Let’s start with you telling us a bit about yourself. Do you live in Nizhny Novgorod?
Yes, I live in Nizhny Novgorod and have been doing graphic design for about five years. My account is about two years old.
You have graduated from the institute recently, haven’t you?
No, I am still studying, distance form of education, but not graphic
So, you have no profession-related education?
No, I completed Skillbox courses some time ago.
It’s actually more and more often that we meet great designers who never studied design, or studied it a little. Is it a trend?
The barrier of entry to the profession is low, and it is not that hard to master some tools, especially Figma. If you managed to design a landing or do something in Photoshop, you already consider yourself a designer. I have been doing design for four years and I am still learning. I have a long way to go.
Where are you working now?
At the company called Riverstart, and I hope everyone will hear about it soon, because it does great projects. We perform full cycle marketing tasks, but have not taken part in any competitions yet. But I’d prefer to do UX, be promoted to a senior designer, and do art direction. And have more stressful projects to develop and to grow.
Why UX? One would think differently judging by your
For me Instagram is rather a form of escapism, just a way to relax. I have yet to learn how to make money on things like
Please, tell us a little bit about Nizhny. Are there places to study at? Is there some kind of design community?
There is no design community as such. There are a few great studios such as Unblvbl and LOCO who are particularly good at branding. But there are no full cycle studios doing really great design projects. Though, there are quite strong ones, MediaNation and our Riverstart. But everyone is eager to leave for bigger cities. Regions are developing slowly, it is easier to come to a Moscow-based studio where all processes had already been established and refined.
Space spices packaging design. By Unblvbl Studio
Nord Stream canned food packaging design. By LOCO Studio
Do you mostly work for Nizhny-based clients?
No, we work all over Russia, many of our clients are from Moscow, there are also foreigners. Our company has two business lines, Riverstart for Russia (we are now finishing its website), and Oceanstart, for the audience abroad.
Do you work a lot for foreign customers?
It’s 10-15% of our projects, I guess. Mostly marketing. They wouldn’t want to develop their webpages themselves, they are not interested in that for some reason. I don’t know all the details, because we have a large team, around 50 people, with 30 of them being developers/engineers.
Please tell us about a project that you’re proud of.
We have recently designed a website for fashion industry research in Russia, a state project supported by the Agency of Creative Industries. It was a certain challenge for me. It took us a long time to do research, to reach an understanding in terms of general concept. The team was very
Website for fashion industry research. By Riverstart Studio
A few years ago Nizhny Novgorod saw certain serious developments around contemporary art. Has it eventually developed into something?
It hasn’t. There are these really serious guys, Dreamlaser, who do light shows for Moscow and international projects, but most artists still work within Nizhny. For some people it works to make money on it, for some it doesn’t. For example, for me it all started when I was designing posters every day. Then I couldn’t do it on a daily basis, and I just began doing it sometimes. Instagram gave me many opportunities. I believe that a designer should be able to grow and build a certain personal brand. The fact that I have an account that I can always show and that I am proud of, gives me, as a designer, confidence.
Adidas × FIFA interactive installation. Проект студии Dreamlaser
Realtime graphics for Almaty Symphony Orchestra concert. By Dreamlaser Studio
Does this kind of activity affect your commercial works somehow?
It does. It shows my clients how professional I am. I was approached by a large online store from the US. I am also approached by musicians, but I don’t like working with musicians.
Why? Wow, look at you! Everyone dreams of working with musicians.
I already have, and I didn’t like it. Public figures presume that you owe them, and don’t value the fact that you do a high-quality and considerable job as well. You work on their terms.
And how is it possible to make money using your skills without working on someone’s terms?
You have to develop yourself, your personal brand. That’s the only way. When your work is shared by certain powerful accounts, you are approached by many people. There is this artist, Beeple, he’s been a great influence on the motion design culture. He has been doing rendering every day for 13 years. There is no place where one can get this kind of experience, no studios. It is much more important to grow and develop yourself as an artist.
How can this be monetised later? Then it’s the brands that approach you as an independent artist, right?
Yes. Brands approach you to ask for your design
Do you know such examples in Russia?
Sure. VFX artist Brickspacer, my friend Misha Danilov — he does AR. His customers are world class stars. They have strict technical design assignments, but they are interesting to work with. Now we witness a boom of NFT
Do you believe that NFT platforms have a future? Or will it eventually blow over?
That same Beeple, for instance, posted a collage of five thousand of his first render works on an NFT platform and sold it for 70 million dollars. So, I think, it’s a new brand of contemporary art, and it won’t blow over but will become stable. But it won’t be that kind of money anymore, not as much as it was at first. There are now lots of platforms, no one is interested in working at a studio and doing web design, because you can become an artist instead and sell your works for NFT. For example, 3D clothes are popular today.
How will it impact commercial designers, what will happen to this language?
I don’t think it will significantly affect commercial design. We will just see the arrival of artists in Russia and in the world who will do that. I mean, web design doesn’t care for how exactly a task was solved, it is rather about functionality. Whereas things happening on Instagram are rather about visuals. That will probably affect branding. Perhaps, it already did.
We now see a more aggressive typography, more ‘playing with fonts’, more courage, more 3D illustration. Whereas back then any branding of a new
Can you define these trends? This sort of design currently dominating over Instagram?
That’s exactly what I call ‘aggressive typography’. Today everyone’s trying to design their own typefaces. I don’t know about Russia, but that is highly popular
Where will it go, what do you think? Has it reached its peak, or will we exist within the framework of this aesthetics a few more years?
It depends on every person who does design. I am sick of it already, because I always see exactly this type of design everywhere. And there are also artists who just came
Can you give us a few names of people whom you follow?
Those are all English-speaking ones: @aeternno, @marcelkohlr, @harry__vincent, @auguste_lefou, @rydeas, @kushlet. I communicate a lot with foreign artists. I don’t know why, but when you have an international audience, it’s not toxic at all, everyone is very helpful. When it comes to Russian design, it’s vice
Is there a way to change things?
Artists themselves have to help increase the professional level
Whom do you follow when it comes to type design?
What role does typography play in your work? How do you work with type, what do you base on?
If it’s branding, I proceed from associations, research on what the brand is associated with. Typography for me is 80% of success. It is particularly true when it comes to websites. If it’s my work for the Instagram, the main thing is associations as well. For my Insta I often design the letters myself. I don’t know what this kind
Do you design in a special font software or using a graphics editor?
First I draw a sketch, then bring it to Illustrator. I don’t design an entire typeface, just separate letters, some text. That’s rather lettering.
How did it feel working with our typefaces? Are there any typefaces that you discovered for yourself and would like to use again sometime?
Could you tell us about your concept? It seemed like pieces from some imaginary (yet great!) self-development course.
It was actually only in the middle of the month that I realised that I needed a concept. Initially, there wasn’t one. Those are phrases that got lost in my notes,
Why does it happen this way, what do you think? Do we feel ashamed of using our own language?
Because a phrase in English sounds way more mysterious. And it is targeted at the international audience, unlike Russian letters. Artists doing works in Russian are very smart people, because you have to find something hidden in the phrase, some
Judging by likes, our audience was most engaged in the image ‘There is no meaning, but it’s fun’.
That is not the most successful work, I think. For example, the idea of ‘What?’ was most liked among those whom I consider heavyweights, most competent in terms of design, yet it got little likes overall.
Who are those heavyweights? Have you consulted someone?
Yes, I have. I consulted senior designer at Riverstart and several other designers that I am in touch with. We have also talked with our art director a couple of times. And I spoke to Misha Danilov, a very good friend of mine. I’d want young artists and designers to not be afraid of asking for help. I’d want the design community in Russia become more open. We don’t consider ourselves very cool, we all face the same problems in design. And we need to stick together, speak about it and raise these issues in order to increase our professional
Shouldn’t we perhaps arrange some sort of community for these purposes?
We probably should. But what will it address, what will it do? Clearly, there are great design schools. Bang Bang Education, for