Barbara Medo

Barbara Medo has the magic touch.


Research in reflections, colours and compositions. Images are subject to copyright.

Material portraiture at its best, her work is sure to leave you yearning for colors and textures. In our interview with her, we got to find out more about her background and the inspiration behind her pieces. Enjoy!

You’re a materials enthusiast, a photographer, and a surface designer. Could you tell us a bit about your background, what came first and how the three components of your work influence one another? 

Ever since I can remember I have always been interested in colors and creating. As a kid, I was always painting, drawing, or making new things. I went to an art school during my high school to learn about different techniques and art forms. I loved photography and I’ve done a lot of photoshoots before I went to the Design Academy in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. At the academy my passion for creating designs in which materials are the main focus grew, but I always kept on photographing in my free time. 

After my graduation, I believed it was time to choose between either photography, or creating/working with materials. But as I started working and building my own business, gradually my photography work shifted from mainly fashion and portraits to more still life/materials. I started making materials which I could use in my photography work. This way, I could merge my passion for photography and materials into one and I realised that the two could strengthen each other.


A series of materials and colour combinations in which I am searching for the borders between real materials and 3d renderings. Images are subject to copyright.

What is it about working with materials specifically that appeals to you? 

It always fascinates me to see how you can use materials to create a specific atmosphere. Each material has its own degree of reflectiveness and texture. A colour can look completely different in either high gloss or a matt finish. The way a surface shines or how it feels when we touch it, materials are everywhere around us and they have so much influence on how we feel and experience our surroundings. It’s a challenge for me to make materials and play with the way we perceive them and to catch that in a 2D image.


What about the merging of handcraft and digital techniques in your work. What does that point to?

Making a material with different techniques has always fascinated me. Knitting, pressing, cutting, dyeing, pouring and sanding; handcraft and the process of making has always drawn my attention. Often I combine old with new techniques to get the desired result. I’m always looking for new interesting techniques which I can use, modify or mix with others to experiment with.

Photographing a material in a certain way can again totally change the appearance of a material. I love to play around with compositions and with the set, colours, angles and light you can create exactly the atmosphere you want to give to your image. Manipulating a photo digitally can make something look almost like a render or a nonexistent or dreamlike visual.


Presumably, the marriage between handcraft and digital techniques also has something to do with another kind of merger you explore through your work. The one between reality and fantasy. You’ve stated that your work is often inspired by your dreams. What else can you tell us about your fascination with “the small border between reality and fantasy” and how our brain makes connections?

What I really like about dreams is that the weirdest things are possible. I have a diary in which I write down my dreams before I forget them. I always try to remember as many details as possible. Some dreams can be very vivid, but they can be gone as soon as you start your day. Those weird dreams can help you find new ideas, things that you haven’t thought of before.

For example, sometimes I dream about being in a store or at a market and I always try to look at all the objects displayed carefully. The longer you look at them, the more details the dream gives you. 

We dream every night and sometimes it feels as another part of your life which we tend to forget very easily. I think that it’s very interesting to remember what I did or saw in a dream because it can help me to find new connections for current projects or ideas for new ones.

A series of material and colour compositions to create different worlds with their own beauty and qualities. Some seem very small, some infinite and large. Images are subject to copyright

What can you tell us about your process of manifesting your mind’s dreamwork into “the real world”?

I think it’s quite hard to say I have a specific process because most of the ideas come when you are not thinking and trying too hard. The same goes for when you are dreaming. Your mind is making connections when you are sleeping and therefore you are not able to force yourself to think about a certain subject. All the things I can remember from a dream I try to write down, but I’m not trying to force those dreams into a project or end result immediately. Some dreams just stay there as a memory that can pop up at an unexpected moment and help me to create new ideas.

Set design & Photography Materials Sensitile by Barbara Medo. Images are subject to copyright. 

To see more of Barbara’s surrealist material portraiture, check out her website.

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