Ivan Kuleshov – An Interview

Ivan Kuleshov is a Russian artist who focus is on illustration, graphic design and drawing. He worked as a graphic designer and illustrator for companies in Moscow and Berlin. He grew up in Russia, which influenced his thoughts on art. KALTBLUT wanted to know more about Ivan and his work.


KALTBLUT: Hi Ivan! Tell us, how did you get into drawing?

Ivan Kuleshov: Well, as far as I can remember I was drawing all of the time. When I was a child, my parents were not able to buy me any clothes because of the financial crisis in Russia after the collapse of Soviet Union. All the sweaters, pants and coats were made by my mom. I was 6 years old when the mother of my childhood friend told my parents that I should go to a drawing class at art school for kids where she was working as a teacher. I was the smallest and youngest pupil in the class and the other kids mocked at me, so because of this my studying there was no longer than a couple of months.


KALTBLUT: You were thinking about a career in menswear design but you swayed more towards drawing, did you not think about combining the two?

Ivan Kuleshov: Years later, after 9 classes of school, I went to technical college to study tailoring to learn how to make clothes by myself and for myself. Unfortunately, in my class there were no menswear specialists. In Russia, mostly girls want to study fashion, therefore I was the only guy in the group of 24 pupils. Through my college years I felt lonely and misunderstood with my ideas and projects. Once, my sewing machine broke and while I was waiting for it to be repaired I was concentrating on making fashion sketches. It was winter holidays and I had enough time to think about my past and future. The process of drawing pictures turned out to be more fun than make clothes, thus I decided to become an illustrator. Maybe, in the future, I will make my own small collection of clothes in collaboration with some of my friends who make clothes, but not now.  


fila_miniKALTBLUT: Because of the anti-gay-propaganda law in Russia, you didn’t publish all of your pieces in an exhibition you did last year. Do you think it’s important that your work is actual, and in terms with what is happening in the world?

Ivan Kuleshov: At the moment I’m interested in queer-art as a tool to raise the level of visual culture for gay magazines, to draw a public attention to the problems of LGBT people. Of course, those anti-gay laws are awful! Most of the galleries in Moscow don’t want to work with queer-art because they’re afraid of problems with the government and with the police. I have an idea to make a series of graffiti about discrimination against people on the state level and corruption of the police, so now I’m working to earn some money to get some spray-paint.


KALTBLUT: What are more future plans?

Ivan Kuleshov: My last illustrations you may see in Berlin-based “Siegessaule” queer-magazine. I did a series of portraits and the cover for the March issue dedicated to combat stereotypes about lesbians and in the May issue is an illustration for an article about the dangers of drugs.  In July we’re releasing a Gay History Map for Berlin. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for it!

man in sunglasses,

KALTBLUT: Where does your inspiration come from?

Ivan Kuleshov: My inspiration comes from subcultures of youth, techno-music and street-art.  I’m a big fan of documentaries about the history of European monarchy and architecture. I love skateboarding and hiking in the woods, being surrounded by nature. I hope that I can make the world better.