Into the depths of self-portraiture: An interview with Flora Borsi
Always listen to your gut feeling. Listen to feedback and learn from it: either that you don’t care or integrate it into your project. When you have to tell something tell it, but sometimes you have to be silent to have something to say.
— FLORA BORSI
LEFT: ETERNAL FLAME
By Dave Krugman
Today I’m speaking with Flora Borsi, a photographer working with photo manipulations. She creates stunning compositions that are rich with meaning and symbolism.
DK: Can you begin my introducing yourself to the readers? Where you are from and the mediums you work in?
FB: I’m from Budapest, Hungary and I’m mainly working with photography and then I create photo manipulations of it.
DK: Your work is so compelling. I really admire the creative ideas. I’d love to hear a bit about your process and ideation for these pieces. How do you come up with these ideas, do you have a clear vision before you begin the work or do you let it evolve as you work on them?
FB: Thanks so much. I’m always surprised when someone likes my work, haha. The reason why I’m saying this is because they’re very divisive. Somehow I started working with Photoshop in a very important era, where slowly digital became the leader of mediums, instead of analog stuff.
My ideas are coming like a pre-made picture to my mind, so I usually consider myself as a messenger of some higher stuff. I know this sounds weird, but there were only a few times when I worked without any concepts. These ideas are moving very fast in my mind so I always make a sketch and a few words next to it, so next time I’d figure out what’s going on. Back then I used to write only a few words to my notes and years later I looked at them with raised eyebrows. Girl on the floor, Desert with blood, Banana head. Just to mention a few of them.
The things which are not very planned: the color grading. I always spend half of my editing time in Lightroom picking up the perfect HLS.
DK: Very cool. You are like the channel to a world where these images exist, and you make them a reality. Have you always had a creative drive? Do you have any early moments where you knew you wanted to become an artist?
FB: Always. It’s like a part of me. I remember when I was a really young kid I started to sew my own teddy bear or create some pieces from glass & glue and watch my parents be totally horrified of the idea of me + sharp objects at five. But more seriously I got into art when I was 7 and started school. I had a very experienced art teacher and she saw the fire in me from the first time. I stayed until late afternoon every day at school and was doing drawing practices with her.
Thanks to that I won international art contests at a very young age. I started to realize that I want to do this as long as I’m alive because that’s when I’m the happiest: when creating. Later on I fell in love with Photoshop around the age of eleven. I have to admit that I spent many days removing Beyonce’s diamond dress from her famous cover, just to show my classmates that I can undress anyone, haha. But this feature of my life got more serious when I won my first camera in some random Hungarian photography contest and I was diagnosed with a tumor at the same time a few years later. After this very important milestone, I really got into the photo manipulation world and I did this with self portraits, scared from turning into dust.
DK: I feel that the internet is such a powerful tool for creatives. It’s a big feedback loop for iterating with ideas and also a widely distributed support system, a place for communities to form. How have online communities affected your creative growth and career?
FB: I absolutely agree. I’m coming from a post-communist country where many forms of art were literally banned, as well as artists, everywhere. I’m just horrified by these stories, the burned paintings and the never published books. Now is the time for everyone to share their stories made with brush, digital or full of oil paint. Everyone can upload and share anything, when it’s good it will find a way. If I just go back 40 years, there was only a few options for artists to break through, now everything is given. The Internet is such a good place to gain success from nowhere, from a small country even. I always smiled / cried with my parents when I worked on projects for Adobe which were seen by millions all around the globe, because they always said, “Our small Flora is doing this stuff from a small house from a small country, from a street where the road is made of dirt (where I used to live).” And yet, you can’t see where it came from. That’s the beauty of it. I think the real measure of popularity among artists is talent. I mean many times people can follow artists who make something really extra or people buy followers but that’s not filled with the love, empathy and care like having real fans feels like.
If people didn’t follow me and share my work with others I’d probably be in an office hating my 9-5 job. I can really say thanks for these people. I think digital communities are really important at the beginning phase, honest feedback is priceless from the pros. Sometimes it’s hard to receive with a smile on our faces, but usually it’s for the best. I think there’s a strong power of people loving someone and their work. Selflessly rooting for someone. It’s big time.
DK: I couldn’t agree more, and that’s beautifully said. Also when we tie art to technology, innovation in creativity expands at an exponential rate.
FB: Yes. Technical stuff has to be tools to be learned and art is to be felt. This should be on a t-shirt.
DK: What advice would you have for someone much earlier in their creative path?
FB: Always listen to your gut feeling. Listen to feedback and learn from it: either that you don’t care or integrate it into your project. When you have to tell something tell it, but sometimes you have to be silent to have something to say. Never stop because someone said to, just go with the flow. Don’t care about the money, it will come when it’s serving you to accomplish something with it. You can also mention me here as Flora Coelho 🙂
Can you share the backstory behind this piece?
It speaks for itself but a short background story: I started to realize that I have a completely different persona on the web than in person, so I’ve been thinking about something I wrote to my partner if I’d say that IRL from word to word. Many people don’t think written language as their real voice and it would be so awkward sometimes to talk about some feelings IRL. That’s why I made this. The profile pic behind the Torah scrolls is me, with a real face, a real voice, real emotions. A few characters can’t explain these complex things.
Read the next article in “Here come the photographers” series:
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