In the midst of life’s greatest tragedy, Kirsty Mitchell found peace in creating unforgettable works of art. Kirsty’s mother was an English teacher and storyteller at heart. Her passion for literature was shared with Kirsty from a young age and evoked the strong sense of creativity and imagination evident in Kirsty’s photographs. After Kirsty’s mother passed away from a brain tumor in 2008, Kirsty embarked on a journey to create “The Wonderland Series” which are a collection of photographs inspired by the books, titles and memories Kirsty had of reading with her mother.
To create the Wonderland book that would hold this collection, Kirsty launched her own Kickstarter campaign that was so successful, it broke the website’s record and became the #1 most funded photography project in the website’s history with $446,524 raised in 28 days. That number pales in comparison to the ground breaking release of the world wide award winning Wonderland book.
One reason why the Wonderland book remains alluring is because of the stunning detail in each photo. Every element is handcrafted and designed by Kirsty herself making every photo a breathtaking masterpiece. Sometimes just creating the elements for one photo alone can take up to 5 months. This is where Kirsty’s background in fashion design and textiles can truly shine.
Today marks Kirsty’s 10 year anniversary on Flickr, where her love of photography was sparked. When she first joined the Flickr community, she was still a fashion designer in London and photography was nothing but a hobby. Kirsty elaborates on Flickr’s influence on her work.
“Honestly, Flickr changed my life. If I hadn’t joined Flickr I would have just carried on as a fashion designer and never discovered this part of me. The reception to my work from the public gave me an insight into how others were emotionally connecting to the photographs and essentially gave me the confidence to realize these pictures had a future. I never imagined 10 years later I would have a bestselling book in it’s second edition, a US museum show and have been published by the likes of Vogue it’s hard to get my head around it all.”
Kirsty describes her first experiences after joining Flickr as “extraordinary” in that she was exposed to this whole new dimension of enlightenment through other photographers and their work.
“Until this point I’d only ever really had friends in the real world and didn’t know anyone via the internet. Suddenly my world was turned upside down and I was discussing street photography with shooters on the streets of Tokyo, New York, and India, it was truly quite life changing. Everyday I’d switch on Flickr and it was like opening my eyes in 50 different countries. I was seeing the hearts and souls of artists all over the world and within months these people became friends and tutors to me. I learnt everything through my friendships on Flickr. I only progressed through the encouragement I received and the friends I made. A small circle of us even set up our own Flickr group and we’d share images, discuss them, learn from each other and so my photography quickly went from being a hobby to an obsession. I can genuinely say that it was Flickr that launched my passion for photography without a doubt.”
As any active community member knows, Flickr can be used as more than a hosting platform, but a place to connect, interact, learn, and grow as a photographer. Flickr is often times the connection between your photography and opportunity.
“I was contacted by film directors, journalists and magazines and publishers [via Flickr]. The enormous attention the series gained on Flickr was what finally gave me the guts to quit my job and pursue a full time career as an independent artist.”
Although it’s difficult choosing your passion over what society tells you is realistic, Kirsty made this decision whole heartedly with the support and prosperity of her strong Flickr following. Without embarking on this inspirational journey to heal the soul, she wouldn’t have a best selling book containing over 640 mesmeric photographs each stunningly unique in their creation. Alongside the photographs are intimate excerpts from Kirsty’s personal journal detailing the meaning, emotion and creation behind specific photographs.
One of the many reasons Kirsty’s journey is especially awe-inspiring is that she found elegance and grace in a detrimental period. Her ability to tool her passion in a constructive outlet that may now foster a love for photography, fashion or art in a fellow viewer around the world is what makes this story a rarity. It has been a humbling experience to witness such raw beauty.
If you’re interested in seeing more of her work for free, make sure to view her Flickr. If you’d like to give the best Christmas gift in history, the Wonderland book is available for purchase on Kirsty’s website!