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Ivan Mantsurov, aka Aiwan is a Russian artist who has been making smileys since early 2004.[1] He is responsible for creating the hugely popular Kolobok style of smiley, and is also the administrator of Kolobok website.

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Aiwan has no formal art training. He actually has a bachelor's degree in computer science, and another in economics.[2][3] He also imagines the astonishment of his family and friends, if they knew that he was regarded as a painter for creating smileys.[4] Aiwan-lol.gif

Aiwan originally started making smileys because his Invision Power Board (IPB) forum had two skins -- a light and a dark, and the smileys didn't look any good on the dark skin, so he tried his hand at fixing them. Not having much luck at converting them, he decided to try making his own instead.[1][2][3][5]

The very first smiley that Aiwan considers his own idea (and not simply a remake), is Diablo.[3] Aiwan-diablo.gif

Ideas & Influences

Aiwan gets his ideas from his family, fans, characters he sees in real life, TV programs and movies.[2][3] He also credits fellow Russian artist and friend Fool, -- who painted the Godfather logo for Kolobok website,[5][6] as one of his main influences.[2][3][6]

Aiwan-girl sigh.gif Aiwan-girl cray2.gif Aiwan-girl crazy.gif Aiwan-curtsey.gif

The Koloboks Style & Name

"My smilies are not only products of grahics work, but they are born in an artistic euphoria, they deliver that certain energy."[3]

Aiwan did not consciously set out to define a style when he began making smileys. He simply realised one day that he wanted to make his own ideas. It took him some time to develop his characters, but once he had figured them out, he "went mad with the idea of being able to create smilies which were nearly as alive as human beings."[3]

The Koloboks name came about from a joke between Aiwan and his wife, when she was teasing him one night. She said "I'll tell everyone that you, such big adult guy are drawing a silly koloboks."[5][7]


Aiwan has tried a number of different animation programs, but the main one that he uses is Ulead GIF Animator 5.0.5.[2][6] The main reasons for his choice are:[1]

  1. It works well with all operating systems, incuding Windows 7,
  2. It doesn't cost very much (20 times less than Photoshop, for example), and
  3. He doesn't use fancy special effects anyway, prefering to draw his smileys pixel-by-pixel.

He also notes that "the software is just a basic tool like a pencil or a brush. The software is not the most important thing for an emoticonist."[2]

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The Hardest Part

For Aiwan, the hardest part of making a smiley is bringing the idea to life. "Sometimes I come up with something interesting, and I struggle with the emoticon for a long time... So the idea is always on my mind and I won't have any peace until I'll find out a way to make it a reality. :)"[2] Aiwan also has this advice for upcoming emoticonists: "Work, work and work"[2] and "Paint, paint and paint."[6] "You should never give up, even if something is going wrong."[6]

Aiwan's Website

The Koloboks website came about when Aiwan's smilies outgrew his forum, and he needed a proper place to display his work.[4] From there "a community of kolobok fans was formed also quickly... speaking all languages of the world."[4] Later on, when Aiwan was faced with writer's block, he decided to release a Graphics Development Kit (GDK), and invited the public to make their own Koloboks too. Also at that time, he gave certain special artists the distinction of being "Authors". ViShenk@ (Russia), Just Cuz (USA), Laie (Spain), Connie (USA), snoozer (Russia), and Viannen (Canada).[6][8]

The Koloboks website was established on 9 September, 2004.[9] It features all of Aiwan's art, as well as the other Kolobok artists and visitors.

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Notes and References

  1. ^ a b c PM correspondence with Aiwan. (2010-08-02).
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Interview for the site
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Interview for the site, 2006. (English Translation).
  4. ^ a b c Interview for the site, 2009. (English Translation).
  5. ^ a b c Aiwan, (2005-11-25). The Kolobok's site is one year old!. Retrieved on 2008-05-10.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Interview for the site, 2008. (English Translation)
  7. ^ The kolobok is a famous character of an old Russian folk tale. You can read an English translation of the story here.
  8. ^ MotherGoose and Phil have also been added to the Kolobok Author's list, since the F1CD interview was conducted.
  9. ^ Aiwan, (2009-11-09). The Kolobok site is 5 years old!
Article Information
Author: BradLee
Date Published: Article has not been published yet
Other Contributors: None
Last Modified: September 16, 2019

*** This article has been approved by the referenced artist ***