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What’s behind Zwyrtech? A Fun Conversation on Alchemy, Treasure Hunts and Youtube Tutorials
NCO 116

N: Hey Dominik, how’s it going? I remember stumbling across your work a few years ago.. I believe it was a series of leather belts with insects encased in resin! Just for fun, let's start our interview with that. Where does your interest in insects and their preservation come from?

D: Oh, insects are just incredible, aren't they? Their bodies are like natural armor. They're probably the closest thing to robots in the natural world, yet they also feel like blueprints for everything extraterrestrial, don’t they? I’ve always been intrigued by how fascinating and slightly unsettling they are.

I used to spend hours in biology class just staring at them. Then one day, I saw them at a flea market and thought, I want to make it something more than a paperweight.

N: I understand you grew up in Katowice, Poland. Can you share a bit about your childhood there? Are there any elements of Polish culture, history, or folklore incorporated into your work?

D: Yes, it's actually Siemianowice - smaller and far more conservative town, right next to Katowice.

Growing up, I was surrounded by post-communist era treasures and all that's tied to coal mining culture, including some really interesting architecture.

From decorative brick buildings covered in grime, to innovations inspired by Corbusier, scattered throughout the city. There's plenty to love in Katowice, especially for someone who appreciates good cinema and electronic music, but for me, it's all about the thrift shops. They're everywhere, and you never know what you find, it costs pennies, and I call it freedom. Every trip there is like a challenge, it's all weird and imperfect, let's see what you can do with this.

N: There is something undeniably medieval about your visual identity. For some reason the word that comes to mind is "alchemy". Am I on the right track with that? Is there a specific time period that fuels your creativity?

D: It's interesting that you mentioned it! I've actually been delving into Carl Jung's notes on alchemy lately. I can't give you my full thoughts just yet, but I believe that every good design taps into the collective unconscious, steering clear of direct symbolism.

The real challenge is to evoke the right emotions without explicitly defining them.

Since symbols often evolve with time, I prefer to create designs that capture attention and leave the interpretation up to you. I think it's important for everyone to find their own meaning in symbols.

N: There's also a romantic, almost storybook feel to what you do. Does that resonate with who you are? Are you a romantic at heart?

D: Haha, yes, I do have a flair for the dramatics, and romance certainly plays a role in that. But I also believe in maintaining a coherent theme, just being consistent.

N: Over time I have seen you become more and more proficient at metalwork. I am pretty sure you also mentioned somewhere that you are fully self-taught. What was your experience learning to work with such a complex, and sometimes dangerous, material?

D: Absolutely, I'm one of those 'learned it from YouTube' types. You start with one video, and next thing you know, you're hours deep in a skill-building binge.

The best part is that these online geeky gurus are usually way more openminded and focused on problem solving than a traditional teacher who'd have you buy a whole toolbox before getting your hands dirty.

It's all about trial and error - I think that when you approach problems with a beginner mindset you can surprise yourself with the effect and something you can really call your own. However, I'm extremely grateful for all my friends in the industry and the professionals who've helped me with larger projects.

N: Thanks for chatting with us, Dominik. What are you looking forward to achieving in the near future and maybe a bit further down the line?

D: This year, my goal is to break out of the jewelry box I've found myself in. Looking at the bigger picture, I'm excited about the prospect of collaborating with artists from different domains than fashion, to step out of my comfort zone for a little while, and bring someone else's idea to life.

Images courtesy of Dominik Zwyrtech
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