Graphis Master Peter Bankov was born in Belarus to a family of artists. He studied in Minsk as a sculptor and in Moscow as a book designer and illustrator. He currently lives in Prague and worksas a designer and teacher. Peter has received numerous international awards and has been a judge for many global competitions. His art projects are part of private collections in Moscow, London, and Beijing. He writes and presents a cycle of lectures on design in Russia, the CIS (The Commonwealth of Independent States), and Europe. Peter Bankov’s work is among collections featured at the MoMA (New York), Klingspor Museum Offenbach (Germany), MOTI (Netherlands), La Musée des Arts Décoratifs (France), and the Lahti Poster Museum (Finland). Peter is a member of the AGI (Alliance Graphique Internationale) and the I-Code International Consulate of Design.
Here is part of his Q&A:
What inspired or motivated you to have a career in design? I didn’t initially have the goal of becoming a designer. I was trained as a sculptor, a book illustrator, a calligrapher, and a specialist in communication strategies. However, one day I realized that for me, being a designer means being happy.
What is your work philosophy? I don’t have any philosophy. The main thing for me is feeling happy. I’m happy when I work and when I design and make posters. The design process is my philosophy.
Who is your greatest mentor? I’ve had many wonderful teachers in my life, and I thank God for having them. However, my father was my first teacher and mentor. He was a role model for me: smart, kind, and highly educated. He was an industrial designer by trade and made tractors in the USSR (now modern-day Belarus). Later, he changed his career and became a painter.
What is your favorite type of design to work on? For me, designing is making posters. I’m a poster-making robot. At this time, I’ve made more than 1,500 posters.
What would you say is the defining characteristic of your work style-wise? Freedom is important to me in my work. That moment of surprise and admiration is necessary in a poster.
What is the most difficult challenge you’ve had to overcome to reach your current position? The most difficult decision in my life was giving up commercial advertising work. To me, working for clients in advertising destroys the love of design, and the desire to make money kills creativity. My father told me, “Give up clients and big money and learn how to jump out of an airplane without a parachute.” I did just that. Now I’m happy and free, and I have time for my family and designing posters.
Who are some of your greatest past influences? I can name several names and styles: Marinetti and all Dadaists (Italian and French), Rodchenko, Stepanova, and Constructivism (Russian style), Edward Fell (US), and the French poster school.
What would be your dream assignment? My dream is to make posters for movies, maybe for Hollywood.
To read the rest of the interview and discover other designers, preorder Graphis Journal #376 at graphis.com. Read about other influential designers here.