My name is Alia Romagnoli and I am an art director and photographer based in London. I am half Indian and half Italian, and I moved between Europe and Asia for the first few years of my life, but I spent most of my childhood in India. Because of this, a lot of my work is a combination of both the similarities and differences in these two cultures. I like to incorporate the colours, patterns, and textures of India alongside the Western sensibility of Europe as this reminds me of where I grew up. I try to shoot mostly women of colour as I feel that there is a considerable lack of representation even within Asian media. The diversity within India is often something which is unacknowledged; the current representation proliferates the misconception of an overgeneralised portrayal of Indian women particularly, and this is something which I hope to address with my work.
Could you describe your path to becoming a photographer/art director?
When I was about 9 years old, my ajji (grandmother) bought me a small kodak 35mm point and shoot camera for a school trip I was going on. I grew up in India so film and developing were relatively cheap and as a result, I went through rolls and rolls of film and never put the camera down after that. There was something about being able to visually tell a story, one that had been composed and captured through my eyes that fascinated me. The colours around me while growing up in Bangalore (South India) were also a huge influence on the work I make now.
How does identity impact our lives as creative people and how does yours impact your creative work?
I am half Italian and half Indian and my biracial background really impacts the work I make and relate to. I think people create what they know and feel and in a way, understanding both Indian and Italian culture allows me to combine tradition with the more modern aspects of both sides of my heritage. I like to create work derived from my experiences as a biracial woman who is still trying to find where she fits, and as a result, exploring her own category altogether.
What does creativity mean to you?
Creativity means being who you are and expressing what you feel. It means being sensitive as you unapologetically create things which say what you want to say. It means being the role model you would have liked to have seen when you were growing up.
How do you nurture your creativity?
I nurture my creativity by exposing myself to art and things other people create, whether that be pieces made this century, or ones made decades ago. Instagram is an important source of inspiration for me - it's a way to see what other artists are feeling, thinking and creating. I love going to exhibitions, listening to Indian classical music, and trying art mediums I am unfamiliar with. Creativity is also about moving out of your comfort zone, challenging yourself and always working to be better and learning from the things around you.
What cultural barriers have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Being biracial, I always struggled to understand which side of my heritage I belonged to. I always felt like I was a part of both but never felt fully accepted by either side. Trying to portray this paradox in my work has been an important part of my growth as well as understanding and coming to terms with my identity. This allowed me to love who I was and to make work that other people with similar experiences could also relate to.
What has been an important lesson you’ve learned so far?
The biggest lesson I learned over the last year is that hard work is important and will eventually pay off. There is no shortcut and there is always room to grow, learn and expand creatively.
How has social media and the internet helped you as a creative?
Social media, particularly Instagram, has given me a platform to share my work with people all over the world. It has allowed me to connect with other creatives and is a source of inspiration every single day. It has given me the confidence to pursue my dreams!
What kind of projects are you working on now?
I am currently in my final year of university and am art directing a short film that is in the middle of preproduction. I am also publishing a magazine for an art collective which my friend and I run called 'Art Babes'. This will hopefully be released sometime next month.
How would you describe your artistic style in three words?
Bold, colourful, playful