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The Cover Story of Gina Adam

 

Learn about Gina’s history in creativity and craftsmanship

The talented and self-taught leather artist Gina Adam was born in a small town in western Germany where she resided for 36 years before moving to Saxony, eastern Germany, 15 years ago.

Gina has been doing artistry and handcrafts almost her entire life. As a child, she used to draw a lot and tried her skills in clay sculpting and wood carving. She also picked up oil painting in her early teens and kept at it for quite a while but decided to let go when she realized she couldn’t stand the smell of turpentine anymore.

 

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Gina says she’s always liked to create things with her hands. She took a class and learned how to sew with a machine to make her own clothes also as a teenager.
Being highly interested in the culture and spiritual ways of Native Americans she dove into the subject when she was in her twenties by holding lectures about their past and present way of life, learning their traditional bead work, making Native American jewelry and traditional clothes of elk and moose hide for interested customers.
At this time Gina had a small shop set up in her house where she had people come over by appointment if they wanted to get something custom-made by her, she even marketed and sold her work at several Biker and Country & Western fairs. Direct selling, reaching customers and communicating via Internet and social media was far off at these times!

 

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Being a cowgirl, horse owner and western rider from her youth on, it was inevitable to get in touch with high quality, heavy duty leather items and she tells us that she has always admired the nicely handcrafted and tooled old-timer saddles and tack, colorful and extraordinary looking cowboy boots and other related items. She even taught herself how to repair and individualize her tack.
Over 20 years ago she bought her first professional sewing machine; a desk mounted Pfaff 262, equipped with two motors and thus capable of sewing thicker leather.
Gina started making chaps for farriers and western riders, custom leather patched and laced jeans for bikers, vests, skirts, ponchos, etc. using expensive and high quality non-chrome tanned leather.

 

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Around 10 years ago, Gina picked up (and got hooked on) traditional archery. She started this journey by exploring the very basics; making bows and arrows the traditional way and using nature’s materials just like our ancestors did. But what brought her to start making all these beautiful, great looking and quality leather work we know of her today?

 

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Anna Master of Gemsforall interviewed Gina for us!

 

How and when did it all begin, what helped you to become what you are now?

People know me as a designated traditional archer. I found most of the common archery equipment that could be bought here pretty dysfunctional, ugly looking and of poor quality. So I started making my own to match my needs and demands. And from there it was only a few steps until I started my first attempts in leather tooling, to be able to personalize the goods I was making and I got carried away.

 

Is leather work and leather tooling your “one and only” love or have you tried anything else?

Well, I’ve taken sneak-peeks at almost every kind of artistic work but after a long journey through skills and talents I found leather to be my real “true love”. Leather is such a wonderful and warm material which opens such a wide range of possibilities for creating something beautiful, yet lasting and individual. And I can use all the talents and skills that were given to me by the great spirit!

 

What inspires you to create such beautiful artwork? Looking at your work I would say you live somewhere deep in the forest listening to the song of birds, trees and creeks. Am I right?

Yes, I have always been a person very close to Mother Nature and all what’s in it. It’s my source of inspiration, spirituality and for clearing my mind, which is essential for creativity! I am blessed to live pretty much “in the outskirts of town”, in a sparsely populated area with lots of space and wildlife, even eagles and wolves. That’s really inspiring!

 

I believe everybody knows your exclusive leather feathers, they are so charming! What bird inspired you to make those feathers the first time?

I love birds, especially birds of prey; they were always an inspiration for me, a synonym of freedom and a wide, open, clear and sharp view. I love their beautiful feathering. That’s why I also always use feathers of a red kite in my product photography. Naturally I had to try creating raptor feathers out of leather, since it’s my chosen and beloved material to work with!

 

Do you have a favorite product of yours? If so, what is it? And, is there a story behind it?

Well, I like to create beautiful leather items for good and practical use…difficult to pick THE favorite item I like making most. I like doing rather small projects, like archery arm bracers, for example. There is not really a lot of time involved making the “raw piece” and they still can be individualized nicely with a special tooling and finish. I like to move forward and keep my mind and eyes busy, which is not so easy when doing larger projects.

 

Have you ever thought of making tutorials for your projects or have you already made some?

Actually, not really, since I’ve always found it so time consuming. Photographing, editing and commenting of the different working steps definitely gets in the way of my work flow. So I couldn’t find the time for this yet.
I find it wonderful and gracious of other leather workers to share so many good and valuable instructional videos on the internet. Though I must admit that I rarely ever watch any :).

 

Looking back at your own learning process, what advice would you give to someone who wants to become a leather crafter? Is there anything you would like to tell them?

“Go out and just do it”! Use your own ideas, skills and creativity and be patient…it’s no shame walking the path of trial and error! Never give up and don’t compare your early work to the work of others who have been doing the craft for quite some years already! And you don’t need a fancy and expensive tool collection right from the start when you don’t even know if you’ll stick to it! Begin with basic materials and equipment to learn how to eventually “work around” difficulties. You are going to be a tool and equipment nerd pretty soon anyway! Seek for helpful advice if you get stuck and practice, practice, practice! Leatherwork isn’t a money maker, so that shouldn’t be your main motivation or you might get disappointed real quick.

 

Do you take part in competitions or exhibitions? Have you got a shop or gallery where people could see more of your excellent creations?

Unlike in the US, we unfortunately don’t have competitions, exhibitions and craft shows here in Germany. I sure would attend if we had them. There are some artisan fairs here and there, but those aren’t really in the league where I want to exhibit my artwork.
I present my work on Facebook and also through my b2zone depict where a variety of my work can be viewed in high resolution and full screen modus, almost as if you could touch it with your hands!

 
Gina, thank you so much for sharing this sneak-peek into your craftswomen’s world!

 

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The Cover Story of Achraf Baznani

Achraf Baznani tells us that he is driven by innovation and creativity and that his main aim to enhance photos digitally is to have viewers reflect and ponder. “I try to place myself in the shoes of the viewers, and think, what would they think, and what sort of questions will they likely pose. Then, I move forward and embark on a creative project. This is the way I love to work,” he says.

 

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An artist like Baznani does not think of pictures as the result of simple shots captured and produced by the camera itself but rather as an open road of possibilities where people can be made aware of unexpected scenes full of wonder that show and explain the feelings of the photographer. In his series “Inside My Dreams” we face a mirror that reflects our own lives in images that portray situations we deal with and those problems that we all need to confront in real life. Unique compositions that take our hand and lead us through a journey packed with insightful messages and interesting ideas.

The magic of surrealism is that we can take a break from reality. “I believe that with my photos I can have people think outside the box and I still manage to convey a special message using normal things we find around us every day,” says Baznani. His art is not about complexity. It is simply about being inspirational and distinctive, which allows him in turn to find inspiration in those conventional objects around him by simply thinking about how they can be used in a photograph, breaking down the possibilities and being innovative. His distinctive talent allows him to identify the right shot to then transform his photographs through digital manipulation into unexpected creations that make us ponder and contemplate.

 

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As a youngster, Baznani was incredibly obsessed with miniatures and with the magic in cinema depicting the small-scale world. The small man portrayed in all his artwork is Baznani himself. As he shared with us, “I used to tilt-shift to create small worlds using Photoshop so I thought, ‘why not place my own self in a dreamy and surreal world?’” The messages transported by his photography represent personal thoughts and believes, in other words, things he cares about. So his choice to depict himself in his art is only fitting. As an artist Baznani takes inspiration directly from his everyday life using self-portraiture to create characters that are a representation of a surreal, iconic and passionate world in which he dreams to live. He transports us outside and away from the conflicts of human personality and into the ironic ambiguity that exists between the wisdom of adulthood and the innocence of children and animals. The transformation from conventional into extraordinary happens at that moment when he adds his very personal touch. That is when his creations receive his unwritten signature that tells us Baznani was there.

 

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Achraf Baznani favors a square frame to encourage the viewer’s eye to travel in a circle (rather than horizontally or vertically) in order to allow the feeling of a well-balanced perception of the scene. In his opinion the composition is one of the most difficult areas of a photograph because it requires very hard work to make a composition that truly captures the viewer’s attention. Baznani’s work is a quest for uniqueness and distinction. The precision evoked by a frame of equal lengths such as a square goes hand in hand with this ideology and allows him to better express himself through his work. He favors the parts where layering and image sharpening take place. By layering and editing and by using Photoshop’s smart tools to sharpen images and to minimize issues with photo blurring Baznani achieves the necessary alterations to create his fascinating final product without changing the original image.

 

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“I basically use the story I heard, or the idea I had, to take a photo. Each image starts with an idea and a paper draft of the story, then the camera and the editing are the tools to bring to life what’s in the creator’s mind, a fantasy dream world hanging within the limits of surrealism and the supernatural. It is all about being inspired by something… I also love the end of most projects when everything comes together and it looks great and you can stand back and say ‘Hey, I made that!’”

Baznani is a big fan of Hungarian photographer Robert Capa and considers his immortal piece “The Falling Solider” one of the most valuable war images of the twentieth century and a fundamental source of his inspiration to experiment with surreal and fantasy art and to create images that could challenge the logic of the human mind. Few things can transport us from the real world into a world of dreams like surrealism. Baznani recreates and shares our dreams through his photography.

For Baznani being a short film director is a childhood dream come true. He has made three short films and received multiple awards but photo-manipulation remains his life breath of idea expression through artwork.
“One of the most important things is to always be yourself, and it is very important that you take things seriously. You may need to make some sacrifices in order to succeed, and you have to be as realistic as possible to set goals and to work to achieve them. With plenty of dedication and commitment, determination and a pinch of luck, you will succeed. Hard work and perseverance are the key. Never give up, no matter how hard it is. Nothing is impossible.”
Baznani completed his “Project 52” in 2014 which was a personal mission of his to take one picture every week for an entire year. He started his second project 52 this year. He also participated in several local and international collective exhibitions such as the Sidney International Exhibition of Photography, “Colour Burst” in Hungary, Park Art Fair International in Germany, Gallery Globe in the USA and a Louvre private exhibition in ​France.

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