Recently, images of the original album with illustration of Ukrainian proverbs widely spread in the Ukrainian segment of the Internet. People told their friends about it and tried to find out, where they can buy the book. The Day also got interested in Ukrainian Proverbs and found out that there is no actual book.
In reality this album is an MA project of a graduate of the Lviv National Academy of Arts Anastasia Stefurak, who works under the pseudonym Nastia Karuf. This year she graduated from the department of graphic design. Anastasia is currently working in the design studio, where she works on creating logos, corporate identity, and masters web design. For her own pleasure she illustrates the book of an Italian writer Angela Nanetti My Grandfather Was a Cherry and a novel by Swedish writer Maria Gripe Agnes Cecilia – en saellsam historia. Seeing the excitement aroused by her Ukrainian Proverbs, Stefurak is now considering offering it to the publishers.
Was illustrating Ukrainian proverbs your first attempt at book design?
“Before this project I had already had similar experience. For my BA project I made the design and illustrations for Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 – I created portraits of main and secondary characters. In every drawing I used the images of books: opened books, stacked in piles, with smoldering pages (based on the plot of the story, where firemen in the distant future would burn books instead of extinguishing fire). The illustrations were made in a mixed technique, but the characters were more realistic. The tools and the technique are similar to those, used for artistic design for the proverbs, but the style is different.”
And why did you get interested in illustrating proverbs?
“I got the idea about working with proverb in my final year of university. I think it’s quite an interesting topic, which can be presented in an original way. In my final year of studies I decided that I could use this idea for my MA project, in which I wanted to combine typography with illustration, since such trend is quite popular nowadays. Proverbs perfectly suited this purpose. Our Ukrainian proverbs are very bright, witty, and smart. The presence of metaphors, allegories, and hyperboles in them became the basis for creating illustrations, where the typography got the place of a full-value compositional element. Short typed phrases can be incorporated into an illustration, make it an element of the image, highlight by the font appearance (its point size and style) the meaning it conveys. I selected proverbs according to my preferences, I was looking for some interesting images that I could portray. I’ve read very many of them. From a great number of proverbs I picked about 25 and illustrated about a dozen from those. I had a desire to make children interested in folk art by those illustrations and try to offset the complex bias of today’s youth regarding the national heritage. Another reason that influenced my decision was the lack of modern illustrated books with Ukrainian proverbs. At least, I haven’t seen any around.”
What did your professors and friends think of your work?
“I received a high grade. Academy professors spoke well of my work, as well as my groupmates. They even said that they would like to have a copy of such book. After defending my MA project I started to think about publishing my work. But this seemed more like a distant plan. However, after the Ukrainian Proverbs appeared in the Internet, people started to ask where they could purchase the book. I really want this project to be published. I am not sure about the volume, I mean whether the number of illustrations is sufficient to publish a book, and about my financial capabilities, since this is my first experience in such matters.”
What is the process of transforming text into an illustration looks like for you?
“When I create an illustration for a book, I try to imagine myself one of the characters or a person, who sees it all from outside. In my imagination a part of a book comes to life like a video, then I stop at a certain ‘frame’ and make a sketch from it. Certain images may come in my dreams, when I am sleeping, memories can become an idea, an impetus for making an illustration. Often the ideas come spontaneously. I never think about how a particular character turned having a certain color of hair or eyes. This may depend on the color scheme of the entire image. And, perhaps, these are just my personal preferences.”
What Ukrainian or foreign designers and illustrators do you look up to?
“Of the contemporary foreign designers I very much like the illustrations of Gabriel Pacheco and collages by Agata Dudek, I also admire the work of American artist Andrew Wyeth. From all the Ukrainian designers I find the works by Vladyslav Yerko, Hrytsia Erde, and Agrafka studio very inspiring.”