Fashion & Visual Culture: more than just a pretty picture

By Laura Meijnen, 4rd year AMFI Fashion & Visual Culture student


In less than a week, the ByAMFI store will exhibit the work of 35 AMFI minor Fashion & Visual Culture students. The minor is a program for third and fourth year students who create meaningful fashion photography and film. After the first ten weeks in which we focused on photography, I met up with fellow Fashion & Branding students Gail van der Hoeven and Joep Maasdam to discuss their creative process and to reflect on their experience as image-makers. What can we expect to see of them in the exhibition?

It has been ten weeks since we started this minor: how would you describe your experience so far?

Gail: “It has been great so far! After finishing the minor Fashion & Editorial Branding in which we launched a magazine with a group of 38 people, it feels amazing to work by myself again as it allows me to develop my own style in styling, photography and storytelling

Joep: “Same for me! I am enjoying every minute of it: ever since I started AMFI, this minor is something I always aimed to do. The program is quite intense and therefore demands a lot of perseverance, but it has led to results that make me super proud. My goal for this minor was to find a deeper meaning within images, and until now that has worked out really well. The classes push me to further develop my skills, resulting in my personal style becoming clearer every day. I start to understand what personally attracts me to an image, and how I can convey that in imagery myself.”


Up until now, what has been your biggest surprise?

Joep: “It’s way more pleasant than I thought it would be! However, it is still a lot of work and this minor asks for focus and time. You are constantly on the hunt for inspiration and create new imagery and meaning from the research you’ve done on a daily basis.”

Gail: “I think the main thing that surprised me, is the amount of time I spend on my process book. The process book makes up 50% of our grades and is therefore very important, however, I make a lot of ‘gut-feeling’ decisions, which are not as easy to explain for others to understand.”


The minor visual culture is divided into two parts: one that focuses on photography and one that focuses on film. For the first part, you picked a designer that inspired you to create meaningful images: can you briefly explain how this worked for you?

Joep: “Yes, and I am glad we had too! It took some time to find the right designer. I found a lot of upcoming innovative designers that matched my personal style, but most of them weren’t surprising enough to me. My final pick – upcoming label Namilia – had just done their first show in NY, and their message was so strong, both politically and socially, that it sparkled my imagination from the very first moment. I don’t just want to make aesthetically pleasing images – for me this minor really is about conveying a meaning. ”

Gail: “My designer is very well known as I picked Alexander McQueen. After hours of intense researching, I simply wrote down all of my associations and started collection objects that matched with them or started making them myself. Turns out that my mom and dad’s collections of uncommon items such as fossils, were more useful than I ever expected.”

Joep: “It is true that the best thing to do is just to follow your intuition. Sometimes I just hop on my bike and see where it brings me. It is the experiment that will lead you to the most inspiring ideas.


Gail and her model looking for the right angle in the right location

Gail and her model looking for the right angle in the right location



Speaking of intuition, what is the weirdest thing you’ve done so far, just for the sake of making a great image?

Joep: “Ha, I’ve done some crazy things over the past few weeks. I put dildos and jockstraps in the house of an elderly lady, put someone in a bright red latex suit… Oh, and I had a plus size model pose for me naked on top of a lawn mower. When people react shocked, it tells me I’ve created something they have never seen before. Honestly I can’t wait to see what kind of weird things I will do in the final weeks of this period…”

Gail: “I’ve certainly learnt how to do things that I’ve never done before and that might feel awkward. For instance, I had some guys I didn’t know put a couch upside down in the middle of an HvA building. And I had my sister eat flowers.. It’s all for the sake of experimenting, and when it doesn’t work, it does feel comforting to know that only the people who look over my process book will see it.”

Curious to see what else Joep and Gail will come up with? Stay updated about their work, and that of 33 other Visual Culture students by following the official Fashion & Visual Culture Instagram (, the minor’s Vimeo page ( and make sure not to miss the exhibition at the ByAMFI Store (Spui 23, Amsterdam), opening on the 1st of December 2016. See you there!


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