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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Richard Gorn: A Burst of Creativity

Hello, my fellow artists.
I am very excited to share this interview with you!
This time we had an insightful conversation with Richard Gorn, a versatile artist and a founder of Pop-Gorn ballet.

Richard is based in Kiev, Ukraine. I found one of Richard’s videos on Facebook, checked out his work and became very interested in what he is doing. I found his work refreshing and provocative so I contacted Richard and we scheduled a Skype talk. We covered a lot of topics, from Richard’s childhood ideas and aspirations to his current accomplishments and life philosophy to his future plans. 

It is hard to describe everything that Richard does with one word. He is a performer, a dancer, a costume designer, a visual artist and a painter, a showman, a director… This list can go on and on. We agreed that I’ll call him an “artist.” What is the most important is that he is the one who gives a birth to ideas and then brings them to life as they come along.
Richard said, “An idea is a string, and everything else is beads that you put on that string. Every project will come together as long as you have an idea, no matter if you have or have not money or other resources at that point of time.” For example, he told me a story of how a video “Poisoning by constructor” was born. He had an idea in mind. He planned to rent a professional studio, set the lights, acquire expensive video equipment and edit the video using the best available software to implement that idea. However, he suddenly found himself completely broke at that point of time – the money he was making with his performances stopped coming. That day, he even didn’t have food to eat. All Richard had was 400 grivnas (Ukrainian currency, also called “hryvnia”; 400 grivnas is about 50 USD) that he spent on Lego constructor and other necessary expenses for that project. He invited his friends to assist him, set the table in his kitchen, laid a piece of white paper, put a reading lamp as a lighting equipment, and used his old point-and-shoot camera to take snapshots of him consuming Lego pieces. Then, he edited a video on his old laptop using a basic Windows Movie Maker program.
Often, childhood experience has a profound effect on our later life. Richard was a quiet child and has always been painting, cutting paper, and playing with plasticine (similar to an American Play-Doh). He was a shy kid and would rather play by himself on the loft than socializing with other kids. He wasn’t satisfied with the toys he was given in childhood. He couldn’t understand why Soviet toys are so disproportionate. Thus, why a tank toy is smaller than a staffed goat, and why dolls and staffed animals have such big heads? I can relate to his frustration – most Soviet toys indeed were very unattractive (if not creepy), and I didn’t like them either.  Therefore, little Richard began to make his own toys. He made an entire paper village with houses and horses. He also became obsessed with making a “notepad animation.” He spent his pocket money on the notepads that had 44 sheets and therefore, 44 frames. Later in his life, he began to experiment with the still frame animation on the computer. He recently realized that his childhood handmade toys, sketches and animated images are now manifested in his creative work.


One of Richard’s aspirations is financial success. He grew up in a relatively well-off family. They had a two-story house and Richard had his own room as a child. In Soviet time it was a luxury (just FYI, what is a norm for an average American kid is still a luxury for an average Russian or Ukrainian child). He got used to nice things and comfortable lifestyle from early on, and it kept him motivated to provide well for himself. Thank God he doesn’t have the non-supportive mentality common for many folks from the former USSR that “a true artist is doomed to be broke.” Richard appreciates beautiful things, good food and comfortable living.

I know many “well-intended” parents define a career path for their kids trying to convert them to lawyers, doctors and engineers. Luckily, Richard’s parents didn’t intervene with his artistic ideas. When he turned 17, he left his parents home and began to provide for himself as a dancer. He was making his own eccentric consumes but he never envisioned costume design as a business that can bring any reasonable income. Then, a few years later, he had a serious health challenge. While he was on tour in Turkey, he had a severe poisoning and was rushed to a hospital in Kiev on the plane. He spent 1.5 months at the hospital and was prohibited to dance for two years. Richard realized that he needs an alternative source of income and ventured a costume atelier. As money began to pour in, he learned that you can make money virtually with anything, as long you love it. He also became a night club director later on and directed numerous show programs in Kiev night clubs. Nevertheless, he has always been attracted to performing, and he eventually founded his own contemporary ballet, Pop-Gorn where he stars as a lead dancer.
I’d been reminded in our conversation that it is extremely beneficial to invest in yourself and to follow your own path. Here is an example from Richard’s life: a few years ago, he sketched a lot of costumes that, surprisingly, nobody wanted to buy. When he’d accumulated a pile of these sketches, Richard decided to make them for his own ballet. These costumes and images became a big hit in a flash. The lesson: if you knock on the door and nobody answers, maybe, it makes sense to build your own house.
Richard believes that people who don’t pursue their passion are simply making excuses.  There is always a way to realize what you want if you are motivated. His own story is great evidence to it. Richard is now a very popular figure in Ukraine and is coming to a Russian market and collaborates with many celebrities in Eastern Europe. I wish him and the Pop-Gorn ballet a tremendous expansion and world-wide recognition. I admire his determination and versatile skills, and I am sure he is on the way to a grand success.

1 comment:

  1. When you go to Kiev for a Ukraine vacation, you definitely should visit local nightclubs! Baeutiful girls make Ukraine tourism unforgettable. So joyful atmosphere, so beautiful girls! Ukraine vacation guide created a list of the best Kyiv night clubs. If you know more goog places, you can add them to the Ukraine travel guide.

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