Ilona Flores | Interview

Photography is a creative practise that resonates with people all over the world. As Ezra Magazine is now exploring ‘Into the Creative Mind’, we decided this week to explore the world of photography and were fortunate enough to speak to one photographer in particular; Ukrainian Ilona Flores. Diving into the art of photography at 19, Ilona simply one day realised she “wanted to be involved in visual art”.

“…but I had no idea how exactly to do that, but I had a strong desire to create, I had ideas and this was enough to start,” she said.

“My parents say that I was a creative child and they always sought to cultivate my skills. I took different classes, like piano or chess, I never sat around and I always tried to invent and create something when I was a child.

“I tried my hand in various areas – music, literature, and even sewing. Eventually, artists inspired me they were for me like gods in some way, who create beautiful and mysterious pieces, and I realised I want to be a part of it.”

‘Lost Childhood’ – Copyright 2017 Illona Flores

Fortunately, Flores lives in western Ukraine which is untouched from the Russian military intervention that has occurred since 2014. Where she lives is “quite cozy and calm,” and although she lives in Ukraine, she says that mostly she has shaped herself and as an artist creates her ‘inner world’.

“Ukraine is a country like the others, with its pros and cons…All those terrible things, which occur in eastern Ukraine, look like somebody’s nightmare,” she said.

“Of course, the place where you live can affect your personality, but mostly we shape ourselves. My inner world is more important to me and I’m trying to concentrate on it, on some good moments and things that surround me. So, I wouldn’t say that Ukraine has an influence on my creativity, because I take inspiration from other things.”

A town in western Ukraine

As digital technology has progressed the photographic medium further and further, Flores said that it has a strong impact on contemporary art and that “we can observe the introduction of new tools, materials, and techniques that artists can work with”.

“…the line between photography and painting is blurring, there are such things like photo manipulation or fine art photography. It’s not a picture in the conventional sense, it also isn’t a usual photography anymore, but it is certainly art,” she said.

“You don’t need only traditional brushes, canvas and paints to create a picture, you can do it in a different way. I decided to work with the mix photography and digital painting, so I definitely can describe myself as a digital artist.”

The style of fine art photography has grown bigger over the past several years. As we have stated several times in interviews, fine art photography really is the perfect blend of photography and digital mastery. It combines painter’s techniques with a modern day photographer’s. Fine art photography can create a sense of mystery and evoke emotion.

“I like to create and be creative, to improve myself and my professional skills, to see the progress in my work, to see people who are interested in my art,” she said.

“The important thing for me as an artist is to be able to express my thoughts, messages through the artwork, to see feedbacks about my art, to see that people really appreciate it. I could only dream of this before.

“I’m trying to create my work in a peaceful, relaxing state. Maybe sometimes with a slight melancholy, but calm, when nothing gnaws me.

“It is important to me to focus on the certain mood and feelings that I want to convey in my artwork, so I put on music that fits the upcoming picture the most, and get my teeth into the work for a long time.”

‘Flora’ – Copyright 2017 Illona Flores

Several of Flores’ photographs depict a woman either sleeping or who is dead. A common theme of fine art photography, death is explored through various symbols, colours and settings. A prominent fine art photographer, Brooke Shaden, also explores the theme of death through her various fine art photographs of women tangled in forestry, suspended in mid air or underwater.

“…the theme of sleeping or dead women was always popular in art, and it is not surprising, because this portrayal is one of the most romantic, tender, fragile and poetic. Remember Ophelia, Sleeping Beauty, or even Poe’s dead women, and many others,” she said.

“Artists see the parallel between the state of sleep and death. You never know is the woman on the picture dead or she just sleeps. Anyway, her face looks serene because her consciousness left her. But also there is a touch of anxiety: her body is weak and vulnerable while her mind is in her dreams. I find it very dramatic.

“I am inspired by human feelings and things that can evoke them. Roughly speaking, it is life in all its manifestations, interesting and talented people. They can create such great and beautiful things, whether it be photography, architecture, music, jewellery or furniture, and it fascinates me. 

“I am also inspired by nature, which is truly an incredible treasure in our life. Finally, by positive feedbacks about my art and simply kind words. All these things inspire me to live and to work.”