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  • Lily Newman

Artist Spotlight: Eva Dziedzic de Aguirre

Eva Dziedzic de Aguirre is a freelance Fashion Art Director. We got to chat to Eva about her life, work and inspirations.

Can you tell me a little about yourself and your work?

Privately I am a poet, passionate dancer, free hand drawing artist and mama to 6 year old Nico. Professionally I'm a creative with 25 years of work experience. I work predominantly as a freelance Fashion Art Director for magazines and brands but sometimes I use my expertise working on movie and TV sets. Being educated as a journalist and having tons of experience as a music and Fashion Editor I still like engage in writing or interviewing for the magazines. I also occasionally do odd gigs creating visual displays for big brands like M&S, Burberry, Fat Face and Gap.

How did you get to the point you are at now?

I started my career by a chance, when I was just 19 years old. After failing my first exam to Academy of Fine Art, I took on a part time job as a receptionist for a TV station and within a few weeks I had miraculously advanced to my first creative position. The set designer caught me doodling, demanded I showed him the drafts and on the spot proposed I get his assistant position and that is how it all started really.

I was working on TV sets for 7 years all together, mostly for music stations like MTV, VIVA or programs related to fashion and culture. In the first years I was testing different areas of work trying to find my path: set design, styling, script writing, production. It was time full of adventures, explorations and I met wonderful, inspiring people on the way. One of them was a fashion stylist I shared room with. Inspired, I did a course in fashion styling and art direction and then journalistic studies and soon after I secured my first gig as a freelance fashion editor for the magazine. After a few years I got offered a position of Fashion Director and took that as my priority. I stayed in that capacity for another 3 years and then moved on to London as a Editor at Large and kept that post for another 2 years.

It was a strange transition, from Warsaw to London. My first years here was all about being humble and utilising my visual skills. After a couple of years of working as Visual Manager for a boutique in Carnaby Street, I got my stunt in Burberry head office. It was a far cry from the positions I held back in Warsaw, but I took that time to learn from the best in the industry. Still, I was missing creating my own editorial stories. I started to form teams and doing fashion stories for the magazines and with that I landed a first agent and with the agency representation and continuous editorial work, followed the bookings from the big clients. After 15 years, I still live in London working internationally on fashion and advertising sets.

Could you explain more about your Fashion Art Director role and how your past experiences made you one?

A Fashion Art Director is like a Film Director and Script Writer in one but on the fashion photography set. You need to be focused on so many creative aspects, communicate on so many business and marketing levels, keep the vision clear, story going and atmosphere on set flowing. Oh, and make sure you deliver all on time and budget. Most creatives involved, come in and out on a set, just for the shoot day. For me, as the creative head of the project I have full responsibility from the start to finish and quite a lengthy process. I would usually start work a few weeks before the shoot and finish a few days after. When working for the client I usually would develop the given brief. With editorial work I mostly draw from my imagination. The starting point could be a piece of my poetry or an emotional state I want to explore a discussion I just had, a memory to bring back to life or a cultural or social theme which got under my skin. Every fashion art director I guess is different in way they conceive their work, some start from fashion trends in mind. I write stories first and then adapt fashion trends depending on the seasonal mood.

Looking back at my career path, even if it seems kind of chaotic, I do see all the needed elements being integrated to make me a fashion art director as I am today. I focus on the whole picture, but because of all the experience in styling, set design and work as a editor I can see also the micro aspects of all, I understand the realities of each field and if needed I can easily step into the role, hands on. It helps as well on a communication level. As I have experience in different creative fields I can fairly judge, give respect or make decisions based on facts rather than on unrealistic expectations.

When you were a child, what career did you see yourself having?

I think I was born to be an artist, nobody really questioned it in my family. I was always this sweet but rather spaced out kid, with pencils and paper at the ready, not walking but dancing through life with effortless, original style. I experimented a lot with art, but my main things have always been: drawing, writing and dancing. Recalling my memories of my mother, I was also rather serious about my fashion style since early age. Each evening I would assist her, when choosing and prepping outfits for the next day, and then in the morning, I often would change my mind and I dressed in something else, more in tune with my mood that day.

I wrote my first short story aged about 3 years old, my first inspired poem was aired on national radio when I was 6. In nursery I had a dedicated space for my seasonal art work and by the age of 10 I got a chance to be signed to a dance company travelling the world. Dance was actually my biggest passion, but my rebellious attitude was not going along with it. I refused to be part of certain dance routines, I often rebelled against the costumes and makeup. I was a little drama queen you could say. But really, I was just a dance soloist with natural flow into freestyle. It was the early 80s in Poland and modern jazz was the most alternative direction in dance.

As a child, even if I was well equipped with artistic talents, I was not sure which direction to take for life I even thought I was so engaged and successful pursuing my art passions. I have to admit I had a hard time in my school years following the traditional educational program. I pretty much spent my school years skipping through lessons, just marking my excellence in art, literacy and sports. I was not interested in the wider curriculum. I would drive my teachers of the other subjects crazy because I could be there physically but was actually in my own world, doodling or writing away.

Interestingly, I am in a time in my life, when all of my talents are calling at the same time. Apart from doing my art directing job I am developing a studio concept which incorporates all my passions and I hope it's going to be creative healing space for many. This idea has been growing in my mind for a few years now and I hope to meet the right people to help me with starting it up. I have learned through the years to stick to my creative guns and let business people do their job selling it out. So keep watching this space for new, unexpected projects. I was always full of creative energy, and it is still rolling in my 40s in all curious directions.

What is your favourite cultural product at the moment?

Since the iPods are out of date I am totally hooked up on Spotify, digging into musical memories, checking in with new releases and creating my playlists for all sort of moods and dance practices.

Since lockdown I am regularly exploring some online platforms for mindfulness like DailyOm. Last year I got many amazing courses from there, exploring my passion in meditative dance, psychology and mindfulness. I took a few courses with one of my mentors - Belinda Matwali and highly recommend those if you want to design your own meditative mood and be independent from any guided meditations. It's the simple pleasures these days.

Are there any movies which made a special impression on you?

“Malcolm and Marie” an arthouse film piece by Sam Levinson, written, produced and directed during the pandemic. It was filmed entirely in black and white and I cannot praise the visual elegance that film has enough. Every fragment I could turn in stunning photography image, hang on a wall and admire. I especially like it when the movie stirs an emotion and a deep thought in me. This piece got me in such a state I could not stop thinking about it for days. I got actually triggered in the first half an hour of the movie, I had to stop it and come back to watch it the next day.

Musing about recent cinematography I can not omit Netflix hit series The Queen's Gambit.

I loved everything about it, the story, the characters, the costumes, light moods! The series is definitely staying with me for years. I know I will come back to it many times. That is what I do when I am fascinated with a movie piece. After I watch it first with an open heart, next time I will approach it for the story details, another time for costumes or camera work or the edit tricks.

What are you most proud of doing? What do you consider your biggest achievement to date?

I could list some projects or positions I've held but then when I really think about it, I am mostly proud of staying in the fashion industry for 20 years + and preserving myself the way I am, not the way people wish me to be. I have been doing the things I love and never change to the standards which I don’t agree with. It did cost me some contracts and contacts but I can always look at myself in the mirror, right in the eye, and say - hey girl, I am proud of you doing your thing and keeping your moral grounds and standards high.

I am also rather proud of being mum. I know its sounds cliche but I do consider my son Nico my biggest achievement to date. He truly is a special soul, beautiful inside and out. He is not only smart but also has a big open heart, very kind and has a rather philosophical nature. He challenges me everyday, in a good way. He is passionate about the Universe and I am especially proud he looks at himself first as a Planet Earth inhabitant in Bigger Solar System rather than English, Polish or Mexican. I took special care to keep Nico close to nature, even in London, always trying to live near a park and spending a vast amount of time exploring. Now, he knows so much about nature, I learn from him sometimes!

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