Art Director at Synchronized Studio
Zhenya
Rynzhuk

Zhenya is a Ukrainian born award-winning art director and co-founder of a full-service creative studio Synchronized, living and working worldwide. She’s also a Webby winner as well as a 2x Independent of the year on Awwwards.

Kyiv, Ukraine • November 30, 2022

What led you into design?

I’ve been obsessed with art and craft since my early childhood. Following my passion, I’ve finished art school as a teenager, as well as graduated from an architectural university. I even did a few arch projects. 

After that, I’d been practising as an architect for some time before making up my mind to switch to digital design. where I’ve been for more than 10 years.

What does a typical day look like?

The first thing is coffee, then organizing my work for the day, and completing the tasks in a planned manner. What I also find useful is to mix my work with some short walks in the middle of the day, or to do some cooking when I’ve got the inspiration for it. 

I’m trying to do some routine/technical/organizational things during the mornings and then start with more conceptual and creative work in the afternoon. Up until the evening, when I generally communicate with all my clients, since almost all of them are from the US. So midday and early evening is the best time to create some magic. 

I mostly work till late hours and try to mix that with some evening walk to unwind and recharge.

What's your workstation setup?

Instead of showing you my casual workspace, I'll share my favourite type of it – when you can just take your laptop and work from any possible place on this planet.

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Where do you go to get inspired?

From everywhere actually, but the most important thing for me is exploring something new (so, something like personal research of art, history, fashion, cinematography, and many other things) during my work process or free time. This helps me find new ideas from unexpected resources. Personally, it’s actually the best form of searching for references and meanings as well, because a literal type of “inspiration” from the same industries doesn’t really work for me in most cases. 

Ah, I also should mention travelling. For me, this is a process of research and exploration of something yet unknown. I also source inspiration from nature and architecture I was dreaming to explore together with new experiences which form you as a person with every new trip.

What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?

Not a product, but an artwork: I was really impressed to discover Fujiko Nakaya's fog sculptures IRL as a great example of nature being an inspiration, environment, and the material for the sculpture at the same time.

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What pieces of work are you most proud of?

I’m trying to do my best in each and every project so that I can be proud of the final result. Otherwise, why spend any valuable time on it at all, right? However, projects somehow connected with some social aspects or culture are generally the ones that excite me the most. To name a few I had a chance to work on – Railroad ladies, the Covid Art Museum as well as a folio for our fellow photographer Sasha Maslov that’s currently being finalized. 

I’m also extremely proud of our team at Synchronized: you know how hard and important it is to connect a collective of soulmates with the same vision but different experiences and backgrounds!

Another thing that makes me tick is the educational work of our team, as it’s already been 5 years since we’d founded a school of design where we teach Ukrainian students such disciplines as Digital and Graphic design. That’s always so interesting and inspiring to watch them grow, build their own design careers and even start digital studios that work with global clients and get international awards! I couldn’t even expect something like this when we made our first steps in the educational industry.

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What design challenges do you face at your company?

When you face something new it’s always challenging at the beginning. This could be doing a project for a client from the industry in which you don’t have a lot of experience, working on setting up strong business relationships with clients of different backgrounds or trying out new methodologies on some specific use cases. However, we should embrace these challenges since they are accelerating our personal and professional growth stronger than anything else.

What music do you listen to whilst designing?

Any advice for ambitious designers?

Try to learn from your favourite folks in the industry. See how they do things, and what’s their workflow and methodology. However, it is important to stay yourself and try to do things your way that would become possible only when you practice and experiment all the time. Explore all the time, everywhere.

Be open to new and different things and don’t be afraid to try them out.

Anything you want to promote or plug?

I’m Ukrainian. So right now, I could talk about one thing only – please, don’t be indifferent and silent about the war. Speak up in every possible way. No one on the planet should go through this! And I believe that we could stop it together by paying attention, by acting in any possible way.

interview