The New Exhibition is a new online directory championing Ukrainian creatives – here’s why you should hire them
Curated by a team of US-based Eastern European designers, The New Exhibition connects artists caught in the crossfire of war directly with art directors and agencies in the West.
- Liz Gorny
- 28 April 2022
When a team of designers at design company Collins began researching portfolios for an online directory of Ukrainian creatives, they noticed something striking. “The style of many illustrators has completely shifted since Russian tanks rolled across the border into Ukraine,” says the team behind The New Exhibition, launched by Collins. It is but one of many creative revelations that have come out of the research process behind the new project, The New Exhibition – an ongoing online resource that features artists from across the creative world.
The site is split into the tabs: Illustration, Typography, Graphic Design, Animation, Photography, Fine Art, Production, Writing, Fashion, concluding with a Submit Portfolio button. It has one aim: to bring immediate attention to the work of Ukrainian artists “that have been caught in the crossfire of war.”
The New Exhibition team continues: “Since late February, more than 10 million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes and communities. Roughly seven million have moved to other cities in Ukraine, while three million have left the country altogether. That is one-quarter of Ukraine’s population. It includes more than half of the country’s children. As part of a global community, we can make a real difference in the lives of our creative colleagues whose careers have become collateral damage: we can hire them. They need the work. They need to support their families. We can use their remarkable talent.”
The directory is built on some crucial starting points. Firstly, The New Exhibition is an initiative that connects creatives directly – “No reps. No middlemen,” says the team. It is also built on the idea that creativity and an appreciation of craft “bind us together” – “It is together that we will navigate through these frightening times. As one of the artists told us: ‘Art is the only thing which keeps me sane now.’”
The process of gathering the diverse range of practices currently housed by The New Exhibition was an organic one, guided by self-research. Digging through Instagram, asking friends in Eastern Europe for recommendations and Ukrainian designers to spread the word, The New Exhibition eventually took shape with assistance from some of those very designers, “particularly Anna Sarvira from Pictoric”, the team adds. Along the way, The New Exhibition team looked at hundreds of pieces of work and saw themes emerging: “Take a long scroll through the Instagram accounts of Mari Kinovych, Natali Kozeko and Oksana Drachkovska from Kyiv, Olga Shtonda from Kharkiv or Oksana Drachkovska from Lviv. Vibrant and joyful bodies of work are now dark and heartbreaking. Feeds once packed with bright, optimistic colours now feature blues, black and grey. This kind of impact of war in the arts is a well-documented phenomenon across art history, but it’s unbelievable to watch unfold in real-time.”
The New Exhibition team states that, because of their craft and talent for perception, these artists have now also become commentators – “showing the Western world their view from the very eye of the storm.”
The team concludes with one clear message; that all agencies, all directors, editors, creative directors, designers and publications are needed in support of this initiative. “Visit The New Exhibition and use it to source your next campaign,” the team states. For readers not currently working on a creative project, the team says that you can still help. As the directory gets off the ground, new names are constantly being added; visiting often and sharing with friends and colleagues could make all the difference. “Look at all of these extraordinary artists and their work,” the team concludes. “And, most importantly, hire them.”
If you’d like to participate in The New Exhibition or have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating from the University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, Indie magazine and design studio Evermade.