With the world’s eyes fixed on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the global community has risen to show support for Ukrainians. Part of this effort comes from large corporations and companies cutting ties with and stopping work in Russia, but it also includes individuals who are dedicating their time and energy to show support towards the nation.
Graphic designer Mykola Kovalenko is a Ukrainian artist who resides in Slovakia and has worked for the likes of MullenLowe, Saatchi & Saatchi and Publicis. As someone outside of the immediate arena of conflict, yet with numerous friends and family members in his home country, he couldn’t help but do something to help stop the war. His posters are graphic, visual and show a strong sense of solidarity with Ukraine. Having created work for the Art for Peace initiative which auctioned artwork for the People at Risk non-profit organisation, Mykola would love nothing more than for his work to become “war protest posters” to stop the tragedy that continues to occur.
Mykola shares his desire to support Ukraine and the reason why he felt he needed to do something about it.
LBB> What do you hope your ideas and designs will inspire people to do?
Mykola> To stop the war. I want to draw attention to the tragedy that is happening in Ukraine right now. I hope my designs will be seen by as many people as possible, resonate with people and, maybe, help stop the Russian war against Ukraine.
LBB> Why did you decide to express your feelings about the invasion through your creativity?
Mykola> Because design is my job, my life and my hobby. This is what I can do best, design is my weapon.
LBB> What was the first design that you made about the crisis?
Mykola> The first work I made is the piece where the Ukrainian flag is blurred. It symbolised the moment where Russian soldiers gradually filled our cities and our borders were disappearing. Now Sumy, Chernigov and Mariupol are being wiped off the face of the Earth.
LBB> You're based in Slovakia - how have you found watching the crisis in your country unfold from afar? And how has the local community in Slovakia rallied around Ukrainians?
Mykola> I have been living in Slovakia for seven years, but it's near Ukraine, so I often visit home where my family and friends are. I worry about them very much which is why I’m trying to do anything I can to stop the war. Slovakians worry about Ukrainians too, they want to support and help them. I'm very grateful to them for this.
LBB> Your ideas are so striking and bold, conveying very clear messages - how have you developed those ideas?
Mykola> I don't quite know how to explain it. I just wake up, read the news with all its horror and create a new poster.
LBB> Are you hoping to raise money with the images? Might people be able to buy them to use as protest posters or would you like people to share them somehow?
Mykola> Yes, my work is being sold in various places [including online auctions] and any money received is being sent to support the Ukrainian army. Also, I do joint projects with Slovaks, where we raise funds to help Ukraine. If my work ends up becoming war protest posters, I'd be happy about it.