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Igor Olejnikov
Игорь Олейников

Born January 4, 1953 in the Moscow Region.

In 1979, he started working as an assistant art director at "Soyuzmultfilm" animation studio. Later he himself became an art director there.

In 1991-2000 he was working at the Russian branch of the BBC's "Christmas Films Studio".

Since 1986, along with working in animation, he is contributing to children's periodicals (magazines "Misha", "Tramway", "Kucha-mala", "Sesame street", "Sharovaya molniya", "Spokoynoy nochi, malyshi!", anthology "Kolobok i dva zhirafa") and to book publishing houses.

Since 2001 he has been illustrating books from Canadian, USA, Belgian, Swiss, Italian, Korean, Taiwanese and Japanese publishers. He participated in book exhibitions in Russia, Lithuania, Estonia, Germany, Taiwan, and also in Biennial of Illustration Bratislava (in 2003, 2004, 2005). He was the finalist of the illustration exhibition at the Bologna Children's Book Fair in 2004. In 2006, he received an award at the Tallinn Illustration Triennial.

Book as well as films are for me a way of self-expression. When I make a book I make it as a film and when I make a film I read it as a book. It happens so all by itself. I think the dynamic in a book and in a film is of great importance. I also wish my approach to the theme to be not-serious, ironical one. I just like to draw very much.

Blog: olejnikov.livejournal.com

А.Толстой. Аэлита. М.: Издательский дом Мещерякова, 2013


Igor Olejnikov's way to the children's book illustration has started on famous Soyuzmultfilm animation studios. The enormous enthusiasm and the great passion for art granted him the support of the fellow animators, with whom he collaborated on such well-known Soviet cartoons as The Mystery of the Third Planet and others. The years spent in animation have left their trace on his illustrations, bringing the dynamic pace, dramatic viewpoints and particular plasticity.

In 1986 Olejnikov has started his illustrator's career: first, in journals - Misha, Tramway, Sesame Street, Kucha Mala, then - in children's books publishing houses. Since his first steps in illustration there was a particular trait of all the books he illustrated: carismatic, funny, unforgettable personages.

Igor Olejnikov has always been the one eager to study something new: from cartoon scene setting to innovative illustration techniques. After years of experiments with diverse illustration media, he arrived to paint with gouache using the dry brush method. Such technique combined with his high working speed permits the artist to create numerous vivid, dynamic images in short periods of time and to be one of the most productive contemporary Russian illustrators.

Oleinikov's talent to bring animation motion into book illustration has been highly appreciated even abroad, in 2007 the US publishing house Simon & Schuster Books has comissioned him the illustrations for Mahalia Mouse Goes to College. The story of a mouse graduating from Harvard became another one in a row of successful Oleinikov's international projects, among which were books for the Grimm Press, NordSüd Verlag, Fabbri Editore, Japanese and Korean publishing houses.

All along Igor Oleinikov also kept interest for the Russian authors, one of his masterpieces are the illustration series for Nobel laureate Josef Brodsky's children poem A Ballad About a Small Tugboat and avant-garde poet Daniil Kharms's All Run, Fly, and Jump. These are the exceptional examples of the artist's distinctive style, his tense sense of rhythm, motion and composition. St.Petersburg in A Ballad About a Small Tugboat is full of details, stories, landmarks - but this gigantic seaport city has nearly nothing to do with Brodsky's Leningrad: Olejnikov creates his own world based mostly on his ideas, fantasies and memories than on strict real life observations. The tugboat's crew are not portraits of some real people, but the faces are so typical, so recognisable that every reader would 'remember' to have already met them all once in a lifetime.

J.Brodsky. A Ballad About a Small Tugboat, 2011.

Last ten years were a period of Olejnikov's talent florishing and producing of lots of highly approved book illustration series. Not only children's ones - his latest drawings for A.Tolstoy's Aelita has made an explosion-effect on Russian book art lovers. Knowing Olejnikov's passion for constant studing and his unwillingness to stop ameliorating, this peak is surely not the highest-one yet.

© Ekaterina Eskina, 2013

In 2004 Igor Oleynikov made two illustrations to Andersen's “Thumberlina” in paper and oil technique. The pictures look very mysterious. Unfortunately, they were never published in the book. In 2005 the publishing-house Grimm-Press ordered Oleynikov illustration's to another tale by Andersen “The Nightingale”. Oleynikov used the same technique in that work. The book is very beautiful. There are no empty spaces – for every page the artist supplies at least a tiny picture. Images are set on a misty enigmatic background that correspond to the mysterious irreal narrative. This picturesque instability is created by the tiny strokes, dots and points of various shades of one and the same color. And in this mysterious atmosphere sing two nightingales – a glamor fop and a modest gray bird with white breast. This modest singer will appear on a Chinese fan and on a Japanese cherry-tree in blossom, leading the main tune. In the misty waves one can trace a Chinese garden, people in oriental dresses, bridges and pagodas, and many silver bells, mentioned in the tale. Everything is very exquisite and stylized.

© Lidia Kudryavtseva

Selected bibliography:

Sir James Knowles. King Arthur & The Knights of the Round Table, 2014
V.Žilinskaitė. Voyage to Tandanrica, 2014
Edward Lear. Limericks, Rech, Russia, 2014
Josef Brodsky. Who Has Discovered America? Aquarelle, Russia, 2013
J.C.Harris. Br'er Rabbit, 2013

Jules Supervieille. Le Boeuf et L'ane de la Creche, 2013
A.Tolstoy. Aelita, 2013
J.Brodsky. Working ABC, 2013
J.C.Harris. Uncle Remus, His Songs and His Sayings, 2012
A.Usachev. Catboy's Adventures, 2012
Ballads Of Robin Hood, 2011

S.Kovalenkov. Misha Looking For A Bed, 2011
Myths of Northern Europe, 2011
A.Usachev. Catboy I, II, 2011
J.Brodsky. A Ballad About a Small Tugboat, 2011
S.Prokofieva. How Santa Was Born, 2010
D.Kharms. All Run, Fly, and Jump, 2010
S.Prokofieva. Barefoot Princess, 2010
The Bear and the Butterfly, 2009
The Brothers Grimm. Town Musicians of Bremen, 2009
K.DiCamillo. The Tale of Despereaux, 2008
Jon Koons. Arthur and Guen: An Original Tale of Young Camelot. Dutton Children’s Books (Penguin Young Readers Group), USA, 2008

John Lithgow. Mahalia Mouse Goes to College, Simon & Schuster, USA, 2007
Who Was The First (Chinese Zodiak), 2007
Robert L. Stevenson. Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Fabbri, Italy, 2007
H.C.Andersen. The Nightingale, Grimm Press, Taiwan, 2006, 2009
Nancy E. Walker-Guye. Was nun, lieber Osterhase? NordSüd Verlag, Switzerland, 2005
A.Usachev. Magical Maritime History, 2004, 2010
Nikolay Gogol. The Nose, Grimm Press, Taiwan, 2004, 2011

A.Usachev. Magical Aeronautics History, 2003, 2010
Ivan the Fool and His Two Brothers, Russian fairy-tale, Woonjin, Korea, 2003
Charles Perrault. Cinderella, Tormont, Canada, 2003
The Brothers Grimm. Snow White, Tormont, Canada, 2003
Hungry Giant From Tundra, Froebel, Korea, 2003
Hilda Paeshuys. Les aventures de Lara au stage poney. Chantecler, Belgium, 2003
Pegasus. Minoas, Greece, 2003
J.R.R.Tolkien. The Hobbit, 2000
R.E.Raspe. The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen, 1990
A.Zarezky. I've Been in the Computer City, 1990

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