6 Illustrator Luba Lukova Under The Spotlight

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Luba Lukova is a great illustrator with a unique style, who thinks that one of the most important thing in her art is to convey a message, express an idea and trigger an emotion. The first time I looked at her work, I was fascinated. It's simple , colorful and graphic. Lets have a chat with her!

1.Welcome to Think Smart blog Could you tell us where you're from and how you got started in the field?

I've lived and worked in New York since 1991. I was born in Bulgaria and came to the the US by invitation of the Colorado International Invitational Poster exhibition. The organizers had seen my work and wanted me to participate in their show. After visiting Fort Collins, CO I went to New York and immediately found job as an editorial illustrator for the New York Times. I've lived in the Big Apple ever since working and exhibiting internationally.

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2. There are different elements that you incorporate in your art, How do you blend all these styles in a harmonious way?
In my work I never think about style. For me the most important thing is to convey a message, to express an idea, to trigger an emotion. Form and style are secondary, but that doesn't mean that I don't care about the artistic craft. Without technique even the greatest idea is worth noting. Still, I feel uncomfortable when a client asks me to work in a style of mine they've already seen. Usually I turn down such projects by telling that I would do my best to create a powerful image but I don't know yet what style I would use. The work would dictate the style.

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3.Did you study graphic design in school or are you a self-taught artist? And in your opinion what are the pro's and con's of each?
Yes, I studied art and I think I got a very good art education. I graduated from the National Academy of Art in Sofia, Bulgaria. Back then, in the late 1980's, it was very difficult to be accepted to study at the Academy. Not only because it was very competitive, but because art was an important part of the Communist ideology that was ruling at the time. The accepted students needed to be approved by the Party and have their background checked. My family was blacklisted by the regime and I suffered the consequences. I had to apply for 3 consecutive years before I finally was admitted to study. This was such a waste of time but without the diploma from the Academy we were not allowed to practice art, so I had to go through all this if I wanted to be an artist. In my family my grandmother was an artist and I grew up with her. She was an amazing talent and is still my greatest influence. To answer your question about going to design school or being self-thought, my answer is that it is important to learn every day of your life. You don't have to have a graduate degree, but you have to keep learning and striving to get better in your work. It is important to meet a couple of good teachers in the beginning but the education of an artist continues through your entire career, at least for me.

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4. How do you define yourself as an artist and tell us a strong point every artist should have?
That's a difficult question. I guess you have to feel that motivation in yourself even if the entire world is against you. You have to have a strong character but also to be compassionate. I guess that's what makes people respond to the art we create.

5. Your Social Justice series ( ) has some amazing colors so can you please walk us through how you created it and what is the meaning behind the design?
Color brings emotion to the work. I have that theory that if I want to express a clever concept I can do this in only black and white, but if I want to stir the feelings deeper, I need color. I usually use a limited color palette for my posters. I think this helps the visibility and accessibility of the work. Every color contributes to the final impact of the piece. For example, in the Peace poster the innocent blue color emphasizes the irony of the image.

6. If you could tell yourself one bit of advice concerning your own art what would you say and why?
I've always said "If it comes from the heart, it goes to the heart". I guess this means that if we have integrity in our work, people will respond to it.

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7. I see you like to incorporate typography to your designs, What would you say is your favorite style to work in and why?
We all know how important typography is in design. Bad typography can spoil even the most beautiful image. In my work, I approach type as an inseparable part of the image. I often hand letter the type to organically connect it with my drawings. I enjoy inventing different letter forms for each poster I create. I really have a very deep respect for typography and am fascinated to look at calligraphy from different cultures.

8.Who would you say are your "design inspiration," meaning artists that you look up to; and also tell us why you feel this way about them, what makes them special?
I mentioned my grandmother. Apart from her, there are so many people that have inspired me. One such person in New York is the founder of La MaMa theatre, Ellen Stewart, for whom I've designed posters for the past 10 years. If you read the story of this woman…just amazing. Then, I’m honestly always more moved by art and writing than finding my “heroes” in design. If I have to mention some examples I’d say that the writing of Chekhov or Shakespeare have affected me decisively. What inspires me in their work is that they search the answers to the major questions in life. I think design, the way it is practiced now, often scratches only the surface of things and that's not interesting to me.

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9.Any final thoughts for our readers?
Oh, I said so many things already. I'd repeat: put your heart in everything you do.

10. Where can we find you online?
At where you can soon see my new book "Graphic Guts" and at

Luba Lukova Studio
3105 Crescent Street
Suite A
Long Island City, NY 11106
Tel (718) 956 1045

by ELO designer
About The Author

This blog was created by ELO DESIGNER to share his wealth of knowledge and researches with other designers and design lovers, to give them guidance and inspiration. Comments and suggestions are always appreciated. Thank you. Follow my daily design links on Twitter or Add me on your social network.

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kiedis said...

nice work!

the perfume one
makes me think of malte martin's work

Anonymous said...

I find the work powerful yet simple.

Think Smart Designs said...

Luba is defenetely a great source of inspiration. Thank you luba for this great interview!

Think Smart Designs said...

Hey Kiedis Great link you have there thanks for sharing

Kathryn McDwell said...

She's really admirable. She has every quality of a good artist, and it really shows in her artwork. Her graphic designs indeed elicit emotions, and her choice of colors defines the message. What she said is also agreeable, that art is also a continuous learning process.

Anonymous said...

Creativity for intelligent.

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