In our next EXPOSED interview series, we introduce Kazakh Visual Artist; Constantin Prozorov, exploring the merge between Fashion and Art.
Who is Constantin?
Growing up in Kazakhstan, I was lucky enough to be wholly immersed into a very open and multicultural society from an early age. My parents nurtured and encouraged the interests of my brother and I – which for myself was primarily Fashion Design and Architecture, and later in Fashion. In the late 90s my family decided to settle down in a small town in Southern Germany. For a creative and ambitious person such as myself, the small town life didn‘t exactly have much to offer. So at the age of 18 I relocated to Munich, where I studied for four years at the German Master School for Fashion, with a Communication and Fashion Design degree.
These studies opened up a new world for me – and most importantly, they showed me that Fashion can be more than just Design.
Not much longer after this I decided to travel to Paris, one of the major artistic junctions for Fashion and Art. Here I had the opportunity to work for French Haute Couture designer, Gustavo Lins – moving over eventually to Conde Nast publishing house as a stylist and correspondent, where I obtained first hand experiences behind the scenes of how high-fashion editorials function.
Four years ago I moved to the bustling hub of Berlin, following the call of Wolfgang Joop, the founder of the luxury and cosmetics brand JOOP! who hired me to work as his design assistant for his new label Wunderkind. The technique of collage has always fascinated me, and I realised very early that it could be a new form of Fashion Communication.
When I established my own business as a collage artist, I was lucky enough to receive the immediate support from a number of well-respected Italian luxury brands. Two years ago, I combined the element of animation with the technique of collage and created a new and interesting visual art form.
Today, I see myself as a visual artist who tells surreal stories in collaboration with luxury brands.
What does it mean to be a Visual Artist? and what will your career look like in the fashion industry?
For me it means being an artist whose art explains itself without many words. From the start it was very important for me to create art that crosses language and cultural barriers. I want to be perceived as an artist who builds a bridge between art and fashion and creates a new medium for communication.
If you could work with any designer or fashion house in the world, which/who would it be and why?
CHANEL, BURBERRY and LOUIS VUITTON. In my opinion they are traditional luxury fashion houses that have kept their style and heritage over the decades and still remain very successful. This would be an interesting challenge for me as an artist and would also give me the opportunity to create something completely new.
Your work has a strong focus on the incorporation of Art and Fashion. What drove you to incorporate art into fashion and how has your work accomplished this?
Since I got the opportunity to work with the best in the fashion industry right after my studies, I immediately sensed the demand for something new. It was immediately clear to me that collage making would develop into a new form of visual communication in the fashion industry, because it requires far less budget and you can begin to work on it with existing footage. The technique of collage gives me the possibility to go beyond my imagination and fantasy and to create something new with what is already there.
A few years back brands like LV released “Masters totes” collection with Jeff Koons including Monet, Boucher, Gauguin, Manet Poussin and Turner. What are your views on the incorporation of art into fashion? What about the fact that by doing so they are profiting from a well-known artist, do you see a problem with that? Or is it an “Omen” to their work?
The collaboration between Fashion and Art is not a 21st century invention. If we go back to the beginnings of modern Fashion Design at the end of the 19th century, the first Fashion Designers like Paul Poiret and Charles Frederick Worth were artists. Then we have the famous collaboration between Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dali in the 1930s, or the collections of Yves Saint Laurent, who understood his designs as canvas and so implied the works of Picasso, Mondrian and Georges Braque on it. We forget too quickly that fashion design was born from craftsmanship and art. So I find it very natural when fashion and art come together in a symbiosis.
As a seasoned visual artist who has had the opportunity to collaborate with brands such as Gucci, Valentino and Marc Jacobs, what would you say has helped your career to gain the recognition of such renounced brands?
The zeitgeist, the ability to create at the right moment what most people want to see or feel and the love for my work.
My collages are my worlds to which I invite everyone into, an exchange is created between the viewer and the work.
I believe that if you really enjoy your work, the others will feel it too. For me this is the authenticity, I don't bend myself or my work, it is the way I feel it.
Moncler / Marc Jacobs / Gucci
What were some of the challenges you faced when you started and what helped you overcome them?
The fast paced and deadline driven pressure in the industry. As an artist I need a certain amount of time to create high quality work and so my first challenge was to gain the confidence to have the freedom of saying to my clients how much time I required to produce the work. I have now gained and practiced this freedom through confidence in my work and reliability.
It is very important that you stay authentic and have fun at work. Never try to compare yourself with established artists, brands or designers, rather write your own history and rules. Find a niche where you can be unique.
How can technology enhance the possibilities to merge fashion and art?
Through interdisciplinary cooperation. The new technologies are very important, especially in connection with design, art and craftsmanship. About two years ago I mixed the classic technique of collage with animation, creating a new and interesting art form of communication that has never been used in that way before in fashion.
How can the incorporation of art and fashion serve as a form of “Artivism”? For example, consider the work that Marina Testino has accomplished.
"Artivisim" is important. But every artist or creative person has to decide for himself if he wants to include it in his work or not. In my opinion "Artivism" requires a lot of knowledge and sensitivity for the history and the time we are living in. We tend to look at everything from one perspective, the perspective we grew up in, by which I mean the perspective of the culture and society we live in.
Giambattista Valli Gucci Sneakers
Art in its original form vs. digital art influences the experience of their audiences. In the same way you intend to bridge Art and Fashion, GLITCH aims to merge these experiences through its print editions by maintaining the value of a physical form of art, while enhancing it with digital technologies such as AR. How would you enhance the experience of our readers if you could integrate technology into your visual art?
There are no rules. Just try it out and see what works and usually from the uncertain comes the newest. Virtual reality is of course the future, but the physical form will not be replaced by it completely but rather gain a new nostalgic and emotional value.
With my work, which is mostly surreal and partly ironic, I want to give the viewer the opportunity to escape reality for a moment. We take everything much too seriously and have forgotten how to be children and to look at the world with open eyes. I try to give this possibility to everyone, even if it is only for a short moment.