Overdressed
at Work:
Petros Aronis

an interview

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O: That must have been Maria Jeleńska, our wonderful Sustainability Editor. We are so glad you found us through her.

 

You have studied the History of Art. Do you integrate your knowledge of this subject into your photography?

P: Yes, I used to directly reference famous works of art in my work. I used to do appropriations of paintings as criticism towards the canon of the history of art. For example, I recreated The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo and replaced God with a black man or Roy Lichtenstein’s women with feminine queer identities to challenge the white-cis narrative in the history of art. However, my references now have become a lot more subtle. I’m more interested in how famous painters or photographers have achieved a particular feeling in their work and I try to recreate that less directly.

O: Is there a photographer you look up to or a fashion campaign you find particularly inspiring?

P: My biggest influence in fashion photography is Tim Walker. In his photographs, the clothes are a means to tell a story rather than the story itself. I love his use of extreme proportions and his use of fantastical elements, always in such a subtle way. I am trying to do the same but instead of the whimsical I am interested in the surreal.

P

His video installations have been exhibited in cities like Glasgow and Prague. Recently, he completed his first short narrative film, OUTWIT, a film about transphobia.

       etros Aronis is a visual artist specialising in photography and film, working between London and Athens. He has an MA in History of Art from the University of Glasgow and an MFA in Filmmaking from the  University of Arts London. These degrees introduced him to theories of intersectionality and his work has focused on inclusivity ever since.

His photography is primarily concerned with concepts and is driven by narrative. His style blends romantic motives with sarcasm and magical realism. Some highlights of his photographic work include the fashion editorial for the graduate designer Charlotte Kathleen that was featured in British Vogue and the creation of Kristof’s album cover for Inner Ear Records.
 

Overdressed: It is so lovely to meet you, Petros. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our readers’ questions. I absolutely love your work and think your photography is stunning. How did you first find out about Overdressed Magazine?

Petros: Thank you for having me. I first heard about Overdressed Magazine from a friend I met in Glasgow, Maria, she had tagged you in her Instagram stories.

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A lot of things inspire me, it may be my friends, a photograph, a painting, philosophical ideas, social issues or even a line from a film.

O: How do you normally approach your photo or film shoots? How do you prepare for them?

P: I like to be prepared on set. I do camera and lighting plans, sketches of final photographs, storyboards, and mood boards. I found that the more  prepared I am, the more layers I am allowed to attach to my work.

O: How do you come up with new concepts and projects? Do you actively brainstorm, do you do research or do they just come to you?

P: It’s a mixture of both. I come up with some ideas but a lot of research goes into it in order to have a complete project. My work revolves around things that I am dealing with at the time or things that I just find fascinating. A lot of things inspire me, it may be my friends, a photograph, a painting, philosophical ideas, social issues or even a line from a film. I take these inspirations and try to make them as abstract as possible. I, then, research around the topic both visually and theoretically and I am trying to attach different meanings to a single concept. For example, I did an editorial under the theme of hell (‘INFERNO’) which was inspired by a dream I had that I died and went to hell. My main focus was that Christianity condemns queer identities to hell but I wanted to represent an unashamed queer identity that accepts their fate and wilfully goes to hell. Visually, I wanted to deliver the essence of hell rather than portraying someone wrapped in flames.

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What has worked for me so far is getting in touch with people whom I admire for their work.

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O: What advice would you give young photographers or filmmakers who are just getting started to make their work more visible and have it exhibited, as yours has been?

P: I feel I am still quite new in the industry so I shouldn’t be giving any advice. But what has worked for me so far is getting in touch with people whom I admire for their work. So contact people, just say hi, tell them what you like about their work and ask if they want to collaborate with you. I promise you soon enough people will start reaching out to you.

O: One of your main focuses is intersectionality. In more recent  years, the fashion industry has tried to be more inclusive. In how far do you think it has achieved this and where do you personally feel it may be going wrong?

P: I think intersectionality still has a long way to go. In recent years, we have seen some kind of diverse representation because it has become the popular thing to do. Fashion companies put a quota on diversity models to avoid a backlash. I don’t think it is genuine. The issue for me is that the people who are in positions of power are not diverse enough. So, I would urge for intersectionality in the executive positions of the fashion industry, people who will advocate for more intersectional representation in all stages of production.

O: I fully agree with you. 

You recently finished your first short narrative film, OUTWIT,  which addresses the issue of transphobia. Why have you chosen this particular topic and how have you approached it?

P: I wanted to speak about my own experiences with bullying, harassment and trauma but I wanted to highlight the struggles of a more marginalised and often overlooked social group: trans women. I just wanted to show that when people are continuously violent against you without having to face any consequences for this behaviour, you will eventually have to use violence against them. Nasia, who portrays Frankie, really helped me to adapt the script where needed by sharing her personal experiences with me, which helped in making the film more honest.

My approach to the film was to allow the characters to move in a grey area where the borders of right and wrong are blurred. I didn’t want to create a transphobe as an evil caricature or a victim of transphobia as the perfect poster-child for resilience.

O: That sounds incredibly interesting. What is something important that you have learned while working on this project and that you think people should be aware of?

P: Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. But seriously. I remember we spent a couple of hours trying to figure out ways to glue the nail extensions of the actress while we were filming the most intense scene of the film. Being organised is great, but random stuff will happen and you just cannot prepare for everything.

O: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. We can't wait to see your future projects!

P: Thank you so much for having me. It was lovely to speak to you and Overdressed Magazine.

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Credits

Photographer
Petros Aronis

Photo 1
Model: Taahliah

Stylist: Rhianonne Stone

MUA: Mikala Monsoon

Photo 2
Model & MUA: Reject (Lex)

Hair: Anna Maria Ctergiou

Special Thanks: Eleni Poulopoulou

Editor & Layout
Veruschka Haas

Photo 3
Model: Dajana Kuban 

MUA: Tijana Savicevic