“You can’t be silent”: how designers are rallying in Ukraine

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine escalates, Kyiv-based designer Katerina Korolevtseva discusses her experience and shares how designers are using their skills to show the world what is happening.

Ukraine is going through an extremely difficult time. There’s a war in my beloved country. But all Ukrainians unite and help each other.

The creative industry is no exception. Just as graphic artists created posters during the Second World War, Ukrainian designers and creatives are fighting Russian misinformation and conveying our messages to the West. Many of us are doing this while sitting in shelters and basements. Including me.

We are doing this to support Ukrainians, to support our faith and strength, and to support our heroes – the Armed Forces of Ukraine. We do this so that the truth is heard. And also for country leaders across Europe, the USA, and NATO to hear us.

Three steps, by Katerina Korolevtseva

I see that many people share our visuals on social networks. European and American designers and creative studios are creating visuals themselves. This support is noticeable and valuable. It’s not politics anymore, it’s our reality. You can’t be silent and be aloof. We are defending not just ourselves but also Europe.

However, Ukraine needs more than words of support, though we greatly appreciate them. Our people need action. That’s why I think the most useful messages from international community and from our designers in English are not with doves and calls for peace, but calls to make donations, for example. Or calls to cut Russia off from international payment network Swift, or to close the sky.

When these messages are shared, they lead to action and designers can make a difference in the name of truth and our freedom.

“We communicate, we support each other, we cooperate”

Poster design by Masha Foya

The power of unification among the creative industry is amazing. There are already several volunteer groups in social networks with hundreds of members. We communicate, we support each other, we cooperate, we complete quick tasks and, when there is time and a respite from alarms and shelling, we create visual communication.

For example, I want to share these posters created by Ukrainian designers. A team from the Projector Creative & Tech Online Institute has collected a lot of powerful works in one place and created a selection of them at the Stand with Ukraine website. These posters can (and need) to be shared and distributed. Many of us have provided printable files to use for free.

Poster design by Artem Gusev

At the very bottom of the page, there is a section called Visuals for Foreign Friends. There are selected works in English. You can see authors’ names in Ukrainian under the works. And there are two of my posters. The poster in Ukrainian is my gratitude to the courageous Armed Forces of Ukraine.

There are a lot of great type designers in Ukraine and we appreciate the use of Ukrainian fonts. You can find them here. Also, I was pleasantly surprised to see the work of the Bolivian designer Diego Morales Morando who used my Misto font for his poster with the message of support that can be translated as “hold on” or “stay strong”.

Misto is a loveletter to my hometown Slavutych. It’s the youngest city in Ukraine which was created after the Chornobyl explosion. I wanted people all over the world to know about this small town and I wanted Ukrainians to visit it because Slavutych has great cultural potential and unique architecture.

Now I see Misto in designs to support Ukraine as it defends the freedom of our country and Europe. Ukraine, where we hear a lot of explosions from Russian invaders every day. It’s a strange feeling because of the context of explosions. But it’s a warm one because I see that design has no borders.

Katerina Korolevtseva is a graphic designer who lives and works in Ukraine.

The banner image is a poster design from the Stand with Ukraine resource.

Hide Comments (3)Show Comments (3)
  • Fran March 1, 2022 at 8:04 pm
  • Declan Stone March 2, 2022 at 5:09 pm

    “You can’t be silent”. And yet you delete/censor my earlier comment. The irony.

  • Stand with Kiev March 2, 2022 at 11:09 pm

    Good article but the industry needs to do more! At a time when oligarchs, companies, sports indivduals and teams are being held responsible the design industry lacks with associations like DBA still advertising and supporting key roles like ‘judging peer work’ to certain Russian individuals. Whether you agree or disagree we should all follow the same rules that have been laid out in the last 7 days.

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