Conceptually driven and keen to twist reality – we chat to photographer and art director Marloes Haarmans
The London-based creative has always found enjoyment in ideation. Here, she tells us about her gateway into the arts and why she needs to keep her “ideas pumping”.
- Ayla Angelos
- 27 July 2020
- Reading Time
- 4 minute read
Marloes Haarman has always been a creative thinker. So much so that when she had to choose a certain discipline in art academy, she had no idea which direction to go in. “I didn’t want to commit to a certain industry,” she tells It’s Nice That. Instead, a desire to develop conceptual thinking grew alongside the decision to land on the “broadest option” – that being art direction and advertising.
Turns out this was a wise choice for Marloes as, despite the fact that she ended up hating advertising, she equally adored the ideation of concepts and the offering that art direction provided. Incorporating photography into visuals and train of thought, Marloes graduated from the BA in Art Direction at Willem de Kooning Academy in Holland and pursued further studies in photography at New York’s School of Visual Arts. It doesn't stop there, however, as she soon finished a master's in Photography at LCC in London, where she currently resides. “Looking back, I’m happy with the creative path I have walked, and my advertising background makes me the creative I am today – it makes my work distinctive.”
In this sense, photography was never a key component to her creative upbringing. Rather, it just fell into place as her practice developed. “As a visual artist or image maker, I started out by using photography as a tool,” she continues to explain, “and eventually, all the individual aspects of photography started to play an important role in my work.” Now, Marloes’ work presents an array of different components coming together in utmost synchronicity, be it the photography itself, the research side of things, brainstorming, prop sourcing, set design, lighting and post production. “I do call myself a still life photographer at birthday parties,” she adds, “but a photographer in contemporary terms. In fact, only 30% of the final piece is actually ‘photography’.”
This highly developed and pre-planned outlook on photography means she’s able to toy with perception. Describing her aesthetic, Marloes says it’s this blend of intelligence and layer-building that she strives for; Marloes makes work that “leaves space for imagination” and that which holds a strong concept and narrative. It’s true that her work comes across as an intuitively smart process and endeavour, as each piece sees a mindful warping of reality that asks more questions than it does answer them. But one thing’s certain and that is how Marloes comes from a conceptually driven background, so of course her portfolio is going to present an array of theoretically driven ideas.
Viewing photography and art direction as two complementary mediums, Marloes goes on to explain how they are in “need of each other – there needs to be a ‘smart’ twist”. This can be achieved by approaching the project at hand through metaphor; Marloes likens her creative process to catching a fish in the big ocean. “Being highly perfectionistic, I am not easily satisfied,” she says. “Plus, in my work I will always strive for uniqueness and originality, which is one of the most important aspects in the end of my brainstorm process and my key point in making work.”
Flouting the typical and oversaturated landscape of art, Marloes hopes that her work will present something fresh, imaginative, fantastical and something filled with unconscious decisions. By doing so, she uses familiar objects and products, and then morphs them into an “anti-reality”. An example that she points out is a collaboration with Crocs last year, for a campaign called Crocs Out of the Box – a “dream brief” with “ultimate creative freedom”. Taking apart the old silhouette, its solid colour palette, the signature holes and foam, Marloes played with what we know – in turn twisting them into other possibilities, comprising a series of sculptures and installations embodying what she could be or, mostly, her “Crocs fantasy”. Elsewhere, she made a series for the Dutch Volkskrant Magazine, that saw her put together a guide on how to create domestic DIY sex machines that you can make at home. “Again, a dream brief where I’m involved in all the aspects”, including the ideation, concept building, art direction, set design, props and photography.
Above all, Marloes refers to her mind as a “creative motor running, which needs a bit of oil everyday to keep ideas pumping”. Diagnosed with ADHD and “pretty” hyperactive, rather than viewing this as a negative she instead sees this as a gift. “My inspiration comes from everyday life, living through life is always inspiring,” she concludes. “The imperfections, the mistakes, the oddness, the weirdness, and even more, the normal-ness – or what we perceive as ‘normal’. Everything holds a space for a concept.”
About the Author
Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.