“Happiness, nostalgia and melancholy,” are the words that Constantin Prozorov uses to best encapsulate the interplay of emotions at work in his creative process.
Somewhere beyond the imagination there’s a place where the familiar meets the strange, where dreams echo reality, and where images resemble fragments of the subconscious. Call it mixed media, call it surrealism…enter the universe of collage artist Constantin Prozorov.
It’s true, the human eye is overwhelmed with images, and Berlin-based Prozorov is determined to challenge the principles of visual perception in his fashion-based collage practice. Incorporating layer upon layer of landscapes, textures, objects, animals, humans and abstract elements, the artist challenges us to look beyond the confines of the typical ‘fashion’ imagery clogging our social media feeds every minute.
While collage art has existed for centuries, Prozorov has developed a novel approach to using it as a vehicle for fashion storytelling on social media through a wildly artistic lens. As viewers and consumers, we are invited to pause our mindless scrolling and take a few moments to engage with his work on both a physical and emotional level. There is something profoundly refreshing in the act of ‘seeing’ rather than ‘skimming’.
“I believe collage art is a form of universal communication. We are living in a time where you are constantly overwhelmed with so many images, there’s basically a pollution of images,” he Prozorov tells ICON. “When you start to mix media, you ask people to look at images in a way they haven’t considered before.”
Manipulating the ‘fashion image’ stems from Prozorov’s years of experience working across Europe’s top ateliers, showrooms and runway shows. As Picasso noted, you have to learn the rules in order to break them. After studying Fashion Communication Design in Munich, Prozorov worked for Condé Nast in Paris, eventually moving to Berlin where he was assistant to German designer Wolfgang Joop. He observed the abundance of existing fashion content from lookbooks, campaigns and runways, and was inspired to explore ways this material could be reinterpreted through a fluidly artistic lens.
“I just started experimenting with imagery to see what might happen. At the same time, I noticed there was a shift in how people were engaging with fashion and art content on Instagram, so I thought it might be a good time to test the response to this kind of image on social media,” he says.
While the artist’s foray into fashion collage might have started out as being ‘just for fun’, his work soon exploded into public consciousness on social media. Audiences were mesmerised by the thematic intricacy of his compositions that were unlike the typical fashion images on Instagram. Engaging thousands of likes and comments on every collage he posts, Prozorov appreciates a modern viewer’s desire to be challenged and thrilled by visual content, inviting them to escape their own reality in the blink of an eye.
“Collage is something beyond imagination.”
“You’re plugging into a new dimension of creativity. It’s like a puzzle, You’re cutting things out and putting them together in unexpected ways, and that’s where the stories come from,’’ he says.
His work piqued the interest of luxury fashion houses including Gucci and Moncler, presenting a striking vehicle for storytelling across campaigns and branded projects. Any CEO or Creative Director who works with Prozorov exposes their consumer to a realm of creative possibilities far beyond the conventions of traditional photography and image-making. His 2019 campaign collaboration with Moncler – for which he produced a series of collages situating the brand’s iconic puffer jackets in scintillating theatrical landscapes from ‘outer space’ – is one of his most rewarding projects to date.
“This project was the first time I could really explore something, and invite people to look at imagery in a new way. I had no pressure in terms of a set brief. This trust from Remo Ruffini (Moncler’s CEO) gave me total creative freedom to go beyond the work I’d done before,” he says.
With most of his clients based in Italy and France, Prozorov continues to develop his commercial and personal artistic practice with a strong focus on the current global issues. Reinterpreting traditional photography with a twist of the bizarre, the humorous, and the unexpected, there is an undercurrent of irony present in each of his works. You only have to take a moment to find it.
“I’m not trying to make fun of anything in particular, but I know people want to look at images and escape from the pressures of everyday life. I always think about how I can express my message in a way that’s not too serious. It’s about giving people the opportunity to connect with the art in a way that is accessible to them.”
From fashion to art, to everyday life, Prozorov has always had a strong sense of society’s pressing concerns. His latest personal project Beyond Fashion (produced in collaboration with Stephanie Manasseh, founder of the Accessible Art Fair, Brussels and SM Art Advisory) considers how the uncertainty of the future is communicated by the fashion industry. With a global pandemic providing the framework for his exploration, the artist considers key themes including the significance of centralisation, the decline of the ‘metropolis’, and the luxury sphere’s perception of the world.
“For me it was really important to create something that reflects our society,” says Prozorov of his vision for Beyond Fashion. “I want to explore how fashion tells these stories of hardship. I want to explore how fashion is really affecting our world.”
Inundated by purchasing requests for his collages, Prozorov has also recently launched an online store featuring a limited edition of 100 signed and numbered giclée prints. The works reflect his collaborations with Moncler and Gucci, making striking showpieces for styling in the home and office. He has also decided to donate 20 percent of proceeds from every sale made from his store to the global animal welfare organisation Four Paws, in recognition of the inspiration he draws from animals and the natural world.
With one collaboration following the next and a client list spanning multiple continents, Prozorov’s career as an independent fashion artist appears to be in full flight. He reflects on the evolution of his career over the past few years, taking a moment to consider how he would summarise his creative practice.
“When you’re in the process of creating the work you’re plugging into the spheres of your creativity, and you’re sharing this with the world. It’s deeply personal.”