On his website, Val Bochkov's CV is nearly obscured behind a photo of him; one arm is outstretched, the other clutches a surfboard. Wearing sunglasses and a broad grin, he looks like a man on top of his game. The cities superimposed on the red board indicate an international trajectory for the Russian-born artist: Moscow, Amsterdam, London, New York, Washington, D.C. The list does not include Corinth, Vt. — but perhaps it will one day.
Like many an urbanite, Bochkov aspires to live in Vermont — and sort of does. As often as he can, he tells Seven Days, he and his wife retreat from their home in Washington, D.C., to their house in tiny Corinth. "We are still in the process of moving," Bochkov says. "We have been visiting Vermont for 10 years and love it."
Bochkov arrived in the U.S. just 15 years ago. He already had a richly developed career, designing and illustrating for magazines and books, art directing for publications and "exhibitions around the world," he says. Bochkov was the creative director for Grey in Moscow, and then in New York City at the global advertising and marketing firm's headquarters.
He is now the principal in his own firm, Val Bochkov Studio, in D.C., and has added to the résumé production work for Discovery Communications and other "TV visualizations," Bochkov sums up. Over the phone, you can almost see his dismissive wave of the hand. For all his accomplishments, the artist is down-to-earth and friendly.
As the samples on his site indicate, Bochkov's artwork spans styles from stunningly classical to neo-socialist-realism to jaunty cartoons that call to mind the work of Vermont artist Hal Mayforth. The creation that caught our eye for this week's cover story ("Selling Sanders"), though, was his image of Bernie on a bill. Sen. Sanders is the latest on the roster of Bochkov's New World Money series. "Our money has let us down," says a video about the series on the website of his artist's rep, Donna Rosen. Alternatively, Bochkov's "money" features the faces of individuals he considers "our true heroes."
These are predominantly pop-cultural celebrities: from Billie Holiday to Bono, Kurt Vonnegut to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Marilyn Monroe to Helen Mirren. The combination of these familiar faces and Bochkov's elegant graphics makes for compelling, collectible artwork — and, indeed, Rosen's site offers them for sale. As for the artist himself, "I'm no salesman," he says.
A friend in Burlington hawked some of his works at the South End Art Hop earlier this month and told Seven Days that the image of the Vermont presidential candidate proved most popular. Given the senator's long-standing position about economic inequality and the corruption of the wealthy, perhaps it's about time Bernie had his face on a bill.
The original print version of this article was headlined "From Russia With ... Money"