Six months have passed since the beginning of the war. They were filled with unease, grief, and confusion, never-ending moving from place to place and lingering chaos. We’ve left our homes; thousands of kilometers now separate us from our loved ones, friends, and family. All our habits and daily little rituals that brought us joy have stayed in the life that ended at the end of February.

Time has soothed us slightly, suggesting we make do with what we have now. It gave us perspective to look back, to think back. To wearily recall things we’ve had to go through and grasp the new reality we are now to inhabit.

Escape in slippers

How we woke up at war and didn’t lose our minds.

I got scared shitless and that’s about as far as thoughts went😟.

Pasha, CTO

My first thought was “Oh shit here we go again” meme. Without much panic, I picked up as Ukrainians say “alarm suitcase”, a go-bag that I’ve packed earlier (some cash and documents — I’d have those on me at all times, in case the news would catch me when I’m not home) and went to my family, where they were hiding in the basement. It didn’t affect work that much, but I did find a new appreciation for the fact that I could work remotely.

Anna, cell animator

I woke up early in the morning on February 24, grabbed my phone, checked the notifications, and found out that the city in which I’ve lived for the past 5 years had been bombed that night. I found out that my girlfriend had woken up to the sound of a cruise missile flying over her house. I discovered that for some of my people the morning started at 5 am, but for others — it has already ended. Having processed everything I saw on my phone at the moment I went to wake up my parents to tell them it was time to start a day in the new world.

Nazar, cell animator

For a long time, it seemed like everything around me was a dream which was about to come to an end. I felt I’d wake up and see that everything was alright again. We barely packed any things, thinking we’d be back in our flat in 3 days. But when I entered the subway for the last time in a while, it felt like the quiet before the storm. At 6 am the station was still empty, but what came afterward remains history.

Nastia, cell animator

Fear. Then bewilderment. Anxiety. I remember seeing the glow from the first explosion through my window and not believing my eyes. And thoughts like “Wait… It can’t be. Everything that’s happening around me, is this real?”. Physically, there was a feeling that I was divided into several parts and everything started to function autonomously, but it just can’t come together. I’ve never felt my hands shaking so violently. Work chat was the first one I opened, the guys started to react to the situation and the other chats started exploding with messages.

Masha, motion animator

Creativity in the basement

How to rediscover an even stronger love for your homeland, when it’s dangerous to leave your house.

I, personally, have a strong desire to launch more projects in Ukraine, this will help the country’s economy and give me a chance to grow new businesses that aren’t tied to living in a specific location — this will be valuable in Ukraine for a while. Today, Ukraine is the capital of the free world, a place of opportunities and new horizons, you can really build something here. I really want to be a part of it.

Oleksii, CEO

It got more difficult to work, but the fact that I could help with what I’m good at brought comfort. I was happy to be able to do my job remotely and support Ukraine’s economy, donate funds to aid our defenders, and help the victims. 

Yulia, illustrator

You really have to understand how to make anti-war content. Anyone can run as far as they can and then scream at top of their lungs, but there’s a thin line there. Not everyone is capable of creating anti-war content that would have an objective and a clear message, larger than a mere opinion or simply urging to do this or that. 

Pasha, CTO

It’s rare for this kind of emotion to not seep into art. It becomes a language you use to speak to the world. And it’s sad to remember how thoughts about “I need to get through to them, I need to tell them the truth” were drowning in sorrow and disgust. You ask yourself “What is this for? What’s wrong with them?”. And you come to realize that people are just all different. I never wanted to see the world in black and white and people as “us and them”.

Nastia K, cel animator

I was always eager to do Ukrainian-themed art, I am both impressed and inspired by other artists’ work on the Ukrainian/anti-war topic. I have a lot of respect for people who are making this kind of content now, I think it’s really important.

Mariia, illustrator 

Believing with no hope.

About the things that stay

It’s interesting how human thinking changes under such circumstances. I heard a phrase, which describes it well —  “the brittle fractures”. It’s about how “what if I die tomorrow” becomes your driving force, and you start to realize that the things that you’ve been putting up with before — there’s no reason to keep accepting them anymore. And you’ll never settle for less because it can all end for you at any moment. And you’ll come to realize you had everything you needed right beside you, you just had to reach out your hand. And anything that was in your way seems so funny and absurd. After all, everything has a bright side and none of us risk suffering from the postponed life syndrome or the fear of change anymore. If under fire you were able to pack your things and grab your pets/relatives/children and flee into the unknown, without a single clue of what happens next — you can do anything.

Nastia, cel animator

Well, I’ve swept my contact list, for a start. By now I’ve only confidently concluded that you always have to have plan B, like the foreseen opportunity to leave home safely and painlessly, setting up convenient remote work or having your documents handy, and so on.

Anna, cel animator

Speaking of values — we always treasure what we’ve lost. Although, I hope, temporarily, I lost my city, the opportunity to be with my significant other, and to simply enjoy my life. I knew, even before the war, those possessions were insignificant, yet they carry memories of what I miss so dearly. And the value of life itself is still the greatest of all.

The ability to adapt to the most horrible news and events, as they keep coming, is a skill we are lucky to have. Just as being able to cope with emotions and keeping a cool head. This is what I’m starting to acquire.

Nazar, cel animator

Values… Human values are the most important thing for me right now. The value of family, love, and health.

Also, I became braver. It’s as if I woke up and I’m not missing a day, not even a moment. The psyche adapts to pain and now I’m wearing invisible armor and I am not afraid to live this life anymore.

Ania, illustrator 

Shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand

About missing home

Here’s how we see the future: we come back to Kharkiv, eat pizza from the “Buffet” (our team’s favorite street food spot), and watch our city getting rebuilt.

Sasha and the whole Hound crew 

I am convinced that when our country’s inevitable victory comes, it will seem as though an eternity has passed. 

As for my plans — I’m coming back to Kharkiv, where I’ve got my office and my guitar.

Nazar, cel animator

The plans are staying, only the deadlines have moved a bit.

Andrii, front-end developer

Life in the ruins.

How we didn’t forget how to smile.

I hang on thanks to talking to my loved ones and war memes. The Ukrainians have a talent to laugh in the face of danger and keep their spirits up when the world pulls them under.

Yulia, illustrator

I am only keeping the balance when I am in my “old world” — when my boyfriend brings me flowers and embraces me with affection and compliments. When I’m working, watching movies or TV shows, taking care of my plants and animals. When I can treat myself to a gift, and later have a drink and a chat with my family and my friends. When the weather is nice and people get to spend their time outside.

Lera, motion animator

Friends, coworkers, acquaintances, neighbors. Everyone I call and text. All those with whom you can pour your soul, get distracted, cry and laugh, talk to about everything and nothing. 

Being able to work is what gives me the feeling of contribution and belonging. It really helps to read (Harry Potter forever) and rewatch the videos of my favorite illustrators on Youtube.

Masha, motion animator

If everything around you is on fire, it means you’re not getting cold.

How to cope, when you’re not coping.

When you have the possibility — don’t hold yourself back and let yourself live through your feelings. And talk to your loved ones more.

Yulia, illustrator

Generate new neural pathways and don’t rush to extremes.

Andrii, front-end developer

If you’re in safety, try to let yourself feel happiness, indulge yourself, boost the economy with purchases, and help those who are in need. Get rid of toxic people and bad ideas and work that doesn’t fill you up. 

Kris, project manager

Remember that the world will keep changing. Finding our place within it is a part that each of us has to take.  For us to be happy, alive, and give life. Right now our country is a symbol and a verification of the truthfulness of these words.  If each of us finds the strength to live our life, do our job and spread kindness, then there shouldn’t be any doubts that this world has something worth living for.

Nazar, cel animator

Feel free to seek psychological help and don’t downplay your problems. Yes, there are always people who have it worse, but it doesn’t help you in any way, so get it off your chest if you need to, and perhaps talk to a specialist, qualified to handle these things.

Anna, cel animator

This experience has changed all of us. However, it was this experience that taught us to stand straight in the face of adversity and show resilience and determination in achieving our goals. We stay here to comfort our relatives. For our friends to keep strong. And for Ukraine, because she needs us like that.  And this way we’ll remain as long as we have to because we know that one day we’ll return home and take the long-awaited rest.