Words: Celina Linde-Tandrup
I originally connected with Alexandra years ago, because of another creative project I was working on. Now, almost 3 years later, we are still in contact.
I was honoured to collaborate with her again, and interview her, and Irvin Collazo as an extra bonus. She has kept me updated with her work throughout the years, and hearing about this project, made me want to incorporate it on 'Cheesymag'.
Irvin Collazo and Alexandra Galvis collaborated in creating a photo shoot as magical as a fairy tale, if you look closely, you can see a close resemblance to 'Belle', the Disney Princess. I interviewed Collazo and Galvis to dig deeper into where their otherworldly imagination comes from, and when their inner artist started planting seeds.
Creating is a way of life, and we can't ignore it. Creativity comes in all forms so whether it's designing couture dresses or photography, we have to grab the opportunity, and let it lead us to our true destiny.
Sometimes our life decisions depends on how brave we can be, and if we can throw away our fear of failure. Galvis and Collazo are examples of two people doing exactly that, and fighting to achieve their hopes and dreams.
What are some of the challenges you face as an artist and a filmmaker?
"I feel that as of late, output is something that can become very draining or feel odd at times. I honestly think it's due to a combo of time management on my end, anxiety about life in general, & social media/the web's way of formulating and "sharing" nowadays. I try to have a form of flow with how, what, & when I share new or unpublished work. Yet sometimes I feel overwhelmed by it all & just want to log out & simply have my work screen or be printed into books or simply share it solely with those involved in a personal way. I'm a shy artist. If I can even call myself that.
Filmmaking has taken a bit of a halt for me. I've been doing much more writing and performance/music exploration lately. As well as editing and shooting other's work. I do have a couple short films & a few music videos in post though. I suppose the filmmaking never really ends… it shifts."
"Balance in life when it comes to managing my sleep hours. Sometimes sleeping 3 hrs a day, or sometimes 7 hours of sleep within 3 days. But slowly adapted and learned it comes with the territory when you’re in high fashion/haute couture."
Irvin Collazo is a designer based in Texas, and Alexandra Galvis is an artist working as a filmmaker and photographer, also based in Texas
Artists always find a way to collaborate
kinds of creative areas
What fashion styles are you dying to try out and maybe incorporate into a future shoot?
"I’ve always been really into florals but I know neon has also been popping in and out of fashion lately. Especially in leisurewear. Which is prob why lately I've been into playing with neon florals with a punk kinda vibe. So updated late 70s vibes if you will. I'm also into lace so maybe playing with soft & hard/ "lace & leather" style."
"Right now, I just started working on sketching my floral haute couture collection that will have 10 different looks. Always love making flowers with fabrics and using floral prints into garments. All women’s wear. Most likely dropping early next year in January."
You are at the moment living in Texas, but have also spent a lot of time in New York, what would you say is the biggest difference living in New York City and Texas when it comes to creating?
"Honestly, the commute is the biggest & most difficult shift for me. I became quite used to bring able to depend solely on my metro card, legs, & battery life to get to collabs & shoots. While in Texas, since I chose not to own a car for the moment (watching that carbon footprint), the "getting around" can def be much trickier & much more time consuming. Plus I tend to enjoy solo & on the go inspiration before shoots. That's much harder to do when you're checking Google Maps 1000 times to make sure you didn't miss a transfer or exit."
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to be an artist and filmmaker?
"Uh oh. Here we go! (As a visual artist and used-to-be- selective mute, I always get weird when asked to talk “about myself”) I’d say I’m someone that loves to observe and listen (snail mail/phone calls) & adventure or explore much more than talk, type, text or think. Yet we’re in the Information Age so… I feel through movement, framing, color, textures, & tones.
I’d say “the filmmaker’s mind” (like dancer’s and drummer’s) is something I can’t quite escape. I grew up around a lot of jokesters, pranksters, and pop culture geeks /history buffs. Storytelling in general is something that has always been present in my life, cultures, & upbringing. I would always mess with my parent’s Panasonic & Sony Handy-cams. Count shots/cuts in movies. Make my parents watch a lot of Bergman, Kubrick, Truffaut & Tarkovsky… just be really annoying in general.
Photography is definitely much more of a passion. A way I keep grounded and I feel in sync with my surroundings & self. Though sometimes, it’s just another way I pay the bills."
"I would say either fashion found me or fashion saved me. I started studying accounting and needed electives for my degree. Saw the list of classes available, saw fashion design and took it. Ever since then, I dropped accounting half way done and went with my gut feeling to choose this career."
You started dancing from a young age (jazz, flamenco, salsa, bachata, meringue, hiphop, and modern), does dancing in anyway inspire your work in the photography field?
"Definitely. I would say at first, it really inspired what I chose to photograph; my subjects. Even though I had a digicam/point & shoot, I really didn’t start “getting into” photography (finding my language is what it really felt like) till I was sixteen & I took a Photojournalism class at my high school. I got in the darkroom to develop & print my own film. It was like heaven on earth for me. I hated high school. Loved learning. Didn’t like homework. Mainly because I had dance from 5-9:30pm almost every day.
I would always shoot with my dance friends because I felt we knew how to move without fear or direction. Everything just flowed much more organically for me. Once I found the light, I’d frame & let them play amidst the environment or theme we had discussed. Snap. Now, just wait a couple of weeks to see the results! It’s like solving a treasure hunt and building a sculpture at the same time.
Now I just think I do a lot of bizarre yoga poses and smoother movements as a shooter thanks to my dance background. Oh! Concerts/live events are definitely much easier to cover & not be shaky with. That’s thank to flamenco arm exercises for sure!"
Where do you think your passion with photography comes from?
"I believe it actually has a lot to do with my mom. I didn’t realize this until recently but my mom ALWAYS had a camera with film ready as I grew up. We didn’t have anything fancy. Always a compact. Yet she loved capturing moments & also archiving. Some of my earliest memories are me playing in my room in Bogota (Colombia). Sitting on the floor beside my bed and looking through photo albums as the radio played children’s nursery rhymes or stories. There's lots of nostalgia and sentimentality in photography. Unlike filmmaking, it is a much more tangible form of memory keeping or thought capturing. It’s quite a powerful and unique tool. I believe we take it for granted nowadays. With digital/social media. The power of it, that is."
When shooting you mentioned that you mostly use film, who is your top three favorite film photographers?
Oooh! Just three? Can I do two honorable mentions?
(In no specific order):
Mary Ellen Mark
Honorable mentions: 1) Bao Ngo (she mostly shoots digital now but her film work will forever be engraved in my analog dreams. Mainly her use of light and color play) 2) Leo Matiz (shot some of the most stunning portraits of Frida Kahlo & was from my home country, Colombia)
Galvis told me that while shooting, a little girl came up to her, and finally felt she could see herself as one of the Disney Princesses
Every little girl should feel connected to their inner princess
How did you connect with the designer, Irvin Collazo?
"I actually just slipped into his DMs! In all seriousness, I saw one of his designs at my school's library and I was enthralled. It was a handsewn bright red dress but it looked like an upside down psychedelic yet poised rose! I don't even know how to describe it but I had to capture it.
Then I kinda realized I should credit the designer so I took a photo of his name as well & shared it via IG stories. Next thing I know, we've made a connection & he's showing me this beautiful golden gown out of his badass Jeep. The rest is… for your eyes to see!"
Where did you get the inspiration for the shoot collaborating with Irvin Collazo?
"I mainly let him share his story/vision prior to shooting & then worked with our model, Holds Torres, to create an environment and mood. Holda is actually a trained and outstandingly beautiful ballerina so we had no issue giving off each other & working with the ethereal more the dress brought out.
I was however really looking forward to shooting during sunset but it was a particularly cloudy evening & I had actually location scouted a completely different place. Yet once we were shooting, I became inspired by a kind of "fish out of water" vibe. The contrast of suburbia and the pop of the gown just made the whole shoot much more dynamic and experimental towards the end.
Which is probably why I ended up shooting some video as well. I really wanted to capture the movement of the piece."
How did you get into the fashion industry and has it always been a dream of yours?
"Growing up, I always wanted to be a professional soccer athlete. That was my dream. But in America, soccer is not a real possibility in that field. Started doing accounting but it was going to be a regular 9-5 job. Until I, out of nowhere, started fashion school. It gave me that same feeling of controlling my own destiny as did playing sports. Your passion determines the outcome."
Can you talk to us about your featured artwork and the story behind it? We’re in love.
"The dress was part of my debut collection called “Shell of Herself, inspired by a family trip to Corpus Christy, TX. A city close to the shore where my family and I started collecting sea shells. The meaning of “Shell of Herself” is a metaphor in where a shell may look beautiful from the outside, but in the inside it is empty. As a person from the outside people may see you smile and think you’re fine. But inside, you are not yourself. No morals, no personality, no happiness. That’s where the gold fabric come in hand; the color gold signifies that even in your darkest moments you can shine and still be bright at the end."
What is your creative process start to finish? Do you use any specific tools to collect your creative process and make it into reality?
"Ah okay the thing is… it can change each time. Especially pre-production. For conceptual & portrait shoots though, I usually involve a lot of music during pre, production, & even post. I believe music is powerful tool that serves as inspiration, flow, and timing.
I'd say writing/ taking notes is also something I do often when I'm mapping out or planning a shoot. As well as moodboards. I love making cut-out collage ones or finding inspiration online & making PDFs. I try to share these with my models/ subjects, along with thematic notes, music inspo, references etc."
"The way I start my process when it comes to creating or starting a new collection comes from life experiences or things that mean something to me. From there, draw out multiple sketches (50+) and summarize it down to maybe the best 15 looks . After that, I see what fabric is available online or within my location and start the process."
You can check out Alexandra Galvis's website to see more of her work:
Designer - Irvin Collazo
Make Up Stylist - Anh Lee @shine_anh
Production Assistant - Soneil Kumar @soneilkumar