-Inside the Mind of a Young Artist
Historically inspired and graphically rich images best describes the
artistry of Niki Koohpaima. Inspirations from Qajars to androgynous 80's
glam-pop stars. Koohpaima's unique images and original style makes
her work break traditional boundaries of accepted design and well as
inspire her audience to re-define the make-up industry.
©BODAZEY.COM had mistakenly presented Niki's images under fashion
designer "Hushi" Mortezaie's work until we wererecently corrected. After
having brought this mistake to our attention, we sat down with Niki
Koohpaima for a brief interview to learn more about her fantastic work
and her numerous eccentric inspirations, enjoy:
NK: what got me interested in fashion and beauty as a little girl was the
fact was that in Tehran, women were incredibly style conscious including
the women around me. I mean they were so committed and looked as
they had stepped out of a fashion magazine but it was something that i just had no control over. I was so drawn
to them that I would ask anyone i knew to allow me to style for them and do their makeup, this was the best
schooling I have ever had. When i moved to the US, I would style people, do their makeup and use a few study
lights with sheets in my room to photograph them and turn them into goddesses while making some money as
B: Where do you get your inspiration from ?
NK: I draw my inspiration from many different walks of life, from Persian history, Russian ballet, the new
romantic movement of London during late 70's, the androgunous and popular music scene of the early 80's
with people such as Boy George because it was such a unique and daring era as far as style was concerned
and finally the fierce determination of women in Iran to be stunning during any given hour of the day (she
B: Do you feel that your medium of art reaches people with a message ?
NK: People who do get my art do have great appreciation for it ,however I think for the most part it scares
people, because in the US the general public is not interested in provocative imagery that is waged from a
non-familiar cultural background. They much rather see none threatening visuals where they can feel safe and
not need to think too much about such as a MacDonald's billboards or Martha Stewart shopping channels.
However for me it's more about just doing what I need to express spiritually and be fulfilled at the end of the
B: What did you study exactly and how long have you been doing what you do ?
NK: I studied fashion but was not interested in sewing or pattern making, so I went more into Art and studied
photography, illustration , makeup ,art history and ballet , I have been doing this for 10 years now, I was living
in the East Village (New York) at the time and it was not as regimented as it has become today, so there were
many artistic people living around me. Unfortunately after Mayor Rudy Giuliani moved into office and turned the
place into Disneyland many of us felt that it was time to go .When I started I was working with all the top fashion
designers during fashion week and worked with celebs ,such as KELIS, USHER, COURTNEY LOVE,
VICTORIA BECKHAM, LENNY KRAVITZ, IGGY POP and many more -but I felt much more content when i did
my own work it was pure joy.
B: What is the eventual goal for you in your work ?
NK: My eventual goal is to publish a book combined with my art and the faces of the Iranians that I'm currently
photographing in Tehran -its something that I rather not talk about because it is a personal project at the
B: Being a native New Yorker living in Tehran must be quite a contrast, how would you define its effect on
your work ?
NK: After visiting Tehran in 2002, I fell in love with this country that I had left so long ago, there was no other
way for me but to move here. Seeing that there was such excitement from music, to theater, the energy of its
youth and the richness of our culture combined with the hospitality of our people, there was just no going back,
i am now taking up photography , let's see whats gonna come out of it, it's gonna be more exciting than ever I
can feel it !
article & interview conducted by: Bo
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