Igor Karash is a versatile illustrator and designer with a career spanning over thirty years. As an illustrator he has collaborated with some major Russian, British, and US publishers including Detskaya Literatura (Moscow), Kniga Publishing House (Moscow), Folio Society (London), Vita Nova (St. Petersburg), and JSJ Productions in New York. Igor’s book illustrations and poster series won prestigious awards in the US, in the UK, and in Russian Federation including the Book Illustration Competition held by the House of Illustration in the UK, American Illustration 32, 34 and 38, 3×3 Magazine, Society of Illustrators in New York and the Golden Bee Biennial in Moscow.
Igor’s two latest projects, GULAG Action Figures and Monsters of Revolution (both are winners of the 3×3 Magazine of Contemporary Illustration Professional Show and the Society of Illustrators 61 Annual), explore the wild and unruly landscape of perversion and violence that swept over post-Soviet Russia. Both projects were featured in TASCHEN 100 Best Illustrators Around the Globe curated by Steven Heller and Julius Weidemann (Taschen, 2019)
Exhibition "War & Peace"
TheWar & Peace illustration series were created for the Folio Society two volume edition with 30 original illustrations and lavish binding design; the set was published in the Summer of 2014, but it took me 18 months to complete the work. The illustrations for this edition of War and Peace were meant to be a fresh visual contribution to this famous novel. Complex narrative along with Tolstoy’s philosophy needed to be resolved in an elegant, recognizable, yet novel way in this illustration series. I searched for a fresh approach–to me, the key to creating effective visuals was to mix traditional illustration techniques with modern inventive compositions, and to depict both realistic scenes and the dreams and memories of the characters. I largely focused on human themes–personal stories unraveling against the tragically morphing historical canvas.
It required much of artistic courage to take on this challenge, but I am glad I did. The main difficulty was indeed, the heavy weight of the recognition (for the book itself and familiarity with the main characters) and also the public expectations associated with new edition. There also enormous number of visuals that were done over the years for many illustrated editions, paintings, cinematic and theatrical and operatic versions of the book. I was discussing all this in detail on the Folio Society blog in publication entitled The Heavy Weight of War & Peace.
What helped me in the end to find my own way of telling this visual story is definitely the text itself. I remember that I stopped looking at any other sources, except for the pure historical references, and dived into the story that is deep as a ‘river of life’.