To epitomise the spirit of January’s Embark edition we bring you an interview with Australian travel photographer Maria Vantsos whose flair for bright colour and bold images caught our eye at the Kiribilli Markets in Sydney earlier this month.
A Little Gypsy In My Soul is Maria’s collection of fine-art photography featuring far-off lands, exotic streetscapes and bold portraiture that celebrate the raw essence and aesthetic beauty of colour and culture around the world. Her range of display options allows you to choose a single stand-out canvas print or, our favourite, create a wall display of signature block-mounted tiles.
Maria talks to us about her process, her inspiration and the uniqueness of Australian travel culture.
We’ll start at the beginning. What brought you into this line of work?
When I was 22, I decided to take a year off from my studies to travel through South America with my older sister. I was studying graphic design at the time majoring in black and white photography. Landing in Mexico to kick off our adventure changed that very quickly. Early one morning as we were travelling out of the city and down a dirt road our bus pulled over to pick up some locals and as the fog was lifting and I was awakening to a new day, I looked out of my window seat to see a line of native women in fluorescent pink ponchos and brightly coloured yellow bows tied around their long plaits, zigzagging down a lush green mountainside. I was in awe! I saw art, I saw the boldest of colours playing themselves out within a moment in everyday life. I remember thinking how beautiful it was to ‘see’ the world in colour. After many more trips overseas and friends complimenting me on my photography, I haven’t looked back. I started with several cafe exhibitions where my passion for combining travel, photography, and colour & culture into wall art has grown from there.
Your use of colour to evoke the soul of a place is remarkable. Can you describe your artistic process?
’A Little Gypsy In My Soul’ now creates bold, rich fine art photography which celebrates colour and culture around the world! My passion and the challenge is to ‘see’ what can so often be missed… weathering paint, a hanging water urn, a passing moment. My body of work is an artistic approach to the celebration of colour but more than that it is also a documentation of tradition, culture, religion, tribe, and an identity unique to that country…. through people and place so much of what is disappearing due to globalisation can be frozen in time due to the power of photography.
My photos are featured onto our signature wooden tiles and as fine art canvas prints.
You seem to have genuine passion for the places you visit. How do you decide where to travel and what to photograph?
It’s really inspired by how colourful a country is, where that character of culture and spirit is still predominant in everyday life. Mexico, Morocco, Cuba and India are some of the most fascinating and visually stimulating countries to explore. I also enjoy returning to countries I have previously travelled to years before. As I grow and change over the years my vision of what I’m inspired to capture also matures.
In your experience, do you think Australians have a particular interest in travel culture?
Absolutely! Particularly because we have grown up within a highly multi-cultural society and that exposure to so many different faces and facets influences many to want to explore further. Being so isolated from the rest of the world when we adventurous Aussies travel, we really like to spread our wings!
As an artist do you work with anyone else or have you collaborated before?
No, I’m a one woman band, just me and my camera and the wide open road!
It seems you have visited some truly exotic places. What’s on the cards for 2015?
Returning to India to photograph the holi festival which marks the end of winter in early March. They welcome in the spring with throwing colour bombs at each other, so I can’t wait to be within the thick of it all to live and capture this amazing experience. I hope to travel through Vietnam towards the end of the year. I will also be spending the year designing new products featuring my photos so stay tuned.
I am currently in the process of working on my new collection for 2015 which I am looking forward to sharing soon.
There will be a feature range of photos from Morocco and the Greek Islands, showcasing my work from the last trip I did to these countries. It will also feature a new selection of photos from all around the world from previous trips. One of the highlights of my previous catalogue was featuring a beautiful sequence of different coloured turbans and saris I shot through India (pictured).
We met at the Kirribilli markets but you display at other retail venues throughout Sydney. Where can people get hold of your work?
I retail at Paddington/Bondi beach markets in Sydney every weekend and around Australia through various homeware and online stores such as Temple & Webster. My work can also be purchased from my website at www.vantsosdesign.com.au