10 Jun 2020
“Yeah still here! These are weird times, but as a freelancer, I think I’m kind of used to it. Many projects (especially physical exhibitions) have been canceled or postponed. But it’s interesting to see that many brands are now calling upon digital artists more than ever."
“I like to call myself a digital dreamer. You could see it as a combination of an artist, designer, and digital world explorer. I like to think outside of the (digital) box and about things that are not possible in physical reality. It’s very multidisciplinary. That’s nice about the era we’re living in. Many people work at the intersection of different fields."
“I think everyone in the world wants to find themselves. I grew up in Ukraine and it was hard to find a fitting creative outlet for me there. I started studying Architecture in Lviv when I was 17, and after that, I traveled around a bit. I’ve lived in Florida for a moment, and I ended up at the KABK in The Hague to study Graphic Design. That’s where I found my thing."
“A little bit. Architecture gave me knowledge of space which I still use in my digital work. I learned to approach my work critically and think creatively."
“I can understand that. Art institutions tend to be bubbles."
“I’m not sure if I succeeded to break out of that, but I tried my best to get influences outside of the art institutions. My background and previous education surely helped with that. There are so many international students in the Netherlands who all bring a fresh perspective."
“Yes, but it’s also hard to stand out. Even online; everyone on Instagram is influencing each other in a way, and the algorithms push it even further."
“I like to think about how physical and digital spaces merge. With my graduation project AImnesia, I tried to imagine how AI would fill in memory gaps by creating fake memories that are plausible enough to be perceived as real. Social media is already some kind of external memory, and that raises concern regarding the ethics of AI. I wanted to critically assess the centralized power of those who are sponsoring the research and creation of these algorithms, as well as the selection of the databases on which AI’s learn. I believe there is a general unawareness and bias regarding the rapid development of deep learning."
“It comes from my childhood. I’ve always been more interested in futurism and science fiction than in contemporary reality. It allows you to dream about things that aren’t possible. Things like space travel, teleportation, double realities. I think movies portray this combo the best."
“The Matrix, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Solaris, Blade Runner. I actually was partly inspired by the idea of memory from Blade Runner in my graduation project called AImnesia. It’s about human memory that can be augmented by digital technology. AI algorithms can be trained on these big data sets and, in theory, be able to recreate lost memories."
“I think technology changes everything today. We had an industrial revolution and now we live in the technological revolution. It's interesting and frightening at the same time how this intervenes people and nature and our lives overall. With the recent news and changes in the world, we cannot deny how powerful the influence of evolving technologies is. It's crucial to find out how we can navigate through the new reality, which is filled with fake news, surveillance, data collection, and targeted content."
SS-20 GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT, Helianthus Agapanthus.
SS-20 GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT, Hidrangevia Nobilis.
“I like to reconceptualize things in a more positive and thoughtful way. Our reality already feels like we’re living in a dystopian movie. I might be interested in science fiction, but I don’t want to live in this future; I just want to see it on a screen! I try to imagine the world I’d like to be living in in the future. My works are usually quite bright and colorful."
“The timing was perfect. With the pandemic and everyone freaking out, choosing these colorful hybrids was a way to show that we can imagine this dream world where you can still enjoy beautiful objects indoors. It’s posing the idea that nature will adapt to technology development and change in the environment. These flowers don't exist in reality, but we already have gen-modified foods and animals, so hypothetically, it wouldn't be impossible to combine a part of a sunflower, with leaves from a lily and other flowers or plants. It’s based on MIT research on plant nanobionics. Plants can naturally evolve into hybrid species and adapt to the environment. Russian scientists have recently developed a glow in the dark tobacco plant, and it kind of looked like our project! That was so cool!"
04 Jan 2021
“Yeah, honestly. When I was young my biggest dream was to make people feel and look beautiful. That’s what I always wanted. Growing up, I started to dress myself and realised clothing is something that I really like. So I started my clothing store. But at the end of the day, I thought clothing is not going to help people, they will just feel beautiful for a short period of time. They’re not going to be happy forever. So, based on my catwalk coaching and scouting skills, I decided to create a modeling agency. Now, I can give people a chance and help them achieve careers in fashion."
“I think 80 or 90 in total. Some of the models I find are really young, age 10 to 11. I have some that I discovered at 12 and now they are 18. I’ve been with them at birthdays, we’ve celebrated together, we’ve cried together, we’ve seen big shows together. I’m there for everything because I have been running the two companies by myself, no assistants, nothing. It’s quite intense."
“Honestly, really just the fact that I can make someone happy. I can make people feel worth it. I like when someone can look at themselves and say ‘I am somebody’. When you see it in someone’s eyes, that feeling is priceless. I will always aim for that, no matter what, that’s the goal."
“I know the faces that some clients want. That’s part of doing the job very well. But, I select the models that I have based on feeling. My heart has to say, ‘yes’. For me, it doesn’t matter if they’re handicapped, if they're trans, I don’t care what they look like. I have to feel something special. If they make me really emotional and have a big story, I know which clients and brands they can get. That's how I start to pick the models, when I speak to them and get a feeling, that’s when I know I can give them a career. If I don’t feel like I can be myself with them, if I get a bad vibe. I don’t pick them."
Ismael with Ilja van Vuuren.
30 years of ELLE.
“Yeah, if I can be myself around someone, or they can make me really happy, or their stories make me cry, I just know they’ll be a good model. That’s also why the name of the company is Known. I just know when I have someone in front of me. It’s not a coincidence. Every season I always deliver strong faces because I believe in them and I don’t give up. My models are special. I love my job, I love everyone I represent, and I think they know it."
“There are so many I could tell, we could talk all day. A nice story from last season is about this model I have, Delta. When he came to the agency for the first time, I saw him and said, ‘You're beautiful but you need to work on your body. You really need to listen and focus. I want you to put work in.’ Three times he came to the agency and I said, ‘No, come back when you’re ready. You didn’t practice enough.’ Then he called me and said, ‘I got scouted and they really want to work with me.’ I said, ‘Go ahead sign with them. That’s fine. You know what you’re going to get with me.’ He said, ‘Yes, that's why I want to work with you and I’m convinced that you’re the only one who can give me the career that I want.’ The last time he came in, he really worked on his body, he was in good shape, and he showed me that he learned. So I signed him. Then I brought him to Milan for fashion week. All the models I brought did well, except him. But I didn’t give up, I knew he was a star. So, I decided to go to the castings with him. Before each casting, I practiced the walk with him, talked to him, and told him that I believed in him. We went in and the client loved him and booked him. He did the last show in Milan. Then, the models and I went to Paris. I worked and practiced more with Delta. Built up his confidence and this time he got everything. All the big shows."
Delta @ L'officiel Hommes Italia.
Delta @ Maison Margiela.
“Yes, I travel with the models. If we stay in a cheap hotel, we all stay in a cheap hotel, even me. If we have to get there by bus, I'm going by bus. If we go out, we all go out together. If we go home, we go home together."
“Just me. I really like to prove to myself that I can do my job well. So far, I’ve been successful at it. I have both women and men doing the big shows which is rare. There aren’t a lot of agents that are good at managing both men and women. But I’m a bit stronger in men. I think girls always want to be pretty, because they’ve always been told they have to be. But I don't like that stigma. I always tell the girls, you can be a tom boy girl, you can be a lesbian girl, you can be anything, as long as you are you at my company."
“You know, a chef never reveals his secret. But right now, I don’t have time to scout. I believe God will give you what you deserve. I don't like to go scouting because I don't like to chase money. Sometimes, I'll look online because I don’t have what I need for a client. But I like to think everything that happens is luck and faith. I never like to go on the hunt. I am always waiting for the right time. If someone sees something special in you, they will find you."
“Diversity is very important. It's not just about the face, it's about the personality. I think everyone has something to bring to the table. I think different ethnicities, cultures, and backgrounds are very good to have. You can feel inspired by everyone's stories. I feel so educated and I learned so much from different people and their different backgrounds. I learned to have a bigger heart than I had before just by having all the different people in my life."
“Sleep is for sheep."
Shooting new content.
On the way to Milan.
“I don't know. I could go from super chic to super street. I like to be me. There’s no persona. I think I would just describe it as fashionable because I always want to look nice. These days, it's comfortable but elegant, because I really want to feel like I can breathe. When I’m working, doing a photoshoot, walking, I don't want to feel stuck."
“For my life I want to be happy, healthy, and I want to be loved by the people I love. Especially my family. I just don’t want to let people down. I want to be remembered as a loved person who gave people chances. That would make me so happy. For my businesses, I would like to have more freedom. I don’t want to have to be at the shop all the time. I want to hire one or two people who can continue to do the work when I'm not there. I always want to work, but now that I’m getting older, I’m recognizing that it's nice to have a little bit of rest and a little bit of time for yourself at the beginning of the day."
“For me, I’m inspired by this time of reflection that we have during COVID. This is the time to understand who you are and find peace with yourself. Not thinking about luxury. It's about being a human. Being happy with the things we have and our surroundings. Being there for others and not always putting yourself first."