Vladislav Erko – The Fifth Mountain

Vladislav Erko is a famous artist-illustrator, he’s from Kiev, Ukraine. “Fairy Tales of Foggy Albion”– illustrated by him are published in 20 countries. His illustration of “Harry Potter” was recognized as one of the fifth best in the world by the studio Warner Brothers.

To follow the path of Erko’s work is to see an illustrator who has really come into his own. In interviews, even Mr. Erko admits that his earlier work is difficult for him to look at, as he sees too many of his mistakes. His illustrations for The Snow Queen exhibit exquisite attention to detail, textures, and colors.

Vladislav Erko was born in Kiev in 1962, becoming an established illustrator during Soviet times, as he discusses in a 2003 “Knizhnik-Review” interview by Konstantin Rodik:

Erko: In 1990 I had almost finished Polygraphic Institute. Almost because I refused to hand over state examinations and to receive the diploma. I already had international premiums, and was a long-time member of the Union of Artists, and in Institute I was forced to study not unnecessary subjects, such as polygraphic manufacturing technology, for example, or history of the Party. I felt it would be desirable to have special knowledge, and I was accused of a “careerism”.

KR: And how did a “careerist” get into the Union?

Erko: By laureateship. In the beginning of my sophomore year, I have taken a great interest in posters. I became acquainted with a wonderful publishing house collective where film-posters were prepared. сплошняком шестидесятники, the normal artists who had not adhered to a socialist realism worked there: it was that I came to learn. And here my first printing of a poster – as it happens, I was a lucky fool, and I was entered into the Second International Premium in Moscow.

On the one hand, I should be ashamed, because it was a competition of political posters, but there is nothing to be ashamed of, because my poster was removed for political apathy as soon as the international jury met, and its reproduction was not in any catalogue, except for some foreign magazines.

Any mistakes that the reader finds in the translation are mine.

Mr. Erko most recently worked on illustrations for a book with “spiritual fiction” writer Paul Coelho. Erko admits that he reads all the books that he illustrates, no matter how trivial or childish the book may be. When asked what he thought of Mr. Coelho’s work, he replied:

I do not consider Coelho as one of pillars of literature of the 20th or the beginning of the 21st century. I read the book and very often I became angry with Coelho […] But within his writing is a strange magnetism, it in an improbable way gets into situations which actually, really, physically occur in my life.

I don’t really understand all those vibrations which he makes in space, but, knowing, that anything so simple does not occur, I still give Coelho huge respect. In the past year at an exhibition in Moscow I saw the many thousands of people who come enthusiastically to obtain the autograph of the maestro on their book. It was a line of people, as in the [Lenin] Mausoleum during the best times. Certainly, the poet in Russia – is more, than a poet, but …

Mr. Erko continues to work with A-BA-BA-GA-LA-MA-GA and Sofia publishing. Recent works with Sofia include Coelho’s 11 Minutes and Richard Bach’s Johnathan Livingston Seagull.