South Carolina Sunshine is honored to feature Sasha and Ella Marushchenko, the co-founders and owners of Ella Maru Studio located in Charleston, SC. The business specializes in Scientific design and animation.





Ella Marushchenko and her scientific illustrations inspire me. When Darcy and I set out to make South Carolina Sunshine a serious endeavor, we reached out to the Ella Maru Studio to see if they would be willing to be interviewed for a feature in our SC People section. They replied "yes" within twenty minutes of receiving our email. I was thrilled by their generosity. I have followed Ella Marushchenko's career as a scientific illustrator, often incorporating images of the Ella Maru Studio into my Color and Composition syllabus. UofSC students are in awe of the visualizations of chemistry, nano, and biological concepts coupled with the compelling artistic expression of the subjects. They are inspired by Ella's career path, particularly drawn to her social media accounts, where she is authentic about who she is and sometimes shares challenges that she overcame in her youth. Which, for them, is relatable and makes them realize that their goals are obtainable.





Sasha and Ella Marushchenko in KUDU Coffee and Craft Beer, Charleston, SC. Photo by Dawn Hunter



Artistic Background



Ella was born and raised in Ufa, Russia. Art has always been part of her life. Her grandmother was an artist, and her mother, who also has artistic talent, always supported her creativity. She received excellent training while she assisted the famous Russian painter, the late Sergey Krasnov, and his assistant Vera Asanbaeva for eight years. While training with Krasnov and Asanbaeva she learned the importance of observation and honed this skill.





Above, painting by Sergey Krasnov.



After completing her apprenticeship, she earned her Master's degree in art from Bashkir State Pedagogical University, Ufa, Russia. She eventually moved to the Czech Republic and began to explore many different art forms like ceramics, textiles, and watercolor, but she focused primarily on interior and fashion design. She fully expected to pursue a profession in interior design upon arriving in the United States however, she met Dr. Sergiy Minko, who insisted that she create an illustration for an article he planned to publish in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Advanced Functional Materials. Her image was selected for the cover of the journal.





Above, artwork by Vera Asanbaeva.



Ella Maru Studio



Other scientists recognized her ability to summarize their content with the well-designed components (texture, lighting, and color) of her images, and she received more requests for work. Sasha and Ella Marushchenko founded Ella Maru Studio to meet the demand. Sasha, who holds a Ph.D. in chemistry, organized a business plan so that Ella's creativity and scientific illustrations could flourish.



In the beginning, it was just the two of them, but Ella Maru Studio has grown and now employs eight people. Their team is a combination of Ph.D. scientists and professionally trained artists from the top universities throughout the United States. In each commission they implement Ph.D. level scientific insight with top art design talent to create engaging scientific images and animations. Her illustrations have been selected as cover art for numerous scientific journals, which include: Nature, Nature Physics, Nature Materials, Nature Nanotechnology, Cell, Nanoletters, Angewandte Chemie, and JACS.



Sasha and Ella have teamed up for other endeavors outside of Ella Maru Studio in the Charleston area. An example is the conservation of eagles and other wildlife in the low country. Recently, an eagle's nest was threatened by new construction. Sasha is passionate about eagle conservation, so during the peaceful, organized protests against disrupting the eagle's home, they created a painting to put at the site for public display. Through their creativity for conservation, anyone who passed by could be educated regarding dynamics in the region that are threatening to wildlife and endangered species.



Ella also continues to develop and is devoted to her personal artistic practice. Occasionally, she accepts special commissions, like the painting featured below. It was a work created for Ella's friend. The painting took three months, and it depicts in rich colors and fine detail the Russian fairytale Lukomorye.


Ella's Lukomorye painting is as fascinating and as full of wonderment as her scientific illustrations. We don't know about you, but South Carolina Sunshine is looking forward to the next cover produced by Ella Maru Studio!





Ella Marushchenko with her painting about the Russian fairytale "Lukomorye."



Follow the link below and visit the Maru Studio website. There you will find lots of examples of her scientific illustration and animated work.