Image © Paulina Otylie Surys.
Paulina Otylie Surys is the “new kid on the block” – in the past year, the Middlesex University student has taken the fashion world by storm with her twisted, gothic imagery. Featured in BJP last September (#7804), she explained that she couldn’t shoot in any other way. “For me, fashion shouldn’t be shot as fashion,” she said. “Fashion is not a look book; it’s not a catalogue. Fashion should be an element in an overall composition. It should be treated as an art piece. When you give people something they don’t expect, it tends to stay in their mind. They remember it more – even if they don’t like it, they will come back to it. With a traditional lookbook, people just flip the pages and don’t remember anything. It becomes a simple commercial catalogue.”
Just four months ago, Surys was still struggling to make her way, with model agencies and designers often declining her requests. Today, things have changed and the 33-year-old, who is originally from Poland, is shooting for established magazines, with established stylists, models and labels. “I just shot a project for AnOther Man magazine, for example, with the amazing stylist Ellie Grace Cumming,” she says. “It’s now a lot easier for me to get access to places, models and even clothes. It looks like I’m taking a step forward in fashion photography.
“Magazines give me more freedom. I can do whatever I want, and I’m free to art direct my shoots. I’m very happy about that.”
Image © Paulina Otylie Surys.
Surys has also caught the attention of Art+Commerce, which now licenses some of her images, and Fashion 156 Creative agency, which represents her in London. She also published her first monograph, Limbo, last summer and is preparing for a solo show, which will open at the Richard Young Gallery in London in February. Even so, Surys doesn’t take this newly won success for granted. “There’s a lot more pressure on me now,” she explains. “So I’m trying to spend as much time as possible researching my own ideas. It’s not just about the technique any more – I’m also trying to work a lot more on concepts. It’s my first priority at the moment.
“Right now, I’m working on another series of portraits that will deal with religion and science, and look at the way women’s bodies have been perceived over centuries,” she adds. “The plan is to create a book, an exhibition and an installation of this work, but I can’t say more about it at the moment.”
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