Design

Ukrainian Designers Share Stories of Life and Work in Wartime

Designers from the Awesomic.io community respond to the war in Ukraine through artworks and personal stories

When war breaks into your home, it seems like any place for creativity ceases to exist. Can someone create art when air raid sirens wail in the streets, accompanied by the choir of anxious thoughts? And yet, during wartime, art becomes a way to express pain and worries, as well as a medium of rebellion and hope.

Here, Ukrainian designers from the Awesomic.io community share their artworks and personal experiences, reflecting on how wartime influences and impacts their work, life, and creativity.

“The First Days”, by Yulia Kuznetsova

“I tried to picture myself in the first days of the war. However, I think that this illustration resonates with many people, and they will see themselves in it.”

Illustration by Yulia Kuznetsova.
Illustration by Yulia Kuznetsova.

“Something That I Won’t See Anymore”, by Dmytro Shelestynskyi

“In my school years, I went to this sports complex for volleyball and ping-pong lessons. Later, during my teen years, I took photoshoots near the building’s facade, made in the brutalist style. During the war, the sports complex was destroyed by the occupants. Unfortunately, I saw the video with the building on fire, and I must say that I haven’t seen such a fire in any movie.

"I created an updated design of the stained glass window that adorned the hall in the sports complex, which I’ll remember forever."

The stained glass window featured in the hall of the sports complex in Rubizhne, Luhansk region.
The stained glass window featured in the hall of the sports complex in Rubizhne, Luhansk region.

“The realization that the foundations of my childhood memories are being destroyed today is pretty painful. I have a desire to create a project about the improvement and renewal of culture in Rubizhne.

“Of course, the priorities have shifted now, and human life is the most valuable thing. I want as few people as possible to suffer from this war. However, the architecture of Rubizhne has a lot of meaning for me, and, as a designer, I think that the restoration of the stained-glass window is a good idea for the restoration of culture in the Luhansk region.”

Updated design of the stained-glass window, by Dmytro Shelestynskyi.
Updated design of the stained-glass window, by Dmytro Shelestynskyi.

“My Home is Irreplaceable”, by Sofiya Miroshnichenko

“I made this illustration on a day when I became fully aware that my home is the dearest to my heart and irreplaceable."

Illustration by Sofiya Miroshnichenko.
Illustration by Sofiya Miroshnichenko.

“I Left My Home Twice”, by Oleh Idolov

“I had to leave my home twice because of Russian aggression. In 2014, I left my hometown Yalta, and eight years later had to leave Kyiv for safety reasons. This experience has proven useful: on February 24, the world I woke up in didn’t become totally different. Certain things have changed, and I felt the nature of this conflict. However, I was morally prepared for it and could navigate the situation better than others.

Oleh working from a bomb shelter.
Oleh working from a bomb shelter.

“When the war started, many of my colleagues tried to explain to Russians that they have to stop the war or influence the government. I thought it was useless from the start, so I focused my efforts on visual communication with Western countries, charities, and funds.”

A logo for charity foundation 1Future, designed by Oleh.
A logo for charity foundation 1Future, designed by Oleh.

“In Memory of My Friend Yulia”, by Volodymyr Manko

“This illustration is created in memory of my friend Yulia from Kharkiv. She decided to stay in the city until the end but died on March 8. I can say that this illustration is dedicated to all women who died during the war.”

Illustration by Volodymyr Manko.
Illustration by Volodymyr Manko.

“Umbrella”, by Roman Lisnychyi

“The idea with an umbrella came to me when Kharkiv was under intense bombing; it was literally raining bombs. So I’ve had a metaphor as if NATO could become this “umbrella” and protect us from this rain.

“I’ve also wanted to show that people can’t protect themselves from bombings. I wanted to show how surreal it is when Russians attack innocent and unprepared people, and I chose the metaphor of the bomb falling on an umbrella.

“I think that every person who sees this illustration will understand it differently. But if I made it today, I’d associated the umbrella with the Ukrainian Armed Forces because they’re our strongest defense right now, in my opinion.”

Illustration by Roman Lisnychyi.
Illustration by Roman Lisnychyi.

"Stop Putin's War Games" and "Secret Weapon", by Olha Verpahovksa

“Stop Putin! This isn’t a game! He isn’t able to stop by himself anymore. Only the united world can stand against this tyrant’s cynical and deadly intentions.”

"Stop Putin's War Games". Illustration by Olha Verpahovska.
"Stop Putin's War Games". Illustration by Olha Verpahovska.
"Secret Weapon". Illustration by Olha Verpahovska.
"Secret Weapon". Illustration by Olha Verpahovska.

“My Gratitude Through the Years”, by Ulya Myronova

“A few years ago, a Ukrainian doctor operated on me. When the war started, the doctor’s colleague from the USA started a fundraising campaign to support Ukraine. I found out about this and drew an illustration for my doctor. He then gifted this illustration to the American professor.”

Ukrainian traumatologist (on the left) with the American professor. Illustration by Ulya Myronova.

Ukrainian traumatologist (on the left) with the American professor. Illustration by Ulya Myronova.
Ukrainian traumatologist (on the left) with the American professor. Illustration by Ulya Myronova.

“Kramatorsk”, by Mary Siroshtanova

“This is an illustration about every kid and adult who ran away from the horrors of war in Kramatorsk and hoped to start everything from scratch.”

Illustration by Mary Siroshtanova.
Illustration by Mary Siroshtanova.

“No War”, by Yaroslav Lenzyak

“I wanted to express how I felt when I created this illustration. It clearly shows what’s happening in Ukraine.”

Illustration by Yaroslav Lenzyak.
Illustration by Yaroslav Lenzyak.

“The Hedgehog in the Fog,” by Anya Yanko

“I have two favorite childhood cartoons. One of them is The Hedgehog in the Fog. We all found ourselves amidst this horrible war that changes everything, even my childhood memories. Nothing will ever be the same.”

Illustration by Anya Yanko.
Illustration by Anya Yanko.

“My Life From February 25”, by Anna Koval

“February 25, like all the following days, has started from the shelter. Constant warnings about the enemy columns moving towards us, constant shelling. Lebedyn—the city I lived in—was surrounded. I pinched myself from time to time, trying to wake up. [I'm a UX/UI designer, but] the first few days, I couldn’t gather my thoughts and go back to work.

“Work seemed like an unimportant and strange thing to do when you hear explosions from your window. I couldn’t focus because once I started working, I heard air raid sirens. Lebedyn was bombed at night on March 3. It was the most horrifying thing. They bombed the power station, so we’re left without electricity and water. In the morning, I took my brother’s phone and called my colleagues to say everything’s okay. My team immensely supported me during that time, and I’m very thankful for that.

Anna’s reality in the bomb shelter.
Anna’s reality in the bomb shelter.

“There were more and more air raids as time passed, so we ran into our shelter in the cellar every night. It was impossible to sleep there because of the dampness and cold. I started to lose my mind; many other people started to leave. What about us? Well, we have a large family, a German shepherd, cats, and zero cars. I thought leaving the city was impossible. But we managed to escape through the green corridor on March 14, my brother’s birthday. I hugged everyone before the road because I didn’t know if I could do this again. At noon, we were in safe and quiet Poltava.”

“Attempts to catch a moment of peace”, by Xenia Tricheva

“Attempts to catch a moment of peace in these terrible times. Every Ukrainian tries to do this today.”

Illustration by Xenia Tricheva.
Illustration by Xenia Tricheva.

This guest article was created by Ukrainian designers from the design platform, Awesomic.io.

You might also like:

- #StandWithUkraine: Artists Show Solidarity and Hope for Peace
- Why is the Peace Symbol Three Lines and a Circle?

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