INTERVIEW WITH DANIEL SANNWALD
Known for walking the line between hyperrealism and science fiction, Sannwald via his fantastical images, transport the viewer to a magical, hallucinatory and dreamlike place. And what a place that is.
Having grown up in Munich, an art degree at the Academy of Antwerp ensued. From there he moved to Bangkok and Yogyakarta, later settling in London. His art studies, references and the culmination of cultures from these various geographical locations all play into his work.
He switches from one medium to the next, from analogue to digital, old-school film cameras to iPhones, to collage and painting. The result? Think high-octane and often glossy images with a colorful overtone and a dark undertone. As a consequence, leading creatives have tapped into his aesthetic including M.I.A., John Legend, Rihanna, Dazed and Confused and Vogue.
Impounding his status as one of the top fashion photographers on the contemporary landscape, Spektrum is undoubtedly an artists’ book. Displaying Sannwald's greatest hits from recent years within its 128 pages, it perfectly demonstrates his curiosity for all things other-worldly.
Felicity Carter: How did you start off in the industry?
Daniel Sannwald: I left Germany in my early twenties and after some travels to Asia I moved to Antwerp to study at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. I did my course in Visual Arts / Photography. The school is well known for its fashion department, so from my first year I was already very inspired by what the students in the fashion department created and most of my friends were fashion students. Next to uni I started to shoot a lot of fashion photography, using not only the students work but also the established Antwerp designers. In the beginning of my second year I shared my works with i-D and Dazed and Confused. Both got back to me and offered my some pages in their magazine. Nicola Formichetti (at the time he wasFashion Director) and Emma Reeves (back then Photo Editor) were very supportive and continued giving me opportunities working for the magazine along with Katie Shillingford and Robbie Spencer. That was about 13 years ago!
FC: Would you say you're more of a photographer or artist?
DC: My education was strictly art based and my work back at uni was very different to the work I do now. These days, I see myself as an applied artist. I find the bridge between commercial and arts very interesting. I find artists like Chris Cunningham who manage to create the bridge in commercials for Gucci, very exciting. My social network consists of more artists than people of the fashion industry. My heart is still deeply rooted in arts even if I see myself now as an applied artist.
FC: How would you describe your aesthetic?
DS: My journey as a fashion photographer went through different stages. I came from shooting analogue mostly black and white, very inspired by film noir which I then manipulated with digital glitches and distortions. A journalist called it once “Tech-Noir" it was before the time of social media, so not so much can be found of that time anymore. These days I am very busy with the hyper-real and digital art. I always look for new ways to capture images and use a lot of different mediums such as flip phone cameras, HD cameras and 3D scanners.
FC: Which medium are you most attracted to?
DS: These days I enjoy and find myself working more and exploring video. I started working as a music video director - it's something I find a great challenge and it's an exciting new step in my career. I love that I have to deal with sounds, time and movements. I find it really special to give visuals to a song.
FC: You spent some years in Antwerp, how does that play into your work visually?
DS: Antwerp is a very special city to me as I feel it's the city that gave me my understanding of what I wanted to do and the city which educated me as a creative. I still feel that a lot of my work and creativity comes from my time in Antwerp. I've been living in London for 8 years now, it is a great creative city and was the next step for me and my career.
You can read the entire interview in Forbes.