New East Digital Archive

These brilliantly candid illustrations capture the perks and perils of life

22 November 2016

Illustrators Nastia Briak and Jamie Smyth, from Russia and Ireland respectively, first met on an exchange programme at Aalto University in Helsinki in 2015. As their time at the Finnish capital was drawing to a close, they decided to collaborate on a daily journal. Their blog Good & Bad Stuff is a heartwarming celebration of life, with all its highs and lows.

Inspired by the 100 Days Project, the illustrators each produced two drawings for 100 days, one for something good, another for something bad that happened to them that day.

“I was always really afraid of showing my drawings to anyone, so I thought that doing daily drawings or a visual diary would help to fight all these fears and would improve my drawing skills. So I suggested Jamie jump aboard and he was really supportive. I had heard about that 100 Days Project, but when I started discussing it with Jamie we understood that we didn’t really want to do it on Instagram (which was the main platform for the project) and also felt that showing only the good side of our lives seemed unfair, so we decided to do two pictures daily,” Briak told The Calvert Journal.

After studying graphic design for six years, it wasn’t until recently that she decided to focus on illustration, describing her work as “visual haikus”, that is “simple, maybe even naive drawings with a lot of meaning behind them”.

Like happily leaving the house without a jacket on the first summer day, only for it to rain on you soon after, the blog captures the contradictions life throws at us on a daily basis. The project also follows major changes in the lives of the two students, including Briak’s move back to St Petersburg, and Smyth, who is originally from Waterford in Ireland, adjusting to new, working life in New York.

You can see the project in full here.