WeTalk with Swiss photographer Vladimir Tisma: exploring the theme of daltonism through his travels

WeTalk. Pop culture. Swiss-Made is a Social Media campaign launched by the Embassy of Switzerland in the United States. WeTalk aims at promoting the diversity of Swiss culture and innovation by featuring prominent Swiss stakeholders. Sharing perspectives from artists, athletes and entrepreneurs, WeTalk provides its audience with fascinating insights into the diversity of contemporary Swiss culture. Watch Vladimir’s video here!

Vladimir Tisma, combining his passion for travels and photography © Patrick A. Güller

Have you ever wondered how differently you would see the world if you were color-blind? Vladimir Tisma, a young photographer from Geneva, has based many of his artistic creations and style on that very question. Color-blind himself, the artist combines his unique way of perceiving colors with the standard view of colors into one medium. A graduate of the Swiss Institute of Photography and an avid travel photographer, Vladimir Tisma differentiates himself as an artist by revealing a world that many of us do not usually see. We talked with him about his travels, dreams and artistic projects.

You were born and raised in Switzerland but have travelled the world for your work as a photographer. How did these trips impact and shape the artist you are today?

It’s true that I had the immense privilege to travel around the world, first as a child and then later on as an independent artist. I started my photographic travels with my friend Patrick Guller, and these beginnings will remain unforgettable moments. Later I decided to travel alone, which was also a real revelation. I found myself left to myself sometimes in difficult weather conditions. It was during these moments that I really got to know myself as a man — my fears, my strengths and my limits. I may seem to some people to be a very solitary person, which is true, but I think that it is extremely important to feel comfortable on one’s own. Once my brain is free, I can then be entirely focused on the people I meet along the way. As a man, I am looking for human relations first. Then as an artist, I try to share them in my own way. Behind each image there is a story.

Your work mainly includes photographing foreign landscapes, and thus requires travel. How did this pandemic affect your work, and how are you able to find inspiration?

You’re right…it’s a real blow. We all have suffered in one way or another from this situation, no matter what activity we are involved in. I think that in these moments it is necessary to put things into perspective. Some are sick, others have lost loved ones or lost their jobs. As for me, it is “simply” a question of being patient while respecting the health guidelines. I have to prepare myself mentally and physically to be ready once the beautiful days return. I often stay up late at night listening to music… I will never stop creating.

“Through the Eyes of a Colorblind”, TEDx Talk, April 2020

Do you think this pandemic has initiated a transformation of the art world towards digitalization? If yes, how so?

I believe that social networks should remain communication platforms: a place where artists can also show the “backstage” of their projects and how they work. In my opinion, they should be used to showcase their work and not as a virtual gallery. Now with this pandemic it has become an entirely different story. For artists and galleries, there is no other way but to post and be active on these platforms to maintain some visibility. This will undoubtedly continue in the future but it will never replace human contact.

You discovered early on that you are color-blind. It is a recurrent theme in your work, and you even were a TEDx speaker on the topic! Can you tell us about how color-blindness impacts your life as a photographer?

It’s true — and kind of crazy, because I would never have thought that I could get anything positive out of my color-blindness. Now it has become the heart of my artistic approach. Every artist is looking for that signature that will make his work stand out. Sometimes one shouldn’t look too far, because we are all unique in one way or another.

I plan to continue on this path and explore all the possibilities it can offer. People are curious about color-blindness and seem to appreciate “One Way, Two Worlds”. I am extremely touched by this enthusiasm and I wish to give back to all those who have trusted and supported me since the beginning.

“Pièce maitresse” © Vladimir Tisma

What is the message you want to convey with your different projects?

I simply try to diversify my work and progress through my projects. By changing the format, as I have been able to do through books, exhibitions or presentations, I also reach different people each time and that has been interesting. No matter how we do it, we all have a message to share. We are all unique in one way or another and that’s what makes the world beautiful.

At only 24, you have already done several art shows, as well as published a book (Next world), which compiles some of your work. What’s next for you? What are you currently working on?

As I mentioned, I plan to deepen my project “One Way, Two Worlds” as much as possible. The artistic concept will remain the same whatever the format. I really wish to make the visitors “travel” through my eyes, those of a color-blind person. I have a lot of ideas, but unfortunately I can’t tell you more today…Stay tuned!

Any things on your bucket list as a photographer?

I am attracted by the world’s great horizons, from the salt desert in South America to the Siberian steppe… I still have many things to see and discover. Soon from space perhaps, who knows?

Find out more about Vladimir’s work on his webpage and Instagram.

Vladimir in Mongolia in 2018

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