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 industries for publishing and printing. Between the Soviet annexation of Latvia in 1940 and the German occupation in 1941, the nation's position as a European publishing hub greatly changed. Latgosizdat was formed out of Lativa's largest publisher, Liesma (Flame). Around 1940, Liesma publishing was nationalized during the period of Soviet annexation and it became VAPP (Department of State Book Publishers and Polygraphic Enterprises)-- a state-run entity. From 1946-1964, VAPP was named Latgosizdat and in 1965, it was re-named Liesma. Serving as a branch of the state publisher, Liesma specialized in original literature, foreign authors, monographs, fine art and posters.