Iryna Korshak is a Ukrainian graphic designer and illustrator who has just started to explore the field of type design. Iryna currently lives in New York, but she’s studied in Ukraine and Poland before, therefore, beside work I’ve asked her about her experience gained in these countries.
Please, talk about the beginnings. How did you get into design and illustration?
I started to sketch at a very early age. After my family had bought our first PC, I also began to use Paint and some early versions of Adobe Photoshop. I felt in love with digital art. Artworks looked much different on the screen than on paper. This caught my attention and curiosity, I guess. At that time I didn’t know what graphic design was and had no idea about the profession related to it. I actually wanted to become an interior designer, since I really liked decorating my home. After I had finished high school in Zhovkva, I moved to Poland where I studied Computer Graphics in Media and Journalism at the University of Information Technology and Management. I have been developing my skills in graphic design ever since.
You are from Ukraine, studied in Poland and now live in New York. Please talk about the differences and the similarities between these countries/regions design-wise?
Graphic design is totally different in these three places. I love the freedom of thinking and style you can feel in NY, in this very open-minded city. Graphic design in Poland tends to be very neat, I can see it on web pages and advertising, sometimes it’s just too perfect, too indefectible and that’s why identical, which I don’t like. However, I noticed some changes in the past few years, and, of course, design is evolving.
In Ukraine graphic design is still developing, people don’t understand the power of it yet. But there is definitely a huge number of mind-blowing artists and designers who, I hope, will change the situation. I also try to bring these awesome people together, I’m the admin of the Behance Ukraine team.
Do you have any opinion on the Central and Eastern European design traditions and design scene? Do you follow what is happening in the field in the CEE region or do you focus more on the USA now?
Let’s say, I don’t focus on particular regions, and I’ve never done it. I’m interested in design from the whole world. I really like Asian and Scandinavian designers’ minimalism, or the amazing illustrations by Spanish and Latin American artists, for instance.
Do you think it’s difficult for a designer coming from the CEE region to get noticed? Is talent enough to reach all the goals set?
It doesn’t matter what your origin is, people are born in small cities (like me) or villages and become superstars. Ambition and some luck are good combination. Unfortunately, nowadays talent is not enough. Designers can be highly skilled at applying their creativity toward solving design-related problems, but most lack the fundamental business knowledge. You have to know how to promote yourself, how to deal with a client etc. I would advise everyone to learn it as well.
Is there something you regret you’ve done or haven’t done as a design student during university years?
My university studies were not the happiest time. Frankly speaking, they were pretty boring, I worked a lot at home on my personal projects together with Stas Semenov, my friend. But I probably needed this time in my life so it made me a person I am now. I don’t regret anything.
What was the best piece of advice you have ever received?
“You have the same amount of time as everyone else, use it wisely.”
Who is your role model(s)?
I’m really inspired by the works ofMaria Grønlund, Steve Simpson, Lorena Alvarez Gomez, Tatiana Plakhova. I love observing how their careers are developing, their style of works is modifying and how they are moving forward thus kicking me to move as well. I’m also very motivated by Joseph R. Kwesiga, he is such a multitalented person. We worked together during my internship in NY and I learned a lot from him, I want to put some <3 here for him.
You’re a graphic designer and illustrator but your projects MIEN and TENAR mainly deal with typography. How would you describe your relation to type design? Are you fond of letters?
I started to admire type design not so long ago, but I felt in love with it forever. Letters, numbers… Having the same base, still, they can be so different, they can express emotions. I’m still a junior in typography but I tried my best to make MIEN and Tenar, and you can see the results. I’ll try to work on my own font from scratch sometime in the future, too.
If someone asked you to choose between graphic design and illustration, which one would you pick and why?
OK, that’s a tough one, these design fields are undividable for me, they complete each other. Sometimes I have a mood for illustrations and sometimes for graphic design, and to be engaged only in one of them wouldn’t work for me. I also started to work on typography projects so that’s the next field to explore.
Do you prefer working by hand or on the computer?
Unfortunately, I work more on the computer, however, I wish I worked with old-fashioned techniques – with pencil on paper. Sometimes I challenge myself to use only this classic technique instead of starting the process on the digital screen at once.
What are your sources of inspiration?
I’ve heard it a lot of times but I’d always agree with it: you can find inspiration everywhere. It is in nature, books, shops, people, everyday objects, ugly designs – and especially in ugly designs, so that your mind is thinking how to make it look better.
What kind of routine do you follow when designing? What is the design process like?
Of course, there is some kind of routine like research – concept – designing. However, it doesn’t always work like that, we can break some rules, change them, add new ones… Every client is unique.
What would be your dream project?
My dream project would be to create a mural art in collaboration with fellow artists. For example, I’ve been always fascinated by huge colourful art covering the whole sidewall of an old house so we can get rid of at least one grey wall.
What is your secret passion that you cannot resist?
Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with a design – I really like to sit in some cosy jazz bars and listening to (yet) unknown bands. Later I imagine how famous they will become in the future.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently designing illustrations for a mobile app, it’s about using electric car for travelling.
What are your plans for the future?
I don’t have clear plans but I’d definitely like to evolve and take all the opportunities on my way. I’m very curious where life will lead me.