Graphic design studio by Yurko Gutsulyak

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Pregnant with bandura players


The National Honoured Bandurist (bandura-player) Capella of Ukraine in the name of H. I. Majboroda is one of the most honourable country’s bands established almost 100 years ago. The band has its own history and I can say that it influences the history of traditional and folk Ukrainian music in general. Besides it is the music that has received a number of negative labels and stereotypes, for example: this music is for elders, it is for people from countryside, it is out of fashion, not interesting, not commercial, not modern, not entertaining and so on. To some extent this situation is formed by the visual accompaniment. That is why I found the opportunity to create a cover for the disc series of Bandurist Capella especially attractive. I expected an interesting work.

First I began to look for some material and analyze the previous experience. I did it not only because I was trying to figure out the way it should not be done, but I would say I was looking for some tiny piece of true atmosphere that had been left behind and could be used for good effect. I wanted to create something completely new for traditional music, but this new should be definitely connected with history and the product. I used brainstorming.

The first idea was relatively common resembling the work of other Ukrainian designers of the recent years. There is no need to invent something new in order to create the design of the product related to Ukrainian culture. You take a certain element, décor, pattern or inscription from some old piece of arts and crafts and skilfully (unfortunately not always) arrange it in the space. And that’s it. It will look like in the Ukrainian way, cost cheap as there is no copyright and take not too much time. I found some embroidered patterns, crockery painting fragments, paintings with bandura-players and some pictures of Capella members and mixed all these up.



It looks not bad; better than other covers of Ukrainian music. I like it but I can’t feel the real creative satisfaction from my work.

I start from the very beginning and work at the idea. This time I want my idea to be completely different from the previous one. I decide to completely abandon using the ready-made authentic graphic material (first of all illustrations) and direct myself towards solely author product. I aim at creation of that unique atmosphere of Ukrainian song culture and its visualization. Finally I’ve come to the conclusion that this uniqueness is the national naïve. To my thinking naïve is a peculiar feature of Ukrainian works and it can be traced everywhere – starting from ceramic painting and pysanky (traditional Ukrainian Easter eggs) and ending with songs, rituals, desires to decorate and ornament.

Thus I’ve singled out three characteristic features that I’m going to use in my work: naïve, decoration, space structuring.

As this is all about the Bandurist Capella consequently it’s quite logical though a bit banal still let’s say naïve to depict bandura-players on the CD covers. On the first disc there will be one, on the second – two of them, on the third – three and on the fourth – four. It is as sincere as children do.

Next I started my work with images. I decided that I would create the illustrations exploiting an uninterrupted smooth line that to my mind would sprinkle the work with some style. I took historical pictures, bandurist paintings of different periods and bandurist schools and then created characters on the bases of all these. There were more of them than you can see on the readymade CDs.



Illustrations are ready. Now I’m facing the problem difficult enough – outlining the title on the covers. First I tried to find a certain typically Ukrainian type and combine it with the paintings. Still I was not pleased with all of them. Then I was engaged in searching for the one that just looks harmoniously. That was also in vain. Still not really in vain – while trying to find the proper type it crossed my mind that the inscription should be original and should also repeat paintings style.

I have an awful handwriting, but I had to keep to the style and provide the best readability possible.



On finishing my work with inscriptions and their combination with illustrations I set about covers design in particular. As I was dealing with the CD series and this discs contained the songs of a long time period and different emotional colouring, I decided to use gradient that will give an opportunity to show material variety and let the series close in continual circle.



Apart from its multi-colouredness gradient creates clear space that is decorated with white line of painting and inscription.

Now it is high time to begin with the reverse side where the list of songs will be placed. On dividing the gradient into four parts I’ve got two colours for a disc. I split the transition between these two colours into steps according to the number of songs on each disc and distributed among the squares with songs names. As if playing the squares structured the space.



The only thing left is the design of disc surface and drawing of technical information. The next step is printing. For the production I decided to combine two kinds of printing, i.e. offset printing for gradient cover space and 3-D silk screen printing for illustrations and disc titles in the shape of a white line. To the touch it creates the feeling of a living string on the cover.

Finally I am fully satisfied with the work done. It is also pleasant to know that not only I like this work taking into account numerous rewards and references.



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