Andrii Bondart was born in a small Ukrainian town and his life was rather quite and monotonous up until 2005 when he won the Elworthy scholarship. This was a life-changing event. Andrii got a chance to live and study in the UK for two years. Among five other A-levels he took Art and Design in Chigwell School – a place that became his personal Hogwards. Andrii really wanted to stay in the UK and did get accepted to six different universities, however for financial reasons he could not accept any of these offers and moved back to Ukraine. Andrii Bondart is currently living in Kyiv, Ukraine and obtaining his Master’s degree in Dutch in National Linguistic University and working as a photographer and illustrator.
AP: Your first works. What did they look like?
AB: I have been drawing since I was 3. All the walls were covered in my drawings and I would always be angry at anybody trying to remove them. I began reading quite early and with every book I read I felt a stronger urge to illustrate them. Most of my early works are inks and watercolors. While traveling I began taking photos and experimenting with film photography. Every now and then I would get an occasional compliment on the photos I thought were purely ‘family album’ material. In 2007 I began developing my photography-taking skills. Same year I joined several artistic web-sites and as a silent observer I followed and analyzed the works of popular photographers. Some of my biggest inspirations then were Mehmet Turgut, Akif Hakan Celebi and Małgorzata Maj. Even a bigger inspiration was watching people grow and develop. I am proud to say that I witnessed the growth and development of Brooke Shaden, who went from a member of an online art community to famous photographer in just several years.
AP: Do you have any formal education in your sphere or were you self-taught?
AB: I am a little bit of both. I graduated from an art school back at my hometown, where they taught me the basic rules of composition and perspective. We painted quite a lot of still lifes and looking back I realize this was an extremely useful exercise. My PC was not the most modern one and I could not play any cool games kids were crazy about then, luckily I found a great alternative. My aunt gave me Adobe Photoshop as a birthday present and eventually it became my favorite ‘game’. I sat for hours experimenting and creating hideous fan art for my all time favorite TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In Chigwell School I had a great opportunity to apply all my skills under the careful guidance of Mr Ralph Sliwa, my Art teacher. He always encouraged creativity and taught me the basics of film photography.
AP: What genre are your works?
AB: Although I am a portrait photographer in terms of genre I am more of a surreal artist. I experiment quite a lot with techniques and I would at times actually re-paint parts of a photo in order to bring my ideas to life. I am always experimenting and my style is never stable. The only difficulties I have are, well, the laws of physics. Nevertheless I am trying to do a little bit of defying gravity’ myself.
AP: How would you describe your works?
AB: Any work I do is a self portrait. It reflects my state of mind at a particular point. Even if I take a photo of somebody else I project my vision of them. Some people look totally different yet recognizable, because I see them this way. And it is so exciting to share my vision with the world!
Sometimes my work can be describes as dark or mystic. But they should not categorize me as a dark scary person. On the contrary, I prefer to fight my demons in the world of fantasy rather than let them into reality.
AP: What kind of equipment and techniques do you use?
AB: I have two cameras – a digital Canon EOS 5D with a couple of portrait lenses and a vintage film Kiev 6C. For editing I use a Wacom Bamboo tablet. Most of the editing is done in Adobe Photoshop and sometimes GIMP.
AP: Would you consider yourself as an expert in this sphere?
AB: There is no definite fat line between an amateur photographer and a professional photographer. You do not just wake up one day and say ‘hey, now I am an expert’ to yourself. I do plenty of commissions and I am booked fort the next two month, however it does not automatically make me a guru.
I hope there never will be a day when I will be full enough of myself to say I am completely satisfied with my work. I guess doubting myself makes me work harder.
AP: What is your success formula? Do you have any achievements to tell us about?
AB: In order to be successful you have to do a lot of work. Trust me, a good camera would not make one a good photographer, as a good piano would not make you a good pianist. Everybody can be an artist you just have to work and study in order to be able to express yourself.
I am constantly taking part in different contests and charity projects. I recently took part in “Pray for Japan” project. Everybody was shocked by the events in Japan. But not everybody actually did something to help. I remember how everybody would put up a picture of sakura blossom on their facebook as a tribute, but few people I know actually donated something.
I am honored to be a part of PFJ project – 1 image from 101 artists from 32 countries made up a book. All the benefits from the sales went to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) for Japan.
AP: Is there someone who helps you in your creativity?
AB: My parents and my grandparents have always been extremely supportive. I can not express my gratitude enough. I mean come on I created the most eccentric things at times (e.g. a sculpture made of potatoes or a painting made of bits of fur and duct tape) and nevertheless they were extremely patient and understanding.
My friends are also really supportive and some of them aided me in my first creative personal projects. Some of my ideas do sound crazy on paper and nevertheless my friends would say yes to a photo-shoot covered in PVA glue in the middle of a forest or a semi-nude photo-shoot in the middle of cold Ukrainian February.
Finally I get a lot of support from art communities. It is extremely inspiring to get critiques and comments from wonderful artists all over the world.
Photography by Andrii Bondart
Photography by Andrii Bondart
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Photography by Andrii Bondart