Behind the scenes of a seductive experiment with the female form

How Louise Mertens subverts expectation with a liberal combination of collage and mixed-media.

Antwerp-based graphic designer Louise Mertens graduated in 2013 with a Masters in Fine Arts. Her creative design is "inspired by the female body", and she specialises in subverting expectations using a liberal combination of mixed media and collaged materials.

Here, Mertens reveals how her experiments with the female form are particularly inspired by the work of a leading Polish portraitist and fashion photographer...

How did this project come about?

There wasn't a brief as such. It's actually a collaboration between the talented photographer Aleksandra Zaborowska and myself. I've been following her work for a while through Behance and when I saw this picture, titled 'Maria', I felt the urge to do something with it. I asked her kindly and she gave me permission to work with her image.

What were you trying to achieve?

The idea behind this work was to try and manipulate something human into something that's new, incomprehensible, mysterious and unknown. I try to obtain this feeling in all my work.

How would you describe the aesthetic?

It's different to my other projects. When I started making artworks, I worked very abstractly. Later on my work became darker and I eliminated almost all colour.

I relate this style to my personal feelings. When I started out as a graphic designer proper, everything was very new to me and I was afraid what the future might bring. When I look back on my work, I see the necessity for safeness and calm.

Now I'm more confident; I learned to let go of things. I discovered a new side to me in my work. I experiment with many colours, brushes and impulsive movements. I add new textures and digital aspects to my work such as paint, brushstrokes and colourful layers.

What was the most challenging aspect?

Most challenging for me was deciding when the work was finished. It's something I find difficult because I'm a perfectionist. When I work as a graphic designer, the client 'helps' to decide when something is finished or not.

Why is this project a folio highlight?

It's a fresh work for a new period of my life.

This article first appeared in Computer Arts issue 231, Self-Promo to Suit You – 100 pages on how to win more design work by playing to the strengths of your personality, and much more.