For artist and photographer Rosanna Jones the act of destroying and reconstructing an image can be both graceful and therapeutic. The mixed-media artist proves the existence of beauty behind physically dismantling photography under one’s own terms, a practice that has resulted in her own trademark aesthetic development and evolution over the past decade.
While blending art, photography and illustration in the same piece, the London based creative celebrates texture shape and form without hesitating to mix multiple techniques – the visual, the digital and the manual. “I love taking images apart; reconstructing them, changing them up to create something that is part confusing, part satisfying,” Jones explains.

Growing up in a family open to artistic impulses, Rosanna Jones has always been passionate about creating with her hands. At the age of 14, she discovered photography and started mixing both of her passions, the visual and the manual creation. Today, her ability to reflect herself through her work has led her to produce art that is unique – in times when it’s difficult to be –, and to build a professional career from it, collaborating with well-known names in the fashion and music industry.

Photographing her subjects is only the start of a creative process that involves cutting printed images, tearing them apart, glueing, burning or even painting them. A cathartic performance of physical interaction between the artist and its creation, allowing Jones to defy the flat image, and overcome its bi-dimensional form.
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You’re a photographer, painter and visual artist, when did you find out you could mix these disciplines? And how do you manage to mix them skillfully?
When I was studying Photography at school, we were given a project to physically destroy our images, and I often think of that series as the catalyst of my career today. I really fell in love with the physicality of destroying and reconstructing photographs through ripping, burning, bleaching painting… It sparked a new passion for experimenting with different ways to alter a printed image by hand.
I’ve spent a decade working and evolving in this style, so the execution and skill level has developed over time. As with any creative process, there’s always hits and misses, but I always value the pieces that go wrong just as much as the successes. In fact, I’ve kept a huge collection of my ‘failed’ experiments over the years, and often reach to old pieces to incorporate into new work, or to look for inspiration when I’m lacking motivation.
Your work intends to go further than the two-dimensional form of images, instead, you experiment by cutting, ripping and even burning your photographs to create new pieces. How did you develop your current trademark style? What are your sources of inspiration for this phase of the production?
I’m never truly satisfied with a two-dimensional image. I think it’s because I’ve spent my whole life surrounded by images in some form – magazines, books, paintings, and now Instagram posts. We see hundreds, if not thousands, of images a day, and I’m just not confident that I can create an original two-dimensional image that hasn’t been made before. So, I like to alter my images, treating them as an object to be moulded or re-purposed, and my style has really developed over years of experimenting. I would spend hours trying to find new ways to manipulate prints physically, whether that involved burning them; scratching away the ink; sewing and weaving them together; ripping holes in them; painting them and so on.
Like many artists, I’m often inspired by all kinds of things, but visually I have a collection of inspirational images I’ve collected over the years that I always go back to when I’m feeling lost. I love lots of print artists, textile artists and sculptors. I’ll try my best not to look at too many other collage artists’ work, and instead seek inspiration from different art forms. One of my main visual influencers has always been Francis Bacon, whose paintings really resonate with me.
I’m curious about the technique you employ. Given that digital software such as Photoshop can achieve almost any visual effect – like the ripped paper or the burned corners –, I would like to know if your pieces are entirely physically intervened or do you also use digital tools along the process?
All the image treatments I do are done by hand, whether that’s tearing, burning, layering, folding and so on. I use Photoshop to tweak colours and tones, and then print out images to manipulate physically. The ease of recreating these effects digitally just doesn’t compare to the texture and authenticity you can create by doing it by hand, nor the enjoyment I get out of doing it. I’ve always found the process hugely therapeutic and it evokes a feeling that I can’t mirror through digital software.
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Let’s talk about your creative process, are your artworks the result of experimentation and spontaneity, or do you previously plan and sketch them out?
It really depends on the project, series or job I’m working on. In the majority of my personal work I try to let myself be as spontaneous as possible, often printing out a selection of images and just working on them with no restrictions.
When I first started working with mixed media I would cover my desk with printed images and let my ideas flow naturally, so it’s always nice to recreate this organic spontaneity. But when it comes to commercial work, I’ll sometimes be more structured and sketch out ideas. Sometimes I’ll mock up basic digital versions to play around with composition and scale when I’m working with a client as a way to get my ideas across in the development stages, without wasting too much time and paper.
You have worked with big fashion brands like Gucci or Philip Lim, and other recognisable names like Mercedes Benz and the band Panic at the Disco! Tell us about the process during these projects, were you free to fully create and direct each campaign/artwork?
With commercial work, it always just depends on the specific brief. Sometimes brands let me be totally free creatively, as my campaign with Phillip Lim and my work with Gucci Beauty. As long as the work fits within some minor guidelines, I was free to shoot the images and collage them however I wanted. I think when brands see my style they know that they’re not necessarily going to be able to create a strict plan of how images will end up looking visually, as there’s always an element of experimentation involved.
Of course, sometimes brands have a clearer idea of what they want, or maybe they’ve seen work I’ve done already which they like. And in a few cases, like the Panic at the Disco! and Mercedes Benz jobs, I was supplied the images to work on, rather than shooting them myself. This automatically takes a bit of the creative direction away as I’m hired as the collage artist, not the photographer, so my input starts from post-production. I’m lucky that I’ve never worked on a job where the client is really strict with the creative process, though, and I’ve always been allowed room to experiment and add my own twist to their ideas.
Who would you love to collaborate with in the future? What artists or brands would perfectly match your aesthetics?
Top of the dream bucket list is Fenty Beauty – I’m really keen to work on more beauty campaigns in general, as I’m far more of a portrait photographer, and I’m really passionate about portraying beauty in a new, deconstructed way. I’d love to combine brains with the likes of Glass Animals and Billie Eilish (I’m dreaming big!), both of whose aesthetics I’m obsessed with. As for brands, I’d love to continue working with luxury fashion and sportswear brands, but I’m also really passionate about small businesses, so I’m hoping to be doing some more campaign imagery ‘with a twist’ for indie brands soon.
I understand that part of your work reflects episodes of your life or personal experiences. To what extent is your artwork about you, and when about others? Is there any specific piece or project that describes you the most?
We definitely all carry a piece of us in the art we make, and my work has reflected me consciously and subconsciously over the years. The act of physically destroying images is a very tactile, tangible way to express myself, and as I said, it’s always a totally therapeutic process. Having said that, my work is definitely not all about me, and when I’m shooting another person, I’m trying to capture a piece of their character too. I’d say my Skin project is closest to home – I started it when I was around 18 and it’s all about insecurities, hiding behind masks and concealing yourself. It’s an ongoing series that has developed into a much more colourful, vibrant place, which I hope can reflect my growth. I’m still a guarded, shy person though, and I’m sure I’ll always relate to the person I was when I created those early pieces.
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As a fashion photographer, one tends to develop the habit of hiding imperfections and portraying beauty accordingly to the brand’s wishes. How does your work address this topic?
I was taught to heavily retouch while studying at university, but these days I like to do as little as possible – ideally not at all. Of course, some clients prefer heavier retouching to others, but I’ve not worked with anyone who was after something totally unrealistic, which is something that I don’t agree with and wouldn’t choose to portray in my work myself. I really love creating ‘anti-beauty’ portraits which flip beauty standards on their head. I think the heavily textured treatments I do distract the eye from noticing any so-called ‘imperfections’ that we’d normally be inclined to spot.
The past year represented a shift for the creative industry and affected many artists. Have you adapted to the new reality Covid-19 has brought? Did it affect your production?
As someone who often works as a ‘one-woman show’ myself, thankfully I haven’t found my process has been affected too drastically by Covid. In fact, I think brands and producers have been changing the way they source collaborators, and because a lot of my work can be done from home I’ve ended up reaping the benefits of a changing industry.
Now that digital formats are taking over and there has been a change in the way we consume art. What are your thoughts on the future of art? Do you think there will be new formats or new ways of consuming and distributing it?
The way we consume art is bound to keep changing over time, as it always has before, and I’m sure that Covid will have a lasting effect on the creative industry. I can’t wait for the day we can get back into galleries and museums, but I also love that there’s been a big focus on making art available to more people by transferring it to a virtual landscape. Art should be something that everybody can enjoy, and I hope that the drive we’ve seen to make it more accessible continues past the end of the pandemic.
What’s next for you this year? Any plans or projects you can tell us about?
I shot and collaged a campaign for Asics at the end of last year, which has finally just been released, which I’m really excited about! I’ve got some painterly illustration collaborations on the way, and most recently I’ve been working on artwork for the incredible artist Mysie, who’s got some amazing new music dropping soon. As for the rest of the year, I’m hoping to continue building my commercial client list, while also taking on some personal projects. Since working with stop motion for the first time in 2020, I’d love to push myself and try more moving image too, we’ll see!
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