© Iryna Sereda

 

Romana Romanyshyn and Andriy Lesiv were born in 1984 in Lviv. They studied at the National Academy of Arts in their hometown and at the Academy of Arts in Warsaw and founded the »Studio Agrafka«, in which they jointly produce books and other projects. Lesiv has held a Doctor of Philosophy degree since 2016. Their books focus primarily on social themes. In their opinion, children’s books should not enable children to flee into an imaginary and sometimes kitschy »perfect« world, but rather confront them with real problems. They put this idea into practice in their book »Wijna, schtscho sminila Rondo« (2015; tr: The War that Changed Rondo), in which, like many other Ukrainian authors, they devote themselves to a topic that is particularly central to their country: »We were unsure whether the Ukrainian population was ready to talk about the war. We didn’t want to hurt anyone.« It tells the story of the city of Rondo with its fragile and vulnerable creatures made of glass, paper, and balloons. The plot focuses on the three friends Danko, Zirka, and Fabiyan, into whose peaceful lives in the city of light, war and darkness one day enter. The three friends defend their city in a very creative way, but even when the war is over, it leaves scars and traces. The memorial symbol of the war and its heroes are red poppies. The children’s book has already been published in France and Korea and was introduced in Germany at the 2016 European Children’s Book Fair in Saarbrücken.

Romanyshyn and Lesiv have received numerous international awards, including two special mentions at the BolognaRagazzi Awards in 2015, the prize for best book design in Ukraine in 2018, the Brazilian Seleção da Revista Emília in 2018, the Chinese Hakka International Picturebook Award in 2018, a bronze medal from the Book Art Foundation in 2019 as well as the NAMI Concours Green Island Award (Romana Romanyshyn) and the Purple Island Award (Lesiv) in 2019. The most recent publications for children »Golosno, ticho, poschepki« (2017; tr: Voiced, Quiet, Whispering) and »Ja tak batschu« (2018; tr: I See That) are devoted to sensory perceptions. With their many impressive visualizations, the two artists find various differentiated forms of expression for the cognitive perceptions of hearing and seeing. Their books were honored with the BolognaRagazzi Awards 2019 in the category of children’s non-fiction.

Romanyshyn and Lesiv have also illustrated numerous books and designed the covers of works by other authors, including Czesław Miłosz, Charles Dickens, Sofia Yuriyivna Andrukhovych, and Wisława Szymborska.

The artists live in Lviv.

Sirki i makowi sernjata
Wid. Starogo Lewa
Lwiw, 2014

 Wijna, schtscho sminila Rondo
Wid. Starogo Lewa
Lwiw, 2015

Міj dim і retschi v nim
Wid. Starogo Lewa
Lwiw, 2015

Golosno, ticho, poschepki
Wid. Starogo Lewa
Lwiw, 2017

Ja tak batschu
Wid. Starogo Lewa
Lwiw, 2017