Born in Poland and with Romani roots, Aga Baranska graduated from the London College of Fashion, before completely dedicating herself to art. Even though painting is her main medium of expression, she also incorporates other media in her artwork, while she draws inspiration from the fashion world and South America and the people she met there, both locals and travelers.
*Interview by Dimitra Papanika
#1. You studied fashion, but now you have turned into an artist. What was the transition like?
I would say I have returned back to where I started. Before studying at the London College of Fashion and entering the fashion industry, I was in secondary art school and I absolutely loved it! Later on, my work naturally crossed over to a combination of fashion and art. I didn’t plan it. I was painting on different types of paper and fabric in a traditional way without using any digital manipulations. Later, the paintings were meant to be used as textiles for bags and clothes. One of my clients, J&M Davidson, saw the original drawings, fell in love with them and helped organize my first exhibition in Tokyo.
#2. What are the biggest differences between the two practices?
I think the creative process is the same everywhere. You have to be honest and very sensitive. The narrative point starts from your heart. However, things in the fashion industry are more complex. You can’t focus only on being creative; there are other factors that also need your attention, such as logistics, marketing and deadlines. You need to embrace it all and this is a very hard job to do so. As an artist, most of the times you come in direct contact with your audience and critics. You have to learn how to deal with your emotions and the emotions of others.
#3. You use fashion magazine covers as your canvas. How has this occurred?
I say, some people collect books and I collect Vogues. As a teenager I lived in Poland and I would get them as an exclusive present from my parents. Later, I would keep buying lots of different fashion magazines myself and the collection always came along with me when I moved from place to place. It became like my crazy prized possesion. I used to use them as reference and inspiration when working, and later on I would cut out the images for collages. Working with covers as canvases was just the next step.
#4. Where do you draw inspiration from? In what ways have your Romani roots affected you?
Unfortunately, I am not familiar with our roots since my grandmother has passed away. But I see myself more as the modern gypsy. I spent my 20s-30s traveling and living in different cities and I definitely can say that not all who wander are lost! I try to travel smoothly between cultures and religions and create artworks that reflect that; I can be inspired by the colors in India or the papier-mâché masks in Mexico. I am very attracted and fascinated by the crafts of the world. Crafts are a strong influence in my work. But sometimes my friends, who don’t consider themselves artists, also have a huge impact on my work. When your soul is open, then you easily attract inspiration and you notice more things.
#5. You have been described as a “fashion artist”. Do you use this term for yourself as well?
Yes, someone called me a “fashion artist” in a review once, and I thought, “Yes, perfect! “
Somehow I didn’t fit comfortably in the contemporary art world but I am also something more than what the term “fashion illustration” defines. Now I see that we define the borders ourselves. Today, the fashion industry is very open and curious about the art world. We are all searching for new influences, new impacts, and beauty in things that surround us. I am a painter, I am a designer, I am a fashion artist – and it feels great to be all three!
#6. You use a lot of layers in your work. Is their combination a part of your creative procedure, or is it all a part of very well organized plan?
When I start working on a painting, I never know how to do it but I know that I can. It is hard for me to stop working on each painting. I am alone at the studio for hours with this one artwork and this canvas becomes something like “my best friend”. Developing my layer-technique has been a long process but it has never been organized. But I do organize myself very well in terms of discipline and everyday life. I am definitely not a lazy person.
#7. What are you currently working on? What is next for you?
I was selected and invited to participate in the X Florence Biennale and in the final exhibition at the Scope Art Fair in Miami. I am also collaborating with the Japanese label “aliéFan”, where prints from my artworks will be used as textile designs. I am also moving soon to bigger studio, so this can only attract good changes and new projects.
I am an optimist.