Whatever kind of photography genre or creative venture you’re doing, you’re certainly doing art. Award-winning Italian photographer Oliviero Toscani has one important piece of advice to further your craft, “All art has to provoke something. Great art produces discussion.” If you’re not quite sure yet how to do that, this London Real interview will surely inspire you and give you some fresh ideas on how to create thought-provoking art.
If you have to watch something today, either as a welcome distraction or a source of inspiration, make sure you put this interview on the top your list. In an episode of London Real, Brian Rose gets to sit down with Oliviero Toscani, the creative provocateur whose work was awarded 4 Golden Lions at Cannes, and whose ideas led many famous fashion brands — most notably the Italian fashion company Benetton — into a fearless advertising direction. Here, we get a glimpse of his beginnings in London, finding inspiration in California, and the creative philosophies that brought about his most unforgettable works.
We can see that at the core of Oliviero’s work is the philosophy that “great art produces discussion.” This ideology was the force behind his works for unconventional advertising campaigns that used images of AIDS patients, war, and prisoners on death row. As he said in the interview, this “provocation” was also brought about by his belief that everyone’s richness lies in their individuality, and that every person is a unique work of art.
Like many of us today, Oliviero chose to pick up a camera long ago to serve as a witness of his own time. But, perhaps it’s what he creates out of it that makes him different from the rest of us. He believes that while photography as a profession is now lost, it’s also “the only communication media today that still has got an impact.” This is because it encourages the viewer to take a stand and formulate an opinion. “It’s the only art, the only communication that we look at it in silence,” he noted, and it is with this silence that “we engage our own responsibility toward society and what’s going on.”
Creativity is another important subject Oliviero that touched upon, and his take on it is something we could all relate to and learn from. “Creativity is just a word to explain a consequence,” he said; a label that you put on something that has already been made. He reminds us that the root word is “create” so he encourages us to just make something, even when we’re feeling insecure about our work.
“A creative person is someone who does, in total insecurity, what he feels to do. Probably, the moment of your biggest insecurity is the moment of your biggest creativity.”
While there are many more gems in the interview, we’d like to part with this particular piece of wisdom, especially for those who are working for/with clients (or what Oliviero calls “commitants”): “The quality of the architecture depends on the intelligence of the commitant. Any artist has to be careful to choose his client. Otherwise he won’t go far.”
Because artists more often than not work for someone else, they should at least choose a client that will let him exercise their creative freedom. This essentially means that mediocre clients and projects will limit you and will not let you shine in what you do best. He also notes that, when you have the opportunity to express yourself, or in the case of paid work, your own take on the client’s project, that is when you are most valuable. In turn, you enrich your commitant in terms of power, culture, sensitivity, education, and progress.
Watch Part 2 of the London Real interview with Oliviero Toscani on LondonReal TV.