Artist Interview: Boris Pelcer

Boris, We are so grateful that you took the time to speak with us. We are thrilled about your upcoming drop, and would love to get to know a little more about you.

From where are you?

It’s been a long journey, living on different patches of this beautiful earth. Born in 1985 in Sarajevo (Bosnia), which was part of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. I lived there until 1992, when the Balkan War broke out. My family fled to Kosovo, which then belonged to Serbia. We lived in refugee conditions in a shared building with others who suffered the same fate. My parents were granted an immigrant visa in the USA in 1998 after another war broke out. We moved to Lincoln in Nebraska, USA. My family later moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to attend art school. I then moved to Moscow, Idaho to complete my MFA. Then, I returned to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and, finally, ended up in Portland, Oregon. It’s been an interesting ride, as I mentioned.

Please tell us about yourself and the circumstances that led you to become an artist, and then eventually to experiment with NFTs.

My parents are not artists. My dad does have artistic talent, but he didn’t use it because he was a former Yugoslavian police officer. His brother was also gifted in the arts and enrolled in art school before dropping out. His mother was an artist, as was his grandfather who was a sculptor from Sarajevo. It was something that was part his world but he didn’t pursue it. As a child, he taught me how to draw and I found the process of creating art fascinating. So I kept doing it. Psychoanalyzing myself is something I often do. I would say my parents were good parents but not the best at being emotionally present. As a child, I remember drawing and doing something very impressive as a way to grab their attention. It was my way of getting their attention so I continued to do it. Although I cannot be certain, I am sure there are some truths. I have been making art since childhood. It was probably something I subconsciously used to soothe myself. Later, when we became refugees, it was also a way for me to escape into my imagination, where there is no war and people are kind. Art was not something I thought I could do before I came to the USA. Because I was very good at math and physical science, I thought it most likely that I would choose engineering as my career. These subjects were my favorite. Deep down, I knew that I wanted to be creative and a free thinker. This is where my wild ideas can come out. When we moved to the USA, I concentrated on learning how to draw and had my parents support me throughout. They were such kind people to support me in my pursuit of art, even though it was a challenging path. They are the ones I owe a lot for their support. I put my best effort into creating a strong portfolio for my application to art college. I was awarded a 3/4 scholarship to Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. This is where I received my BFA Illustration. My only knowledge was that I enjoyed story telling through art and that illustration was the right choice for me. Deep down, though, I didn’t know if I wanted to become a commercial illustrator. I was still a fine artist, and had a strong desire to express myself. After graduating, I was offered a job as a graphic designer creating clothing graphics. After working in this field for just over three years, I realized that there was so much more to life and that my art could be used to make things better. I quit my job to pursue my MFA. I was awarded a full scholarship and paid to teach as I studied for my MFA. They were supportive and understanding. It was during this time of reflection, while trying to figure out what my MFA should look like, that I realized the essence of my art. It was February 2012, I can still remember that moment. After months of feeling that my art was not authentic, not connecting, and not getting to the heart of things, I realized something. My art became more vulnerable as I matured into adulthood as a man in modern society. It was the movies, books, and music that I loved that were the most enjoyable. The first series I created after that epiphany was called “Something Somewhere”, which I later renamed “Something Within”. It is one of the series that I have on my website. This was the moment I knew I wanted to explore this direct after my MFA. My parents are white collar workers in the USA and I needed to find a way to make a living with my art. My portfolio of fine art illustrations was not what I expected to find a job at an agency. So, I moved back with my parents to pursue freelance illustration until I found the right job. What I thought was going to last a year or so, ended up lasting 6 years. During that time, I continued saving money and lived with my parents. It was a difficult time in my life. I was able to work with great clients and had great fun. However, I’m sure that I lost clients due to my survival mode. I didn’t enjoy living this way. I was stressed out and couldn’t enjoy doing things for people while making decent money. After my MFA ended in 2013, I continued to work on different ways of making money. However, I was unable to take on paid projects so I pursued what I loved most: creating art for myself and my moody soul. Because I was unable to make enough money to live a decent American life, I felt that I had failed my family and myself. After years of trying various things, including custom lettering, typography and graphic design, film posters, fine art commissions, fashion illustration, I finally found a job that paid full-time as a fashion illustrator. I wanted to work freelancing, and live a normal lifestyle where I can be creative. Rocky Jones, my art director, was the perfect person to have met at that stage of life. This steady job gave me the security to stop living in survival mode. I was able to take time to learn more about myself, look deep into my subconscious and heal many of the wounds that have been left by life. I continued to make personal art throughout this time. My art was a reflection of who I was at that time. You can see my mental and emotional state at that time in my life if you look closely. This full-time gig was started in early 2019. My partner also started working in the psychedelic field as a tool for mental healthcare treatments. As I gained stability, I was able explore my inner self more. Slowly, I began to see myself as I was, both the shining aspects and the shadow sides of myself. It took a lot of effort to change old patterns. That change was reflected in my personal art. My personal art became a hobby at this point. Although it was difficult for me to monetize my art, it did not discourage me from continuing to do so. NFTs were a way for me to express myself and I was pleasantly surprised when I came across them. If I did it right, I would be able to do my best work, get the validation that artists seek, and still have the financial resources to continue making it. This whole journey of wanting express myself and my unique human experience culminated in NFTs allowing me to do just that. The rise in popularity of NFTs coincided with my personal journey, where I was having to make many changes. This gave me the opportunity to express myself in new and wonderful ways. It was a wonderful serendipitous event.

When did you mint your first NFT? Which platform did you choose, and why?

Foundation was the platform that I used to mint my first NFT. It was the only platform that I had access to at the time, so I wanted to try it out and see what happens. I had a lot to learn about how to promote my art and make connections. Because I wasn’t in touch with other NFTs around me, I had to reach out to a lot of people via social media for their advice. It was a lot of trial and error.

Tell us what one thing is essential for you to live. (and why)

As a refugee I had to live without many things. I learned to not rely on too much. However, I still find beauty and comfort in the things that I do have while I’m alive. Human connections are essential to my existence. It is the heart of human existence. Although I don’t believe in religions, despite the destruction of human beings, I have faith in us all, in each other and in humanity.

Which artist (Non-NFT) is your favourite? What do you like about their style?

Alex Grey is someone I truly resonate with. He has beautifully portrayed the immense power of psychedelics, which have revealed so many of my inner workings. His focus on human anatomy was something that I found to be a common theme with him. While I was also inspired by him, it led me to take the subject into a new direction. He depicts an xray of the human anatomy with muscles and veins. I use the human anatomy models to transcend race and make my art about the universal experience that it is to be human. This was something that I struggled to achieve. My art was often inspired by my Eastern European heritage and dark features. My art is a visual diary of my personal experience. However, I want my art to transcend my own perceptions. Alex Grey’s artwork was something I saw and thought that I enjoyed the simplified features that allowed the viewer to visualize themselves within the piece. That was a large part of my inspiration. But that is not all.

James Jean is another artist I find incredibly inspiring. His exploration of surrealism was what I found most fascinating about his work. When I was creating my own style, I became very literal and wanted to portray realistic scenes and environments. It wasn’t something I enjoyed doing, as I wanted to capture something more subtle, ethereal. My BFA taught me that art was an effort. It is a bridge between reality and intangible. This is how I began to include elements of surrealism and realism. James Jean’s ability to create and experiment with different styles at once is another aspect I admire. It was like freedom. He could create a digital art piece, an expressive acrylic painting or a sculpture. But it was all coherent, still him and his voice.

Now that I am more aware of myself as a human being and what my art should say about me, I have been trying to do the exact same thing with my artwork. I experiment with different methods of expression and it doesn’t matter if it is digital or acrylic, it still retains my essence and my unique look.

Which NFT artist is your favorite? What makes this artist special?

I resonate deeply with Sam Spratt and Archan Nair’s work.
Archan’s art is very expressive and psychedelic. He has never tried psychedelics and doesn’t plan to. Perhaps he will one day convince me to do it. His ability to combine textures and elements with emotion is what I love about his work. There is beauty in the chaos of paint marks and colors.
Sam’s work is both fascinating technical and story-telling-wise. His digital paintings are filled with traditional oil textures and paint marks. He is just so talented, I don’t know how. His work tells amazing stories, and he also uses poetic words to accompany them. Another thing that resonates with him is the fact that, like Sam I spent many years as a commercial illustrator. However, deep down I wanted to do my own work. It was a wonderful and inspiring experience to see him succeed.

Why did you choose to study NFT?

It was essentially a way to continue exploring my own art and to be able to establish direct relationships with collectors. This has been a really rewarding experience and something I was missing in other creative fields that have been and are still involved in.

Which piece of NFT art do you wish you’d bought but didn’t?

Archan Nair is definitely the artist behind this piece. Through instagram, we have been friends for 7 to 8 years. He sold his first drops on SuperRare for 6ETH. I don’t remember having 6ETH back then. They now sell for close to 100ETH, if not more. So incredible! It’s amazing!

Where would you travel if you could? This is why?

Japan seems so different from the world I know. I would love to go there. It is possible that I will visit Japan for my birthday. Apart from art, I also love philosophy and psychology. I love watching musicians perform live in intimate settings. It’s amazing. I love to read, but I prefer to absorb information through audiobooks. People are fascinating to me. I enjoy meeting new people and learning about their lives. Exploring the world around me is something I enjoy doing. I enjoy exploring my mind using psychedelics. I consider myself a psychonaut.

What are your other passions, besides art? Why?

Psychology, philosophy, and psychedelics are my passions. I love the 3 Ps. The human mind and the reasons we are as we are is fascinating to me. It is both awe-inspiring and frightening to see how complex and fascinating the human mind can be, yet so many parts of it seem inaccessible. This is why I find psychedelics fascinating. These compounds allow my brain to communicate in ways it doesn’t normally. Because my neural pathways communicate in ways it normally does not, I can see the world differently, see my faults, and break down inefficient thinking patterns to improve my life. Philosophy is a wonderful way to think about this existence. Although I’m not religious, I find the fact I exist so amazing and remarkable, even when it seems absurd.

Are you a master of other types of art?

Writing is a different form of expression than visual art. I would say that I enjoy it. It is so fascinating and rewarding to me in a completely different way.

What inspired you to create your unique style? What has changed in your style over time?

Slowing down to try to understand my perception of art and the things I wanted to capture through it all led to this. My art blends surrealism and realism because it aims to capture the essence of the real and intangible. It was mostly black and white and very little color. I believe I tried to capture the emotions I felt at those times in my life. At some point, I realized that I wanted to approach my art in the same way that songs are made. There is so much popular music that I love, it’s fun and it sounds melodic. I want to dance to it and groove with it. It’s vibrant and full of energy, it has the feel of a colorful painting. However, when I read some of these songs’ lyrics, I realized that they are very deep and heavy. It is even possible that it is sad. But, the song was presented in an easy-to-understand format that I find appealing. My art became more vibrant, enjoyable, and had a lot of meaning. The main change was to have more color. Once I began to experiment digitally, I was able add more details and do things that are difficult to do with paint.

What’s next?

Art that connects with your own journey. I am open to the possibility of releasing an edition through Manifold, and also doing more SuperRare 1/1s through Manifold. There will be more, but it is unlikely that they are yet to come. The main thing is that I intend to continue making art that speaks to my soul.

Who would you collaborate with if you could?

Artists with a different style would be great to work with. However, they should also be very energetic and have an intense work ethic. Archan Nair and Fewocious would be great collaborators. It would also be incredible to work with Sam Spratt, an amazing artist. It would be amazing!

Are there any drops coming up?

Nifty Gateway’s My Journey Series will drop on Thursday, January 26th at 5 PM EST. There are TWO 24h Open Editions. This is my first Open Edition and I’m excited about it. These two pieces are “Acceptance” and “Surrender to The Source”.

“Journey”, a series about self-awareness and self-actualization, is launching a new series. This series delve deep into the inner workings and psychology of the human mind to help you understand the intangible world beyond symbolic language. It’s a tribute to the power and potential of plant medicine, which I have found invaluable in my personal growth. Understanding yourself and your place in the world is a fundamental aspect of human existence. The journey of life is a continuous one, with many experiences that range from amazing, inspiring, to bizarre, sad, and even absurd. Each of these experiences leaves an impression that shapes how we view ourselves and others. Sometimes, however, the messages that we internalize from negative experiences and other situations aren’t always right. These featured pieces are the result of my quest to understand myself. These pieces are about letting go and accepting all of who we are and all that we have. It is about self-forgiveness, compassion, and love for oneself and others. It is about understanding your self worth and finding ways to align yourself with your authentic self. It’s all about connecting with something greater than ourselves, both within and without.

Where can collectors locate your work?


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