Émir Shiro doesn’t perceive beauty as something fragile or innocent; it lays somewhere in between what’s playful and what’s clever. And it’s provocative, it’s daring and intelligent. Some of this French artist’s posts have been denounced by Instagram users a couple of times, and instead of backing up, he claims that censorship it’s the coal that fuels and lights his fire. Or as he says, censorship has “become a playground” for his art.
Emir, tell us a little bit about what you do and when did your passion for graphic design first start.
I’m a designer, creative director and freelance artist. I work as a freelance for myself and also for different brands from the fashion world. I started creating my first graphic work at the end of my studies in art school, and I started publishing them on Instagram around 2014.
I find your artwork provocative, witty and clever. It’s your turn now. Could you describe your collages in three words/concepts?
I would also say that my art is provocative. Then, I would say that it is politically incorrect, and I would end up with aesthetic.
I’ve seen you say that you find inspiration in the human body as well as in pop culture codes, icons and references. Where else do you find inspiration?
Now more than ever before, inspiration is captured from everywhere. I’m very sensitive to music, cinema, fashion, the body, and even the excitement of the street. Inspiration is everywhere; I even find inspiration after a discussion. Nothing is trivial or insignificant.
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However, in many of your collages, you also use classical references such as the Mona Lisa, Eros and Psyche, the Virgin Mary, etc.
Yes, it is true. And I think it is, unconsciously, a legacy of all my years studying at art school.
Who are your main referents though?
I have a lot of references, from David Hockney to David LaChapelle, George Condo and many, many more.
You’ve previously said that Féline is your favourite piece. What makes this collage outstand among the others?
Féline is indeed the one I prefer out of all my pieces since it was the collage that helped me create an artistic identity.
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What is the creative process you follow? Would you say your compositions are rather calculated or out of randomness?
I do not necessarily have a specific creative process since I do leave a lot of freedom on the subject. Sometimes, the ideas are already in my head, and sometimes, the randomness of the photographic assemblage allows me to create very cool visuals.
I have to ask you about censorship since Instagram once closed your account due to the explicit content you published. Isn’t it bittersweet, both a privilege and a curse, that the Internet gives you visibility and limits your creativity at the same time?
I’ve come to believe that censorship in some specific social media networks has become a playground for my art. I have learnt to play with certain limits and these are now an engine to my creativity.
Have you ever had to change or refused to use a picture you initially wanted to use fearing the collage would be deleted?
Yes! Especially now that social media (Instagram) has become a really useful communication tool for me. In the past, many of my posts were deleted by this famous social network, but I am much more moderate now when it comes to the content I use, including nudity – which has also allowed me to work on other themes and focus on other topics, so it’s a win-win for everyone! (Laughs)
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Do you struggle with restrictions and censorship, or would you say that finding the right balance between nudity and seduction is a challenge that rather motivates you?
I would like to believe that, nowadays, I’ve learnt to master censorship, since my work still exists today all over the Internet.
Some describe you as a visual and sound artist. Can I ask you about this musical facet? Do you feel curious as well about other creative outlets?
For many years, I had a musical facet that was way more prominent than the visual one which I’m known for now. But today, I consider myself a visual artist who’s constantly experimenting with many things, such as textile, which I’m sure will be my next creation.
What are your expectations and hopes for the future?
I really hope for my art to have a life long enough to multiply the collaborations with the people I admire, and as I said previously, I would really like to start designing clothes; I just love fashion too much!
To end, could you name three visual artists whose work you admire at the moment and that we should start following?
There are a lot of artists I like very much and that I think you should be following or keeping up with their work, such as Tom Galle, Tony Futura, Virgil Abloh, Pref, Andria Darius Pancrazi, Johanna Tordjman, etc. And I’m probably forgetting to mention a lot of them.
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