Instagram and Behance - @hellenrodel
Where are you based?
La Plata, Argentina.
Why did you become a photographer and visual artist?
When I finished high school in 2016 I applied for Cinematography at college but I wasn’t sure of what I really wanted to do with my life. College is free in Argentina and my city is known for having its own university (Universidad Nacional de La Plata) so the pressure for being a college student was always very strong. I’ve always liked everything visual although I was raised with a musical education.
I had an existential crisis in 2017 and I got out of Cinematography. I started to take photographs as a part-time job because I really enjoyed it and I wanted some bucks - I practiced self portraiture for many years so I had some experience in the matter. I didn’t think I could actually make a living out of it so I conceived it only as a hobby and I started thinking of applying for Biochemistry school for the money.
When I started to portrait people regularly I fell so deeply in love with it that I felt bad for considering Biochemistry as a career. It took a lot of courage for me to get out of the comfort zone, but committing to photography and visual arts was the best decision I’ve ever made.
How would you describe the style of your work?
It’s a mixture between fine art photography and digital art. I like to call it surreal because I think it defines it perfectly. Some people tend to say my artwork is psychedelic, but that word is so often used to refer to drugs that I get mad every time I hear it. My work has never had anything to do with drugs. I also think of my photography as counter-hegemonic and transfeminist, because it describes perfectly the kind of people I enjoy the most to work with.
Your work is a hybrid between fine art and photography and digital art, with a surreal and colorful aesthetic. Has it always been like this or did it develop over time?
I started doing my edits this way in January 2018, when I ran away from my mother’s house and I moved in with a friend who had no computer. I bought (for a very cheap price) a used old netbook from another friend and I started working with it. The truth is that the screen was extremely tiny and I couldn’t see a thing, but I wasn’t going to go back to my mother’s house so I had no choice but to work with that netbook. I started saturating the colors without noticing it and when I got the chance to view them in a higher resolution I observed the results and I liked them.
When I went back to my mother’s house and I worked again with my desktop computer, I maintained that aesthetic and I also started meditating and got deeper into my yoga practice. My spirituality encouraged me to keep experimenting and that finally led to my actual style.
Where do you usually get inspiration from when you create your work?
Music, mostly! I get really inspired by Portishead, 808 State, The Shamen and Primal Scream’s album Screamadelica. Musical genres like acid house, trip hop and acid rock really give me a lot of ideas. It might seem weird that I get inspired with non-visual stuff to do my art, but I think the reason may be because I learned music in my childhood with the Suzuki Method and now it’s internalized in me. I am also inspired by my connection with a Higher Power. When I do my yoga practice or meditate, I came up with a lot of ideas for my photographs.
How long does each piece of art work take on average?
It depends on the composition and how many modifications I want to make, but usually it takes between five minutes and an hour.
Whose living room would you love to see hanging a piece of your art work?
Lady Gaga or Steven Tyler. They are both my idols. Their work and personality are very important to me.
If you were not a photographer and visual artist, what would you be?
Dead. My art saves my soul. If I wasn’t born in the era of Internet, I would have to do something traditional or not be an artist at all (specially in times when non-binary people didn’t even exist and I would have been considered as a woman and therefore displaced from academic spaces). I think I would have been a painter though.