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INTERVIEW with Dana Pavlychko

This week we interviewed one of the key players in the Ukrainian publishing industry – Dana Pavlychko. Dana has been the executive director of Osnovy Publishing since 2010 and has paved the way for modern, design-oriented books in Ukraine. 


Her parents founded the Osnovy Publishing back in 1992 and focused on printing quality textbooks on subjects like economics, politics and philosophy, as well as world literature classics, like Shakespeare, Golding and Kerouac. Yet it was Dana, who expanded their range by introducing a line of original art books on photography, architecture and art. She works closely with Ukrainian artists, photographers and art historians to create not only quality texts, but beautifully designed books overall.

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Osnovy Publishing covers a wide range of subjects, from feminism and sociology, to art and architecture, and has even translated The Qur’an into Ukrainian language. How would you describe the niche that you have occupied in the Ukrainian market?


Indeed, we have done a lot of different books. Yet for the last few years our focus has been on beautiful, aesthetically complex books with outstanding design. Currently our strategy is making mostly photography, art and coffee table books. Also, we will continue to make non-fiction and children’s books, especially those that we publish with partners, but even they will be exceptional from a design standpoint.


“Balcony Chic” by Oleksandr Burlaka

I associate Osnovy books primarily with striking visuals and modern layouts. Why is it important for you to have the graphic element on a par with text?


First of all, thank you. Second of all, we do it, because this is what we love. We love making outstanding products that have phenomenal design. We love doing things that are very unique, progressive and avant-garde. Everything that we do is to push the envelope. I am confident that we are the most progressive publisher in Ukraine. It is our mission and it is our goal.

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“The Art of the Ukrainian Sixties” by Lizaveta Herman and Olha Balashova

You’re also the first publisher in Ukraine, which prints original books in English language, which are now being sold on Amazon. Why was it important for you to occupy this segment as a publisher based in Ukraine?


Our goal is to be an international publisher based in Kyiv that makes books, which are relevant to Ukraine and the region. We have a global goal and a global vision, therefore the products that we make are for an international audience. That’s why a couple of years ago we realized that the books that we make are for an international audience, and we are an international publisher based in Ukraine.


“Alexander Dubovik. The Signs” by Kateryna Tsyhykalo and Jean-Claude Marcadé

Among your latest endeavors is an independent periodical on contemporary Ukrainian photography SALIUT Mag. Why did you choose this topic in particular?


Well, we love photography. We work with photography all the time and we have many photography books, such as Balcony Chic and Orthodox Chic. Both Decommunized: Ukrainian Soviet Mosaics and Soviet Modernism. Brutalism. Postmodernism sold out. Balcony Chic has sold out, as well. We thought it would be fun to do a magazine, because you can kind of study photography forever. So, we will publish the magazine biannually. The second edition issue will come out shortly, in December. It’s about the nineties and I mean it’s really great. It’s going to be a great publication. So, it was something very natural for us and we really wanted to work with the magazine form, because you can really study a theme indefinitely.


Two covers of the first issue of SALIUT Mag

Will it be a printed or an online version?


It will only be a printed version. The previous edition is available only as a printed version, too. Also, the printed version is done with two covers. So, half of the print run will have one cover, and the other half will have a different one. So it will be kind of luck, which one you will get.

Recently you have opened your own bookshop slash cafe in the heart of Kyiv. Why is it important for a publisher to have their own physical presence in the city?


It’s very exciting, because it’s a bookstore slash cafe slash wine bar. It’s important for us to have a place indeed, where people can see our products and see how amazing they are. And have an amazing space, which is cool and exciting. It’s a place as cool as our books are cool, you know? It’s something that we have dreamt for many, many years and finally the time has come. It’s in the greatest area in Kyiv, the Golden Gate district, which is super fun. It’s exciting to build a community around our store.


Inside the newly opened Osnovy Store


Osnovy Store also has their own cafe and wine bar

Lastly, which books from Osnovy would you recommend to our English-speaking readers, who are not yet familiar with your publishing?


Well, if you’re into photography or want to give someone a gift, or even a quirky gift, you can definitely buy our photography books, like Orthodox Chic, which is available right now. Also, we have great art books. For example, we have published a book on Oleksandr Dubovyk, The Signs, who is one of the most important Ukrainian artists. We also have done a very large study on the Ukrainian art of the sixties, The Art of the Ukrainian Sixties. It’s a wonderful gift, because it shows a whole expanse of different art of the sixties.


Facade of the Osnovy Store

You can purchase Osnovy books via their website:

Or at their new store at: 4B Lypynskoho Street, Kyiv

Opening hours:

Mon – Fri 8:30 AM – 10 PM

Sat – Sun 9:30 AM – 10 PM

Image on top: Dana Pavlychko, head of the Osnovy Publishing House

Interviewed and edited by Anna Shevetovska


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