is internet.”