Hi Alexander, it is so lovely talking to you! First of all, could you tell us a little bit about yourself? Who are you, where do you come from, where do you live now? Tell us a little about your personal background!
Hello everyone! I’m Alex from Sofia, Bulgaria. I’m 33 years old now and… well, I don’t feel that old to myself. We live in strange times. Especially these days (I mean with the beginning of the COVID pandemic). Something about myself? Well, I’m currently working as a graphic designer. I studied History and then Photographic art. Like every normal person I love traveling, reading books, and having a good time and exploring new wonderful places like small town and villages.
When did you start to get interested in photography?
I’ve been interested in photography since 2006. My first camera was a digital Kodak. But I saved some money and bought myself a Canon IXUS Digital 800 later. There were some settings that I could change. I wanted to control the speed, the ISO…. For example, I was very impressed that I can change to a bokeh style. I thought to myself “wow, that’s looks so cool!”. Then I learned about macro photography and the panning effect which is still my favourite. You see that I use a lot of cars in my collages and that is because I love taking photos of cars. I had some courses before I started studying Photographic art at the university and then I bought my current camera Canon 400D. Yes - that’s an old camera but I love it. It shoots like a film camera, the colours are incredible and I don’t think I will change it anytime soon. However, I do have some film cameras, too: Pentax ME Super and TLR Camera - Seagull 4A.
Your pictures are super creative and remind us of science-fiction which is really cool! How did you develop your style? Is science-fiction by any chance your favourite genre?
To be honest I follow up the tendencies. Yes, I love exploring artists on IG and I see that a lot of artists are making space art, science-fiction ones and many more. When I was under quarantine, because of COVID, I started my first series of science-fiction collages that I called “Dr. Fictio’s Tales”. I can’t say that it is my favourite genre. To be exact, my favourite ones are the minimalistic collages. For example, the series with cars where I mix cars with fishes or birds (I have the whole series on Behance too). I hope to continue it… How I started? Well, when I was on my first visit in Athens in 2017, I was enjoying the streets of Athens (to be exact the streets of the Plaka and Anafiotika neighbourhoods) and of course the Parthenon. I was watching the change of guards at Syntagma square and told to myself that I have to make a collage with Greek elements. If you are in Plaka on a Sunday, you will find really wonderful flea markets and a lot of antique goods. So, I found that thing called “found photography” - I bought old portrait photographs which were my first resources for my first collage series called “Untitled Thoughts”. A collage mixed with photos of mine and found photography.
What inspires you and why?
Inspiration is everywhere around us! Yes, really! My inspiration comes from music - I love listening to jazz, film music, classical and electronic music. I think that combination between science-fiction collages and electronic music is a really good idea. When I’m looking at them, I can hear the music in my head… When I’m creating something, I’m often listening to the Dutch-Belgian acoustic-electronic piano trio De Beren Gieren. Their music is really magical. My favourite classical artists are Rene Magritte and Max Ernst. I don't think it would be wrong to say that they are pioneers in Surrealism. Another source of inspiration are the vintage advertising posters. I love looking at them (especially the ones with automobiles). To me some of them have really good designs. It’s incredible that these days I can find so good examples of old adverts and realize how people in the middle of the 20th century have managed to create such creative visions without today's technologies.
What do you like most about surrealism?
Well, I can mix things that don’t exist in reality. I can visualize my dreams and fantasies at one place. Surrealism is travelling through dreams and other realities. Everything is possible there. That’s it! In my case, I create collages on my computer and very rarely I make hand collages too. Another thing I like most is that when I’m showing my works to some of my friends their reaction is “You’re crazy man!”. But the times are crazy today, aren’t they?
Definitely! Could you tell us a bit about your creation process? How do you get your ideas and how do you edit your pictures?
It’s different. I don’t have a specific creation process. When I’m walking through the streets, and I see something that I can use in my works I think to myself “Hm I can search for this or that on the internet…” If I see an interesting photo or poster, I save it on my computer for further inspiration or to find something similar. When I’m creating a collage, I like to try combinations with different elements. Sometimes it takes more time to find my combination. Usually, I create my collages late at night. By this time is much more relaxing to me. My feelings are flying high in the sky then (laughs).
How and why did you start using Instagram as a platform to share your photography?
Everything began in 2016 when I started my second account on IG - al.nikoloff. I wanted to find a place where I can upload my ideas about photography and art. I started with minimalistic art and after one year I found the magic of collages. Today I think that IG is a really great place where I can find amazing new artists, inspire myself and who knows, maybe someday start selling my works.
You seem to like implementing different kinds of cars in your pictures – do they have a special meaning to you?
Yes, they really have a special meaning to me. I love vintage cars. Why? Because they were meant to look much better than the new cars. They were designed to be pleasing to the eye. Classic cars not only appeal to car lovers, but also to lovers of engineering, design, art and history. My favourite years are from the 30s and the 40s - for example big American cars. If you scroll to the very first photos of my account, you will see a lot of minimalistic photos of old cars too.
Do you have a favourite photograph? Can you tell us the story behind it?
I have two favourite photographs. The first one is called “Bricklayer”. It was taken in 1928 by August Sander. This photo is part of the project “People pf the Twentieth Century” by August Sander. The project represents the German society through portraits of artists, students, painters, politicians, soldiers and an ordinary people. In this photo I like the dramatic light over the face of the man and how his head is framed by the bricks. The second photography that I love so much is “Migrant Mother” by Dorothea Lange. It was taken in 1936 year. It’s one of the most iconic photos in American history. It symbolizes the hunger, poverty and hopelessness endured by so many Americans during the Great Depression. In the case of “Migrant Mother” we can say that a picture is worth a thousand words.
How do you feel about your IG-community? Do you connect with them a lot? Do they help you find new ideas?
I made a lot of new friends on IG. I love exploring new artists and collage works. There are few collage communities that have weekly challenges based on a photo or words. This is a great way for inspiration and to start new projects. To me, the best thing is the possibility to make a collaboration with other artists. Collaborating is a very good way to get new ideas and to see how other artists are working. It’s really fun!
Could you name some of your favourite Instagrammers who inspire you?
Do you like sending and receiving postcards?
I haven’t done that for long time. I was a child when I sent my last postcard. Well, I think it’s a good idea to start doing it again!
Did you know Pickmotion before we started our collaboration? If yes, how did you become aware of us?
No, I didn’t. It was in the summer of 2018. I was at the gym when I received an e-mail. A colleague of yours sent me an invitation e-mail. A work of mine was selected to add it to your Magnets Collection. And so our collaboration started. I’m very happy about it. Last year I sent 4 more works of mine to Pickmotion!
Would you like to share a little anecdote or story with us? Please feel free to tell us anything!
Instead of writing you a short story I will share with you my favourite meme :)
If you're as fascinated by @al.nikoloff's work as we are, you should definitley check out his Instagram account! You can also find three beautiful Art Posters with his designs in our online shop - a wonderful decoration for your home or a beautiful gift to friends and family!