My mission is to develop the illustration industry in Ukraine and to show that our artists could exhibit their works at the best galleries, and they would be talked about in the best international media.
I feel connected to Ukraine every day. In Donetsk, my hometown, the whole informational field was usually occupied by Russian narratives. In 2008, when Russia invaded Georgia, I realised that the country, with which I sort of identified myself, started a war – the bloody, rapid, filthy war. I felt disgusted, and it was for the first time when I felt the strong separation from their informational and cultural field. By 2010, my family was highly critical of our Northern neighbour.
The final turning point from point A to point B happened in 2013-2014. There was no turning back – I was finally definite that Ukraine and Russia are two totally different countries. My position shifted from being a 'citizen of the world', where everyone is together to realizing that I am Ukrainian: I have different values, different needs, different views on the development of myself, my country, and the world as a whole.
I remember the declaration of independence. I was studying at school back then, and I saw how happy our teachers were, however, they tried to hide it. They did it because they voted against the system, in which they existed for a very long time and were still afraid of it. I remember how the day after the referendum I gave two Soviet coins to the buffet worker, and he said: "We will have our own currency soon".
My motivation to reflect on resonant events or processes is in expressing and defining myself in a certain statement, as well as to show my attitude towards problems in Ukraine
My colleague Ricardo Guasco once told me that the profession of illustrator is very 'long'. If you start to draw, you must be ready that the result might come not in a year or even five. I chose a path where one has to change all the time, even when it is difficult and, at some point, your works are not understood by others.
Consistency is important in some areas. Sometimes it takes a coherent mechanism for everything to work like a clockwork. But in illustration, if you are not changing – you are repeating yourself and your viewers will definitely notice it. Being constant in creativity means constantly missing something.
I remember my disappointment a year after I started to draw professionally. The thing is, that there was no Ukrainian illustration market in 2010 yet. From a certain point I couldn't keep drawing oil rigs and advertising for banks for the Russian market anymore. Then I started creating illustrations for the 'Experience' column of Esquire Ukraine magazine. And that saved me.
Every time my illustration is chosen by a foreign media, I am convinced that my work is not in vain. In November, I am travelling to the United States for the American Illustration world competition because I was featured in their anniversary book. An international jury selects Top 300 illustrators around the world, and I am among them. It seems to look like it's a success.
When I was a child, my dad used to tell stories, and we took turns visualising them on paper. Those were stories about tanks, motorcycles, cranes, and comics. I was also reading encyclopedias and was trying to draw illustrations to the articles from there. I was drawing at school and at the university. I used to work as a designer, but later I understood that I always wanted to create my own coordinate system, to draw freely, rather than to follow some rules or principles.
The officer from the 55th Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine gave me this ration pack, which consisted of biscuits, honey, chocolate, and buckwheat. I had an idea of opening this pack when Ukraine wins. They were given to us when we were leaving our positions, where I watched through binoculars how our artillery fired at enemy positions in Ilovaisk and Mospyno. Our family cottage remained in Mospyno. I was happy to feel strength, to feel that there are people who protect me. Because to read about it is one thing, but to see it with your own eyes is completely different. At that time, Russia didn't send their regular army – that's why the overall mood was quite victorious. We left two hours before the real Russo-Ukrainian open armed conflict had started.
Later, I visited that officer from the 55th Brigade at the hospital. He was wounded but was lively and in good spirits. For me, that ration pack was an embodiment of Ukrainian strength. And I am happy to be a part of it, even for a little. When I look at this pack, I know that one day I will open it and eat that biscuit.
Illustration is a visually curious transition of thought from point A to point B. This fixed path is a fragment that an illustrator's consciousness comes through
The most satisfying part of a job is a 'triple hit'. When you feel that your illustration is on point for you, the customer, and the viewers
For me, patriotism is a deep feeling of unity with your environment. The last time I had that feeling was when I created a poster to support the protection of the modernist building 'Flowers of Ukraine' (it is a flower shop-greenhouse, designed by the architect Mykola Levchuk, located in Kyiv on 49 Sichovykh Striltsiv Street. Numerous protests against the demolition of this building happened in July 2021): you help someone, you know what for and for whom you are doing it. We need to grow, to unite, to learn about our strengths and potential, give a piece of ourselves because Ukraine needs it. Not to consume, but to create.
When important social or political events are happening in Ukraine, I am trying to reflect them in my work. In particular, because they will be seen by my foreign colleagues, who will form the image of Ukraine for themselves and for their communities.
Ukrainians are distinguished by their sincere and extreme desire to work, and the belief that what you do impacts the whole world