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WNW Member Lisa Carletta is a London-based visual artist who uses photography as her main medium. Her work is a delicate balance, shown in the worlds she creates from both behind and in front of the camera. Every element has a purpose and a place, which often gives her work a cinematic quality; she cites both Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson as influences. Her foundation in Art Direction is also definitely at play. In our interview below, Lisa tells us how she honed her creative style, why she plans to continue exploring moving image, and how her approach changes with personal and professional projects: "In my fine art projects, the first person I have to please is me. Subjects are more personal and I’m giving a bit of myself in each one." Lisa also offers some advice that encapsulates the tension in her own work: "The magic only happens out of your comfort zone; you should try to feel comfortable with the uncomfortable."
Tell us a bit about your creative background. Who is Lisa and how did she get here?
Even if I knew pretty early on that I wanted to be a photographer, I decided to study advertising to become an art director. But it was so hard to get a job in the industry in Belgium that I finally decided to try what I really wanted to do.
I started working as a fashion photographer for different magazines. After 8 years of freelancing, not only in fashion but also in advertising (as a photographer this time), I took a two-year break to do a Master in Fine Arts at Royal College of Art in London. I think it definitely opened new horizons for me.
How would you describe your creative style? Do you recognize a signature style linking all your work, or do you excuse yourself & approach each project as its own entity?
I think my fashion work is really “mise en scene”, full of details, and colourful but also melancholic. I’m always trying to tell a story and to set it up as a movie scene.
What do you see as the turning point in your creative development and career thus far?
I think my Master is definitely the turning point. I have another way of seeing my work and contemporary art in general. I’ve struggled a lot making pictures to express my ideas. With my Master, I slowly moved to moving image instead, producing my first 3D animation video.
I’d like to go back to fashion after this long break, but don’t want to give up the moving image element, which I’d like to push further.
What were some of the challenges in launching your creative career?
In Belgium, my career started pretty quickly after winning a photography competition. I was really lucky as a self-taught photographer to start directly working for magazines. It allowed me to be creative and build my portfolio. But when I decided to move to London, it was really hard as I had to start again from scratch with no contacts, no friends, and no network.
London's a really challenging city, and still is for me. So we’re gonna see now how it works out after the MA.
Which of your projects, personal or professional, are you proudest of and why?
My last project, and first 3D animation movie “Paradise Found.” It was the biggest challenge I’ve had so far as I didn’t know anything about 3D before starting and had to make it happen in less than three months. It was a bit madness, as I was learning while making it.
In what ways is the experience different doing fine art projects versus agency work?
Well, agency work is totally different as you follow a specific project, have to satisfy the client and the agency, and you are not the only one deciding things even if you are involved in the creation.
In my fine art projects, the first person I have to please is me. Subjects are more personal and I’m giving a bit of myself in each one.
What would be your dream project or job, or is it already on your resume?
One of my dream jobs as a fashion photographer would be to shoot for Vogue Italia, which is for me the best and the most creative magazine. I’ve already collaborated with them, but only for the Vogue Italia Bambini.
And obviously to get some high fashion advertising campaigns for brands like Valentino. for example, would be a must!
I really love taking portraits of personalities, as I have to deal with their artistic universe and mine. So far I’ve been mainly shooting actors and musicians from France and Belgium, so it would be amazing to shoot UK and US celebrities as well. I have too many dream jobs!
Who do you see as the best brands, agencies, or studios to work with in the UK?
I really like Vivienne Westwood’s last campaign, really eclectic!
Mother and BBH.
How would you define the London creative scene?
Dynamic and very competitive, all talents chasing the same opportunities.
How do you see the creative landscape shifting in the UK/Europe?
I think everything is shifting into the digital/virtual realm. I don’t know for the rest of Europe, but in Belgium, there is less and less budget for print campaigns.
If not here, where would you most like to live?
That’s the question I’m wondering every day. It’s hard to imagine leaving London, I’m sure I would miss it… Perhaps NYC?
Who are your biggest creative influences?
I have very diverse influences: in cinema Wes Anderson, Paul Thomas Anderson; in photography Tim Walker, Gregory Crewdson and Miles Aldridge; in contemporary art Gillian Wearing, Ed Atkins, Bill Viola, Ragnar Kjartansson.
What scares you most about making creativity your career?
So far it’s just super exciting as I still have tons of projects I’d like to do. Maybe my fear is not to have the possibility to make all these ideas happen.
One book, one album, one movie, one show. Go.
A Lover's Discourse: Fragments - Roland Barthes
Mystère - La Femme
Games of Thrones
What’s your most treasured possession?
Recently my grandma’s ring.
What do you do when Not Working?
Meeting friends, eating and drinking out, going to cinema, watching shows on Netflix, seeing exhibitions.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard or received that all creatives should hear?
The magic only happens out of your comfort zone; you should try to feel comfortable with the uncomfortable.
Who are some WNW members whose work you admire and why?
Roman Noven & Tania Shcheglova: I’m absolutely a fan of their work!
What’s next for you? What are you working on now?
I’m doing an artists residency in Sausalito, taking the time to focus on my practice. I’m going to start working on a script, preparing a new animation movie.
After this, I will go back to London and hopefully start collaborating with fashion magazines and advertising agencies as I’ve been missing it a lot!