In conversation with Fran R. Learte and Natalia Molinos from Nastplas
Nastplas is a creative duo born from the fusion of two talented Spanish mixed media artists, Fran R. Learte (aka drFranken), illustrator and software developer freelance and Natalia Molinos (aka Na), illustrator and creative director. DrFranken and Na have known each other since they were sixteen and in 2006 they started this artistic collaboration. Together, they are changing the way we look at photography by bringing 2D forms into experimental digital spaces.
As their fascinating portfolio reveals, NastPlas’s subject range is vast and exploratory characterised by distinctive deep and enveloping aesthetics. Inspired by what surrounds them, in recent years, the creative couple have produced a large number of works, creating unique projects that give the viewer a journey into their visual world.
"Our work explores in a conceptual background the limits between reality and abstraction through an ascending and constant process of artistic investigation and experimentation."
You are a creative duo based in Madrid, Spain. Can you start by introducing yourselves and tell us how all NastPlas started?
NastPlas is an international creative duo based in Madrid, Spain and formed in 2006 by myself, illustrator Fran R. Learte and creative director Natalia Molinos. Our work combines an impressive range of digital elements and abstract patterns which we create in order to elaborate pieces of art with a deeply aesthetic feeling.
Later, Natalia opted for Interior Design and Decoration; and I opted for computing and technology. From here, we started working together as NastPlas. We started working in 2D digital art and now we mainly work in 3d and photography.
What was your journey into photography and the kind of work you make now?
We have always been passionate about photography, but when we got our first camera, a visual world opened for us and we began to take images and tell stories through our shoots.
Left: From the series "Fin"; Right: From the series "Nostalgia". © NastPlas
Tell us the story behind your photography project, 'Maison Bau'. What inspired it and what were the techniques involved in achieving the finished project? What was the type of atmosphere you wanted this work to have? Can you talk about the importance of incorporating colour and abstract shapes into this work?
Maison Bau is a project inspired by the Bauhaus and the work of the Spanish designer Maison Mesa. We love his work and it was in one of his shows (VIVA BAU!) that we took these images. Mesa invited us to his show and we took several shots from his collection, inspired by the way of doing and thinking of the Bauhaus school at the beginning of the last century.
From our captures, we wanted to combine different basic graphic elements and primary colors to build a plastic, poetic and modern language that reflected a return to basics and essentials.
From the series "Maison Bau" © NastPlas
Artists often build up and experiment towards a method of working. Your work explores in a conceptual background the limits between reality and abstraction. Does this apply also to your photography projects? Has your imagery become more abstract over time, or did you know exactly what you wanted from the beginning? What are some of your references for the research for your photography projects. What has been the inspiration for your work?
Yes, our work has become more abstract and conceptual over the years, both in illustration and photography, although from the beginning we were quite clear about our path.
Regarding photography, we are inspired by New York photography of the underground scene, Spanish manners photography of the 30s, 40s and 50s and also the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, and the time of "The Factory" with Warhol.
From the series "Maison Bau" © NastPlas
You like to work across different mediums...regarding your photography projects specifically, how do you balance how much cross-media in your photography before you think it pushes the boundaries of photography?
We highly value the original aesthetics of our photography, but due to our work as 3D creatives we are in a constant search and experimentation of various digital techniques and in some series or individual photographs we merge these two facets.
From the series "Surf" © NastPlas
What have been some of your most memorable moments over your creative journey?
One of the main ones has been working for Kobe Brian and the wonderful Nike team.
Do you ever get burnt out creatively? Explain how you keep the creative energy flowing.
Not really. We are always investigating, going to exhibitions of photography, painting, sculpture, etc. and above all reading and learning techniques from any artistic discipline.
What are some tips/advice you would give yourself if you started photography/business all over again?
Photography is a complex artistic discipline and it is difficult to make a living from it, but we would advise those who are new to it to seek their own gaze regardless of or seeking the assessment or approval of others. Just do what you love and show it to the world.
From the series "Unbewusst" © NastPlas
Do you have any favourite artists/photographers?
Bill Brandt, Bartolomé Ros, Francesc Català Roca, Nicolás Muller, Ramón Masats, Robert Herman, Frank Horvat, Meryl Meisler, Matt Weber, Martha Cooper, Henry Chalfant, Janet Delaney, Richard Sandler, Vivian Maier, Brassaï, ...
In regard to your photography...if you could just choose one photographer to shoot alongside for a day...who would you choose? And why?
We would love to talk about photography and take photos with Bill Cunningham, as he is one of the leaders of "street style". One day with Bill Cunningham going out for a walk in New York, it would be fantastic!
Left: From the series "Streets R Us"; Right: From the series "Light". © NastPlas
Does the equipment you use help you in achieving your vision in your photography? (What equipment and camera/s do you use?)
We use various Canon cameras with 50mm, macro 100mm, 80mm, EF70-200, fish eye len, and various Polaroid cameras like SX-70, I-1 or the fun talking camera.
Left: From the series "Dart". © NastPlas
What are some of your goals as artists or photographers? Where do you expect to see NastPlas in five years?
As artists we would like to see our work exhibited in some galleries we admire and continue doing what we like the most, dedicating ourselves to art.
"When we are not out photographing or creating in the studio, we (like to)...
Enjoy nature, walk and make music."