Dad to three, Ivan Lakshinsky (Sc. 2000-05), has lived an exciting life since leaving the school. He’s produced music (which has been listened to by Fatboy Slim!), been a web designer, and has now set up an NGO. Ivan looks back at what he loved about school, what he might have done differently and ahead to what the future holds.
When you were at Brighton College, what did you want to be when you ‘grew-up’?
I wanted to be a composer and when I was at the College, I’d write music at night on my computer. However, because I was so shy, I kept it a secret! Although I did send a vinyl to Norman Cook – which he listened to…! I also really enjoyed art and loved being taught by Edward Twohig, so I did consider becoming an interior designer or an architect. Everything I enjoyed the most was creative whilst I was at school.
Tell us about yourself now you've grown up.
My whole life has been an adventure. I’ve always wanted to be able to create something unusual and I’m now at that point in my life. I wanted to become a composer, and it happened!
I am 35, I have 3 kids (Elizabeth 9, Larry 5, Zlata 3) and live in Russia on the European border. For the past 10 years, I’ve worked on IT projects as a Creative Director, working on some really successful projects. Recently, I founded The Artifact Creative Lab, and with my international team, we develop creative ideas for brands and their marketing.
In 2020 I created the Safe Nations International Alliance, to grow a network of volunteers for sustainable activities in Asia and Africa. As well as this, we are launching a social network for volunteers to raise funds for their projects called Come Around. This year we will continue to work in Central Asia, as well as in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Georgia, India, The Philippines, and Bangladesh.
Music inspires me all the time. I have released some tracks, and you can find them on my SoundCloud page under “John Sky”: John is the English name for Ivan. I am also an artist, and on the 5th February 2022, I will be opening two virtual galleries and am a writer, too, writing stories on Medium.
As well as all this, I live a happy life with my family.
What about your life now would most surprise your Brighton College teachers?
They might be surprised that I’m a completely self-made success. I won a place at Wimbledon College of Arts, but my visa was rejected twice to go, so I had to return to Russia to work, which obviously led to all my current work and successes.
What are your favourite memories of your time at school?
Being naughty! Seriously though, school life is something I will never forget because everything was totally new to me. I still even now come back on my time at the College and remember it as it was while I studied there. My Housemaster Stuart Burns was firm, but fair, even with us naughty ones so I remember the kindness and at the same time strict and fair rules. I had a really fun time at school.
What advice would you give to your school-age self?
To not be shy and to express myself more. To show more of my talents and not to be scared of criticism. And to not be afraid to speak up for your choices and decisions.
What do you do as a career?
I couldn’t afford to go to university, so I went into work straight after leaving the College. I started out as a music producer: producing and doing promotion for two bands in Russia for almost three years.
I have worked in IT as a web designer for almost 12 years. I also set up a business in student recruitment from Russia to Europe, but after the financial crisis in 2014, in Russia, I couldn’t sustain it and had to continue in IT. I left the industry three years ago, as it is no longer the creative sector I started working in all those years ago. In 2017 I set up my creative lab, with my partner in Tbilisi, which has really grown and grown over the past couple of years and is what I am currently working on.
What does your work involve?
My current work involves international relations, team building, team management and execution of international projects, and we do a lot of work with freelancers.
What are the most challenging parts of your job?
Fundraising is always a challenge. It can be hard for people to understand more innovative and creative projects.
I have always had extraordinary ideas, which I must test before putting them into the public domain and this takes energy in finance and analysis. But I have come up with a solution to these issues, which I am working on now. Watch this space!
What are you most proud of?
I am proud of my brave ideas, my children, and the life that I created for myself. My whole life has been an adventure. I live by the mantra: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!
What are the three objects you would take with you to a desert island?
I’d take a machete, magnifying glass, shoes. I don’t need to take art supplies – I’d make them whilst I was on the island!
How would you like to be remembered?
As an artist with a creative mind and a person who loves all nationalities and people. Someone who was a humanist and who stood up for social rights.
Ivan's latest art project launches on 5th February 2022: Sealed Tales.