Video Games Are the Future of Cinema

An Interview with Artist Yuri Shwedoff

Yuri Shwedoff comes from a family of full of artists so it’s not a surprise that he has also become one. Yuri is inspired by many things, but what absolutely visible is that pop culture has left its mark on his art.

How did you start your artistic career? First and foremost, I’m thinking of your childhood and adolescence.
My parents are artists from childhood, they met in art school, so when I was growing up, I lived in an environment of paints and canvases in their workshop. I started drawing very early, and painted everything such as pirates, bandits, Disney characters and vehicles. When I was 9 my parents, especially my grandmother, decided that it was necessary to move to Russia and give me a good art education. Before that we lived in Kyrgyzstan. We moved, and it was difficult. A lot of things, memories and the house had to be left behind. I went to art school at the Russian Academy of Arts — Moscow State Academic Art Liceum. My aunt and uncle worked there. My mother also went to work there as a teacher of drawing. I spent 7 years there, it was good times. I learned everything I know there. Then there was the Surikov Institute where I spent 6 years, studying printed materials, for example, linocuts, lithography and etching. At that time I had to work in the games industry, with movies and TV series. All that time I was surrounded by great people and — more importantly — with my family. They are great artists and patient teachers.

Would you give me your definition of art? What is the role of an artist in today’s society?
I think a lot about it. Often with my artist friends, we discuss our roles in the world and the role of art in the global system of values. Now everything is changing very rapidly and important things lose their importance. Maybe, soon, we will have to survive and hunt like many thousand years ago. We need artists in such a world, or all of us will need to pick up the spears and go for a battle for the last cheeseburger. I believe that art helps people to experience the feelings that they have deep inside. Understanding these feelings and at the same time understand ourselves. Learning to enjoy the beauty of the world. Art helps us to be the ones who we should be — not only builders, but also the audience. Art reminds us that the whole world was created for us to appreciate its beauty. So it’s cool to create and enjoy the creations. It will be important even when we go back to the cave and will draw on walls. And it is a nice job to sit, to draw and to watch cartoons. What more could you ask for?

What would be your trademark? What would you name as typical Russian in your style?
I love to paint post-apocalyptic landscapes, putting there a man and watching his reaction, alone with nature, on the remains of civilization, back to basics and the dawn of humanity. I like connecting this with space travel and magic. When I was growing up in Kyrgyzstan, I saw very beautiful mountains, valleys and almost cosmic landscapes. When I moved to Russia, I saw a lot of post-Soviet architecture. Buildings are like spaceships, futuristic bus stops. Much of this is forgotten and abandoned. It has its own beauty. All this inspired me. Now I’m trying to find the perfect balance between these things.

What are your favourite artistic eras?
Perhaps the most interesting era is our time. We can look at and appreciate so many centuries of culture and art; so many centuries of history and experience are behind us, and it is unclear what will happen next. What do we do? Where shall we go? Beautiful things from the past have never been so precious as it is now. We have an interesting and difficult task, namely not to lose it and do something that will remain in history after us. Do not screw up! This is the most interesting.

What is the biggest mistake you have ever made but learnt from it a lot?
Office work. I went wrong with it. 25 hours a day to do boring work for people distant from the arts. I’m still working in the office, but I’ve found a good team, and I’m surrounded by creative people. Fight for free schedule! Fight for your free time and try to work more on your own projects! You will never succeed in your art if you realize the ideas of others and relying on someone else’s opinion.

How do you start working on a new piece? Do you plan a lot or would you say you’re more of a person who rather improvises?
Usually ideas come themselves but I need to be in a good mood. A couple of days I go and write stories in the notes on my phone. Then I sit down at my computer and collect pictures for inspiration on the Internet, places, and things, and then I start painting. It usually takes from one day to a week to complete the picture. So it’s hard to call it improvisation. Rather, I just listen carefully to the voice in my head and do all that he says. Sounds creepy.

It’s obvious that you like TV shows. How big impact does popular culture on your style/work and yourself?
Since childhood, I love watching movies like Robocop, Terminator, Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and films with Arnie. I imitated the characters of these films. One time I even went to fight with guys older than me in the street. I put on a mask of Minnie Mouse and tablecloth. I was Batman. They kicked my ass and laughed at me, and I realized it was not easy to be the Dark Knight. Later, when I started painting, my favourite films inspired me. I viewed them as an artist and collected ideas. When I started drawing posters for a film, I wanted to capture the impression of the film in a static image, to create dynamics and drama in the stillness. Later it helped me learn to create a story in my personal work. Now I try to watch films every day while I draw. This is a great way to see the world while you sit at home all day long and work.

If I’m not mistaken you mention somewhere that you want to design computer games. Why? What are the characteristics of a well-designed game?
I have a friend who thinks video games are the greatest creation of mankind. I think he is partly right. Making art where the audience acts, as a participant, during the events is cool. I think this is the future of cinema. In games it is possible to make the viewer act and feel the emotions much sharper than in films or pictures. This is excellent for conveying not only ideas but also feelings. Sometimes I draw characters for MMORPG games. I would like to make my own projects with my friends in the future. Maybe soon, who knows?

What are you working on right now?
I’m working on some projects for Triumph Gallery in Moscow. For myself I draw pictures at night, I want to make an exhibition soon. If I could get a little more sleep, it would be super cool.

What are you plans for the future?
I want to find a studio where I could put a lithographic press, and get a dog or rat to teach him kung fu. I want to draw more and more on canvas and paper and not on the computer. I hope working with galleries and participate in exhibitions. I want to sleep more and eat healthy food. This is my plan.

And now a short game, it’s really easy: I say a word and you have to tell me the first three words that come to your mind!

Let’s start!

  1. Human kind: will be destroyed by giant Oreo cookies
  2. Zombies: still good guys
  3. Happiness: hot dogs everywhere
  4. Inspiration: Ron Burgundy’s mustache
  5. Success: slipping but not falling
  6. Free time: food and frustration
  7. Family: gangsters, mafia, Al Pacino
  8. Art: slipping but not falling two times a day
  9. Photography: a way to blackmail your friends
  10. Yuri: really nice guy





journalist, editor & film critic; cinema, design, books & music; human rights, typography & Nordics [Content in English & Hungarian] | Website:

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Barbara Majsa

Barbara Majsa

journalist, editor & film critic; cinema, design, books & music; human rights, typography & Nordics [Content in English & Hungarian] | Website:

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