Showcase of Web Design in Russia
By Arseny Vesnin
Web Design in Russia
The land mass that is one-sixth of the Earth is always surprising. As the founder of one of design-related magazines in Russia (Designcollector.net), I am happy to present the hidden force that is Russia. I won’t dwell on the classic stereotypes but will rather look at the creativity flowing through.
The era of professional and commercial online design started in Russia about a decade ago. We’re now seeing an increase in professional design and development. I won’t concentrate much on the history of Web design in Russia; that has been happening for ages. Like everywhere in the world, Web design came to Russia as a modern way to present any kind of information to an audience online. So, principles such as simplicity, accessibility and eye-catching design have been cultivated for several years.
Web development as a profession was relegated to the elite for years until geek heads and artists took it over. For a few years there was a boom of home pages and tiny corporate websites that were built with any regard for the end user. This trend ended thankfully, in large part due to the highly scaled websites that came out the original and still unique studio founded by Artemy Lebedev, which has produced more than 760 websites.
Today, the professional scene of web design consists of thousands of freelancers, studios, agencies and large media companies, along with offshore and outsourcing businesses. I won’t do a “Top 20″ this or that rating, but I will try to touch on the most established parts of Russian Web design, including agencies, freelancers, portals and so on.
State Of Things
Measuring a Web design market by the products of its agencies is not quite fair. Russian agencies have also proven their management technologies and quality-control processes. As someone once said, “The best way to understand a new city is to go to the central market.” And in Russia, Web design is still concentrated in the hands of freelancers and small studios. To get a better picture of freelancing in Russia and the bordering Ukraine, I have asked two freelancers to talk about their work.
I spoke with Gennady V. Osypenko, who is the rather famous Kiev-based designer working with companies from Eastern Europe (he is also known as Genn), and Dmitry Sulliwan, a Russian freelance Web designer.
Q: Could you please describe the life of a freelancer, developer and designer?
Gennady Osypenko: You do work, get inspiration and then do more work: that is freelancing. For sure, you meet clients and collaborate a lot. Compared with an office job, you travel around the city a lot, wasting your time on that. Freelance designers become the center of the project, and even oversees developers, acting as a kind of art director. Designers in offices just do the routine, yelling at account managers and listening to art directors. Hence, I am a freelancer, and I do not remain at one job for long.
Dmitry Sulliwan: The work of freelancer is very interesting. You get new experiences from working with different companies on diverse projects, and some of those experiences may not even be related to design. Different cultural and professional events make the life of the freelancer easier and allow him to share his experience and understand the value of his job. A freelancer’s life is good because he manages himself, which allows you to get more pleasure from your work. But that does not mean you work any less. From my perspective, freelancers work one-and-a-half times more than permanent contractors. The only barrier to getting the best results is laziness. Hence, there are not a whole lot of true professionals in the freelancing space.
Q: Are there any regular meetings or events?
Genn: We hold festivals and different advertisement exhibitions. The only exhibition I have visited abroad was the designers market in Budapest (Sziget). Web-oriented conferences were very popular last year. Not all of them were about design, but some were useful and interesting anyway. I’ve done things like short master classes at some of them, and I plan to do that in future; I’ve been invited at the end of October to say something about being a freelance designer. I like talking about what I do to people who are eager to listen.
Dmitry: There is a good set of conferences in Russia. I can name the last ones: DesignAct in Moscow, and the 404 Web Designers Conference in Samara. Many Russians also visit foreign events in Europe and around the world.
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