Welcome to #FollowFriday, a Teen Vogue column where we speak with the founders of some of Instagram's coolest style accounts. This week, we chat with Carina Shoshtary of @fashion_for_bank_robbers.
A face covered with intricate lace. Another with matchsticks. An entire head and neck covered in different sized pearls. These are the kinds of things you’ll find on the Instagram account @fashion_for_bank_robbers. Run by German-Iranian artist Carina Shoshtary, who creates contemporary jewelry and wearable art, this conceptual art account shares the incredible work of other international artists who build and create all kinds of elaborate face masks and headpieces.
Why masks? Shoshtary, who describes herself as a “modern hunter gatherer”, believes that we are all consciously or subconsciously wearing masks. “There are good masks, which protect us, set important boundaries and even empower us, and there are bad masks, which make us fake and hinder us from becoming our true and best selves,” she says. For her, wearing masks is a manifestation of our identities, and what we try to hide or reveal about ourselves.
Here we speak with Shoshtary about what led her to starting this account, what her favorite posts have been, and the deeper meaning behind masks. Already looking for Halloween inspo? Look no further.
Teen Vogue: What led you to starting this account?
Carina Shoshtary: I was first trained as a traditional goldsmith and then studied jewelry design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, Germany. I describe myself as a modern hunter gatherer as the materials I use are mostly found or recycled. My early works were more like wearable mini sculptures and I didn’t care too much about how my work would interact with the body. In the last couple of years this has changed though. Most of my pieces are now molded to the human body or intentionally change its anatomy, so they only really come to life when they are worn.
This development of my own practice also sparked my interest in masks and headpieces. I started collecting images of contemporary pieces for the head and found them wildly inspiring. The artists creating these pieces come from many different creative backgrounds: they are fashion designers, milliners, makeup artists, sculptors, jewelers, photographers, hairdressers, costume designers, and so on. I found so many super creative and wonderful pieces that I decided to start an Instagram account to continue my research publicly.
TV: When did you launch your account and how would you describe it to someone not familiar with it?
CS: I started “fashion for bank robbers” about a year ago. I would describe it as an account for contemporary masks, headpieces, and other artworks worn on or around the head. The aim of this account is to inspire, connect creative people with similar interests, and help promote the work of the artists. My curation aims to show the diversity of the subject, yet naturally it still reflects my own taste.
TV: What kinds of things do you like to post and what's your process for curating the content?
CS: Due to my background I value good craftsmanship as much as an authentic artistic expression, so I am looking for both in the images I post. The quality of the photography must be great too. Regarding the aesthetics of the pieces and images, I do love a bit of myth and magic.
I usually search once or twice a week intensively online for the content that I plan to post in the coming days. I try to make the page as a whole stays aesthetically coherent as well. It is great that artists often send me images of their works now or use the hashtag #fashionforbankrobbers, so it is easier for me to find them.
TV: What is it about masks and headpieces that interest you most? What do you think they say about society?
CS: I like that the makers of masks and headpieces come from so many different creative backgrounds, which naturally results in very diverse artistic directions. This opens up boundaries between the creative fields, since you cannot put those pieces in a specific category: sculpture, fashion, makeup art, jewelry…everything just melts together.
Generally I find the topic of masks extremely interesting. I believe that in our contemporary society, consciously or subconsciously, we are all wearing masks, even the most authentic and self-confident amongst us. There are good masks, which protect us, set important boundaries and even empower us, and there are bad masks, which make us fake and hinder us from becoming our true and best selves. Who am I? What do I want to reveal of myself? What do I want to hide? I believe the making and wearing of masks is an artistic manifestation of these significant questions.
TV: What have been some of your favorite posts that you've posted and why?
Some of my favourites are: The portrait of artist Freja Jobbins wearing her own mask shot by photographer Lori Cicchini. I always found dolls quite spooky, so this image is a bit nightmarish for me, yet it is also strangely beautiful. It is definitely a haunting picture.
This quirky self-portrait of artist Lyle Reimer. I think Lyle loves colors and trashy materials as much as I do. His self-portraits look so spontaneous and chaotic at first glance, yet at a closer look you can see the way he puts the composition together is very accomplished and clever.
TV: Do you feel like you've built a community around the content you share?
I wouldn’t call it a community, but I am in communication with some of the artists and I cherish the exchange. Often students send me images of their pieces to ask about my opinion, and their trust is special to me. I know well how hard it is in the beginning.
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue