Born in the small town of Orekhovo-Zuevo, near Moscow, Spirin studied at the Moscow Art School at the Academy of Arts, then at the Moscow Stroganov Institute. Over the years he developed his own, unique style, combining traditional Russian contemporary art technique with the great traditions of the Renaissance.
In 1979, Spirin came to international attention through his impressive illustrations for a variety of children’s books. In a short time, he was winning awards and gaining honors throughout the world.
In 1983, he was named “Winner of the Golden Apple” at the “Biennale of Illustrations” in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, for his illustrations in the book Marissa and the Gnome.Gennady won the 1990 Austrian State Prize for his work in The Fool and the Fish, which was also named one of the year’s best-illustrated children’s books by The New York Times. That august publication subsequently cited Spirin’s work in Gulliver’s Travels in Lilliput (1993) and Kashtahka (1995).
In 1991 Spirin received the first prize “Fiera di Bologna” for his work in the book Sorotchintsy Fair. He has also received three gold medals in three successive years from the Society of Illustrators, for his paintings in Boots and the Glass Mountain (1992), The Children of Lir (1993), and The Frog Princess (1994)—then, again, for the fourth time in 1996 for The Tale of Tsar Saltan.
Kashtahka was something of a landmark for Spirin. In addition to the aforementioned award, his illustrations for this volume were also bestowed with first prize in the 1994 “Premi Internacional Catalonia D’Illustracio” in Barcelona, Spain and a “Parent’s Choice” Honor. In all of Spirin’s work, his sense of design and artistic skill elevates his illustration work to a fine art level, showcasing his fascinating characters in a lush environment that combines to create an artistic experience like no other.