Mikhail Petrenko's blog
Russian 19-century non-religious book design and illustrative art belongs to the periphery of contemporary European book art. The achievements of Russian book art were performed in the mainstream of artistic tendencies that originated in France, Holland, England and Germany. Starting from Peter the Great reign until the middle of 19-century Russia imported type sets and used politypes drawn by the European masters.
Practically all of my recent cycles of illustrations are based on biographical material. This universal human experience tinted with the personal one is sometimes manifested quite unexpectedly. This is how it was, for example, when I illustrated Nikolai Tikhonov's stories collected under the title War Steeds. The fact that I have loved horses from childhood and was involved in equestrian sports turned out to be important in this case. The common love for horses united the writer and the illustrator. Poet Nikolai Tikhonov, a former cavalry man, had kept this love alive to the end of his life.
It was a revolutionary idea - to create an alphabet book illustrated with the very best in art and using the best production. Additionally, The Alphabet of Pictures had the good fortune to be accepted for publication almost immediately by the Office of preparation of State Documents and earned unanimous praise from the public, children and librarians. With time, The Alphabet of Pictures has come to be regarded as a landmark in the history of Russian children's literature.
I learned the laws of book illustration from the works of Vladimir Favorsky.
Later, in the 1960's, when studying at the Leningrad Higher School of Industrial Design, I became acquainted with the originals of the drawings and engravings of Dmitri Mitrokhin. Exhibitions of Mitrokhin's works were frequently held in the reading-room of the school's library.