Constantin Prozorov sees himself as someone who builds bridges – between art and fashion, between reality and virtual reality, between photography and CGI. The collage artist’s works carry us off to surreal, mystical worlds, places full of magic and inspiration that allow us to escape our complex and crisis-ridden reality for a while.
Interview: Katharina de Silva
Collage artist Constantin Prozorov was born in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in 1986. He studied communication and fashion design at the Deutsche Meisterschule für Mode in Munich before starting his professional career with a deep dive into both disciplines: As the assistant to French-Brazilian haute couture designer Gustavo Lins, he was involved in the creation of great fashion in Paris in 2013/2014. He designed and modelled creations on mannequins, selected fabrics and even took up the needle and thread himself. Prozorov then switched to the foreign bureau of Condé Nast in Paris, where he supplied the journalists at the editorial office in Munich with news from the Paris fashion world. He organised photo shoots, supervised major editorial productions for Vogue and Glamour and got to work with design celebrities such as Peter Lindbergh and Karl Lagerfeld. Before he started out as a freelance collage artist, Constantin Prozorov spent one year working as the personal assistant of designer Wolfgang Joop in Berlin. “It was amazing to see how someone like him works,” he remembers. “Even for Wolfgang Joop, everything starts with a sketch.” And yet Prozorov soon realised that he did not want to be an artist’s assistant. He wanted to be the artist. Since 2017, he has been creating two- and three-dimensional worlds for international luxury brands like Gucci, Moncler or Louis Vuitton. Constantin Prozorov lives and works in Berlin and Paris.
SCHIERKE Artists: As Wolfgang Joop’s design assistant and correspondent for Condé Nast in Paris, you got to experience the world of fashion from two very different perspectives. How did it happen that you are now staging fashion in your own personal way?
Constantin PROZOROV: The idea came to me in 2015 while I was working for Condé Nast. The fashion labels always sent us an incredible amount of material, especially many fantastic and high-quality lookbooks. I was fascinated by the amount of money the brands invest in these lookbooks even though they aren’t really communicated to the outside world. At the same time, I also experienced how much budget goes into fashion editorials, for example for Vogue. So, I started using these lookbooks to create collages by cutting out images and arranging them into new compositions. My aim was to recycle the images and give them a second life.
So, your main motivation was to work sustainably and save costs?
Conventional productions are incredibly expensive. Even back then, I knew that nobody would be willing or able to afford it in the long term. We are also living in a world where we are virtually inundated with pictures. I therefore thought that it wasn’t necessary to produce any more new material, but that it was perfectly possible to work with what was already there. In addition, there are no limits in collage art: any location is possible and affordable – even the moon. I also don’t need to travel far for my productions. On the contrary: I work from home, and all I need is my computer.
You started out experimenting with collages in private. What happened then?
At some point, I started posting my work on Instagram. And people loved it. Fashion and collages – the idea was nothing new, really. But what was new was that I created my collages specifically to look like editorials. At first glance, you couldn’t really tell if it was a collage or a photograph. A lot of people found that exciting. That’s how clients became aware of me.
My art is a response to the ecological and visual pollution of our time.
Constantin PROZOROV | Motion Design
How do you approach your projects today? What does your workflow look like?
My clients send me photos, for example current looks. I then search for suitable licence-free material in my archive or on pool sites. I cut it out in Photoshop and arrange it so that it matches the looks. I use up to 50 pictures in a simple collage. For example, a tree is never simply a tree. Usually, it’s two or three trees that I place one on top of the other. I don’t have a concrete vision when I start a new collage. I let coincidence guide me. With Moncler, it was the styles that looked like space suits. They inspired me to create universes that lie beyond our reality, where mystical creatures roam, untouched by man. I take up the colours and prints of the garments again in the landscapes.
And how do you create your animations?
An animated collage is similar to a complex pop-up book for children. You need a lot of layers so that you can get in there with the camera. That’s a technique I developed. Everything that is to be animated later on I place into the static collage as a photo element. I then reconstruct it in Cinema 4D and add 3D elements.
Clients use your animations mainly for social media, and Instagram in particular. How do you feel about the fast-paced nature of this medium? After all, you put an incredible amount of time and passion into a project that is perhaps seen for just a few days.
That’s just the way it is. But as an artist, I look at it from a broader perspective. I also post my work on my own channel that has more than 220,000 followers now. People have time to explore my art there. I don’t upload new posts very often to prevent my work from disappearing in the feed too quickly. My animations for Moncler reached more than 30 million accounts on my channel alone this way.
Art and adverts, art and fashion: to me, it all flows together.
Constantin PROZOROV | Motion Design
What does your work say about you as a person?
It says a lot about me. There’s the very desire to escape reality. We live in a time that demands a great deal from us. One crisis follows the next. As an empathetic person who is interested in many things, it’s difficult for me to process. I create my bubbles to unplug from reality. They are worlds into which I can withdraw. Worlds that simplify reality in a way. Everything is possible in these worlds.
What is your stance on the area of tension between art and advertising, and where do you see yourself?
I don’t like categorising things. I don’t want to put myself in a box either. I make collages, and to me, that’s art. I also work with clients who primarily use my collages for their adverts. I like to call it artvertising. It makes no difference to me whether I create a work of art and then try to sell it on the market – usually to a collector from the industry – or whether the industry reaches out to me and commissions a piece of art. I don’t see a problem there. Art and adverts, art and fashion: to me, it all flows together.
What kind of freedom do you need a client to give you so that you can do your work?
If a client likes my work, they should trust me. It’s always good to get a briefing that tells you what the designer had in mind when they created the collection. But after that I need the freedom to create myself. My collages thrive on the impulse of creation. I have to let myself be guided by the moment and keep exploring what’s doable.
What are your plans for the future?
I would like to explore film and work as a director one day. To me, that’s the next logical step in terms of escaping from reality. I think I will start with short films or music videos. And who knows, perhaps I will really go to L.A. one day to tell bigger stories – following the example of Tim Burton or Wes Anderson. That’s my dream.