A snake with flower-patterned skin, lipstick shaped like bullets, and a pink coffin adorned with the Channel logo. These are just a few of the photographs by Mexican artist Paúl Fuentes that you can see on the artist’s site and Instagram account.
Paúl defines his work as modern Pop Art, working carefully in postproduction to create curious photomontages where ordinary objects or animals are reinvented with different shapes and textures or impossibly mixed. His motto is to take the subjects he photographs out of context as much as possible.
Surrealism, impacting visuals, and the color pink can be found throughout Paúl’s work and they help him awaken new emotions to free us from the boredom of a society saturated by advertising.
At So Catchy! Where Fashion Begins we talked to him recently and this is what he had to say.
SO CATCHY!: How would you define your work?
PAUL FUENTES: As Modern Pop Art, I use the basic principles of pop art and adapt them to new technology, different concepts of consumerism and, a new public, of course.
SC!: Your photos are very suggestive, full of color and combinations of subject matter that seem impossible. Where do you get your ideas, where do you find inspiration?
PF: It comes from all sides, from everyday objects. My source of inspiration is every moment, it’s difficult to think that there is a specific time or method, rather I just need to keep my eyes open. I like to play with the scale of objects, to join things together in an impossible way, to play with fact and fiction, to confuse, to take out of context, to make things useless or to make food items inedible, sometimes even to dress up animals and make them surreal. But my inspiration comes from boredom in society. I’m always looking for something boring to give it a twist, so people can discover the magic of simplicity, that feeling you get when you see something for the first time.
SC!: What techniques do you use to create your photomontages? What’s your process like and what tools do you use?
PF: I use Photoshop, many times I shoot objects myself and complement them with retouching, or I use stock images. It’s a long process, and very repetitive but I pass the time deciding on colors, cleaning surfaces, etc. My work uses too much retouching.
SC!: Besides selling the your pieces, do you, or do you plan to do campaigns for any labels? Any fashion labels?
PF: I’ve done some campaigns, but I’ve mostly worked on the publishing side, doing illustrations for magazines, and I’ve shown my work at film festivals like the Tribeca Film Festival and music festivals, like the one in Glastonburry, and some album artwork. As for fashion, I’ve worked with a few fashion designers to create patterns and pins, and I’ve done some content for Instagram for interesting labels like Living Royal Socks. You can also find my pieces on all sorts of products and in different stores.
SC!: Tell us about the Channel Coffin. Where did you get the idea and what motivated you to make the piece?
PF: I was simply inspired to take consumerism to its maximum level of expression. I think we should all go out in style.
SC!: Video has begun to dominate the world of images, think fashion films in the world of fashion. How do you think photography has reinvented itself to, or should, to fulfill today’s demands?
PF: I don’t think photography will ever go out of style, because if captures moments and lasts longer in your mind than a video does. A photograph is something that you can carry with you, and share easily. But I think do think that there is an excess of advertising with video and photography and it all becomes trash. We’re in a period where we need to understand that less is more. Some labels use their ads and photographs simply to sell when they should also keep in mind that the new way to sell is by using emotions. The vast majority of ads and photographs out there today express no emotion; they’re generic.
SC!: Name a photographer who you see as a one of the greats.
PF: David LaChapelle. He’s the photographer who has had the most influence on my career. He’s also shot a ton of celebrities, does amazing ad work with a good sense of irony, sarcasm and color. He achieves basically what every artist wants, a singular and recognizable style. And the most incredible thing about his work is the immense work that goes into the photography part and how little postproduction he uses.
SC!: And a fashion photographer who you especially like.
PF: Helmut Newton has an incredible body of work. Personally, I think he set the rules for the game for fashion photography.
SC!: Your next challenge is …
PF: I want to develop a technique to be able to give my work the essence of the Renaissance. I want to use the Fibonacci number, with dark colors and perfect geometry.
SC!: A dream you’ve yet to achieve…
PF: To be on the cover of an internationally important magazine.
SC!: What’s that photo that you always want to take but haven’t yet?
PF: There’s no photo that I haven’t been able to capture yet but I’d like to improve my abilities with melting objects.
Photos courtesy of Paúl Fuentes
You can follow Paúl on Instagram @paulfuentes_design
Translation and layout by Michael Padilla