Hailing from Kazakhstan, Designer and Model Khaidar Bekezhanov is constantly pulling from his cultural influences and the world around him to create surrealist pieces and realities you wish you could forever be immersed in. At the tail end of his final semester in school, Khaidar and I sat down to chat about his work and the values behind his practice.
Give a quick introduction of yourself and what you do?
KB: My name is Khaidar I'm 21 years old and I am a designer and 3d artist. I grew up in Kazakhstan and I've been living in Canada for the last four years. I like working within different media but I studied Industrial Design and like creating visuals for everything and anything. I started off doing photography, and then kind of went into 3d art. That's really all of the creative work that I'm doing right now but outside of that, I also really enjoy modelling and I've been doing that for the past few months.
What would you describe as your initial introductions to the design field?
KB: I guess it started with designing objects or designing clothing and bags. I love sewing and I’ve designed bags for myself like purses and then that kind of developed into designing objects like chairs, stools, cups and, stuff like that.
I know, a lot of your work is really, more surrealist and has a very, dreamy kind of vibe to it. Could you tell me more about what kind of inspires your design philosophy?
KB: I love movies where you're watching a scene and it looks like it's out of this world, but it's still within this world. And when it comes to my art and what I do, I always like creating something that's not from this world, and I’ve realized that this almost always comes out naturally. I never have this goal of wanting to design a particular thing or to create this visual that would look like it's from a different planet It always comes up naturally. One of my biggest visual inspirations has been the film “Nowhere”. I feel like a lot of teenagers liked it and I watched it when I was younger. It kind of changed my whole perspective on design and visual art. I also like adding something unexpected to my art. For example, if I'm rendering a piece of furniture, I love to add a crazy texture to it or I would add a car in the background or something, even though it's in an apartment. I like adding something unexpected to the scene. I don't tend to like our reality, especially throughout the last two years [in my practice] and I feel like my art has been helping me a lot because I find myself being rebellious but also quiet. And I feel like, I'm always trying to create something that's that you don't usually see daily.
Work by: Khaidar Bezekhanov
I guess with software and the capabilities that computers give us in terms of being able to apply our creativity, there's a level of intangibility where you can't necessarily feel or interact traditionally with work in the same way you would with a chair in the real world. I was wondering how you reconcile that in your work
KB: I feel like when it comes to physical things and what I've learned so far about designing them within the last four years of my study is that most of the things have to be kind of really thought through, they need to be somewhat pragmatic. You know, you have to be realistic about whether or not something can work out as a design. But then you can also make it beautiful when it comes to the 3d model and renderings, you can do whatever you want. I feel like it's also important to kind of appreciate that using renderings. I feel like that's cool because I didn’t always like industrial design or designing objects and I have kind of been falling in love with it lately because of this. I found the most joyful part of my practice is merging the physical and the digital, and finding ways to visualize a physical thing.
I did some digging through your site. And I was interested in the work that you did with Crosby studios and the other collaborators that you've worked with. Could you share how those opportunities came about…
KB: So about a year ago, I had to find an internship to do because my school program required me to do an internship and so I was reaching out to a bunch of different studios throughout the world and one of them was Crosby studios. It has been one of my favourite studios and was my dream studio to work at and get involved with. And so I emailed them once, didn't get a response back and then emailed them once again. A few months later I heard back from them, and I did an internship with them last summer, so I did reach out to them and I think that's the best way to go whenever it comes to opportunities. Yeah, so I got to spend the whole summer working for them virtually, and I was mostly doing visual design, renderings and quite a bit of graphic design. As a studio, they have a really unique design aesthetic plus they've worked with cool companies and are always working on different collaborations. I got to work on a project with Balenciaga which was amazing and I got to do a bit of interior/spatial design.
When it comes to my other collaborations, I'm really grateful for social media because all of those have come out through like Instagram or TikTok or Arena. Most often people are reaching out to me, which is awesome. Like, I never expect that to happen. But sometimes, I myself, reach out to those people. A lot of those people are my friends or my Instagram friends, or my TikTok friends. And yeah, shout out to social media, because growing up I was always a super shy and introverted person. I feel like I still am, but because of social media and email you can reach out to anybody and you can say anything without really feeling afraid because you're not really doing that like it is in real life. Honestly, reaching out to people is the best thing you can do for yourself.
Work by: Khaidar Bezekhanov for Crosby Studios
Where do you find your inspiration?
KB: think I've been feeling extremely uninspired and I usually go on Arena. One of my friends showed it to me and I'm really grateful for that. I usually find a few references on Arena, sometimes on Instagram, even though I'm trying to stay away from Instagram when it comes to inspiration because I feel like there are just too many things and too many mainstream things. Quite often what I've been noticing is that talking to other creative people really helps. It doesn't have to be an idea that you're talking about, or something creative. It can be all sorts of conversations.
I'm always thinking about my goals, I feel like they are really motivating and inspiring. Some of my goals are to just succeed and do cool work for cool people and cool brands and that's inspiring to me. And I also think about my parents, whatever I'm doing whatever I'm working on I'm always thinking about my parents. I always want them to feel proud. And of course films and movies. I also really enjoy music videos and it kind of sucks that people don't really make music videos anymore, I really want people to start making music videos again. And also the music itself is really inspiring, I always get inspired by different lyrics. For the last two days, I've been listening to Rosalia’s latest album, especially the song Hentai. Some of the lyrics on they're really inspiring to me even though they're kind of they're not the wisest but even the simplest words are inspiring to me. And also a lot of Russian music is inspiring to me.
I wanted to know, who are some of the creatives that you admire?
KB: I like this brand called Mad Frenzy, one of my Instagram friends is the creative director there. His name is Seva. I think he’s really cool and has a cool style and his designs and campaigns are amazing. I have also been really enjoying an artist named Luna she’s Ukrainian but she makes music in Russian and her music is amazing. The way she comes up with lyrics and melodies is really awesome, It's kind of like a mixture of electronic techno and sad pop. Princess Nokia especially her song Bart Simpson, Demna from Balenciaga. Frederick Heyman is also a really cool 3d artist his works are insane and also ARCA.
Being from Kazakhstan, would you say your culture influences the work you’re doing in any way?
KB: I really appreciate culture and people, and I feel like one of the problems that I've faced in the last few years living in Canada is that I feel like I've been missing culture. Sorry, not sorry. But there's like barely any sincere and authentic culture here. But yeah, culture is really inspiring to me. I'm always trying to kind of replicate what Kazakh people would do back in the day because Kazakh people are known to great to do great ornamentations and just overall designs of their clothing and houses. I feel like that's something that I can definitely see in my work.
Work by: Khaidar Bezekhanov
Are there places and moments in the day that help fuel what you do?
KB: So, routines, helped me a lot. Throughout my whole life, I've always dealt with depression and anxiety and when I don't have a routine I'm not creative at all. By that I mean really sad there is no desire in me and having a routine has helped me a lot. Also, the mental state of my mind, I feel like my depression, my constant anxiety and this fear of failure, of not getting where I want to be informs my work and makes me work even harder. I also really enjoy having conversations, talking about things and meeting new people. I love meeting new people, whenever I meet new people, it really fuels my creativity which is also why I kind of started modelling. It really exposes you to new conversations and other creative people, which really helps my creative work.
I'll end off by asking what you would share with another young creative?
KB: I love this question. Be fearless. Even though I know I'm always afraid whenever I'm doing anything creative but get myself out there. Also reaching out to people, to brands, to studios will get you to so many places that you've never even thought of. And trust your gut to do whatever always trust yourself and do what you want to do even if it's gonna hurt someone else's feelings, I feel like that's okay. Read, watch movies, talk to people, talk to creative people. That helps a lot.