Boris Kulikov

Boris Kulikov
There has been some debate among artists and illustrators (some of it on the comments pages of certain posts here on lines and colors) about the wisdom of placing relatively large, non-watermarked images on the web, where they can ostensibly be “stolen” and used for some nefarious purpose.

Those who have read my posts on how to display your art on the web, and my rant on how not to display your art on the web, will know that I come down firmly on the side that holds that displaying your work to best advantage far outweighs the disadvantages of potentially having it “borrowed” (the aversion to which I think is often more a case of indignant territorial response than a practical concern).

As a case in point, if I hadn’t seen Boris Kulikov’s wonderful children’s book illustrations either in print or in relatively large digital versions, I wouldn’t have become an instant fan. As intriguing as his conceptually clever and wonderfully drawn illustrations may be at a smaller size, it’s the texture and detail revealed by higher-resolution images that really grabbed my attention.

Kulikov describes his work as “mixed media” which appears to be mainly pencil, pen, watercolor and gouache. The children’s book illustrations are mainly watercolor, but Kulikov works on a textured watercolor paper rather than smooth illustration board, and the reproductions show that texture in a way that makes his washes and blocks of color display a wonderful textural quality, and carries some of the feeling of “this image is made of paint” that is present in “painterly” oils.

Kulikov combines this with an imaginative and colorful approach to his subjects, sometimes dreamlike scenes, nicely stylized characters and a terrific knack for slightly offbeat compositions, to create a style that captures your eye.

He also does beautiful pen and ink illustrations, notably for the Giants of Science series by Kathleen Krull.

His site is a bit awkward to navigate, but the children’s book illustrations are divided into color and black and white, as are the “other” (editorial) illustrations. Though the latter are also imaginative, conceptually clever and nicely realized, they are drawn and painted with a different feeling and approach and don’t wow me like his children’s book work.

In either case, when looking through his online galleries, be sure to click on the individual images for the higher res versions, and you’ll see why I think it was very wise of him to make those images available. In the meanwhile, I’ve made a note to look for some of the books he’s illustrated the next time I’m at the bookstore.


3 Replies to “Boris Kulikov”

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more about the web image thing. I think it’s a really weird hangup for artists to have, and oddly, it seems pretty pervasive among fine artists (and galleries) too. That’s even weirder to me, because they aren’t even selling their work for reproduction, and yet they still seem to think that its necessary to restrict their websites to postage stamp-sized images, often with right-click saving disabled.

    I would think that both fine artists (and the galleries representing them) and illustrators would very much want web surfers to get a good look at their work. And if those viewers want to download the images and keep them on their hard drive, even better! How much money does the average artist spend on postcards and mailers and leave-behinds to accomplish what is, essentially, the exact same thing? A lot, that’s how much.

    It’s utterly absurd.

  2. Hey Charlie, I’ve just found your blog (via a random google search) and what a surprise I’ve got! I’ve read some random articles and parts of articles, but since I’ve subscribed to the RSS, I’ll read it all in a while.

    Just wanted to drop you a line and say that you have a great blog!

    Cheers, Ren


  3. Excellent points from both Charley and Ben. I’m a writer and I’ve never had a problem with plagiarism, and there are plenty of laws available to protect me if I did. This is a great illustration (ha) of how we can either live in abundance, or fear.

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