Mikhail Mikhailovich Karpenko lived most of his life in Riga, Latvia and he never received any specialized artistic training during his career. While he is best known for his illustrations in children's books, he also designed political posters.
Until World War II, Latvia had thriving publishing and printing industries. Between Soviet annexation in 1940 and the German occupation in 1941, Lativa's position as a European publishing hub drastically changed. Around 1940 Lativa's largest publisher, Liesma (Flame), was nationalized during Soviet annexation. The publisher became VAPP (Department of State Book Publishers and Polygraphic Enterprises) and was controlled as a state-run entity. From 1946-1964, VAPP was named Latgosizdat and in 1965, the publisher was re-named Liesma. It specialized in original literature, foreign authors, monographs, fine art and posters.