“Bare Butts Will Only Make the World a Better Place”: WE BAD Group’s Portfolio
Artists and illustrators Lera Skhemka and Maksym Pavliuk. Collaborated with Puma, 1 + 1 Media, Goodwine, Fozzy Group, Samoe Bolshoe Prostoe Chislo, Oschadbank, Osnovy Publishing, and others. Illustrated the Constitution of Ukraine for kids, which was reissued in 2020 by the Office of the President of Ukraine. Held residencies and exhibitions in Slovakia, France, and Ukraine.
— We call ourselves a small multi-format corporation working with illustrations in the context of project design tasks. We came together as a group in 2015.
At some point, we realized that nothing interested us as much as the events happening around us. We realized that we live in a strange, one-of-a-kind place where the most incongruous things are combined. For the pictures to be honest, they have to reflect your personal experience. So we started working with what we see and sharing the context we grew up in. But the world is constantly changing, and so are the themes in our works.
We believe art must reflect the creator’s feelings and experiences and the time they live in. Even though we do not follow the contemporary illustration scene, our group tries to create fresh and relevant works that resonate with modern times. The artistic approaches of the past don’t work now, what with the time being much faster and the number of visuals much greater now. But both of us had a classical education and still carry the love for working with materials by hand.
We have a feeling that a desire to be a fashionable creator is too likely to lead to triteness. Instead, one will benefit more from having some time for oneself—discovering, studying. We all carry a unique context, and all we have to do is to let it show itself.
To be free, an artist needs money and a lit, light-filled space.
Our pictures are about love and irony. They’re about modern life in a country in Southeast Europe that withdrew from the Soviet past but hasn’t reached any destination yet. Add the defining role of the Internet to that, too.
We are in this constant state of researching the themes, stories, and characters that we like. The work never stops.
In commercial projects, we try to gently point our clients towards something bolder. They tend to be wary of doing anything that could spark debate and often say, ‘I do like this character, but why don’t we change it? We don’t want to offend anyone.’ Although we actually think that bare butts, for example, will only make the world a better place. People are ashamed of themselves. But you can hardly live a happy life without loving yourself or your body, can you?
Big companies always want to keep in step with the times. And our little style and the colors that we use, they find them exactly the instruments to do so. Unfortunately, style for them is only the general outline, and they don’t really think about our characters and themes. But it gives us more stuff to work on. We need to discuss everything in detail and often stand our ground, but we fight to the end.