Monica Carvalho is a Swiss-born digital artist based in Berlin, whose passion for photography goes a long way back: she always loved documenting her family travels, the new cities she’d discover and the food she’d eaten. Her photos allow her to live these happy moments again. After being visually challenged by surreal artists, she realized the possibilities that photography offered for playing around and inventing stories. She wanted to do more than just take photos but come up with something challenging for the eyes. Monica combines photography and surrealism to challenge the perception of reality by creating what she calls ‘photomontages.’ We caught up with this talented artist to ask her about her creative process and future projects.
TH: What inspires your designs?
MC: Clothes, people, food, architecture, nature, animals - anything inspires me. I realised that, by shifting my way of looking at ordinary things, they could acquire a new potential, a new meaning.
TH: What are your plans or aspirations for your photomontages? What would you ultimately like to do?
MC: Travel as much as possible to new places. It’s a perfect circle: the more I travel > the more I take new photomontage material > the more photomontages I create > the more freelance work I get > the more money and time I have to travel > the more I take new photomontage material…
TH: What is your creative process like?
MC: I’ve always been fascinated by art that is challenging for the eyes, and have developed over the years a passion for creating surreal images that ‘make you look twice.’ My artistic process is to combine two or more photos to give birth to a new photo, a new world – the world of my imagination. My artistic motto is simple: to make the ordinary extraordinary! I only use my own photos for my photomontages, which makes my art both challenging and exciting.
My photomontages are not reproductions of the world we live in, but they use elements of it – that’s what confuses our brain. You see, “the object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity.” - Alberto Giacometti
TH: What camera and lenses do you use for your photography?
MC: Nikon D5100, 18-55mm. But the camera is not important for my work. I am not a pro photographer. My skill actually lies in the post production – Photoshop. :)
TH: Do you have any favourite artist that has inspired you?
MC: René Magritte was my first inspiration. His surreal paintings challenged me to question what I see. Chema Madoz likes to find new meanings for everyday objects; his vision inspired my artistic practice greatly. In terms of photo retouching, Photoshop master Erik Johansson is the artist who inspired me the most to improve my photo-editing skills.
TH: If you could collaborate with someone, who would it be and why that particular person?
MC: Honestly, I’m open to any collaboration as long as it doesn’t involve the meat/tobacco industries or the diet culture.
I’m a huge fan of poetry, I think it would be interesting to collaborate with a poet, creating photomontages around a specific poem. Same with traveling. If a collaboration involves shooting in a place I’ve never been before, even better!
TH: What do you know now that you wish you would have known when you were younger?
MC: “Don't trust everything you see...Even salt looks like sugar.” - Maryum Ahsam
TH: How do you overcome creative blocks?
MC: I take them as breaks. It’s unrealistic to be creative 100% of the time. I don’t have any obligation to anyone or to myself to produce a new photomontage every “x” days. Inspiration comes by going about your everyday occupations, by experiencing life. If I don’t have a photomontage idea, it’s because I haven’t yet encountered an object/thing/animal etc that will strike me. I get inspired by everyday life, so all I have to do is let life take its course and inspiration will inevitably come. It always does. Or so has for the past years at least.
TH: Professionally, what’s your ultimate goal?
MC: My art is how I express myself in this world. I want to carry on inspiring people, to offer them a refreshing way of seeing the things and objects that surround our everyday life. I want to demonstrate that anything has the power to inspire. That’s my “ultimate” goal: to make the ordinary extraordinary – till I die.