NESHAN, The Iranian Graphic Design Magazine

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Neshan 31

Face to Face

Think in Metaphors; Face to Face with Andrey Logvin

Olga Severina

In kindergarten, after I unsuccessfully tried to cut a circle out of paper using scissors, the teacher told me firmly: “Logvin, you’ll never be an artist!”… Now I tell my students: “It does not matter how well you can cut out a circle, the most important thing is a well thought out concept…”
Andrey Logvin is a graphic designer, professor at the Higher Academic School of Graphic Design, and a member of the Alliance Graphique International (AGI). He is the winner of over 30 domestic and international advertising awards and design competitions, as well as the National Recognition Award. Andrey is a designer who enjoys risky experiments with public perception. His posters are like folk songs – they are simple, but not without humor or sadness. In his posters, idea (or metaphor) is never too far from irony. He is always ready to laugh at life and amuse the audience with his art. For many contemporary artists, shapes and textures are predominant features of their designs, but for Logvin substance is the most important feature. The written content of his posters is just as essential as vivid images or artistic techniques.
A true patriot of his country, he is always ready to design in response to changes happening in social arenas of his homeland. Poster campaigns launched by Logvin that comment on current critical issues are a great example of his social and artistic responsibilities. Andrey is both a creator and an active participant of many social projects in Russia and abroad.
Andrey Logvin represents a clear vision, creative courage and an ability to be understood not only in the aristocratic design and art circles, but also by the mainstream crowds that see his art on billboards, bus stops, and t-shirts. Design is his element, community is his scope of reach, and his canvas is his country. 

The poster – what does it mean to you? Among your own posters, which one is your favorite and why?
For me posters are always an opportunity “to start life from scratch.” My favorite would probably be the one called Life is Good,1  because it helped me greatly on many occasions, and continues to do so to this day. For many years now, I do not have to think of a gift when visiting someone, or going to the doctor.
In your posters and even more so in your social campaigns such as the P.H.A.T 2 project, one can see that you are politically active, although you do not lose your sense of humor about it. How can design influence the political situation in the country today? What about in the world?
Perhaps it might, if one could sublimate in a single sheet of paper the quintessence of pain and hope.
How did the P.H.A.T project come to be?
This project materialized very quickly. It was created in support of protestors who were criticizing multiple violations that took place during the presidential elections in Russia. Demonstrators were supposed to pin a white ribbon on their chests and, thinking about the ribbon, I realized that while the white color worked, the ribbon itself was not big enough to show how massive those marches really were. Masses of protestors, masses of opinions – masses and masses of bonded opposition… This is how I came up with an idea to print t-shirts for the rallies. It only took two days.
Our people are inert, so we needed to spice the white t-shirts up with a little content. Whether we succeeded or not, whether we made them funny or cool, that is for the people to decide. We specifically selected simple sayings from the web rather than slogans –sayings that had no political connotation, because this project was not about politics, but rather about social unity. It seemed to me that we shouldn’t have been evaluating the situation, nor should we have imposed our views on people, so we decided to just print sayings. So, basically, these t-shirts were just apolitical pieces of clothing that people would enjoy wearing, while at the same time making a statement. Everyone has the right to speak out using a t-shirt that reads: “I am the State,” “I am in favor; I’m even against” or “Willing to work as president.”
What does the social poster mean to you? Does it still possess the true power of expression or did it become more of an exhibition piece, rather than an instrument of visual confrontation? – Is it a “patient” on life support or is it still alive and kicking?
The power of expression is not lost, but it has taken a different form. Today’s main ways of expression are social campaigns or web videos, while a traditional paper poster serves as a supplement to these predominant methods of communication.

It is obvious that today’s advertising billboards are far more common then non-commercial posters; do you think that the pure poster can be “saved”?
One needs to think about ways of compressing ideas into visual messages and adapting them to new media, rather then about saving a dying evolutionary branch.

Which designers and creative people in general do you look up to as an artist?
Uwe Loesch, Alain le Quernec,  Henryk Tomaszewski, Antony Tapies, Joan Miro, Pablo Picasso, Paul Cox.
You think in metaphors. Describe your creative process.
Formally I “wander around semantic meadows,” responding to association, sometimes 2 to 3 levels deep. However, sometimes I just draw abstract images, while thinking about the task at hand.
Do you think that there are well-defined design or poster tendencies in Russia today? What about in the past?
There are none and there never were, unless one takes into account the well established and over-protected by authorities Soviet poster propaganda.

Let’s talk about the poster during Perestroika – you were a student then, which means you remember that period vividly. Do you think that what is happening in Russia today is similar to what was going on in USSR at that time?
Perestroika was a time of incredible events. The end of the tunnel was suddenly lit by a beckoning light of hope, which promised us freedoms we had never known before. A whole new society was being born and all the artists of the day were responding to these extraordinary circumstances. The situation today is quite different from the time of Perestroika – too many things are now governed by money.
You write a lot about the interaction of man with the city, which you see as a visual backdrop of the human environment. You continuously describe with great detail and equally great bitterness a grand disregard towards the urban living, found in Russia today. Which city you see as a quintessential territory of modern design?
I have never been in such as city. I often feel despair. Over-polluted with banners, HD displays, brands and logo, the city is rapidly becoming a provincial sanctuary of visual lunacy. I believe that urban advertising cannot just be a marketing instrument. It should adorn the city. It must be beautiful. If artists would design promotional materials that are pleasing to their eyes, these ads would certainly be delightful for everyone else to view as well.
One of the poster genres relevant today is the environmental poster. Why do you do such little work in this area, which is so important for our society?
My contribution to the environment is in my actual participation to the cleanup and sustainability efforts (recycling, conserving resources, etc.), which I believe to be more effective than an exhibition in a show room.

Is there a demand for theatrical poster or book design in Russian today?

How long does it take you to create a poster – is it a quick action or a slow process? Do you create a rough draft, letting an idea brew like fine wine to get better with time or is your method entirely different?
Every poster is different. However, I like to take a break sometimes; it gives me a chance to cool down and take a look at my work from a different perspective.
How do you combine art and design? Can you give us your “recipe”?
A good design is always an art form.
You do a lot of commercial work. Don’t you sometimes want to drop everything and create pure art ? How do you compensate for “commercialization” of your life?
When I feel that I want to drop everything and create “pure art” – I do. It usually lasts only one night, though. I compensate for the commercialization of life by spending time with friends who have not succumbed to it yet. For now books also help, as well as poetry.
You once said that poster died 20 years ago. Is it possible that it has just transformed into an art form with different priorities and objectives, or maybe it became a part of something bigger?
I answered this a few questions before – the poster is an ability to crystallize thoughts in a form of concise visual proclamation. It needs to find ways to do this, and be in accordance with contemporary media.
One of the assignments you give students in your master class is to work with masks; its purpose is to depict one’s alter-ego, to portray oneself first using words and later symbols and images. How would you describe your own mask?
My mask is a wrinkled Möbius strip.
What do you like most about your profession?
Giving myself new tasks.
Some of the titles from the P.H.A.T. project:
Target is nothing, direction is everything!
All I need is a kind word, a warm bed and an absolute power.
Willing to work as president.
I’d rather drink vodka on my feet than sip cognac on my knees.
I’m in favor. I’m even against!

1. Life is Good (1997) This poster swept over the land, as it was able to capture the essence of the new Russia, and depict with great simplicity and equally great accuracy the country of newborn multimillionaires, criminal empires built with “easy” blood money and a horrible inequality of the filthy rich versus the hopelessly destitute. An exuberant slogan, “Life is good”, written with black sturgeon caviar over the red background made entirely of salmon caviar, mocks the new Russian elite – people with deep pockets and empty souls – the so called “new Russians.”
The poster is nominated to be included in a Phaidon Graphic Classics – a 10 volume compilation, containing the most iconic graphic designs of all times.

2. A series of t-shirts, designed for Logvin’s latest project, called P.H.A.T  (which Andrey considers to be not so much a political, but rather a social campaign) were created in response to the allegations of presidential election fraud, which was voiced by the opposition during the anti-presidential demonstrations that shook Russia in 2012.

Olga Severina

A Ukrainian graphic designer, Olga Severina obtained her Ph.D. in Visual Arts in 2010. Olga is an author, whose articles on the history and contemporary trends in graphic design are published in magazines around the world. Over the years her works were featured in a variety of design competitions and campaigns: Biennale Golden Bee (Russia), Warsaw Poster Biennale (Poland), International Poster Biennale (Mexico) and Mayakovsky 120 poster campaign are to name a few.  Olga Severina was always an active participant in the design community. In 2006 she became involved with an International Eco-Poster Exhibition The 4th Block (Ukraine), where she currently serves as the exhibition curator.  In her more recent ventures Olga focuses on art shows that celebrate design and promote balance between nature and men in the United States.

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