Peer Portraits: Francesca Beltran
Francesca Beltran is a Mexican visual artist working across the genres of fashion, documentary and fine art photography. We first met Francesca at MAN show in New York three years ago, and immediately felt her genuine warmth and positivity. After ten years running around New York, she relocated to Paris last year, where she now lives with her boyfriend Roman and their beloved black cat, Toulouse. Nowadays, she's into meditation and outer space.
Tell us about what brought you to where you are now, personally and professionally.
After ten years in New York, last year I moved to Paris in search of a more balanced life. It’s difficult, living in the big city, not to be a little too career oriented, and I found myself in a moment of my life where I needed more room to focus on other things that made me feel fulfilled. Little did I know that we were about to face a global pandemic and that this would force us all to re-evaluate our priorities. Today I’m using this confinement as an opportunity to get myself reacquainted with my spirituality and with my emotional well being. I started a 40-day meditation program and I’m studying Astrology every day. There are many things I want to learn more about so I am using this time to do some research and to work on personal photography projects.
Have you always gravitated towards photography or are there other art forms that you also are interested in? (I have seen some of your beautiful drawings!)
Photography is something I’ve done since I was very young but it became my full-time profession only five years ago (I was working as a producer before). Switching from a hobby to my everyday work has definitely changed my relationship with the medium and I am stil learning a lot from it. I’ve always been interested in other art forms like drawing and painting, but it wasn’t until I moved to Paris that I finally took my first drawing course at Beaux Arts. It was a completely new form of creative expression and although it was very challenging, I really loved it. I would definitely like to continue exploring new art forms that I can integrate with my work.
Can you share one of your most rewarding creative experiences?
My most rewarding creative experience was an art residency I did at Fondazione Prada in Venice in 2016. It was the first time in my life that I was surrounded 24/7 with artists from different ages and disciplines and this taught me a lot about what it means to be an artist. Before this experience I used to think “Artist” was a title someone else bestowed on you and that it came attached to a school diploma or some external recognition. Being in that environment made me realize that being an artist comes from within; to me, it’s a sensibility that you are born with and its this constant desire to create. Understanding this gave me self-confidence and had a very big impact in the way I started approaching my work.
How you do you feel about your name?
It’s funny you ask that because I’m obsessed with names. I think naming someone or something is a very powerful way to connect with it and give it a distinct personality. I like naming everything; my plants, my cameras, even rental cars. My relationship with my name however, hasn’t always been simple; when I was little in Mexico I was teased a lot because it was a strange name and so I hated it. Later, when I finally found pride in the idea of having an “unusual” name I moved to Italy where everyone is called Francesca or Francesco including a furniture store next to my home. I decided then to rename myself Coco and this is actually what my friends in NY called me for many years. Today I’ve finally made my peace with it and I call myself Francesca.
What is something you believe everyone should experience in their life?
I think everyone should experience moments of true fulfillment. What this means is of course very subjective and depends on what each person considers truly valuable, but I think it’s very important for all of us to do a little introspection and to slowly deconstruct the social dogmas that we all grow up with. For me, realizing that you are ultimately free to live your life under your own terms is the first step towards a more fulfilling life. There is a unique feeling that comes from freeing yourself from imposed ideals and beliefs, and I think everyone should experience it. I also think everyone should have a pet in their lives! This year we adopted a cat and it changed our lives.
What was your favorite moment today and do you have any favorite grounding rituals?
I started my 40-day meditation program on Monday October 26 and it has become my favorite moment every day. I can truly feel the energy moving inside of me while I meditate and it’s always beautiful knowing that you are taking care of your mind. My grounding rituals this confinement are waking up at 8am everyday to do yoga, doing my meditation (I like putting my crystals next to me and burning sage around the house), and then reading about astrology for an hour or so before stating to work. In general I think taking a pause to breathe and to take care of yourself is a wonderful grounding ritual that we don’t practice often enough.
Do you have any work from home essentials? How are you adapting to this new reality?
Work essentials stayed the same : coffee, internet, music. It was important for me to give myself a daily routine and I like to keep a planner and a notebook on my desk to make sure I stay productive. I also like to take a good break everyday to cook and have lunch with Roman. Creatively, we are doing a daily challenge where I take a picture and he finds a philosophy quote to go with it that also reflects our current situation. I also keep a journal that I write in before I go to bed; I’ve been doing it everyday during confinement because I think I’d like to see later in life how I truly felt during these times.
Any advice you can give to young creatives in and out of the current context?
I think the most important thing I’ve learned in my career is that there are many talented people in this world (especially creatives), but being professional, reliable and having a positive attitude is a wonderful way to build strong and lasting relationships with the people you work with. I think it’s also important to mention that young creatives should be careful about the jobs they agree to do for free. This doesn’t only affect the industry standards for other creatives, but it can also damage the way people perceive and value of your work. If you don’t think you deserve to be paid for your time and effort, neither will a client. Good clients know how much good work costs and there are many great clients out there.
Can you tell us about some of your favorite spots in France?
Paris is so incredibly beautiful that the best thing to do is just walk around and get lost, but here are some places I love :
Picnics : Park des Buttes-Chaumont, Parc La Villette, and Canal Saint Martin.
Photography : Jeu de Paume and MEP.
Food : My favorite French Bistro is Chez Janou, for a glass of wine and delicious small plates there’s Aux Deux Amies, for Italian food I like Big Love and Peppe, and for good dumplings I go to Belleville. There’s also a little hidden place called Mokonuts where the menu is always changing and the food is incredible.
Drinks : Chez Jeannette, Saint Gervais, Cafe Cannibale and Mansart.
Dancing (back in the day) : Le Palace
Shopping : Le Marais (I love Merci!).
The view from Montmartre!
Photo Credit : Roman Duvi