The Dreamlike Images of Marlies Plank


Born in 1981, artist Marlies Plank is a Vienna-based freelance photographer with a rich career spanning the last decade. Seeing as her ethereal images appear like scraps salvaged from a dream, it is obvious why her work has been widely exhibited throughout the world. Her photos have been featured in numerous magazines and blogs, and appeared most recently in several new collections by the Italian fashion designer Valentino.

Marlies Plank is the featured artist in Papirmass Issue 86, mailed to subscribers in February 2017.

Hi Marlies! Tell us about these photographs.

Six years ago, I started a project called Soap Bubble Studies as a metaphor for the impermanence and fragility of life. So far, the series has been shot in Austria, Italy, Spain, and the deserts of Morocco.  Iceland is hopefully next. The bubbles add a surreal element to the landscape photography.

What’s it like working with bubbles?

They never behave as I want them to but that´s part of the process. I see it as an exercise in letting go of control to see what happens. The shooting itself is quite exhausting, especially in the Dolomite mountain range, where we dragged litres of soap and equipment up 3000 meters, but I think it´s been worth the effort.

Photographer Marlies Plank Soap Bubbles Image

What is your typical day like?

I´m not sure if I have a typical day. The only thing that will definitely happen is that I´ll start with one or two coffees. Then, I try to figure out how to do the things I don’t want to do but have to. Afterward, I continue with stuff that pays my rent, and only once that’s done do I focus on my own creative things.

Photography Marlies Plank Papirmass 2017

What was most challenging when you started your career?

Sad to say, but: finances. Not knowing what to charge for my work… and the unsteady income, which lead to weeks of thinner and thinner lentil soup.

What has being an artist taught you about yourself?

To trust my instinct. Three years ago, I only considered myself a photographer, but I felt that something was missing. So I started to experiment with collages and patterns (though I didn’t recognize them as such at that time). I just enjoyed playing around with colors and shapes. With one particular pattern made of butterflies, I became pretty obsessed with getting the colors and the position of the elements just right. I had no clue why I was doing it, nor what I was going to do with stuff that didn’t relate to my previous work, but I felt that I had to make it. Later on, I felt awkward putting it on my website, unsure it was worth sharing, but three months later I got a call from Valentino (fashion designer), who bought the image and used it in several collections. This taught me not to spend time worrying about if someone might like your work or not. Some will and some will not!

Photography Marlies Plank Papirmass 2017

What impact do you hope your work will have?

I hope to make people aware that they only live once and that everything they do has an impact on something or someone else.

What is the best life advice you have ever received?

Follow your heart, but take your brain with you!

Marlies Plank is our February 2017 artist.
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