TSKENYA: Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up, go to school, age and occupation, did you always know you were creative?
Marina Fini: I grew up in Los Angeles, specifically “the valley” so I’m considered a valley girl. I went to private Catholic/Christian school my whole life so I was suppressed with tacky uniforms until I was 18. I always created collages, drew and painted when I was little. I always performed and had a dream to be a broadway actress when I was younger but that dream faded because I felt too sensitive about being judged about my ability to be accepted with performance.
TSK: Did this spark something in you?
MF: Yes, so from there I took film classes and began to fall in love with being behind the camera and creating my own stories. Then as soon as I started raving at 17, I knew a hyper psychedelic reality was possible and my mind began to open. I experimented with psychedelics in my late teens / early 20s in college and really began to finally feel like I truly could be myself in this reality. I went to UC Santa Cruz, which is in Northern California, and it’s a school in the forest over looking the ocean. I had to walk through the woods to get to class and I was surrounded by very open minded people and teachers that really expanded my artistry. I owe a lot of who I am now from living in Santa Cruz because it really brought me down back down to earth and to the natural level of just existing as a spirit. I felt a huge shift in my being and had a true awakening from what I was taught to be.
TSK: In what way?
MF: For the first time in my life I didn’t feel pressure to shave, to maintain a certain protocol to be seen as attractive and just became my true natural self by being around accepting individuals who saw my soul. Now I live back in Los Angeles and work full time as a freelance artist. I sell my handmade jewelry, home decor, do photoshoots and work as an art director for films.
TSK: Growing up were there any hardships that you faced? How did you overcome them?
MF: I definitely was always a weirdo because I liked to express myself in ways others didn’t like. I was bullied by girls and boys and teased for being different. I had bad rumors spread about me for not doing more than kissing with a boy I dated when I was 14. He was my first kiss and I was naive to mostly anything besides that. I got shamed for not doing anything more by having a rumor spread about me that wasn’t true and people thought that about me through the rest of high school.
TSK: I can truly relate to that as the same happened to me at a similar age –
MF: I also was molested by a so called male friend when I was 17 even though I said no and didn’t even know how to talk about it then because I felt like I would of been victim blamed. I feel like my success now is my sweetest revenge to anyone that teased or messed with me in high school.
TSK: Sorry to hear about that, rape culture is something that we have to dismantle. More education in schools and at home about consent…
MF: I agree with that 100%, more awareness and education. All I know is that the things I experienced then made me stronger but it doesn’t excuse their actions or my ability to accept apologies.
TSK: How did you get into photography?
MF: I remember using my parents 35mm canon when we would go on trips and just really loved holding onto a camera. My dad works in television so I grew up on set a lot. I had various little Polaroid, 90s digital cameras I would use hanging out with friends and recording video. I always loved capturing moments I guess and photography became a sort of self taught passion of mine transitioning into my 20s. I got really into dressing people and photographing them in psychedelic or optical ways with low lighting or found lighting just adventuring around. I’ve never owned any professional studio lightning so I became interested in utilizing unexpected sources of light for capturing my imagery.
TSK: How do you make sure you capture the art of fun and youth in your photography? Where does that passion come from?
MF: I really enjoy capturing people as themselves with a hint of my vision. I specifically choose people I’m inspired by and really love collaborating on projects with muses I feel have individuality. It’s important to me that they enjoy themselves during a shoot and that they have fun and feel comfortable so the photos I take of them are as authentic possible. The passion comes from evoking a spirit and genuine nature to the concept. I love shooting people who aren’t necessarily models and showcasing those who I feel best mesh with the diverse vision I’m trying to put out in the universe.
TSK: As a woman, what is the most important thing to you when you are creating? Do you think about how young girls may receive your work and interpret it?
MF: I think showcasing people of all diversities, all body types is essential in my work. I want my work to make every girl feel empowered and accepted, it’s very important to me that representation is shown. I really want to make everyone feel like it’s ok to be who they want and dress how they want.
TSK: Describe your style in three words?
MF: Pure, cartoonish, optical
TSK: What would you have said to your younger self? Any advice or thoughts of womanhood that you would like to share?
MF: I would say to not be afraid of being accepted by others and just do you. Don’t be afraid to say no to people, especially boys. I grew up thinking I needed to look and act a certain way to get attention from boys and I want to make sure young women know that their worth doesn’t come from others it comes from within. Self love and care is so important and I’m a huge advocate for body positivity. If someone doesn’t like you for you then they don’t deserve to be with you. Take pride in your individuality and don’t be eager to please others expectations.
THANK YOU MARINA.
Photographer: Marina Fini
Models: Rosella Fontes & Martika Ragan
HMUA: Malina Stearns & Julie Bee