Andrii Bondart was born in a small Ukrainian town, and his life was relatively quiet and monotonous until 2005 when he won the Elworthy scholarship. This was a life-changing event. Andrii got to live and study in the UK for two years. Among five other A-levels, he took Art and Design at Chigwell School, which became his personal Hogwards. Andrii wanted to stay in the UK and was 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 living in Kyiv, Ukraine, obtaining his Master’s degree in Dutch at the 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. My drawings covered all the walls, 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. Occasionally, I would get an occasional compliment on the pictures I thought were pure ‘family album’ material. In 2007, I began developing my photography-taking skills. The same year, I joined several artistic websites, and as a silent observer, I followed and analyzed the works of famous photographers. Some of my biggest inspirations then were Mehmet Turgut, Akif Hakan Celebi, and Małgorzata Maj. Even more considerable 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 an online art community member to a 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 in my hometown, where they taught me the basic rules of composition and perspective. We painted a lot of still lives, and looking back, I realize this was a beneficial 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 an excellent 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 sometimes re-paint parts of a photo 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 some 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 photograph somebody else, I project my vision of them. Some people look 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 described 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 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 some portrait lenses and a vintage film Kyiv 6C. I use a Wacom Bamboo tablet for editing. 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 amateur and professional photographers. You do not just wake up one day and say, ‘Hey, now I am an expert’ to yourself. I do plenty of commissions and am booked for the next two months. 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 delighted 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: To succeed, you must 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 have to work and study to be able to express yourself.
I am constantly taking part in different contests and charity projects. I recently took part in the “Pray for Japan” project. Everybody was shocked by the events in Japan. But not everybody did something to help. I remember how everybody would put a picture of Sakura blossom on their Facebook as a tribute, but few people I know donated something.
I am honored to participate in the 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 highly 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 supportive; some helped me with my first creative personal projects. Some of my ideas 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 am getting a lot of support from art communities. It is incredibly inspiring to get critiques and comments from incredible artists worldwide.
- Henry Hargreaves Photography: Creative Approach to Art
- Berat Serdar Akdeniz: Film Photography Is Still Alive
- Qi Wei Fong Photography: “Exploded Flowers” or Conceptual Imaging in Practice
- Michal Pudelka Photography: Storytelling Camouflaged Expressions
- Sasha Kulak Photography: Sweet and Warm Memories