It’s said that inspiration can be found anywhere, and revelations from otherwise unremarkable moments. It’s this subtlety that London-based photographer Rick Pushinsky has explored in his new work, Powerful Mantras, a set of 10 image-text postcards.
Pushinsky got into the habit of sharing images of the everyday via Instagram stories, which he uses to upload shots he’s taken with his iPhone. “I take pictures of things I find interesting or amusing, and I share them,” he says. “After some time, I started pairing those pictures with slices of text.”
He’s also a fan of motivational self-help books, written by the likes of life coach Tony Robbins – despite their somewhat cheesy reputation. “I find them fascinating,” he explains. “Even though their references are slightly outdated and clichéd, their power in giving people an accessible framework to work through is incredible. Yes, they can seem silly, but they can also change your life.”
Using these books Pushinksy picked out motivational quotes to pair with his pictures, spending hours trawling through the publications, highlighting sections and seeing what text worked alongside each image. “I made around 80 before I felt there was a project there. I then began editing them down and replicating the layouts on InDesign.”
The result is a playful collection of witty yet strangely touching image-text pairings. ‘Minds are like flowers’ accompanies an image of gloves splayed out, as if blossoming, on the ground, and ‘Destiny is real’ floats over a cup of milky tea. “There’s a hint of connection between each text and image,” says Pushinsky. “I looked for images that appeared to have the mental space for a piece of text. Both text and image needed to have an open-endedness that would allow them to converse.”
The postcard format is also deliberately anti-fetishistic. “It didn’t seem appropriate to use a luxurious paper stock,” he explains. “There’s a deadpan, everyday quality to the photos you take on an iPhone on a grey day in London, and the resulting object needed to reflect that.”
The cards are intended to be passed on, or stuck to the fridge with magnets. “It was the closest I could get to a physical version of Instagram,” he muses. “It allowed me to make my images as shareable as possible, cheaply and quickly.”
Previous projects have seen Pushinsky take a slower, more premeditated approach, so he found the fast pace of making Powerful Mantras liberating. “It felt important not to stop and analyse what I was doing too much, and there’s a freshness that wouldn’t have happened if I’d spent a long time on it,” he say. “Something honest came out of it. It’s my brain on paper.”