He is called the most demanded calligrapher in Cherepovets. His works can be seen in fancy stores and coffee shops, people order him exclusive interior items, entrust car paint jobs and invite to creative projects. Denis Ivanushkov has been a steelmaking operator in Cherepovets steel mill for over 10 years, doing art in spare time. His original exhibition named “The Power of Letters” (6+) opened in Severstal union library in February.
White flourishes on black background twist into a complex design, followed by a mottled carpet of lines and dabs. Under a close look one can distinguish individual letters or find some familiar words. Every exhibited painting is special. Ink, watercolours, acrylic and spray paint, gold leaf – Denis is not shy in experimenting with materials.
“I started as a street artist, doing graffiti and street art,” he says. “Originally it was a passion of the youth: my friends and I would spend pocket money on expired spray paint cans to go to an abandoned construction site, listen to hip-hop music and paint some sort of graffiti. It just felt very cool. No one knew a thing about graffiti, we experimented and invented something of our own, honing the skill. Step by step we advanced and acquired certain recognition. The town government started asking us to paint street walls. One of the well-known works is a graffiti on the fence around today’s Lenta supermarket in Zashekninsky district. The last job we did together was painting a plane hangar for Severstal ice hockey team. Today all the team members pursue their own goals. In 2015 I ordered a custom dip pen for calligraphy, and it paved the way for my own personal story.”
It took Denis four years of daily practice to learn calligraphy. Today he does no sketches, even for the larger artworks.
“I call myself a freelance artist,” the author explains. “I have no relevant art background, I learned the techniques myself, looked it up on the Internet, followed the trends and tried something new all the time. What I do is called contemporary calligraphy, a mix of styles, a combination of script forms and abstractions. There are no strict rules, improvisation and experiment set the tone. These script-based ornaments are very popular today. Calligraphy can be seen on clothes and footwear of popular brands, in fashion interiors or on expensive cars.
Calligraphy is in demand in Cherepovets, and I go beyond paper – they entrust me with walls, cars or tattoo designs. I mastered silk printing, which lets me transfer my designs on fabric or various objects. I also make 3D objects of plywood and plastic and style them.”
Denis’ art found recognition among professionals too. In 2016 he presented some of his works to the experts of the Contemporary Museum of Calligraphy; one of them ended up in the Museum’s collection.
“I am not into commercial business, I want to unlock the new in my art and create fascinating projects.”
Denis’ first exhibition named The Underground: Graffiti and Calligraphy was held in August 2015 in one of Zarechye malls. In 2016 and 2017 he represented a creative platform of contemporary art at the Energy of the Youth town festival. He also prototyped a stele with an inscription I Love Cherepovets, which was installed in a recreation park in 2017.
“New ideas keep coming to me all the time. Say, I would like to do a large-scale calligraphy project – write ‘Cherepovets’ in an Old Russian script over the entire O’Key supermarket parking lot and then film it from a quadcopter – to make stylish calligraphy one more renowned town brands. I believe our town is fit to be fashionable and contemporary, and engaging through interesting cultural projects.”