Subsign: First, can you tell us a few things about yourself?
Anca: I was born and raised in Bucharest, spending half of my childhood before 1989 and half right after, so I am lucky enough to have memories from both periods, communism and the transition period, let’s say. I remember drawing from an early age and having this ability to reproduce the objects and the nature surrounding us on paper. It was less about imagination and creativity, and rather the capacity to look at the reality and accurately sketch it down on a piece of paper.
My family encouraged and supported me to take art courses and then apply to Nicolae Tonitza high school of Fine Arts. This was a considerable financial effort for my parents at that time. All the materials you need to create, from special paper, to colors and brushes were not cheap. Since I loved art in general – drawing and painting in particular – I followed this path through high school and university – I finished History and Theory of Art , growing up in an elitist environment dominated by complex ideas and high ideals.
As a young art graduate, I wasn’t sure I can support myself working in this field and I politely declined a job in a museum. Instead, I looked for better paying jobs: first in advertising, and then in the travel industry, growing apart from the art world.
But somehow, many years later, the past caught up with me. First, through an one year around the world project, documenting travel destinations for the company I was working for at the time. This project that I pitched required taking relevant and inspiring pictures and so, in 2013, I started an intensive photography class, knowing absolutely nothing about cameras, but being very familiar with image and visual aesthetics. This was my big avantage, once I learned how a DSLR camera works.
The second turning point was last year, in 2020, when the pandemic stroke and, not related to it, I decided to leave the safety and comfort of being an employee in a big company and become a full time photographer.
The lockdown in March was a big and meaningfull event for me (and for many other people as well), because suddenly, my old traveler’s life ended, leaving a huge empty hole.
Having a lot of free time on my hands, something that I wasn’t used to at all, I allowed myself to look into a notebook with ideas and desires I had written down during the years when I was to busy reaching goals and measurable objectives.
Somehow, very shy at first, I started re-creating the great outdoors in my livingroom.
Fruits, flowers, and common household objects became the background elements for telling a story. I was very unsure about adding a charater into this conceptual still life I was creating, but I took one step forward and added a small version of me in the frame. The effect was an Alice in Wonderland feeling. I posted the image on social media and, to my great surprise, people connected to it.
Friends and former colleagues supported my initiative by buying prints, even in the face of a difficult and uncertain time. I’m still very touched and deeply grateful for their support and I take every opportunity to thank them. One year and a half later, I am happy to create visual stories that bring inspiration, color and beauty into other people’s lives.
Subsign: What did you wanted to be as a grown up?
Anca: That is a tricky question! I remember being asked this from an early age. How can most children know what they are good at and what they want to become since they have no life experience and maybe they can’t even tie their laces yet?
I have always had the feeling this question is a trap and, although I gave the adults only right answers, it was my secret desire to become a cashier, being convinced that all those money will come to me:)
Subsign: How does your workstation look like?
Anca: Disappointingly, I do not have a working space or station yet. There is an Ikea piece of furniture where I build everything and a TV located close by, that sometimes supports some of the objects I use.
Subsign: Do you have a work style? How would you describe it?
Anca: Although I am new to this I am am afraid of lables, the closes descriptive expression I can think of is “conceptual still life” mixed with “miniature art”.
Subsign: Can you share with us how your creative process works?
Anca: It all begins with the idea I want to build around and once I have it, I start drawing a very childish sketch just to give it a form.
Then, I spend days searching and acquiring all the props. I start arranging them in a balanced way that tells a story. This becomes the background, the universe where the action will take place.
Once the conceptual still life is photographed, I disassemble everything and start taking photos of the character, in a way that can naturally interact with the background. Needless to say it is a trial and error process that can take a lot of time and energy.
Last but not least, the long and meticulous post-processing stage follows. Sometimes it takes even days to put all the images and individual elements together, in order to blend everything in and release the final image.
The creative process is a bit different when I work for a brand or business, because it all starts with what the client’s values and communication goals are. It is a more complex and time consuming process since we are talking about a partnership here. I start with the research part, poking different angles and ideas, until I get down to 2 or 3 that I find to be the best and present them to the client in a visual format. A sketch.
Once the winning concept is approved, I can follow my usual flow described above.
Each photo project is unique and made with great passion. I am very happy, proud and rewarded by people’s feedback because this means I am doing something good and investing my time into something greater than me: something that produces a positive emotion is people’s heart.
Subsign: What is your favorite work you have done so far?
Anca: I have a few, but always the most recent seems to be on top.:)For this one I bought 5 kg of “red love” apples, went to the flower shop for the wood boxes (I painted them brow) and to the park for leaves and other small vegetal details. I wanted the character to perfectly blend in and not to attract any attention. Can you spot me? 🙂
Subsign: Who do you follow for inspiration?
Anca: The artists I follow with great respect and admiration are very different, actually. My fisrt love is Jamie Beck, an American photographer who moved to Provence. Then it is Serge Ramelli, a French photographer who move to America :). Then there are artists like Daniel Kordan, for me the best outdoor photographer I know, Tanaka Tatsuya from Japan for his brilliant perspective of life, Dina Belenko from Russia and Jesus Ortiz, who I think is from Spain, to name a few.
Subsign: What advice could you give to someone starting out in the creative field of work?
Anca: I feel I am very far from giving advices since being a creative freelancer is new to me as well. But I do have some general life advice I could share and it comes down to work with perseverance.
Subsign: If you would have a super power, what would it be?
Anca: There was this animated series when I was a child, I can’t even remember its name, but the main character was a boy with the ability of getting out of his pocket any object he needed and convert it into a real and functional item. For me, this super power would be perfect since I could produce any prop I need in a matter of seconds!:)
Subsign: Can you recommend for our readers a book, a song and a movie?
Anca: One useful creative book I would recommend is The Little Book of Colour (Karen Haller), a song I like for its energy and good vibe is comig from Pharrell Williams – Happy. I belive we need more of that in our lives. And a movie…I remember being very intrigued by Pedro Almodovar movies, in particular with “Volver”.
Subsign: If you could throw any kind of party, what would it be like and what would it be for?
Anca: You caught me off-guard with this question because I am not a party person at all. 100% introvert here, pretending to be relaxed in the outside world and investing a lot of energy into being “social”. So I would skip throwing any kind of party, if possible.:)
If we’re talking about a cause to gather people around, the theme will most likely be related to environment conservation and animal protection.
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Thank you Anca for being a part of our Spotlight!