The use, meaning and symbolism of colours are some of the most important elements to her work. Previously a fashion designer form a commercial brand in her hometown Rio de Jainero, Carolina Mizrahi moved to London to study and fulfil one of her dreams: living abroad. Now, she is a photographer, art director, set designer and stylist, which make her happy enough to stay in the British capital. We talk to her about the power of colour and how our choices lead us to happiness.
Who is Carolina Mizrahi?
I am still discovering myself. I love to experiment new flavours, visit new places, I can be quite social but I also enjoy staying by myself, and I absolutely love to travel – probably my favourite thing in the world. I can be very detailed-oriented, really critical to myself, I laugh a lot but I have a strange sense of humour. I like to exercise and eating well makes me feel good mentally and visually. I enjoy being disciplined, but I also like to break ‘the rules’. I love my job. I love music and dance. I don’t have many friends, but I have really good long friendships that don’t change over distance and time. I believe everyone has a good side. I like to look at people in their eyes and find out what we have in common.
Tell us your story. How did you end up being a photographer?
I used to work as a fashion designer in Rio de Janeiro for a very commercial brand. I’ve always been really curious and done many courses during my life. One of the courses I took was about photography, it was meant to be just a hobby although I was extremely unhappy working as a fashion designer – and photography gave me the opportunity to create a world where I could be creative. Moving forward, I travelled to London and met a friend who was starting a course at London College of Fashion. I realised that this could be an opportunity to live abroad and also to develop my photographic skills. I came back to Brazil and told my parents I was moving to London. They didn’t really believe it, but one year later I started my course.
Have your studies in fashion design influenced the way you shoot today?
I wouldn’t say my studies in fashion design specifically, but I definitely believe that the amount of visual and theoretical information I absorbed during those more ten years working on a creative environment have shaped my vision and aesthetics as a visual artist.
What lessons did you learn from London College of Fashion?
The most important lesson I learnt was related to cultural studies. The course made me read a lot and I was very interested in theories related to the representation of women in media, gender stereotypes and beauty rituals. Those theories have influenced a lot of my works and still do.
Do you plan moving back to Rio in the future? What cities would inspire you to live and why?
It’s hard to think of my life and don’t think about moving back to Rio at some point, although I don’t think about it now and I don't really know if that would ever happen. Maybe I keep this possibility in mind because it’s just too difficult to not consider it. I love London, and I wanted to live here regardless; the course was more like an excuse to live here, I think. I love the cultural diversity and the architectural contrasts of this city. I could also live in Los Angeles, great weather and atmosphere.
Do you have any mentor? Who and what else influence your work?
No, I don’t have any mentor and I never really assisted anyone. My work is a mix of different influences from illustration, fine art, theoretical texts, movies and things I have experienced.
Most of your works are really marked by your personal style, even when you have to complete a commercial inquiry. How do you merge your personal style with the one that a brand or a magazine expects from you? Could you please describe the process?
My process always starts by researching the theme and the client, afterwards I will sketch some ideas and send few visuals to the client. From that point we can start adjusting details. Many times in the middle of the process I might come back to research in order to develop a specific detail. Depending on the medium I am working on we might test some ideas too. I am very true to the things I like and somehow this ends up being naturally clear on the visuals and artworks I create.
By the way, your works embrace brilliant colours. Are these colours part of the message you would like to share? Is there a colour you’ve never worked with?
I enjoy working with a controlled palette of colours at the moment. Most of the times colours are part of an elaborated choice of signs I combine and contrast with the visuals I create. Each colour carries social meanings attached to it and I like to play with it in order to convey my messages. Most of the things you see on my work are carefully thought to be where they are. There are so many shades I still want to explore.
Tell us about your series entitled Avatar Collection. What is the message behind these photographs?
On avatar collection I was interested in how people can create a different persona online. How everything is beautiful and perfect. Although I also looked into the sadness behind a culture where people mainly focus on living their idealised self on a virtual world.
Can you speak about the role of women in your work?
I like to represent women respectfully. I try to avoid perpetuating stereotypes. I like to bring diversity to my work, different types of beauty, races and body types. I believe the more we see things, the more they become normalised to us. I hope other women feel inspired by their courage and self-esteem like I do.
What are the projects you are working on now?
I am working on my on-going portraiture project, which I want to transform in a book in the future. Also working in different commissions such as set design for a window display, art direction for a music video and a fine art photographic series for an art gallery. I have a new shows coming up in London where I am working on a new installation and will present a small retrospective of my work too.