This week the Cut explores the messy, loving, spiteful, supportive, competitive, joyful, and funny sides of friendship.
New York–based illustrators Joana Avillez and Dasha Tolstikova first met in grad school at the School of Visual Arts. “We spent the first year eyeing each other, and the second year, like, okay, we’re going to be friends now, forever,” Dasha recalls. They initially bonded over their similarities: “We were both only children, and grew up in cities, and had a similar sensibility about life,” says Dasha. As artists, both had a playful way about them. “We would sit in class and draw together,” Joana remembers. “We started having fun and passing notes — almost like we were in middle school. We could be kind of childish together.”
The two artists have been friends ever since. Joana’s drawings have appeared in The New Yorker, Vogue, New York, and Lena Dunham’s memoir (also a longtime friend). Dasha has illustrated many books, most recently The Jacket, and is currently working on a memoir. Sharing drawings has remained a big part of their friendship. They’re constantly sending each other illustrations, doodles, and notes, as presents, iMessages, or Facebook posts. “For my birthday Dasha gave me a drawing of two girls giggling, which says ‘secrets,’” recalls Joana. “I think that’s how we started drawing ourselves in different scenarios.”
“It makes me really happy to do and receive,” said Dasha. “Other friends of ours have commented that they feel really jealous that we’re always posting little snippets and inside jokes to each other.”
Click through the slideshow for a look at the illustrations of their friendship that the two artists have exchanged — from sardine picnics and aspirational dogs to false childhood memories.