What kind of photography do you do?
Fashion and travel, but my next project is a portrait series of healers. It came to me during meditation, after a friend of mine died. It means spending time with people who really want to change the world and are not afraid of death.Everyone is attracted to good-looking people, but all that fashion is for ego and not for the heart. Sometimes it’s for the heart — for creativity. And I do love fashion. But my way of thinking is changing.
I hear you just came back from driving across Africa. What was that about?
Once in a while, you have to shake your soul, breathe heavy, and scare yourself. This trip — the Plymouth-Dakar Challenge — was perfect. Sometimes we raced, but it’s not a competition; it’s just people trying to do something different with their lives. We had drama, and we had accidents, but the hard part was seeing really, really poor people. But in The Gambia, people are always smiling. Poverty is a completely different issue. At the end, you give away the car — it’s sold for scrap metal, and the money goes to street kids and other public projects.
I try to use the studio as much as possible — it’s huge — but doing set design for film means a lot of travel. And fashion work takes me to Mexico and Spain.
Sounds like a nice life. What brings you back to Ottawa?
It’s easy to find yourself here. There’s not so much to distract you. It’s nice to go out to Toronto, to Montreal, to Madrid — and then come home to my quiet place. I live right in the forest in Gatineau; it’s amazing.
How would you describe your personal style?
Someone once told me, “You want to see how I feel that day? Look at my shoes.” I think this works for me. I have these same shoes in orange, blue, and green, and I have hundreds of pairs of bright Adidas sneakers.
Mauricio is wearing a grey shirt from Mountain Equipment Co-op, a white shirt from Club Monaco, pants by Madrid designer El Ganso, shoes by Magnanni, and a leather Jacket from Flashback Vintage in Toronto. The Buddhist amulet is a gift from his sister in Mexico City. His leather bag is from the Central Market in Guatemala City.
This “My Look” interview was featured in the April 2012 edition. Pick up the print edition for another view of Mauricio Ortiz’s studio.