It's not boring in Hamburg
March 21, 2012
Despite the trend Maxim Chatskiy and Galina Panchenko don’t live in Indonesia. They live in Hamburg, Germany. Galya studies, Maxim works, they go to exhibitions, museums and galleries and lead the cultural life as we imagine it.
Galya Panchenko was born and bred in Kiev. She moved to Hamburg in January 2009. Galya is a staff member of Bang! Bang! and Tsekh. She studies illustration at the University of Applied Arts and works for “Margarin” design studio.
Maxim Chatskiy was born in Odessa in 1982. When Maxim was 20 he moved to Kiev where he learned soundmixing, took part in glossy making and photo exhibitions, gave lections on reflection in photography in the photo school and took second place in the young Ukrainian artists’ contest. Then they organized “Margarin” office and moved to Hamburg. Maxim is a staff illustrator of Bang! Bang! and Kot+Kat.
How did you get here?
Galya: In 2008 my pregnant friend from Hamburg asked me if I wanted to stand in for her as a package designer in a small office for a couple of months. I went here out of pure curiosity and worked until my friend’s maternity leave was over. And all of a sudden I entered the university and now I’m a student of the 5th course.
Maxim: First I wanted to study Communication design at Galya’s university but we couldn’t afford to be a family of students so I changed my mind. Some time later our friend suggested founding a design office and I could obtain a worker visa.
What do you have here that you lacked at home?
Galya: Curiously enough, I’ve always wanted to have a view from my window. There haven’t been enough cultural events, exhibitions, comic shops. I’ve lacked free workshops and the people who are examples for imitation for me now.
Maxim: I lacked the creative surroundings that could inspire me, show me something really great. When I came here I realized the difference between something real and some things I’d seen on the Internet.
Do you work with the local or Russian employers?
Galya: My friend Arina, Max and I established a small design office margarin.de. We’ve created an Advent art calendar with the advertismrnts for every shop in any case. At the university I pay more attention to the art-illustration, which is quite different from the commercial one. In Russia I’ve mostly drawn for “Mamas&Papas” magazine and for “Tsekh”.
Maxim: It’s getting more and more difficult to distinguish among the local and foreign employers now when we all have the Internet. When I came to Germany I went to the newsstand at the railway station and copied out all the addresses of the magazines that could find my work interesting. In a couple of days the art-director of Brand eins wrote to me and gave me a task. After this I began to feel at home rather quickly.
Is there a difference between them in the methods of approach to the organization? Are the requirements to the illustrator the same? What companies pay more?
Galya: you get more if you are in Europe but the tax system is very complicated here: the more money you get the more you pay. Your portfolio here is a sort of a template, that is to say, everybody wants the same thing of yours’ but a bit different. When they call for you it means that they need nobody else but you. And the contract, the time limits and the confidence in an illustrator are essential.
Maxim: The conditions are comparatively the same. They pay more, but the periodwhen you are supposed to get your money is prolonged as well.
Where is it better and more interesting to live?
Galya: No doubt life is more interesting in Germany. Hamburg is a very beautiful city and very different. You can concentrate on yourself, on your education and experience. You can travel for less money. Everything is full of creative work here. When we see our friends we often discuss common projects or compare notes.
Maxim: Even in Germany there is no limits to both impression and reflection. Things are changing now in Kiev, too. And it’s very interesting. The movie “Midnight in Paris” gives the best answer to your question: “the most interesting things always happen where you are”.
Do you communicate with other illustrators and designers here or do you live in isolation?
Galya: It’s no use speaking about isolation when you study at the university. Although my German is not very good yet so I can’t express my thoughts and ideas freely. I like two girls from my course: Romy Blummel and Gosya Masho. However, everybody around me is very creative, and I appreciate what they do very much.
Maxim: In the sphere of infographics it’s better to mention not the illustrators but the teams that create such pictures. When I was taking my exams to enter the university I wanted to study under Schultz Schaffer, an Information illustration teacher. Then I had a job interview at the largest infographics office KircherBurkhardt. In Hamburg I like what Mutabor does.
Does the local culture influence your style? Do you participate in any projects?
Galya: I visit exhibitions all the time, and the local culture is very easy to absord as it’s all around. There are many illustrated comics, posters, magazines, handicrafts in the shops. I send my works to contests, I take part in group projects. I’ve started drawing comics. That’s a good way to relax as all the projects are long-termed in Germany. I’ve also started drawing cartoons. Now I know what hard work it is.
Do you compete with the local illustrators? And why do the employers choose you?
Maxim: It seems that there is no competition at all. There is just so much work that you can never do.
Do you ever go to Russia? Are you going to come back or move to another place?
Maxim: There is no such idea as isolation anymore when you live far from your country. Moreover, everything is so fixed on the Net now that you even don’t feel out of context.
Who or what do you miss?
Galya: I miss my sisters and their children. I miss Tonya. Now that Max is here I feel much better. After three years I feel more at home here than twenty-eight years in Kiev.
Maxim: There’re is nothing to worry about. Hardly we miss somebody, we can always visit them.
Maxim Chatsky's portfolio
Galya Panchenko's portfolio