by Yinsey Wang

Bella Kotak is a name that is synonymous with many things – creativity, fantasy, photography and even nutrition (she has shared some amazing tips about eating healthy and taking control of one’s lifestyle). Most of all, she is a personality that shines in the art world, who is also incredibly keen to mentor and help others to thrive. Not only has she created a community of artists in her Facebook Group Fairytales and Fantasy with Bella Kotak (which is at the time of writing at an impressive 4,263 members), she hosts engaging workshops and exciting behind-the-scenes videos to offer insights to those hoping to replicate certain techniques and processes that often feature in her work. A keen entrepreneur, she has, with Pratik Naik of Solstice Retouch, invested her energy in creating an exciting array of Photoshop actions which are available to purchase and download. Yinsey Wang had the pleasure of not only shooting with Kotak, but also interviewing her. Read on to find out more about the fascinating and accomplished Kotak, who not only works behind the lens, but sometimes in front of it too.

Kotak’s collection of actions have been a hit amongst the creative photography space. Both her and Naik wanted to “share their colours with the world” and hence, Fine Art Actions was born from this desire to expand upon the education aspect. Fine Art Actions products include Colour Study PSDs and Photoshop action collections, as well as colour toning tools that users can run in Photoshop that assist with colour toning their images.

Kotak is passionate about imparting knowledge but her favourite part of her workshops is meeting the diverse range of people who attend: “It’s amazing to meet people who are so passionate about something that they’ve invested in bettering their craft. I take that sincerity seriously and always try to give 100%, if not more, to every workshop that I curate and pull together. I want people to walk away feeling inspired, with the knowledge to tackle that project that they’ve been putting off or the tools to improve their current work and workflow.”

When quizzed about the development of her students, Kotak emphasised how she really wants to be a part of their narrative and hopes that she can have even a little bit of an impact: “It’s wonderful to see how my attendees then grow in their respective photographic fields and know that I had a part, even if it’s a small one, in their story.”

Through her photography, Kotak aims to provide “tangible escapism from the everyday”. She said: “I create art to bring a little more beauty, hope, and magic into the world and enjoy taking my clients along the fairytale worlds they dream of too. Through it all, I strive to inspire, motivate, and educate.

Ever the modest one, Kotak’s work has been praised and featured in publications such as Practical Photography, PhotoPlus and Digital Rev. Kotak has garnered sponsorships from Phase One and was a 2017 finalist for the Asian Women Awards.

Kotak is not just about creating fairytales through her artwork, she also loves them with all her heart. Her favourite fairytale being The Little Mermaid, she ponders the reasons behind her choice: “There was something about being immersed in another world that existed in parallel to our own that I found fascinating. I actually used to believe that mermaids existed and did so for probably way too long. I think a part of me still wants to believe in magic and that channels itself through my work.”

Kotak is sentimental about her early creative memories, noting that “during art class in school, we were asked to create a picture with rice. It was a little crafty session and I remember following the exact method that the teacher taught earlier. Everything changed when I looked over to a friend and as I saw how creative she got, it sparked something in me and I’ve always tried to think outside the box since.”

Looking back on her development, Kotak feels that if she could communicate with her teenage self, she would give herself “lots of advice”. Finding the question quite humorous when asked, Kotak was pressed to pick one point, and answered: “You don’t need makeup! You might think you do, and that you look better with it, but honestly, you look perfectly lovely without it and that confidence, is the “makeup” you should apply every day. Super cheesy I know, but it took me way too long to get to that point!”

When asked about her goals, Kotak is aspirational, noting that “my goals are to see my work displayed in galleries around the world, to publish books, to create an educational platform that is both a resource and community for young photographers around the world, and to cultivate a positive and creative mindset”.

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model: Maria Amanda Schaub, dress and headpiece: Agnieszka Ospia Costumes, hair flipping: Richard-Wakefield Photography, skin retouching: Solstice Retouch, camera: Phase One

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model: Scarlett, skin retouching: Solstice retouch, camera: Phase One XF 100MP

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model: Scarlett, headpiece: Agnieszka Ospia Costumes, skin retouching: Pratik Naik

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model: Jodi Lakin, dress: Joanne Fleming Design, skin retouching: Solstice Retouch, assistance: T-Two Photography

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model: Scarlett, skin retouching: Solstice Retouch

submissions magazine, submission fashion magazine, online fashion magazine, fashion magazine, fashion magazines, jute magazine, jute fashion magazine, style, fashion, editorial, model, New York, NYC, New York Magazine, NYC fashion magazine, New York fashion magazine, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, Bella Kotak, Yinsey Wang, fantasy, fairytale, flowers

model: Scarlett, headpiece: Agnieszka Ospia Costumes, skin retouching: Solstice Retouch

submissions magazine, submission fashion magazine, online fashion magazine, fashion magazine, fashion magazines, jute magazine, jute fashion magazine, style, fashion, editorial, model, New York, NYC, New York Magazine, NYC fashion magazine, New York fashion magazine, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, Bella Kotak, Yinsey Wang, fantasy, fairytale, flowers

model: Yinsey of Torn & Polished, makeup: Minaz Mawjee of Mi_in Makeup, dress: Joanne Fleming Design 

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