Watch out for hop-ons! Arts Umbrella’s new animal stickers are three notoriously “slow” animals – a sloth, a turtle, and a koala – but soon they’ll be catching new names as well as rides all sorts of interesting places.

“I hope kids use the stickers creatively in ways I don’t expect,” says illustrator and artist Ilya Viryachev. He describes the stickers as a tool can be used to “tell a different story”.

A number of years ago Ilya was a student in our Electronic Arts scholarship program – an intensive, 15-week media arts class that guides students to design and produce an animation. The Arts Umbrella class taught Ilya how to use industry-standard programs, while also allowing him to “see the real world,” he says.

“It was really hard work. I had no idea what the professional world was like,” says Ilya, but “meeting people in the industry was really interesting.”

Since completing the scholarship program at Arts Umbrella, Ilya has been more than prolific.

He studied animation art and design at the Art Institute, has worked as an animator, and now creates video game landscapes. In his “off” hours, he pursues his fine art practice, paints murals around the city, and also teaches a creative illustration class. And most recently he traveled to Italy for a mural-painting residency.

Ilya’s creativity is contagious (just take a look at his portfolio!).

Arts Umbrella spotted one of the artist’s murals near our Quebec and East 7th location. Within days, Ilya jumped on our challenge to design creativity-inspiring stickers for our students and created three loveable characters.

It’s an example of the artist’s adaptability, innovation, and flexibility. Ilya says being adaptable allows him to explore and execute a wide range of concepts, and he seems to find a way for each project to complement another. For example, his demo project for his creative illustration class became a design for a wall mural. And the Arts Umbrella animal stickers caught a ride on the plane to Italy for Ilya’s 10-day mural residency.

What we love about the Arts Umbrella animals is that they inspire creativity and engagement for kids. And in the artist’s own words, the creativity is all in “how you use them.”