Mariam Kutidze is a young Georgian image maker based in Milan. Stylist at the beginning, switched to image making, following her passion for photography and graphic design. Mariam took a three-year course at Marangoni University in Milan and later got fully involved in image-making. Recently she completed an online course in Photography: mastered with Nick Knight and for the future she is planning to have her own photo studio. Mariam's interest in fashion and graphic design formed her particular style and her work transforms simple photography to art. Thereby, experimenting with images and the process of retouching, is what Mariam enjoys the most.
Who is Mariam Kutidze?
A Milan based, Georgian image-maker. From my very childhood I was quite keen on drawing, cutting out photographs, making various diaries. Consequently when I had to choose my future career, considering advice of my family members, as well as my aspiration, I decided to study in the field of art. In 2014, I completed a three-year course in the Istituto Marangoni in Milan, and received a Fashion Styling certificate. The same year, I graduated from Tbilisi State Academy of Arts, where I studied at a distance and obtained a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design. Thereby, while gaining knowledge in two different fields I realized that what I enjoyed the most was retouching and playing with the images, that are at the core of my photography work. It all revealed while working on various fashion projects. To clarify what I really like to do today is called image-making, meaning that, I take photographs at the studio and then graphically retouch them. I love to work on my computer in tranquility and peace, where I bring the images to the perfect condition, that I pursue all of the times
From fashion styling to image making, how did you come to that decision?
While studying at Marangoni, we were frequently asked to do collaborations with photographers, makeup artists, models etc. I was having a really hard time in finding a photographer who would understand my vision and the things I wanted to get from them, so after a while I thought that I could give it a try and take pictures by myself, so that I could manage all the shooting process autonomously. At that time I did not have a professional camera, but after I got involved with this I upgraded it and started taking shooting process much more seriously. Last year, I took an online course of Photography, Mastered with Nick Knight, thanks to whom I got invaluable experience in the field. Generally, I don’t emphasize much on technical details while shooting, I don’t like to give many directions to the models like how to pose or act. I do it naturally, but the moment I sit in front of my computer, all the inspiration, ideas and fantasy come together and the image-making process begins. I am creating a virtual world from plain studio pictures and it’s where photography transforms into something more artistic.
Your images are perfectionist, models are robotic, themes are futuristic. What’s your niche?
Everything you see on my images, reflects my inner self and the emotions I am experimenting. The perfectionism and an urge to idealism is one of my personal features, I am always trying to reach the point where things are perfect. Sometimes this perfectionism is becoming artificial in a way, the models are firm, everything around them is static, polished and staged. After having finished the photography course with Nick Knight he gave me a feedback, where he said that my works were too controlled. “Let chaos happen” he said. I am working on that and am trying to get more thrilled and emotional while shooting but at the same time I like to have everything perfectly managed, so I am in between those two and hope at some point I will find a balance. (laughs)
How do you choose the colors and the visual effects?
Playful, naive, childish, clumsy idealistic, anti-naturalistic, focused and ironic. These are the keywords. I paint since I was a child and now, when I look at my early drawings, I see I have been using funny combinations of colors and it has not changed ever since. The color gamma, the styling, the sparkles and the glows in my pieces, all of that represents who I am. I like to dress in the flashy, vibrant colors and my imagination is pretty colorful. As for visual effects, I never plan them in advance, everything happens in front of my laptop. I of course visualize stuff before but the main decisions are taken during the post-production process.
You make collages for beauty and health section at Nargis Magazine, Azerbaijan. What is beauty for you?
Our collaboration started years ago, when the beauty and health editor of Nargis, Leila Imanova, asked me to do some collages for an article. I interpreted the topic of the article my way and it worked for them. From that time on, I work on various articles and am creating related collages. I take some keywords and the main aspects from the article and emphasize on them through image making. When I work on collages, I try to exit my comfort zone and make more commercial stuff. Still, you can see the perfectionist graphic attitude of mine even in those collages. Generally, beauty for me doesn't have certain limits, I prefer childish, natural and simple appearance, so the models I choose are mostly my friends or friends of my friends.
Tell me about your projects and fashion editorials.
The latest project I worked on is called One of a Kind, a beauty project for No Name Magazine. I collaborated with an Italian makeup artist, Serena Palma, who is an amazing professional. Her artistic approach towards makeup and my post-production style is defined by this project almost by 100%. I could say that we did our best to represent how we see and perceive aesthetics. Another project I worked on is an Adidas campaign brief that was one of the briefs on Nick Knight course. I had to research the brand and create a campaign. I had total freedom and a room to think of interesting ideas. In the end, I created a colorful and joyful campaign involving Adidas sneakers. I would also like to mention a project I worked on for an online fashion editorial for Vogue talents with a very talented stylist, Nazerke Zhuban. It is called a Dandelion wish, showing the naive story about the girl and her daydreams.
Who and what do you like to photograph?
I don’t like taking pictures outside, in the streets, or nature, I prefer shooting in the studio. In the studio everything is in my hands, I can set the lights, create an environment and make lots of experiments, while outside I am dependent on external things like weather, location, light, etc. So I prefer to work indoors and create my own scenography. Even my everyday pictures on Instagram are kind of anti-natural, I focus on colors, I work on images after I take them and am making them more static and portrait-looking. Generally, I love taking pictures of people, I always try to have human beings in my photographs.
One of your project is called Nostalgia, where we see two girls dressed like pioneers from soviet era. According to you, how has the fashion changed since then?
I worked on this project with a fashion stylist, graduating from Marangoni. The topic was Soviet Union and the soviet style. We used red neckerchiefs (which were compulsory to wear for all the pioneers back then), checkered skirts and white shirts. This is how our grandparents used to dress as kids and we kind of brought it back. But to be honest, I don’t think much has changed in fashion since then. Fashion is always repeating itself and almost every designer recreates and takes inspiration from the old times. Soviet style had a long lasting impact on how people dress in the Eastern European countries even today, it is authentic and tells a story from the past.
What about your country, Georgia? Is the image-making industry developed there?
Nowadays, I would say that London is one of the places where image making is fully appreciated and understood. In Milan it’s in the first stage but there is much interest and curiosity towards this profession. In Georgia, it is something totally new, people don’t have much information about image-making as it is less commercial and is perceived as a part of photography, but there are many talented young people from my country,who are passionate about this industry. In today’s digital era, print is almost disappearing so I think more people will get involved.
What do you plan for the future?
I would like to own my personal photo studio. Meanwhile, as most magazines, photographers and artists I’d love to collaborate with work and live in London. So I am thinking to move there at some point in my life.