In conversation with Marjan Bp, originally from Tehran, Iran, Marjan now works in Milan, Italy, as a freelance photographer, stylist and visual merchandiser.
Can you talk about your journey into or interest the arts?
Growing up in Tehran, I was always drawn to artistic visuals, mysterious movies and colours but never knew how to bring my interest into practice. When I was 15, I went to art school and studied fine arts, I have always been interested in surrealism and abstract art. I got incredibly fascinated with photography and different print techniques with hands. I loved the laboratory and bringing the photos into real life, that was when I started photography. A few years after my high school, I moved to Milan to pursue my passion in art in Brera Academy of the fine arts university and studied digital art. I learned how to merge technology with my photography and illustration.
Do you use a sketchbook? I’m interested in what a sketchbook means to you and your work?, or how people develop their ideas.
I don’t use a traditional sketchbook at the moment, instead, I have multiple boxes in my work room that I categorise into the things I love. These things could be anything from images, buttons, my personal accessories and newspapers. I kind of go on instinct to try and find something that will trigger an idea. Sometimes I paint and sometimes I take photos and one of these will be the starting point of my journey. When I collage I have all the materials around me and I combine them together like an orchestra conductor.
Your work explores collage and animation, but also has a clear link to fashion, styling and photography. How do you see these sitting together in your practice?
In my collage work process I know that I am about to take off but I’m not sure where I’m about to go, this excites me a lot. I learned how to work with animation during university, on the other hand, I love clothes, vintage and styling, so I am drawn to fashion by my nature. Fashion is not only clothing to me, it’s an exciting story that I get to say everyday to myself. I create and recreate my style and express myself even during this& pandemic at home. Styling has helped me to develop my collage skills to some extent. I learned and understood the layout with different materials through a lens of fashion and of course the lens of my own camera when I take photos. I am also interested in juxtaposition.
What are you exploring though your collage work, both personally and also what you want to convey to the world?
I am a photographer, stylist and visual merchandiser but doing collage is the only place that I can bring all of this together and feel aligned with my creative spirit. My work is a combination of my interests and experiences during my life and I would like to connect my personal life to the world that I am not familiar with, the world that I get to create. I want to create and learn at the same time. I want to feel that I am part of my work. What I mean by ‘I’ is my story, my mood, my feelings and the world around me. We live in a world that is not easy to separate things from each other. We have access to an unlimited amount of information on the internet, we are impacted by the same sort of problems but sometimes it feels that there are gaps in our individual life. I like to fill these gaps with a bit of mystery. I use everything to connect my real world to my artistic vision but I am not trying to convey so much meaning at the same time. I would like people to see my emotions but sometimes it is not easy to articulate how I feel so I don’t expect anything.
I am exploring a sense of individuality and things that I can relate to. I am trying to tell my story with simplicity and ease. You don’t have to know too much to understand my work.
Can you talk about your process of working. How do you work, how often, is there a particular pattern?
I work every day but I don’t work the same way every time and certainly I don’t force myself to finish it in one day. Saying that, I lose a sense of time when I work and get lost in my ideas. I usually start my work with a background and this is very important to me. If I decide to use one of my abstract paintings and set a tone to my collage, the selection will become more restrictive. I really like the colours and the way they are painted. I love how colours manifest their way into the artwork. I surround myself with my magical boxes and I use simple and widely available tools: cutter knife, glue stick, spatula, ruler, tweezers etc. I keep materials that seem interesting to me. I create multiple works at the same time. I also often use cut-pasted collages that I have already made as a material then let everything else unfold naturally. My work is mixed media but I make everything by hand and photograph them if I need to add a twist or animation on the top of it then I use Photoshop. During this quarantine time, I worked more than before and some of my ideas flourished in this time.
Do you find the process of creating work relaxing or therapeutic? I’ve become increasingly interested in the relationship of the sketchbook and the work to the artist.
Yes, I absolutely do. I have a fantastic relationship with my work. My work process is a non-judgemental time where I allow myself to mix all my skills together. There is zero resistance when I work and I feel fulfilment in every second of it. My work time is ‘me’ time and I choose to work and take care of my mental health. I keep up with my health and fitness and I work creatively to kind of relax myself. It is my way of meditating.