3 march 2017

I was just at the right time and the right place with the right idea

History of creation of the Festival talisman of 1985

3 march 2017

I was just at the right time and the right place with the right idea

The Organizing Committee of WFYS 2017 launched the competition on a creation of the corporate talisman. We decided to find out how was created the national symbol of the Festival-1985, which was held in the capital of our country, and talked to Mikhail Veremenko, the author of the blue-eyed girl Katyusha that became the face of the Festival.

Michael was a young man in 1985; he often participated in various art competitions. For example, in 1980 was held a poster competition for the Summer Olympics in Moscow, and in 1984 was announced a competition for the Festival pin: «As far as I understood then, the Festival daisy – it's like the five rings of the Olympics, the inviolable character that you need to use when creating a sketch of the pin. I drew a very funny little man, whose head was the globe, and around it there were the petals. In general, I revived this emblem, made him eyes, mouth and body. This character found himself in different situations: he fights for peace, breaks the atomic bomb, participates in the rally - I drew a series of pins for the competition.

Because this little man was somewhat anthropomorphic, it could be used as some kind of a person. I got a call from the Central Committee of the All Union Leninist Young Communist League, which conducted the competition, and they invited me to talk about the talisman of the Festival of 1985, actually, we officially called it not a talisman, but a souvenir. The Soviet Preparatory Committee (SPC) was located in the "Youth" hotel, and it was fully equipped for the work on the preparation of the Festival. There was the propaganda department, and I would like to note that «propaganda» is a good word, but today it has changed its meaning not for the better. So, propaganda is dissemination, and in the propaganda department people were engaged in promotion, dissemination of information about the Festival. And they asked me to invent something new for the souvenir. Of course, I was flattered, because the Komsomol Central Committee was completely inaccessible organization for an average person.

I went home, and I lived in the district of Tyoply Stan, and the subway didn't reach the house; therefore, it was necessary to change for the bus at the end of the line. During that drive, I heard a melody, somebody turned on the radio, and the song «Katyusha» was playing. And then it hit me – what a great idea! There is the song «Katyusha», but nobody created the image of her. Right in the transport I decided that the Festival 5-petal flower could become the Russian traditional headgear - kokoshnik. As soon as I ran home, I immediately wanted to draw Katyusha. If kokoshnik is Russian, so her sarafan must be traditionally Russian too. I decided that it should not be a girl, but a child, the symbol of the future, because the child has everything ahead. Drew it and began to think, what to do with the hands? I dropped them down and raised them up, but it wasn't good in any way. And then I realized that she has to hold something in her hands, drew bread with salt, but it seemed very banal. Finally, drew a pigeon – the symbol of peace, whom she presses to herself, and on the border of her sarafan I wrote «The 12th Festival, Moscow-85». Cheerful, I'm calling the Organizing Committee and saying: «I’ve already come up with it! Can I show it?». I made a small colored sketch, brought it, and everyone liked Katyusha.

This song was always very popular, especially in 1985, which was the 40th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War; this holiday was always saint for us. Memories of the war are still alive after 40 years; communication of generations is strong as never. Therefore, the Russian girl with a pigeon in her hands reminded of the great victory, and it only means that our future is peace and we urge the world to live in peace.

After the meeting I went home and sat down to draw immediately, but I still couldn't succeed with her face, eyes were too near or far, facial expression wasn't good. At that time I lived with my niece Dasha who was only two years old, her parents went to work in Iraq, and she temporarily lived with us. Dasha was running around, and I decided to make sketches of her, she was so charming, rosy-cheeked. I have done several sketches, brought them to the SPC, and we created the final image of Katyusha.

At that time I worked at the plant "Mosrentgen" in the design bureau, where I was an industrial designer and created projects of X-ray equipment. 1984, December 30, a call, from which I found out, that the sketches’ discussion was gong at the SPC right now. Several artists were working on the souvenir then, so there was a selection between different works. On the phone they said that most likely my sketch would be chosen, so I had to take time off from work and go to the hotel "Youth". 

As I was told, I took time off from work, went to Sportivnaya, climbed the stairs of the hotel. Immediately in front of me the door opens, and I hear the cry "Here he is!", flashes, cameras, crowds of people, then I was totally unprepared for such attention. So I realized that my sketch won. The next day I literally woke up famous, all the newspapers and magazines were full of information that the Festival got its own symbol. TV releases began; packs of letters started to come directly to the plant where I worked. At first, I tried to answer them, but soon I realized that it was useless, because they all arrived and arrived. It was funny; people even began to recognize me on the street.

Katyusha quickly gained popularity and began to spread as souvenirs. I was recalled from work for the period of holding the Festival and given an office on the third floor of the hotel «Youth». And I watched souvenirs from factories all over the Soviet Union. All they wanted to be involved in the Festival and to release the festival symbolic. So, each factory began making sketches based on those that I painted. And every day people came to me, into the room and brought the souvenir sketches, I had to evaluate them for compliance with the original. For convenience, I even had a linear template. People came up with many variants, I've never seen so much: pewter, wood, cut from paper, transformers, and cards…

I was just at the right time and the right place with the right idea. During the preparation I managed to meet a huge number of people and receive a lot of proposals for cooperation. So, once I designed the festival edition of the incredibly popular and large circulation magazine "Soviet woman", for the design of which I got the award "Magazine of the Year". From VDNKh "Young Naturalist" and "Young technician" pavilions I received offers to create the biggest figure of Katyusha. At the toy factory in Zagorsk, Sergiev Posad now, we made a huge doll: glued foamed plastic, cut out its upper part, and from the lower part we made a cone of a hardboard, the thick pressed cardboard. So we got 4.5 meters tall Katyusha installed in the pavilion. And for this work I was also awarded the VDNKh Gold Medal. 

At the Festival I came as a delegate. Each representative of the delegation received a badge with the letter «D», which allowed him to move around Moscow on all means of transport for free. We were housed in the hotel "Russia" in order to be near the Festival events, were given two suits and new "Volga" cars. It was all fine, but most of all I remembered the evenings. The point is that the Festival of 1985 was quite closed, the delegations who were discussing important and pressing problems came from all over the world, and young people who weren't involved in carrying out the event, felt the lack of such a long-awaited holiday, the lack of communication. And every evening huge crowd of young people gathered on Manezh Square: guys playing guitar, singing, playing «rucheyok», you know, the game in which people line up in pairs in a long corridor and endlessly run from the end to the beginning. Just imagine, a row of guys from Manezh Square to the Bolshoi Theatre. It was great!

Of course, I will remember during the whole life the extraordinary opening and closing ceremonies in "Luzhniki", equal in importance to the Olympic Games. Salutes, artists, fireworks, songs – incredible!

I have received a huge experience during the Festival, a number of interesting offers, and I still paint. Now I am retired and I illustrate children's books».

Such is the story of Mikhail Veremenko who invented the talisman of the Festival, gained invaluable experience and glory in the days of the Festival. Now you have this unique opportunity to become a hero of WFYS 2017! Send your idea for the contest until March 15. And maybe your name will go down in the world festival history already by April 3, 2017. All the details about the participation in the contest you will find here.