Heart & Harmony: Kashlakov Goes from Jazz Beats to Heartbeats

Striking a chord in the heart of graphic design, Ivan Kashlakov‘s posters for International Jazz Day (left) and the enigmatic “Woman in the Poster” series (right) sing with vivid creativity. The first poster captures the improvisational spirit of jazz with neon-like lines that dance in a mesmerizing rhythm, much like the music itself. Kashlakov’s second poster captures the essence of femininity through a bold and simplistic design, merging the imagery of lips and a floral heart—symbolizing the allure and complexity of women. These works honor their subjects and earned Kashlakov top accolades, including the Platinum and Silver awards at the Graphis Poster Awards 2024, showcasing his ability to translate abstract concepts into captivating visual stories.

By: Ivan Kashlakov

Harmony Unveiled: A Jazz-Infused Journey Through Poster Art

In a world where the mundane dust of everyday life settled on the souls of many, there emerged a force capable of washing it all away, jazz. Inspired by the profound words of Art Blakey, I embarked on a creative journey to celebrate International Jazz Day, an ode to the genre that is a constant flow and a rhythm that seeps into the very fabric of our beings.

My canvas became a playground for the alphabet, as I intricately connected the letters of “JAZZ” in a multidimensional bridge composition. Each stroke carried the vibrancy of a memorable color palette, echoing the energy and groovy mood that defines jazz. This, I believed, would be a visual representation of the genre’s dynamic character—a bridge symbolizing the rich heritage of jazz, a structure built on innovation and evolution.

As the strokes met and intertwined, the poster took on a life of its own, capturing the essence of jazz as a unique feeling that transcends the senses in an indescribable way. The artwork became a testament to the genre’s ability to evolve, with artists consistently pushing boundaries and experimenting with new styles and sounds. In a realm where creativity painted the air with vibrant strokes of expression, the assignment beckoned—a call to craft a poster that would not merely celebrate International Jazz Day but would become a resonant ode to the ever-evolving tapestry of jazz itself. Jazz, a ceaseless current of soul-stirring music, transcended the mundane, weaving an indescribable connection of the senses into a tapestry of unique emotions. It wasn’t just a genre; it was a dynamic landscape where artists relentlessly pushed boundaries, experimenting with new styles and sounds to infuse the music with perpetual freshness and relevance.

Responding to this creative summons, my approach took shape—a deliberate effort to create a multidimensional bridge, a visual metaphor mirroring the very essence of jazz. The letters forming “JAZZ” became not just characters but the architectural blocks of this creative endeavor, intricately connected with a palette of vibrant and memorable colors. This bridge, beyond its aesthetic appeal, symbolized the robust foundation of jazz’s rich heritage, a resilient structure that stood against the test of time, embodying the genre’s evolutionary journey.

Woven within the fabric of this composition was an audiovisual expression, a harmonious blend capturing the pulsating energy and the groovy mood that defined jazz. The artwork wasn’t a static creation but a living testament to music in motion—a dynamic homage to the genre’s character, figuratively and literally.

The acclaim for my creation was beyond my wildest dreams. It found its place in international exhibitions, earning recognition at prestigious international exhibitions—it was among the top 20 designs for the esteemed Montreux Jazz Festival in China. Recognition cascaded in, from the 1st B.I. International Poster Art Biennale in and the 10th International Triennial of Stage Posters, to the Gold Award in the typographic posters category at Poster Stellars and a Bronze Prize at the Oesol International Typography Awards.

But the journey didn’t end there. My work, along with those of fellow artists, was sealed in a stainless-steel capsule, buried in the ground to be unearthed in 2037. A black granite monument stone, engraved with my name alongside other winners and jury members, now covers the sacred burial ground of the time capsule. It was a surreal moment, a recognition etched in stone.

Exhibitions in Indonesia and South Korea and participation in the “Poster is Music” exhibition in Bulgaria marked subsequent chapters. Then the unbelievable moment came up—my poster was bestowed with the Graphis Platinum Award in 2024, making me the first Bulgarian designer to receive this award in Graphis history. This zenith marked not only a personal triumph but a resounding crescendo in the poster’s journey.

The narrative of my poster unfolded as it became part of exhibitions, telling the story of a genre in motion, a tribute to the ever-evolving symphony of jazz.

Women in Posters: Irresistible and Unpredictable Like Nature

In the realm of artistic expression, where visual narratives transcend cultural boundaries, an invitation-only international exhibition took shape—a gathering of creative minds converging on a singular motif: the woman. This ambitious project, curated by the visionary Dr. Patrycja Longawa, Vice-Dean of the College of Media and Social Communication (Wyższa Szkoła Informatyki i Zarządzania w Rzeszowie), unfolded as “Women in Posters.”

The project was more than an exhibition; it was a testament to the timeless fascination artists harbor for the multifaceted nature of women. The roles women play—mothers, caregivers, lovers—have evolved, yet certain qualities have remained unwavering. The exhibition sought to unravel the complexities of femininity, portraying women not as mere subjects but as enigmatic beings embodying strength, delicacy, goodness, vengeance, trust, possessiveness, complication, simplicity, deity, and devilry—a myriad of contradictions encapsulated in a single theme.

This artistic exploration delved into the historical tradition of women as muses—a perennial source of inspiration across various visual arts forms such as painting, sculpture, and drawing, or in more contemporary forms such as photography or graphic design. From classical paintings like Pablo Picasso’s “Young Ladies of Avignon” and Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” to timeless sculptures like Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini’s “Ecstasy of Saint Teresa” or Edgardo Degas’ “Blue Dancers,” women have left an indelible mark on the artistic landscape. Despite the passage of centuries, women have been, are, and will be frequently used motifs in art.

“Women in Posters” was a unique endeavor within this rich tradition, focusing on the art of the poster—a medium distinguished by its visual communicative power. The exhibition aimed not only to showcase the diverse interpretations of women but also to provide a glimpse into the vision of women by artists from around the world.

At its essence, the artwork posits the notion that a woman, much like nature itself, embodies an irresistibility and unpredictability that is both enchanting and beguiling. This conceptual foundation delves into the complexities of femininity, casting women as harmonious expressions of the natural world.

Nature, with its awe-inspiring beauty and boundless power, has long served as a metaphor for various facets of the human experience. Similarly, the portrayal of a woman in the artwork encapsulates the allure and enigma found in the diverse landscapes of nature. It speaks to the irresistible charm that emanates from both—a magnetic force that captivates and enthralls.

Yet, beneath this allure lies an element of unpredictability, a trait shared by both women and nature. The work delves into the idea that, like the ever-changing seasons or the capriciousness of the weather, a woman’s essence encompasses a spectrum of qualities that can be both enchanting and elusive. It captures the essence of femininity as a dynamic force, capable of surprising and evoking a myriad of emotions.

The exploration of these parallels extends beyond the visual representation, delving into the emotional and conceptual realms. It invites the viewer to reflect on the inherent duality within both women and nature—an irresistible beauty that coexists with an unpredictable, ever-changing nature.

The work presented was a remarkable testament to this global exploration. The featured piece, a creation of singular elegance, found its place among the oeuvres of 90 invited artists hailing from 30 countries worldwide. The collaboration with the China Europe International Design Culture Association (CEIDA) added an extra layer of international resonance, bringing together artists from China, Ecuador, Japan, Turkey, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Azerbaijan, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Columbus, Ukraine, and beyond. “Women in Posters” wasn’t just an exhibition; it was a celebration of the enduring allure of women through the eyes of artists globally. As the project echoed through various prestigious platforms, it became a narrative that transcended borders—an artistic odyssey showcasing the universal language of creativity and the timeless fascination with the enigmatic essence of women.

This artistic journey of the poster extended beyond the exhibition walls, participating in prestigious events like the Golden Bee 15 Global Biennale of Graphic Design and the 10th International Triennial of Stage Posters. The work garnered recognition with a Bronze Stellar Award in the “Cultural” category at the 2nd Poster Stellars International Competition, and also made its mark in exhibitions in China and Poland. The work has also won a Silver Award in Graphis Poster 2024.

I ventured into the realm of hands-on creation, participating in a workshop for silkscreen printing at the Sito Studio, part of the Melba Design Festival in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 2023. The limited editions on silkscreen of the artist are available for art enthusiasts to order through the author’s Instagram account @ivankashlak.

Ivan Kashlakov is a visual artist working in the field of web and graphic design, posters, and postage stamps. He has participated in 350 international exhibitions in South Korea, China, Japan, Poland, Switzerland, the USA, Peru, Mexico, and more. Ivan is the winner of 75 international awards, including a Platinium award from the Graphis Poster 2024 Awards, a prize from the 11th Typography Competition of Communication Arts, and 1st place in the II International poster competition dedicated to the 130th anniversary of El Lissitzky UNOVIS XXI century. He has been featured in the “100 Best of 2022” by Creative Quarterly, Brooklyn, New York. He has professional membership in the United Designs Alliance (UDA) and the China-European International Design and Culture Association (CEIDA).

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Author: Graphis