Bold, muscular block prints. Expressive handworked typography. Dramatic folk iconography. Intense floods of color. Striking, off kilter compositions — the graphics of Ukrainian book covers form a pageant of kinetic, exuberant, and distinctive design. Their excellence and merit are equaled by their anonymity — A Survey of Ukrainian Book Design seeks to establish book publishing as a defining medium for Ukrainian graphic arts.
Currently the collection stands at 248 titles.
The Survey of Ukrainian Book Design aims to fill a gap in the common understanding of the spectrum of contemporary Eastern European design traditions. Whereas, for example, the significance of Russian Constructivism & Supremacism or Polish Surrealist graphics are well documented, there is a void regarding Ukrainian design, both in general awareness and scholarship. While there have been some noteworthy academic studies that have addressed aspects of book design and publishing, a survey for broader audiences is palpably lacking.
This online gallery & archive presents ongoing overview of Ukrainian book design, spanning the broad middle of the 20th century from the 1920’s to the 1990’s. It includes books printed in Ukraine and in the diaspora. The primary aim of the survey is to demonstrate the aesthetic significance, distinctiveness, and accomplishment of modern Ukrainian design.
One of the most important aspects of this project is the contemporary relevance of this work. There is a renewed passion in design today for woodblock printing, abstract illustration, hand-rendered decorative typography, geometric composition, letterpress and screen printing. These are all fundamental aspects of Ukrainian book design, executed with a distinct aesthetic character and with a world-class level of craft and technique.
Dan Shepelavy works as a creative director, fine & commercial artist, writer, and advertising executive. He spent his early career amidst the collapsing scenery of the pre-Internet music business. He is the proprietor of Universal Exports of North America, which functions as an imprint for various publishing, art, and music projects and as a creative consultancy. He lives in Philadelphia.
Mark Andryczyk has a PhD in Ukrainian Literature from the University of Toronto (2005). His monograph The Intellectual as Hero in 1990s Ukrainian Fiction was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2012. Since 2008, he has administrated the Ukrainian Studies Program at the Harriman Institute, Columbia University and has taught Ukrainian literature at its Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. He is a translator of Ukrainian literature into English, and editor and compiler of The White Chalk of Days, the Contemporary Ukrainian Literature Series Anthology. Under the name Yeezhak, he has recorded three studio albums in Ukraine.
Also, an earlier, more academically focused phase of this project was advised by Renata Holod, Professor Emerita, and Curator in the Near East Section, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. She was the president of the Board of Trustees of The Ukrainian Museum from 2013-2017.
A Survey of Ukrainian Book Design aims to establish, document and promote Ukraine's significant contribution to 20th century graphic arts. The online gallery is the hub of this endeavor. The goal is to build and maintain an open-ended collection of book designs of aesthetic merit and distinction. Furthermore, the hope is to collect and associate as much information regrading the publishing background of each title as possible. There are also exhibition and publishing plans underway.
A Survey of Ukrainian Book Design enthusiastically welcomes submissions.
Libraries & Collections
If you have an extensive library or a significant collection that reflects the depth, breadth and quality of titles in the Survey, arrangements can be made to have it reviewed and titles photographed on site. Please contact us to discuss.
If you would like to submit individual titles please follow these guidelines:
• Photograph the book FLAT on a plain, white, FLAT background
• Take the photo straight down, not at an angle
• Leave a generous amount of white space around the book
• Smartphone photos are acceptable / please do not use flash
• Review photo in camera at highest magnification to check focus.
Lines should be sharp and text should be clear, without blurs or jags.
• Quickly photograph the title page and publication page
• Send file at full resolution, compressed as a ZIP archive
• Please send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Inquiries, Additions and Corrections
Presenting accurate and relevant information regarding the publication history of the books is an important aspect of this project. If you have any additional information or a correction regarding any aspect of a title in the collection please email email@example.com.