Bogdan Romanovic could fill every hour we gave him with his eloquent perfectly composed words, and although he excuses his English and apologises for any possible mistakes, we find that his voice is less flawed than most. Every new word he speaks expresses more and more of his new passions, obsessions and his purely creative mind.
If you ever attempted to understand someone without ever exchanging words in a face-to-face fashion, then this is where you will find it. Where you can understand what drives him, what keeps this boy flying around on planes that he once saw on a black and white screen of an old cinema house. Bogdan, perfectly composed of lines, shadow and monochrome, just like the images that spring from his hand onto paper, to remain there as perfect as his original vision of them.
For Boys by Girls issue 7, Cecilie Harris captures him in the way he draws himself, tall lean, swollen lips and broody eyes. Not seen enough? We have an issue teaser for you from his print feature ‘The Colours of Bogdan’ inside Issue 7.
Meanwhile, we caught up with Bogdan:
Where did it all begin?
I was studyng in an art university in Ukraine. After lessons I was working as a model for older artists and students. I remember it being interesting to draw people and to be drawn, to see how they see me. Then one photographer took some photos of me. I posted them on a social network and Inna Minelli (scout and photographer from Russia) contacted me and asked me if I wanted to go to Paris to be a model, and that is how everything started.
Where does your heart lie - in modelling or illustration?
It's hard to say. Modelling gives me so many opportunities. I was recently in Tokyo, it was my old dream to visit this place and now I got to go there working as a model and visiting galleries and art centres in my free time. Its very interesting for me to do different things, sometimes I feel that I have two completely different people inside of me, or even more than two! So when "artist-me" feel sad or depressed, "model-me" just hides all my markers and scetchbooks somewhere, puts on my favourite outfit and goes to castings.
Have you got any exciting projects coming up?
Yes! Right now I'm working on the cover for a show package for fashion week in London with my agency Nevs. I'm really excited about it, because I did a great cover before for mens fashion week. For me it's a great chance to show what I can do as an artist.
What is your main inspiration?
Life. Beauty around me. I'm also a big fan of cinema. Expecially old French and Italian black and white movies. But I guess my main inspiration is the strong, smart, kind and intelligent people that I meet in my life. It often happens when I meet somebody special, I want to create a portrait of them.
How would you describe your illustrations?
They are graphic, with strong lines and mostly black and white. I love minimalism, but I'm always changing. I think I'm still searching for my own style.
Do you think being able to illustrate helps with modelling?
Absolutely! Being able to illustrate helps me with modeling and modelling helps me to grow as an illustrator. I'm very lucky.
Have you got a favourite artist or illustrator?
So many! Natalie Vogel, Victor Vasarely, Gustav Klimt , Alfons Maria Mucha, Edvard Munch....and the list goes on. When I was a kid my grandfather had a book by Herluf Bidstrup, it was my favourite book, I could spend hours looking at his illustrations. My favourite modern Illustrators are David Downton and Richard Kilroy. I was lucky enough to meet Richard Kilroy in London and he give me a lot of advice for my work.
What would you say is your biggest achievement?
Being able to express myself with art and modelling and travel the world.
What makes you happy and what makes you sad?
That's a good question. I love my life, my family, my job and the opportunity I have to travel the world and meet so many different interesting and special people, who can inspire me and teach me. I thank God for all that I have, because I understand how lucky I am. But sometimes it's very easy for me to get depressed, especially when I draw. At the moment of drawing I am immersed in a sheet of paper. I'm alone with myself and my fantasies. I have the perfect picture in my head, spectacular and mesmerizing. So I'm trying really hard to get this picture out and portray it on the paper. Everything must be perfect, each line should support the composition of the whole picture, and if something goes wrong. I just feel terribly broken. Sometimes my illustrations come out very successfully and people admire them. It's during these moments I'm the happiest on earth. I want to create more and more, but then if one of my picture turns out worse than the previous, then my grief has no boundaries. After such frustration I can not help but to not tоuch markers and paper for a month or longer. And I know that I need to draw, but can not do anything, can not bring myself to. Some people think that it's really easy, because it seems like I just take paper and create a beautiful picture, but it's actually more difficult than it seems. I spend a lot of emotion and energy in order to create something worthwhile, and sometimes these feelings are impossible to control.
Who is your biggest fan?
In modelling it's my mother. She is really proud and always supports me. In art it's my dearest loved person - Maria Budtova. She always helps me to get through difficult times and understands me more than anyone else. She is a photographer and she knows exacly how heavy and hard the creative process can be.
How was it growing up in Ukraine?
Magical! I love Ukraine, the nature and the beauty of it. When I was a kid everything seemed fine around me, it was like a game. I am the youngest child in the family. Before school, I lived with my grandmother in the village and we always went with my brother to the river and the forest. Grandma cooked the most delicious food. Mashed potatoes is my favorite dish to this day. In Ukraine we eat a lot of potatoes during childhood. (I still to this day make mashed potato). In the evenings me, my brother and grandmother would listen to the radio or read books. It was amazing to grow up without the internet and mobile phones. I used my imagination. I was surrounded by pure nature and nothing distracted me from communicating with her, observing her. As a child, I always dreamed about how I'd grow up. I wanted to grow up and fly on a lot of planes, like people in the movies. That came true.
In the summer we would harvest peaches and grapes from the garden of our Grandmother, and carry it on bicycles to sell on the market for people who were traveling by car or sea and truckers. It was very important not to damage the fruit during transportation. Nobody buys crumpled grapes or a speckled peach. It was my first job.
I remember that I always really wanted to have clothes that I liked, to feel confident and not shy, but we didnt have enough money for that. I wore hand-me-downs from my older brother. The rest of the clothes my mum bought us from second-hand shops. It's funny, because now I have a lot of clothes that I like, but the habit of going to the second-hand shops have remained to this day. In second hand shops you can sometimes find very rare and interesting things that are cheap. Especially in London or Tokyo.
When my mom was little she drew a lot. She has the perfect taste and sense of style. She could have been an artist or a great decorator, but noone developed her talent. So when she realized that I did not play with guns but only with pens and paper, she began to do everything possible to develop my abilities. Now I understand that it wasn't easy for our family to pay for tuition at the Lyceum of Arts, to buy expensive paints, professional brushes and special paper. But when you're a little kid, you'll never see the problems and difficulties.
Anyway, I think it's cool to be an adult. Firstly, you're tall and you can get anywere you want, even from the highest shelf. Secondly, you can always go to the store and buy a lot of candy and sweets. Third, you can fly around the world on the planes, and imagine yourself as a hero from some old and cool movie.
Do you have any other interests?
I consider myself as a cinemaholic, a man who loves the real art of cinema. In Kiev there is one very small and old cinema, which shows the old films of great directors like Federico Fellini and Vittorio de Sica. Or more modern and my favorite directors like Pedro Almadovar and Bernardo Bertolucci. I love these films with atmosphere. I love black and white movies. People in them are always in beautiful clothes, smoke cigarettes and talk about life and love. I would love to have such an experience in my life, to act in a special and beautiful movie like this.
What is important to you?
I think now it's important to understand what war is. People do not have to suffer and die for someone elses empty and illusory ideas. People should not kill each other. I am shocked that for some this isn't clear. We all learned in school the history and examples that war is always tears, hunger and misery. Also, it is important to appreciate all that we have, because if I have food, shoes and I do not sleep on the street, it means that I am much more lucky than many other people. Also now I'm thinking about how important it is to be able to say no, to people and things, if you feel that they are harmful to you or you just don't need them. Before, I didn't understand that. It's important not to be afraid. Be confident in yourself and in what you do. It's important to help people who need it, if you have the opportunity to help. At the same time, we must be able to accept and be grateful for someone elses help.
There are also a lot of important things that you need to understand if you do modelling. There are many stereotypes surrounding the fashion world. It may seems like it all does not make sense, just beautiful pictures of girls and boys. It looks like you just have to look good and smile to the camera in beautiful clothes and you get paid good money just for that. This is not so. At the beginning , for me it was hard to understand how the whole system worked. Now I know that in order to be successful you have to give your best and always use your brain. A beautiful picture is the result of the work of many people including designers, photographers, artists, seamstresses, stylists, assistants and many other workers who spend the time and effort to create something perfect. I think a real professional model must understand their responsibility is to demonstrate and advertise the product in the best way. Understand the concept, mood, idea, and work the style. Do not bring down the whole team and their work, but make them happy with the result.
At castings I always try to imagine myself as a client or casting director and try to understand what they are searching for. It helps me. Naturally, we can not take all the jobs in the world. We will always be comparable to someone else.
What do you see for your future?
I don't know exactly, but I feel that I will live in a cozy little house near the sea and swim with the dolphins.
Do you have any dreams?
My dream is to become strong, powerfull and successful enough to be able to help people who really need our help.
On a final note, what is your best piece of advice?
Hmm ... do not be afraid to show love to the people who deserve it. Respect and love your parents and elders. Be thankful to God for all that you have. Watch only good movies. And drink a lot of water, its very good for your body.
Illustrations by Bogdan Romanovic.
Words by Liz Ord.