Roman Noven and Tania Shecheglova, better known as SYNCHRODOGS, have been busy of late. With recent projects for Burberry, Ruslan Baginskiy, and a new book documenting their singular photographic style published by Louis Vuitton, the Ukranian duo are at the top of their game. Here, we discuss the deep influence the natural world has on their work, how creativity has been a much needed release during the pandemic, and – of course – their recent collaboration with SHOHEI.
SYNCHRODOGS. It's a great name. How did you guys come up with it?
Working as a duo under our long Ukrainian names would be a huge complication for the viewers to ever remember them, so we came to conclusion that we need a word that corresponds to both of us on a personal level, and is easy to remember in this world of words. “Synchro” stands for our similarity, as we have the same tastes, ideas and perceptions in life, and “dogs” is about us endlessly loving nature and being best friends of humans at the same time.
You are based in Ukraine, in the beautiful and historic city of Ivano Frankivsk. What is your favourite spot in the city and what makes your home special for you?
We are not big fans of cities, we live very close to the mountains so we usually escape either to the Carpathians or just to nearby lakes and riverbanks. We have an enduro motorbike, it helps us a lot to travel and see nature around.
Is there a connection between your work and your home?
There must be some connection that deals with our artistic style, it was obviously formed here in Ukraine and is far from plain and minimalistic. Overall we are very open to any experiments.
Do you think it is necessary to be located in a hyped megacity like New York, London or Paris in order to work with brands and stars worldwide, or is that idea overhyped in itself?
For sure it makes it easier to be based in the centre of the world and meet people regularly, in fact in future we think it might be an option to live between several different countries. Up till now we were getting a lot of jobs being based in Ukraine, but who knows which other options real life meetings open, lets see. In the meantime we travel a lot for work anyway, and used to live in different cities for a while, like in Paris or Madrid.
Your work has a very strong connection to nature. Is this a conscious creative choice or just part of who you both are?
We both are from small cities where nature is just something you are surrounded by all the time. Not only does it genuinely inspire us, but also it is a place where we find harmony and peace. But over the years nature has changed around us. The Carpathian mountains we used to see 10 years ago are absolutely not the same as those we see now, it concerns us a lot to see how mountain villages became cities and how people intrude into territories that were meant to be wild.
With that in mind, how do you go about choosing your locations?
It’s a long process of traveling into the unknown. It really takes a lot of time and energy to get to them, actually. Shooting a project in the US, for example, we had to drive 6,000 km – not only did it take us more than a month, it was also full of adventurous vibes (read dangers).
Is there an element in nature you’d strongly connect your work with?
All elements are important and connected with each other. Even Tania and Roman are of two different elements actually (fire and earth), but only together they are powerful.
There are a lot of Instagram videos showing you guys riding through the wilderness on motorbikes. What’s your favourite place to ride off-road in Ukraine?
The higher above the sea level the better. (That must be mountains?) We like the view, and when the eyes can see a vast and thriving nature around overall.
It feels like the world is in a liminal state at the moment – at some threshold approaching the hyperreality, or even unreality suggested in your work. Has your creative process been affected by this?
Oh yes, but when on one hand we had to socialise a bit less due to quarantine measures, we found our escape in creating new works, and this year we created more photographs than any other year before. We compensated for the uncertain times by being hyper productive. We also collaborated with Burberry recently, shot a campaign for Ruslan Baginskiy, and just got our book published by Louis Vuitton [Fashion Eye of Ukraine] – it all kept us busy a lot as well.
How did the collaboration with SHOHEI come about?
It is a very interesting experience as SHOHEI’s mission is to create eco-conscious contemporary collections and it speaks to us a lot. So for shooting we used natural elements that would give a distinctive link to sustainability.
SYNCHRODGS also do a charity. Could you let us know more about this project and how it started and works?
Crystaltaniais our 100% charitable project, a jewellery brand, but also a hobby that gives us opportunity to make the world a little bit of a better place. All jewellery pieces are made out of the beads we collect while traveling all over the world.
We always select different ways to spend money for charity. Thanks to this project we regularly buy games for development, toys, books, sport goods, kitchenware, warm clothes and many more things for kids with mental disabilities living in far villages. The other times we buy out and rescue animals: we did it with some birds in Thailand [where they were in captivity for birdsong competitions], or some years ago we bought out six foxes from poachers who were going to kill them for fur. Now our six fluffies live with an animal rescue team, have their cozy home, food and lots of love.
The next thing we plan is buying Christmas presents for kids from orphanages, you can also take part!
Finally, do you think that art and fashion have the power to change our relationship with nature, or at least the way we think about it?
We do think so. In fact we think many people need this new approach – being brought up with love and respect for nature via art and message behind it.
Text & Interview by P. Marcus Browne
Tania wearing the CRYSTALTANIA jewelry
Tania in the SHOHEI Kyo Coat
SHOHEI Campaign by SYNCHRODOGS