From Herb Ritts to Rankin, the desert has been an endless source of inspiration for countless fashion photographers. The magical mixture of isolation, limitless terrains and unparalleled light is the perfect canvas for visuals.
Bringing a touch of modern surrealism to the California desert, Lefawnhawk is a creative director and transmedia artist with a beautifully honed aesthetic. Drawn to the ethereal and sculptural, the mysterious LA-based artist creates sublime fashion portraits, remarkable for their minimalism and elegance.
Inspired by a nomadic childhood and a love of nature, Lefawnhawk practices her creativity as a kind of spiritualism. We talked to her about bringing her ideas to life, staying restlessly curious and living as a zen stoic.
Hi Lefawnhawk, you have a very distinct & refined aesthetic – how did you develop it?
It is a natural visual unfolding of the intuitive process of discovery and exploration. I follow my curiosity, wherever my heart sings, I follow. My impulse and intuition are one in the same, and I just work on getting out of my own way to allow for creations to come from that pure and instinctual place
How did you get started as an art director?
I began as a fashion designer that eventually evolved into Creative Direction for Brands. Meanwhile I was working freelance in Art Directing photoshoots and Directing fashion and music videos, having art exhibits, playing in a band etc. I’m very curious and bore easily so I am constantly seeking to challenging myself in new ways.
Do you capture the images yourself or work with photographers to do so?
I do both. I love to collaborate. I have a close and unique relationship with those I choose to collaborate with. I’m very hands on and usually do the selections and post work either with my collaborator or on my own depending on the project. When I shoot on my own, I do it all…. a one man production which can be very tedious, but I am able to execute exactly what I’m imagining and take the time I need, and that is very rewarding as well.
Who are some of the photographers and creatives that influence you?
I’m inspired by philosophers, naturalists, surrealists, and modernists with a strong spiritual influence and deep connection to nature and the zen arts. Top influences are Georgia O’keefe, Brancusi, Thoreau, Magritte, Noguchi, Ansel Adams, James Turrell, Edward Abbey, Andy Goldsworthy, Alan Watts to name a few.
What is it about the environment of the desert that is such a source of inspiration for you in your work?
I grew up in the high desert of Arizona. I moved to LA when I as 18, but over the years on my visits there, I’ve gained a deep appreciation of the desert and draw my inspiration both spiritual and material from there. Shooting in the desert is creatively engaging with my natural playground. It feeds my soul to be present with the powerful desert landscapes. It can also be very challenging.
How is the experience of working on shoots there?
You have to respect the desert… she’s beautiful, but she can also be lethal. I’m very careful to play with caution and am always prepared to face the elements.
How do you plan your images out – is it a meticulous process for you, or is there an element of spontaneity?
It’s both. Sometimes it’s a matter of grabbing a few things out of my costume collection, hopping in the car and driving out to a part of the desert I haven’t explored before. Other times I have a particular vision in my minds eye that I want to execute. I go with the intention of executing that vision, but allow for the creative process to have the freedom to evolve and naturally manifest.
There is a beautiful sense of minimalism to your visuals, are you disciplined about removing elements and retaining the simplicity?
I think I am a bit of a zen stoic at heart. My daily practice is in the intent of letting go of excess and minimising desires to clear space for connection and to have the awareness and clarity to allow for the creative impulse to be fully realised without distraction or disruption. That is not to say that I don’t let the laundry build up or that my work station doesn’t get messy. I enjoy the ritual of putting little moments of chaos in order, giving attention to creating space between thoughts, refining and minimising possessions, consistently in practice of returning to the essential.
Has Instagram helped you as a creator of images, do you find inspiration on there?
Definitely. Instagram is a great tool of accountability, connection, community and support. I find inspiration everywhere… but Instagram is definitely a great platform for an artist to share, exchange and get feedback that only really happened in galleries before.
What are some of your favourite accounts to follow for inspiration?
Insta’s that have caught my eye are, @thismintymoment @luciegris @dellostudio and I always visit the blog Blueberry Modern. I’m a total screenshot junkie… and will just scroll through my image bank to feed my creative subconscious.
11 September 2018