Boris, Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. We are so excited about your upcoming drop and to learn a bit more about you.
Where are you from?
I lived on various patches of this lovely earth, and it’s been quite a journey. I was born in 1985 in Sarajevo, Bosnia which it was part of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Lived there until 1992 when the Balkan war broke out, and my family refuged to a region called Kosovo, which was part of Serbia back then. There we lived as refugees in a building shared by others who had the same fate. In 1998 another war broke out and that’s when my parents got lucky enough to be granted an immigrant visa to the USA. We moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, USA. A few years later my family moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where I went to art school. Some years later I moved to Moscow, Idaho, USA to get my MFA, moved back to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and finally couple of years ago ended up here in Portland, Oregon. Like I said, it’s been quite an interesting journey.
Can you tell us about your background and what lead you down the path to becoming an artist and ultimately experimenting with NFTs?
Neither of my parents are artists. However, my dad has the artistic talents, but didn’t practice it being that he was a police officer in the former Yugoslavia. His brother had the artistic talents, started art school and dropped out. His mom was artist too, and his grandpa was a sculptor in Sarajevo. So it was something that was part of his world, but just didn’t pursue it himself. He did show me how to draw things as a little kid, and I just found the whole experience of creating art intriguing. So I kept doing it. If I were to psychoanalyze myself, which I do often, I would say that my parents were pretty good parents, but they weren’t the best at being emotionally present with me. I’m certain that as a little kid (3,4 or 5 year old) when I would draw and do something impressive I was able to get their attention, as well as the attention of others. So I kept doing it as I’m certain it was a way to get their attention. I cant be certain, but Im sure there is some truth in there. Nevertheless I keep making art throughout my childhood. Im certain it was something that I subconsciously used as a way to comfort myself, and later when we become refugees, it was a tool for escaping into imagination, somewhere where there is no war, and humans are kind. Before coming to the USA, art was something that I didnt think I could do as a career. I felt like most likely I would pursue something practical like engineering, as I was really good at math and physics. I use to compete in those subjects with other schools. But deep down I wanted to be a creative, a free thinker, where my impish ways can find an outlet. So when we moved to USA I focused on learning to draw immensely and my parents supported by artist pursuit the whole way. What kind souls they were to do that, despite knowing that being a creative could be a difficult pursuit. I have them to thank for much of the support. I did my best to create a stellar portfolio for my art college application and I got a 3/4 scholarship at a private art college Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, which is where I got my BFA in Illustration. All I knew is that I loved story telling through my art, and I pursued illustration because of that. But deep down, I wasn’t really thinking in reality if I would want to be a commercial illustrator. At heart I still was more of a fine artist who had this urge to express himself. Once I graduated, I got a graphic design job creating graphics for clothing. I did that for little over 3 years, and realized there is so much more to this life and what I could do with my art, that I decided to quit that job and go back to school to get my MFA and understand myself better. I got a full scholarship, and was paid to teach while I pursued my MFA. My parents were still super supportive. I feel like during my time of reflection while trying to understand what my MFA should be about is when I truly realized what my art should be about. I remember it, it was February of 2012, and after months fo feeling like my art was superficial, not connecting and was just not getting to the core of things, I realized that somewhere along the way of developing into adulthood as a male in the modern society, I stopped being vulnerable, and my art reflected that. I realized that the type of music, movies, and books I enjoyed are the ones where the author pour their heart into what they made, and it showed. So the first series that I made after this epiphany is called “Something Somewhere” which I lated renamed as “Something Within”. Its one fo the series on my website. That was it, I knew that this direct was what I needed to explore post MFA. However, my parents are blue collar workers in USA, and I had to figure out a way to make money with my art. I count find a job at a creative agency belie my portfolio was mainly fine art illustrations. So I decided to move back with my parents and pursue being a freelance illustrator, until I figure it out. What I though was going to be a year or two year experiment, lasted for 6 years, during which I keep saving money and living with my parents. It was a rough period in my life. I had great clients, and did work that I liked. But also I am sure, that I lost some clients because I was in the survival mode, and I didnt like living the way I was. It stressed me out all the time, and didn’t really enjoy making things for others while not making decent money. During these years after my MFA which ended in 2013, as I worked on various ways of making money, when I had no paid projects I did what loved the most, which is make art for my self, for my moody soul. But because I struggled to make money enough where I feel like I can have a decent life in USA, I felt like I failed myself and my parents for trusting in me to pursue this. And after years of building a commercial portfolio, and trying different things that ranged from custom lettering, typography, graphic design, commercial illustration, movie posters, fine art commissions, fashion, I finally found a creative opportunity that would be a full time paid job as a fashion illustrator. I was desperate to be done freelancing and just live a normal life where I get to be a creative. I was worried that the job would be too corporate and strange, but my art director Rocky Jones, was the right person to have met in that stage in life. And this steady gig provided me with security to stop living in a survival mode, so I can take time to understand myself more, dig deep into my subconscious, and heal a lot of wounds that life has left on me. During this whole time I kept making personal art on the side. And my art reflected who I was at the time of making it. And if you follow it, you can tell where I was mentally and emotionally at that period in my life. I started this full time gig in early 2019. I also had a partner who began work in the psychedelic research as a tool for mental health treatments. So I began to have stability I was able to explore myself more. As I did that, I slowly began to discover who I am, and see all of me, the shinning aspects of myself and the shadow self that need a lot of work to overcome old patterns. My personal art started to reflect that change. However, at this point my personal art become just a hobby. I hod a difficult time monetizing my personal art, and it didnt inspire me to invest a lot of time into it, but I still did. And when I ran across NFTs, I saw what this could be for me and my desire for personal expression. If I did this right, I could finally have a way to make my best personal work, have the validation that every artist seeks, and have the financial means of continuing to keep making it. So this whole journey of wanting to express myself, and who I am in this peculiar human experience, all culminated to this moment where NFTs allowed me to do that. Timing wise, the rise of popularity of NFTs just happened to align with my now personal journey where I was really having to make a lot of changes, which allowed me this beautiful opportunity to express myself in new and wonder ways. It was a beautiful serendipitous occurrence.
When did you mint your first NFT? What platform did you choose and why?
I ended up minting my first NFT on Foundation. At this time it was the only platform I had the access to, and I wanted to experiment and see what would happen. There was a lot I still had to learn about promoting my art, and making connections. Again I was not in contact with others around me who were in NFTs that I had to ask a lot fo people through my social medias for advice. A lot of trial and error for sure.
Can you tell us one thing you cannot live without? (and why)
As a refugee, I lived without many things. I learned not to rely on much, but I do find beauty and comfort in things, which are just things I have on lease while I am alive. I cant not live without human connections. It is at the core of this human experience. I dont believe in religions, but despite how destructive human beings are, I still have faith in us, in each other, in humanity.
Who is your favorite artist(s) (Non NFT)? What about their style resonates with you?
I really resonate with Alex Grey. The immense power of psychedelics that have revealed so much of my inner workings of my psyche is something that he has portrayed beautifully for decades. What I also resonated with him, and was inspired by him, but took it into a new direction, is his focus on the human anatomy. While he depicts an x-ray version of human anatomy, with muscles and veins, I use the human anatomy models as a way of transcending race, to make my art about the universal experience of being a human. It was something I was struggling to achieve. I am an Eastern European male with dark features, and my art inevitably was inspired by me, and I often used myself as a subject of my own art. But despite my art being a visual journal of my personal human experience, I wanted my art to transcend me as an individual that looks a certain way. And I remember looking at Alex Grey’s art and thinking, I really enjoy the simplification of features where the rendered subject would allow the viewer to imagine themselves in the piece easier. So that was a big part of my inspiration, but that is really mainly it, as least that I am aware of.
Another artist which I find immensely inspiring has been James Jean. What I found fascinating about his art, is his freedom with which he explored surrealism. As I was developing my personal style, I found myself being very literal, wanting to depict realistic scenes and environments. But I didn’t enjoy doing that, because deep down I was trying to capture something more intangible, ethereal. So during my BFA i realized that my art is an effort, a bridge between the reality and the intangible, which is when I started to incorporate elements of realism and surrealism. Another aspect of James Jean work that I always admired is his ability to experiment and evolve different styles simultaneously. It looked like freedom, where he could do a clean digital artwork, or a expressive acrylic painting, or a sculpture, yet it was all cohesive, still him, still his voice.
So now that I know myself better as human being and what I want to say with my art, which will evolve over time, I’ve been tying to do the same thing with my art, experiment and try different ways of expressing myself, and whether its digital or acrylic painting, it still has my essence, my own look to it.
Who is your favourite NFT artist? What makes this artist unique?
I really resonate with Sam Spratt’s work and I also really resonate with Archan Nair.
Archan’s work is really expressive and very psychedelic, even though he has never done psychedelics, and has no plan to do so. Maybe one day I will convince him to try. What I really enjoy about his work is his ability to capture feelings with all of the textures and elements that he combines. There is a beauty to the chaos of colors and paint marks.
Sam’s work is really fascinating from a story telling and technical perspective. He paints digitally in a way that looks incredibly beautiful, filled with seemingly traditional oil textures and paint marks. I don’t know how he does it but he is just really damn talented. And the stories he tells with his work, which is also further amplified by the poetic words he uses to accompany his work is really intriguing. What also resonates with me about him is that like Sam, I too spent many years being a commercial illustrator. But deep down I really wanted to do my own personal work. So seeing him do that with success has been a very beautiful and encouraging thing to experience.
What made you pursue NFT art?
In essence it was an opportunity to keep exploring my personal art, but be able to create direct relationships with collectors and other artists which has been a truly rewarding experience, and something that was lacking on the other creative fields that I have been and still are involved in.
What is the one piece of NFT art you wish you had purchased but missed out on?
Definitely a piece by Archan Nair. We have known each other for like 7 or 8 years through instagram. I think when he dropped his initial drops on SuperRare the first one sold for 6 ETH, but I didnt have 6 ETH at that time. Now they sell I believe close to 100 ETH if not even more. So incredible! I also wish I could have at least bid on Sam Spratt’s work as to get on the cool Lucy Skulls, because his first drop was so successful that I could not have afforded one of his pieces.
If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go? Why this location?
I would love to travel to Japan, it seems like such different world from what I know. I think I might visit it soon for my birthday. Besides art, my other passions are psychology, philosophy, finding ways to just be present with life. Love watching people play music live in intimate settings. Its magical. I love reading, well mainly absorbing things through audiobooks. I find people fascinating, so I love meeting new people, talking with them about their lives and how they see this human experience. I love exploring from time to time, just seeing what else this world is about. I love exploring my own mind with psychedelics. Hence why I consider myself a psychonaut.
What are your other passions besides art? Why?
I love psychology, philosophy and psychedelics. The 3 Ps haha. I find the human mind and why we are the way we are such a intriguing puzzle to explore. There is something so awe inspiring and kind of frightening at times that a human mind can be so complex and intriguing yet there are still so many corners of our human mind which seems inaccessible. That is where I find psychedelics really fascinating too. They are compounds that allow my brain to connect in ways in which it does not normally. And from the process of neural pathways communicating in ways in usually does not, I am able to see the world in a new way, to see my own faults, to break inefficient ways of thinking and better my own life. And of course, philosophy is just a great way to contemplate this existence. I am not religious, but I do find the fact that I exist so awe inspiring, and truly remarkable, even in the moments when life feels kind of absurd.
Do you make other forms of art?
I would say I enjoy writing, as its a form of expression, very different from visual art. But I find it so interesting and rewarding in a different way.
How did you come up with your specific style? How has your style evolved over the years?
It came from slowing trying to understand how I perceive art, and what I wanted to capture with it. Because my art is an effort to capture something that is between the real and the intangible, my art combines realism with surrealism. A lot of it was very kind of heavy, it was black and white, and if there was color it was very minimal. I think I tried to capture how I felt in those stages in life. But at some point I saw that wanted to approach my art the way song is made. For example there is a lot of popular music that sounds playful, and melodic and I want to groove to it, and move with it. It has the feeling of a colorful painting, with excitement and energy. However once I read the lyrics of some of this songs, I realize that the meaning of the song is actually very deep and kind of heavy, maybe even sad, but it was presented in this easy to digest format, thats alluring to enjoy. So I started approaching my art the same way by making it more colorful, and enjoyable to look at, while also having a lot of deep intense meaning behind it. So the main evolution was having more color, and once I started to experiment more digitally I was able to add more details and try stuff that is harder to do with paint.
What is coming in the near future?
More art that resonates with own personal journey. I do plant o explore releasing an edition on Manifold and doing some more 1/1 on SuperRare through Manifold as well. Im sure there will be things that is not on the horizon yet. But the main thing is that I plan to just keep making art that speaks to me.
If you could collaborate with one artist who would it be?
I would love to collaborate with artists that have a different style than mine but are also very energetic and there is intensity to their work. I would love to collaborate with Fewocious, and Archan Nair. Also it would be amazing to collaborate with the incredible artist Sam Spratt. That would be wild!
Do you have any upcoming drops?
My Journey Series on Nifty Gateway is dropping on Thursday, Jan.26th at 5pm EST. It features TWO 24h Open editions. It’s my first Open Edition that I am putting out and I em very excited about it. The two pieces are “Acceptance” and “Surrender To The Source”.
“Journey” is a new series that explores the journey of self awareness and self actualization. It dives deep into the inner workings of the human psyche as a way to understand something intangible that resides beyond the symbolic language. It is an homage to the power of plant medicine, which has been an integral tool in my own personal growth journey. Understanding oneself and one’s own place in this world is one of the fundamental aspects of this human experience. Life is an ongoing journey, filled with a spectrum of experiences ranging from beautiful, awe inspiring, all the way to strange, sad and even absurd. All of those experiences leave an impression on us that reveals itself in the way we see ourselves and others. But sometimes the messages we internalize, especially from negative experiences are not always correct. In searching to understand myself, I gathered epiphanies that are captured in the featured pieces. They are about letting go, accepting all that we are, and all that is. It’s about self forgiveness, compassion, love towards one self and others. It’s about understanding our self worth, it’s about finding ways to align with our authentic inner self. And most of all, it’s about finding ways to connect with something bigger than ourselves, within & without.
Where can collectors find your work?
Link to Website:
NFT marketplace links:
Link to profile picture (or attach)