How to Make it as a Young Creative, According to Artist Ana Kraš

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Outtake of Emma Rosenzweig from GANNI P/S19 campaignPhotography by Ana Kraš

The multi-disciplinary artist behind GANNI’s latest campaign shares advice she’s learnt along the way

“At one point I was like, you know what, I’ll just do whatever I do and if people don’t take me seriously it doesn’t matter,” says Serbia-born, New York-based artist Ana Kraš of her polymathic practice, which encompasses photography, painting, drawing, furniture and clothing at once. “I am doing it for myself.”

Chief of her many collaborators is GANNI, the Danish clothing label begun by wife-and-husband Ditte and Nicolaj Reffstrup in Copenhagen, the city they live and work in. “I didn’t know about the brand back in the day,” she says over the phone from New York. “But two and a half years ago, they reached out to me asking to meet up, and I really liked their vibe. It was the beginning of a relationship and it just continued that way.” Since, their collaboration has been fruitful – Kraš’ instinctual photographs, learnt from a want to capture her friends in Belgrade and New York, have made up several of their campaigns. (Likewise, an education in design has seen her create sets for the brand’s twice-yearly shows at Copenhagen Fashion Week.)

As such, the city has become something of a second home – or third, after Belgrade, Serbia, where she was born and returns often, and New York, where she currently lives with her boyfriend, the musician Devonté ‘Dev’ Hynes of Blood Orange. Last year, her photographs of the Danish capital – from the vast Royal Horse Stables to plates of Clingfilm-wrapped smørrebrød sandwiches at the legendary café Gitte Kik – were then printed on to fabric and hung on scaffolding to provide the backdrop for the brand’s Autumn/Winter 2018 collection. “Copenhagen is a place where everyone is a friend of a friend,” Kraš says. 

One of these friends of a friend was Danish artist and model Emma Rosenzweig, who also recently collaborated with GANNI on a short film entitled Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow and who Kraš photographed for their latest campaign in Rosenzweig’s Copenhagen home. “It was the perfect fit for her as a model,” Kraš says of the resulting images, shot on film in her own impromptu style. “This time it felt a little more personal.”

Here, among outtakes from her near three-year catalogue of work with GANNI, Kraš talks about photographing her contemporaries – and why it’s important to know when to say no. 

On photographing Emma Rosenzweig, and sharing birthdays...
“I was really happy to hear that Emma was the subject, I do like that [at GANNI] we always have a different concept, or a different shoot, because it doesn’t get boring for me as a photographer. This time it felt a little bit more personal, because it was Emma and we shot her in her house. She is a filmmaker, and artist. She’s a model as well sometimes. She was doing a film project with GANNI – although I did not see them at the time – which was why it was the perfect fit for her as a model. Shooting her at her house was really wonderful. Tiny fact – me and Emma actually share a birthday; we were both born on the same day.”

On why it’s best not to put yourself into a creative box... 
“It has pros and cons, the same way as being focused on one thing has. I just think it’s really good to not have to fit in a box and try to do one thing... or seven! I think it’s all fine – nowadays it’s becoming more normal and accepted and easier to do that. I definitely know that when I finished my university, which was roughly ten years ago, I remember having a real struggle for a couple of years, because everyone was telling me ‘Oh you need to focus on one thing, no one is going to take it seriously otherwise’ and it was really difficult actually. It kind of made me paralysed for some time, and I felt like I was not productive enough. Then at one point, I was like, you know what I’ll just do whatever I do, and if people don’t take me seriously, doesn’t matter. I am doing it for myself so it kind of worked for me, and I think it does work. Everyone has a different formula. As long as you’re happy I don’t think anyone should force themselves to fit in anything.”

On what makes a good photograph...
“I think it’s a matter of taste. I don’t think a good photo and a bad photo exists just on its own, I think it’s just really personal. For me it’s all about the feeling, I don’t care about the quality of the photo in any sense. I don’t like fancy cameras myself; I don’t think it matters for the photo. Either you feel it or you don’t, the same about people or food. I think it’s because I’m not a professionally trained photographer; I shoot on film, I use natural light only, and I started by taking photos of my friends and family or random people on the street, so I think it’s still my approach even now when I do bigger fashion shoots.”

On finding inspiration in your past... 
“I never had a hero; one person that I was more drawn to than the others. There was never just one artist, or one person, but I definitely think that a lot of my influences come from where I come from. Just subconsciously, because it’s a visually specific place and I grew up in a specific time. So I think that a lot of things in my childhood influenced me, both visually and also ethically, I guess. It’s subtle, but when I go back home to Belgrade I see the architecture and I see how it’s in my work. It’s not a specific thing, but I think it’s all in us. We channel it at different moments.”

On learning to say no...
“As you are growing older and doing more work you have to compromise less and less. I think that’s just a goal for everyone. I think in the industry a lot of times people are forced to hang with people they really don’t like, l think that doesn’t need to happen. My rule is, it’s one life, and there are so many people in the world – you do not need to work with someone who irritates you. I think choosing the people you are surrounded by is important. I think, on that note, another piece of advice is to not be afraid to say no. I think sometimes the best things happen out of knowing when to say no. When you say no to things that don’t feel right for you people appreciate you more. I know it is definitely sometimes hard to say in the moment, but it’s important to look at the bigger picture.”

See Ana Kraš latest campaign for GANNI, starring Emma Rosenzweig, here.