Hand Signals

Martin Vallin

A youth of skateboarding, painting, and reading in the 80s combined with a young adulthood studying philosophy and journalism have left their mark on the colorful career of photographer, Martin Vallin. Vallin now splits his time between Paris and Stockholm, and works with clients such as Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, and Nike (just to name a few)- but his personae remains as humble as his portfolio is diverse. The photographer sheds some light on how his kaleidoscope of images come into being.

Since you split your time between Stockholm and Paris, and traveling around the world, how do you think your location affects your work?

I don’t necessarily think it’s the location itself that affects the work. I think I’m more influenced by the changes and the transitions between locations. Traveling provides plenty of reflection time and bringing an idea from one setting to another adds different perspectives.

Your work doesn’t seem to fall under one aesthetic genre. How would you describe your style?

I think my way of composing is somewhat consistent, it’s a gut feeling kind of thing. Things have a tendency of ending up in similar patterns. Aside from that, I’ve always been attracted to ideas rather than style. I usually start with an idea that leads into an aesthetic expression, instead of trying to find outputs for a visual style.

With such a wide range of clients and subject material, do you have a favourite shoot or project you’ve worked on?

The best ones always tend to be the ones with the most freedom. And big is always fun …

Do you think your studies in Moral Philosophy and Journalism have influenced your career and your work?

Oh, definitely. As a subject, Moral Philosophy is simultaneously one of the most free ways to express ideas and thoughts, while at the same time being restricted to rules and logic in how to do just that. It challenges you to always have a strongly creative approach to anything you might encounter. Journalism on the other hand, is more about digging in, getting the job done and interacting with people in a certain way. I think I’m influenced by both subjects and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to study them.

Can you tell us a little about the book you’re planning to release with Vilhelm Parfumerie?

Ever since the launch of the brand, when I did their first campaigns, we’ve had a very good relationship. So, for the last 18 months I’ve been working with them to create a book around the fragrances and how we might relate to them. It’s going to be massive, with some 400 images done so far. It’s all about how scents can be illustrated and how they influence visual ideas. It’s quite inspiring to work with. Hopefully it will be out this autumn.

Text by Leah Tassinari