Billie Eilish has conquered the music world and it’s hard to listen to the radio, watch television, or peruse through YouTube without seeing or hearing the talented 18-year-old.
Her influence is reaching young people all around the world and one teen from Chaykovsky in Russia’s Permsky Krai is making her mark thanks, in part, to the young music star.
Nastya Kovtun, who is 16, became the youngest person to hold the Vogue digital cover after her illustration of Billie Eilish was chosen at Eilish’s recommendation.
Another young illustrator from Michigan, Kaylee Yang was also featured in Vogue’s March edition (again, at Eilish’s request). Both are refreshing examples of the Gen Z reach.
Here, we’re talking about these inspiring young artists, their connection to Billie Eilish, and how the internet continues to make it possible for anyone, anywhere to share their art.
Kovtun lives in the small town of Chaykovsky, situated about 1,200 kilometers east of Moscow with a population of just over 80,000 people. It was founded only recently in the 1950s and, in a coincidence that art lovers will enjoy, the town is named after the renowned 19th-century composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky as he was born in the nearby town of Votkinsk.
When Vogue approached the budding artist about having her Eilish illustrations featured in the magazine, the teen was in such disbelief that the visuals team had to send written proof, complete with Russian translations on the magazine’s masthead.
Kovtun posts her illustrations of Eilish on Instagram constantly. She now has over 17,000 followers but told Vogue that she draws for herself, not for social media. Her style has a hint of cartoonish, almost anime vibes – the color tones slightly brighter, the facial features slightly skewed – yet the resemblance to Eilish makes the illustrations absolutely stunning.
After discovering Eilish’s music while watching Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, Kovtun was captivated. She did all the research she could about the singer and went as far as to translate the lyrics into Russian so that she could experience her music on a deeper level.
For the digital cover, Kovtun drew Eilish in a Louis Vuitton dress and the drawing has gained a lot of media attention, especially in Russia. It even appeared on popular late-night Russian television with Ivan Urgant.
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Yang is a 20-year-old nursing student at the University of Michigan and draws incredibly realistic illustrations of anything that sparks her fancy. Yet, before Eilish, she told Vogue that she typically steered clear of drawing portraits, sticking mostly to animals.
So, her Instagram, which has over 41,000 followers, features close-ups of human eyes, tigers, and now, portraits of Eilish. Who knows – she might be open to more portraits in the future after her recent success in the genre.
Yang’s connection to Eilish is also quite special and unexpected.
Back in 2018, Yang was excited to see that Eilish would be performing at the Mo Pop Festival in Detroit and that she would be signing autographs after the show. She drew a black and white sketch based on a photograph by Jack McKain that she planned to give to Eilish at the signing.
But to Yang’s dismay, the signing never happened so she asked a security guard to pass along the illustration to the singer without any real hope that it would actually make it to Eilish.
A year later, an immersive tour went up in Los Angeles called “The Billie Eilish Experience” and while Yang couldn’t attend in person, she searched all over the internet to get a glimpse of it. Each room in the tour represented a song from Eilish’s album When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?. In the “I Love You” room, it was a recreation of Eilish’s bedroom. Hanging on the wall was Yang’s illustration. It seems that the drawing made it to Eilish that day after all.
Her style is super realistic and it’s almost hard to tell the difference between a photograph and Yang’s illustrations. It’s intriguing to see the subtle style disparities between Kovtun and Yang that make for two interesting perspectives of one of their favorite musicians.
Billie Eilish – The Voice of Gen Z
With highlighter colored hair that changes with every season and moody lyrics that resonate deeply with people young and old all around the world, Billie Eilish seems to have started a revolution. The unique music that she writes with her brother Finneas is both catchy and meaningful and has captured the imagination of the planet.And it shows in the way she’s inspiring the young people of Gen Z. Kovtun and Yang come from totally different cultures, live 5,000 miles apart, speak different languages, draw in different styles, and have altogether different aspirations. Yet, they were both deeply inspired by Eilish.
Fans of Eilish resonate with her because she doesn’t put herself on a pedestal. Her fans, including Kovtun and Yang, feel like friends of the singer because she doesn’t speak to or of her fans as if she’s better than them. The fact that Eilish recommended the two young artists for this honor in the first place says a lot about the musician’s humility and seems to be just as much of a fan of her peers in Gen Z as they are fans of her music.
Gen Z and the internet age is all about giving a voice to the voiceless and this story is a fantastic representation of that ideal. Eilish herself is only 18 years old and has shown young people all over the world that they can do anything, regardless of their age, and in this case, the message has done just that for these two young illustrators.