For this article in the international artist series, we turn to Ukraine, featuring seven artists who create fantastic work, from illustration to graphic design and more! I asked each artist how their country and culture inspired their work, and they delivered fantastic answers. Enjoy!
Andrey Prokopenko is a designer based in Odessa. His fun and vibrant work can be seen in a small collection of pieces below or in his portfolio.
"Ukraine contributed to my becoming a designer. We have a beautiful country. When you live surrounded by beauty, you form the taste and sense of beauty.
"We are a very friendly people and we always help each other. If you need advice or help, there will always be those who are willing.
Illustration Fs #8
"Ukraine is a very developed design community. We are like one big family. We communicate, keep in touch, meet, and share experiences. In this, no doubt, my country has influenced my work."
Illustration Fs #5
Lidiya Marinchuk is a doll designer based in Zaporizhzhia. Her unique, hand-made and hand-painted pieces bring fun ideas to life in a tangible, huggable form. You can check out a small selection of her work below or view more toys in her portfolio.
"The independent Ukraine is a young, but very promising country with a lot of young talented people. For me, Ukraine symbolizes the young man who goes to his goal in spite of all obstacles. Ukraine inspires me to do my job well.
"My country's culture is very bright and colorful. It brings a lot of joy and fun. I try to show a part of it in my work, although I don't work in a folk-art style."
Nikita Solovyov is an illustrator based in Kiev. His work in character design, advertising, and more is wonderfully masterful. You can check out a small selection below or in his portfolio.
Honda Lawn Mowers: Some Like It Short
"First of all I think that my art should be universal and understandable for all people, independent of nationality. However, I am inspired by Ukraine. It is an awesome country of openly hospitable people.
"The nature here is beautiful: large beaches on the Black sea coast, the Carpathian mountains with ski resorts in winter, plains and forests, and we even have a bit of desert.
"Ukrainian architecture is represented by different eras from medieval fortresses to Soviet modernism, reflecting periods of our country's history. Of course it's all a source of inspiration.
Illustration for a Christmas Story
"I have a couple of characters inspired by Ukrainian folklore. Our folklore is very interesting and unique with a lot of mysticism and sometimes even with a hint of horror. I think I’ll illustrate one of the Ukrainian fairy tales someday."
Tory Polska is an illustrator and visual development designer based in Kiev. Her work is brilliant, transporting viewers into the stories being told with every sketch and brushstroke. You can check out a small sample of her work below or in her portfolio.
Peter Pan—Visual Development
"Ukraine is at the stage of active development of visual culture. The popularity of art and the art population grows every month. Our country influences us with its unique legacy which consists of its beautiful nature, melodic sounds, and fantastic people.
"Besides, Ukraine has a strong art past, which helps us to realize our creative future.
London Places and Spaces
"But most important, is how we, artists, influence Ukraine. We develop its personality; we announce out loud how strong and collaborative we are.
Tree of Life—Visual Development
"I want to believe that art, created by so many artists in different media, brings pleasure and peace to all of us."
Sasha Komyakhov is an illustrator and calligrapher based in Kiev. His marvelous work graces everything from book covers and pages to prints and more! You can check out a small selection of his work below or in his portfolio.
"[My country has been influential] in a good and bad way. During the nineties in the post USSR crisis period for most of artists it was an atmosphere of frustration.
"The main focus was to get funds for living, so basically I was freelancing work without time for personal projects. There was no market or cultural field in general to grow your career in the Ukraine in those days.
At the same time there was a wide field of opportunities because of the lack of Ukrainian design, movies, comics, fonts, videogames, etc. If some product appeared it created a little sensation like "First Ukrainian Graphic Novel" or "First Ukrainian RPG", etc. Regardless of its quality.
Views of Lviv ● Svitoch Sweets
"Presently, post-Maidan period, there's a kind of hope and responsibility for the growth of a career. the new generation of artists literally want to improve our country because of this inspiration.
"The nature of the Ukraine (especially woods and rivers) and some places in the cities of Kiev, Lviv, and many villages are very inspiring to me.
Книжука про бобрюки
"Ukrainian cultural influence is huge, I'd say. Decorative art, (like native jewelry and smith, icons, carvings, ceramics, textile crafts, etc.), mythology, literature and music, architecture, and book typography and illustrations of our designers and artists (especially my mother and grandfather) are all influential to me."
Rustam Isaev is an artist based in Odessa whose work is fun and expressive. You can check out a small selection of his work below or see more in his portfolio.
The Rocket Paw
"Ukraine has a long history with a lot of victories and defeats, honored heroes, and a diversified culture. You can’t see anything of it in my works, however this knowledge has created a certain foundation for my mind-flow and imagination.
"What is more, I have to say a huge thank you to my city. Odessa is a wide smile of Ukraine with the big fans of humor. It inspires me to add part of this fun mood to my projects and make people smile.
Boxing Club 'Angeroo'
"The internet is the best thing happened with Ukrainian design, it’s at a crucial point and an unquenchable resource of inspiration for graphic artists such as me. It’s hard to deny that there are still a lot of really vapid design in Ukraine. Most of it is connected with people who don’t want to keep in touch with the times.
Greek Gods Zeus
"I was surprised and pleased to find a lot of talented guys from my country in social networks who aspire to make our graphic culture look better. And it’s very important for me to be part of this powerful flow, improving my skills and finding new interesting solutions. In my opinion Ukraine is in a period of leveling up now. The great power of inspiration!"
Oleg Shcherba is an illustrator and animator based in Lviv. His energetic work comes to life not only within fun animations but also thanks to his fantastic character design and color palette choices. You can check out a small sample of his work below or in his portfolio.
Cofee Cup Holders
"Of course Ukrainian culture has strongly influenced me. This can be seen in major stylistic solutions (traditional patterns and so on) and in general the mood of my work. As I've gotten older I no longer go deep into the roots of my culture and perhaps I will continue to experiment further in this direction.
"At the moment, I'm working on a children's comic book, the protagonists of which live around the places where I grew up in the days of my youth. It will be such a 'naked picture' of how I remember it.
"I believe that everything that happens around you affects you to some extent. The creativity, culture, and country in which you grew up and live in has the greatest impact, even if you try to abstract from it."
Illustrations (Summer '15)
Many thanks to the artists above who took time to answer my questions and share their work. You can follow them around the web below: