One day, whilst browsing on Facebook I came across a beautiful pair of earrings that I knew I just had to have. Crafted out of paper and varnished to harden them, they reminded me of the way I use to draw flowers as a child. I contacted the individual who made them, we met for a coffee, and I was amazed to discover, not just the story behind them, but the other projects this young man has been up to.
Gentian Minga is an artist, journalist, communications expert, maker of beautiful jewellery, Editor in Chief, and all-round creative genius. With a Bachelors in Journalism from the University of Tirana, he has made his career out of curating style, culture, and imagery together in the most fascinating ways- his jewellery projects are certainly no exception.
But his work is not just aesthetically pleasing for the sake of it- every piece, every concept, and every idea has some deeper meaning designed to make people think and question different aspects of society. For example, in 2015, Genti teamed up with fashion designer Mirela Nurce to create a line of clothing featuring artwork that had been made by deaf children.
Entitled “With Innocence On”, the project was supported by the UN and UNDP and was given the slogan “People with limited abilities but with unlimited talents”.
Minga said: “visuals are very important to them, not just as a form of art and creating, but most of all as a way of communicating feelings and messages.”
These images were collected and transposed onto dresses, tops, shoes, jewellery and even umbrellas, and then paraded on the catwalk by high-end models, accompanied by the artists who created the original drawings.
“What we wanted to say with this project is that these children have so many abilities, so we don’t have to focus on their disabilities,” Minga said.
As well as giving these children a platform for their work, it was important to raise awareness for hearing-impaired children, as well as raising money to benefit the Deaf Pupils Institute in Tirana.
Another project of his was as a part of his role of Editor in Chief at Living Albania magazine. The editorial in question focused on shooting stunning portraits of Albino children in an effort to show that beauty comes in every colour and that social stigmas have no place in the world of art.
The pictures focus on a handful of albino Albanians, photographing them in simple, candy coloured clothing against block colour backdrops, showcasing their striking natural beauty.
Another project with Minga’s distinctive trademark on it is called “THE CITY CAMOUFLAGE” and showcases a range of t-shirts featuring images of facades from the city of Tirana. The idea was to combine fashion with the look of the city, by putting the unique and authentic design of the cityscapes on fabric.
Minga described it as a “collaboration” between human hands and climatic phenomenon such as the elements and the passage of time.
“It is the story and the “memory” of an original life of a capital city, where you can see so much beauty in things you would never imagine to. You can call these walls ruined, destroyed, dirty, old etc. but in the same time, their “look” is so appealing and attractive. It is fancy and I wanted to share it with everyone else, starting with a men t-shirts collection.” Genti said in a piece published on Bored Panda.
Whilst his career may have started out with a focus on show business, lifestyle and entertainment, this has evolved and his desire to present social issues in an artistic and aesthetically pleasing way has taken hold. He talks of his desire to give voices to vulnerable or overlooked minorities, and he sees it as a challenge to pioneer the way of providing entertainment but with a significant social and human rights twist.
“I have tried to exploit entertainment’s industry in order to draw the attention toward social issues”
Whilst some may say he is “just into fashion” the point is that yes, whilst this is the case, the fact remains that behind every glossy campaign is a very real, and very important message. He is dedicated to intertwining delicate social issues into the very fabric of the clothes he makes, or the jewellery he designs, and this is what caught my attention.
In terms of the earrings that I loved, he explains the reasoning behind it:
“When I create I am very attracted toward simplicity, ingenuity, basics, minimalism and nature. Kid’s drawings has inspired many of my collections, because they represent the best life philosophy behind; kid’s drawings are way far from perfect, but in the same time they are beautiful and colourful.”
Whilst his work is whimsical, it is also inherently stylish and wearable as well, and people such as myself are drawn towards his work because of the intelligent and important messages that each piece carries. Fashion is not just about looking good or wearing something we like, it is an opportunity to make a statement and impart a message for the good of others, and society as a whole.
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