In the early 20th century, before the outbreak of the Russian Revolution, the Art Nouveau movement crept into the failing empire by way of Alphons Mucha and the Slavic Folk Art movement in Czechoslovakia. Russian artists picked up on the ideas of these movements and began producing new styles of art for a growing commercial marketplace, combining elements of traditional Russian decorative arts, subjects from Russian folklore, and ideas from the west.
The leading star of the Russian Folk Art movement was Ivan Bilibin, whose illustrations of Russian folk stories and fiction by contemporary authors like Pushkin were remarkable for their integration of traditional and modern styles. Other artists were also attracted to the movement, including many who went on to achieve fame in more respectable artistic circles, such as Leon Bakst. Many of these artists did advertising art as well as illustration, and a lot of their work was featured in the magazine World of Art, which was the showplace of the movement. Like other folk artists of the period, the work of Bilibin and his contemporaries extended beyond the limits of simple illustration, including graphic design and fascinating hand lettering styles.