Welcome to 'At-Home With'...our new feature series where we (virtually) get up close and personal with some of Ireland's most interesting and creative women. They each give us an honest peek into what their "new normal" looks like–from life lessons they've learned in lockdown to the beauty and health products they've been using to self-soothe.
Rebecca Fahey is a creative director, photographer and artist who transformed her synesthesia into her superpower. Realising from a young age her heightened sense of colour wasn’t the norm, Rebecca’s school experience was puzzling for those who didn’t understand. So very different from the wonderstruck response it receives now, especially when interpreted through her captivating artwork.
From NCAD to NYC, Rebecca continues to grow as an artist and share her unique viewpoint of the world. Her synesthesia adds a creative edge to her work with an electric sense of vibrancy, drama and fashion - think abstract editorial shot on a neon rainbow.
In a world currently worshipping neutrals we spoke with diverging force, Rebecca for some uplifting creativity, next steps for her business and what she has learned from lockdown.
How are you and how has life in quarantine been treating you?
It's been a strange one indeed with the whole world being put on hold. I ended up leaving New York for safety reasons at the start of the pandemic. I haven't seen my family in a year so it's been fantastic staying with them.
Why did you decide to become a photographer, was it always something you wanted to do?
I actually started out as a painter, believe it or not. When I was in college I was training to be an illustrator, I studied visual communications. It wasn't until my final year of college that I started exploring other ways to use colour, space, and people. I started assisting other photographers in Ireland and the US in order to learn new skills such as lighting and working with clients. I took my surreal/vibrant style from my illustrations and started conveying them through photography.
Have you been practising new ways to stay creative at home?
Yes. When you're creative, you always find ways to keep expressing yourself even when hurdles come your way. I've been collaborating with several artists online, but working from home has also made me use myself as a subject. I rarely take photos of myself, but using me as the subject matter has really opened up my self-confidence and helped me be less camera shy.
Do you think the photography industry will change post-pandemic?
Absolutely, I feel many photographers have found new tools to work online and long-distance. With all of the Zoom calls and online photoshoots, I feel photographers have more of an advantage now. The pandemic proved that we can still do shoots across the world and encouraged us to work with people we might never have thought of before.
How has living with synesthesia influenced your work?
My synesthesia affects how I see numbers, letters and people. My personal experience with synesthesia started from such a young age, I always saw numbers and letters as colours.
When it comes to my art I tend to use my way of seeing colour to coordinate my work. I like using colours that reflect how I see my models. It's the same with my graphic design work when I’m using letters and numbers. A lot of my work is saturated and loud. I like exploring the co-operation of senses and giving viewers a sensitivity overload through my work.
What has been your biggest career highlight so far?
The independence I now have with my work. Being a creative director on photoshoots is something I never thought I would have the courage to do. Working with a bigger team of stylists, make-up artists, and hairstylists gives me great pride in my abilities and makes me really excited for the future.
What is your favourite memory of living in New York?
My favourite memory of NYC was the nightlife. In places like La Bain and HOLO you really see the expressive scenes. I have never seen such creative and visual interpretations before. People in NYC - especially in the queer scenes - go over the top when dressing themselves, it’s amazing!
Describe your creative process when taking an image, do you create a mood board prior?
First I’ll have an idea and start researching to see if it’s even possible to shoot. I do try to make mood boards for clothing, hair and makeup so I can send onto the team and ensure we're all on the same page. The creative process also includes thinking about lighting and area. I always have to check the weather forecast if a shoot is taking place outside.
What is the biggest perk about being you?
I'm not afraid to be myself. I am confident as an artist and I’m able to freely express myself without being doubtful or feel like I’m being judged. I live my truth and my dreams.
When the dust settles, what’s next for you and your business?
I'm hoping to head back to NYC when it's safe to do so. At the moment though I'm just working on my own projects and collaborations with other artists.
What have you learned from life in lockdown?
Lockdown has made me appreciate working with so many artists. Learning to work online when you can’t physically be at a location was definitely a challenge, but I've learned so many new skills. Also, I've been more creative during lockdown, I’m not under as much pressure at the moment.
Main image by @icanthearmyeyes on Instagram