EK Interview: Yury Ustsinau

The stark black work of Yury Ustsinau twists the mind left and right with little regard for reality.  It’s crazy.  It’s unreal.  It’s as unrelenting as it is awesome.  Here now we present an interview, and of course, more art:

Introduce yourself.

My name is Yury Ustsinau.  I’m an artist, designer and 
illustrator residing in Frankfurt am Main,
Germany.  I was born in 1979 in Vitebsk, Belarus, 
the hometown of worldknown artist
 Marc Chagall, and graduated from Vitebsk 
Technological University with a degree in 
Product Design. I work as a commercial
 illustrator and artist for different art projects.

art blog - Yury Ustinau - Empty Kingdom


Did you enjoy your time at the Vitebsk Technological University?

Like any other student, I enjoyed my time at university. There were a lot of interesting and new aspects, such as the different surroundings, fresh faces, and new classes.


How has what you studied changed your perspective and approach to art?

I studied art and product design. With each new professor I changed my outlook on art…


Why do you think a traditional education is important?  What do you think you learned at the University that you would not have otherwise?

Without a solid background in art (theory and practice) and credentials, survival and success are even more difficult. The technical aspects of design in a traditional education are important because – without this traditional education, I would not have gained knowledge in the study of proportion, body anatomy and color formation.

art blog - Yury Ustinau - Empty Kingdom


How did you take the transition from traditional illustration to the black and white, glossy work you do now?

It was a long and difficult process to somewhat eliminate the color spectrum from my mind. The result was that it left me with two neutral colours and a glossy smooth light. These elements opened up the path to my new graphic world.

Who was instrumental in influencing you and helping you develop your own particular technique?

One person who deserves the initial credit is my grandfather. He recognized my talent and signed me up at an art academy. In my academic life, my art professor, A.Verenich, was most instrumental for my current technique.

art blog - Yury Ustinau - Empty Kingdom


What is your greatest strength?  What is your biggest weakness?  How is a good way for an artist to figure out what assets they have and in what fields they are lacking?

Art is not an Olympic discipline. Therefore it is difficult to limit my strengths and weaknesses on a scale. An artist can take any deficit and join it with other elements to turn it into an even more creative result.

art blog - Yury Ustinau - Empty Kingdom


What have you done in the past year to push the boundaries of your own artistic capabilities?

This past year I had several exhibitions in Europe. I also took part in diverse art projects and several magazines ran articles about my work.

art blog - Yury Ustinau - Empty Kingdom


Why have you chosen to use only black and white for your work?  What emotions or ideas do you think are accentuated as a result?  Which do you think are taken away or decreased?

As mentioned already, our world is full of colors. I decided to focus on only limited achromatic colours. This contrast going from the natural world of colors to my creative world is best depicted by black and white. These contrasting neutral colours add charm to my work, as well as intrigue.


What is your favorite of all your work?

Out of all my published works “Pieter” is definitely the one. It is provocative in the sense of fear and once you’ve seen it, it won’t leave your mind. I feel this is the best work I have done until now.

art blog - Yury Ustinau - Empty Kingdom


What kind of critical feedback and response has your work received?  How has the response you got changed your own opinion of your work and your approach to a piece?

Some feedback I got mentioned the stirring of fear and anger as well as images of a childhood fear of darkness (Similar to the all-time favorite Belarusian black story of “Dark dark room”). Other viewers, being more attentive, noticed the many special details I included and complemented me on the usage of the special smooth light, the plastic creation, fine pictorial details on the hair, how the hands corresponded, and healthy-looking teeth.


Do you like Smoothies?  What is your favorite fruit and why?

I’d probably go for a black Smoothie made from black berries 😉 Another good Smoothie would be banana with coconut.


It’s difficult to say what my favourite fruit is, but … you can give me a black cat any time.


art blog - Yury Ustinau - Empty Kingdom