Patrycja Marciniak is a photographer and graphic designer based in Warsaw, Poland. Patrycja describes photography as a way to communicate emotions and wants her viewers not to just see her images, but to feel them. She bases the majority of her photographs on personal experiences, feelings, emotions, and fantasies.
Photography is my rabbit hole – a way to escape from plain reality into the world of dreams and nightmares. I consider visual arts a form of storytelling and attempt to apply this theory to my photos – each of them an illustration to an untold story, story that can be both dreamy and uncanny. One of my main inspirations are fairy tales and folk tales – often hiding cruel and disturbing elements under the coat of sugar. However, my main goal is not to reproduce the stories themselves, rather to reconstruct them and ask questions about the feelings they invoke.
You’re a graphic designer by day, but what led you to photography and is there any interplay in your work between design and photography?
I’ve always enjoyed taking photos, but it was my university which helped to transform it into a passion. I’ve been studying graphic design. Most of our classes were computer ones, but some included traditional art, like painting, drawing, or photography. I’ve discovered that photography is a medium which helps me communicate my ideas most freely.
Normally, there’s not much similarity between my work and my hobby (I guess not many clients would be happy to see gloomy, dark logotypes and posters), but happily most visual arts share the same set of rules, therefore I’m able to use everything I’ve learned about colors and composition both in graphic design and in photography.
You tend to work in a series. How do these conceptual ideas come to you and what are the stages of execution?
It’s very hard for me to tell where do ideas come from; sometimes I get inspirations from art, music, poems, fairytales or stories, but mostly I just follow the stream of thoughts and associations until I say to myself, “hey, that would make a great photo”. Many ideas came to me when I was trying to explain my feelings, especially the ones caused by mental illness, to others; since it’s very hard to express them in simple words, I started using metaphors and comparisons, many of which turned out to be a great base for creating photos.
Your work is formed from an intensely personal place, including your experiences with medication for depression and your diagnosis with dermatillomania. I’m curious about how it feels to make such personal work? Is there a therapeutic process?
It feels really good to be able to transform negative feelings into something of artistic value. The most therapeutic stage, however, is not creating – for me it’s getting feedback, especially from people facing similar problems. It’s very reassuring to feel supported and understood, and to show the support and understanding to others. I feel very pleased when I hear that people identify with my art – maybe it will give them the sense of comfort and feeling that they’re not alone.
What it is like to share works which say a lot about your experiences and difficulties?
To be honest, I’ve always been very nervous to share such photos. Only my closest friends and family know about my difficulties. Since there’s a strong stigma concerning mental health in our society, I was afraid I might get negative reactions from more distant friends. However, none such thing has happened so far; I hope that my stress will fade away eventually.
I think that speaking about mental health is very important, since there’s such a negativity, lack of understanding, and so many myths concerning mental illnesses. I hope that I can change at least some minds and raise awareness – every big change starts with a small step.
Has creating works about your mental health experiences helped you to connect with friends and family to help them understand your difficulties?
Fortunately most of my closest ones showed a lot of understanding since the beginning of my illness. I wasn’t able to create art when my depression started – most of the time I was too weak and sad to even crawl out of bed. Creating art sure helped them understand my feelings more, but I think it had more impact on more distant friends who knew little about my problems and feelings.
What are you working on now?
I’m constantly trying to develop my skills in photography by creating art, and I’m planning to make more series concerning mental health. I do have some ideas that still need execution, and I’ll likely come up with several new ones.