The fantastic beasts of Newt Scamander live in a suitcase, and the genetically modified beasts of Vadim Solovyov live in modern Petersburg.
— You were born and grew up in Petersburg. Tell us what kind of Piter do you remember from your childhood.
— Yes, i was born in Petersburg. It was not best time, of course. I remember Piter of the 90s well. I remember that the city was gray, I remember the stands with tapes by the subway, the puffs with instant coffee in plastic cups, I remember the desolation and some kind of enduring melancholy. What can we say about the condition of houses, streets and the degree of convenience of the urban space as a whole. As a child, I did not feel this, like many children I was happy, but now, analyzing the memories, I can recreate this not the most rosy picture in my head.
— How did it change now?
— Now the city is completely different. Many cities in Russia, somehow, were forced to evolve slowly and difficult, getting out of the state in which they were by the beginning of the 2000s. In addition to some basic infrastructure improvements, each city re-acquired its “character”, its own style. And now, it seems to me, Piter has become a match for his inhabitants - open, modern, free and young. I think that it is the merit of those people who live here. Indeed, in many ways, the urban environment is formed from the needs of residents. To more technical aspects - to the infrastructure, the state of many city locations and even entire areas — I still have a lot of issues personally.
— How did you come up with “to settle” various robotic and living beasts in St. Petersburg?
— Like many people, I used Instargam for a long time. At some point, I noticed that the places, events of life, landscapes, selfies that I posted, my friends or mates, are an endless repetitions of the same thing. You can easily replace several photos from one person’s account with photos from another’s account and essentially nothing will change. So the thought came to my mind - what if you abandon your usual Instagram and make an Instagram blog on behalf of a person who lives in a completely different reality. In the same city, at the same time, but in a different reality. So this how my “pictures” appeared. Gradually, the fantasy world was overgrown with its alternative history, problems, events. An important part of the idea was that through this fictional world I could speak out about the problems of Petersburg. Subscribers and friends accepted the rules of the “game” and began to play along in the comments, discussing “seriously” what was happening on my Instagram.
— Which one do you like most of all?
— If we talk about "beasts" - genetically modified octopuses (gm-octopuses, as they are called in alternative St. Petersburg). One of the first creatures to become a recognizable symbol of my blog.
— Your works have become quite popular, the Boredpanda publication has written about them. What do you think is the reason for popularity?
— It`s hard to tell.The fact that works began to enter the foreign resources surprises me. It seems to me that apart from the texts under posts, comments, recognizability of locations, problems of the real city, which are metaphorically addressed in posts, they should not be of particular interest. But apparently, someone likes this as a “visual attraction".
— Do you make photos by yourself?
— Yes. Unless I held a contest couple of times, the prize of which was processing photos of winning subscribers.
— Tell us about the process of creating one job and the amount of time you spend on it.
— I have such a post: airships of the Ministry of Internal Control of Freedoms.
This post was a reaction to some events taking place in reality at that moment. To respond to current events, you need to act quickly. For the basics, I needed a panoramic photo of the city from a sufficient height. I made it from the roof of the loft project Floors. I modeled the airships in 3D, mounted it to the photo, set up the perspective, lighting, based on the lighting in the photo. A little work in Photoshop and that's it. In general, it took just a few hours to get to work. As for other posts — in principle, I always try not to spend too much time creating an image. The format of the blog does not allow you to work on the picture for too long.
— Tell us about the most unexpected reaction to your work.
— Inside my instagram, the reaction is usually positive, people participate in discussions, fantasize and come up with the details of the events I made up. Outside of Instagram (if some media or sites publish my work), most people hint at me using any substances that expand my consciousness :). It is sad that something that goes beyond that is associated in people exclusively with something unhealthy. The most unexpected reaction was the response of the Russian Railways official account under a post with a cybercalmar over Finland Station.
— Are you planning to make a serious project out of it? (Exhibition, book...)
— A project is currently under development to go from online to the real environment of St. Petersburg. The exhibition will also take place sooner or later, I think. It seems to me that the pictures are not in great value, the project is a combination of images, texts, comments, context, details of the fantasy world. And all this must somehow be collected in the exhibition. There is a lot of work.
— Perhaps a brand will be interested in such creative for an advertising campaign in the agency in which you work as an art director Do you think this is real?
— Yes I think so, such a technique could well suit some brand.
— Tell us everything that you think is interesting in your work and the industry in which you work.
— I work in advertising. We create advertising campaigns, TV commercials, and much more. In fact, this is the work that is usually show in films about advertisers, with the exception that the only stimulant here is coffee :) The constant generation of ideas, meanings, stories, visual solutions - literally everything is interesting here.
— What artists are you inspired by?
— I like to watch contemporary artists. Being with the artist at the same time and context — this helps to understand art as a whole. There are many good examples around. Right now in St. Petersburg there is just an exhibition of the AES+F association. There are excellent local examples in the city itself, for example Loketski
— 3 coolest contemporary art-directors:
— It is difficult to answer this question. It seems to me that, basically, ideas and their implementation are the result of the work of the entire creative team. And to assess the impact of a particular participant is difficult without seeing the process from the inside.
— What do you recommend for reading / watching to young, beginners art-directors or artists?
— I would advise both to look around more. And not just look, but try to comprehend and interpret what you see. And then try to make sense of how other artists or art directors interpret it :-)
Interview: Sergey Gutakovsky
Translation: Angelina Petrova
Editor: Sergey Fomkin