PHLEARN MagazineInterview with Eduardo Acierno

Interview with Eduardo Acierno

Eduardo Acierno is a self-taught fashion photographer from Mexico. Throughout our interview with Eduardo we explore the topics of photography, art, inspiration and happiness. But first, his deeply transparent essay on depression and creation:

“I want to get better, I will get better.” 

An essay by Eduardo Acierno


“Imagine everything you ever wanted shows up one day and calls itself your life. And then just when you start to believe in it – gone. And suddenly it gets very hard to imagine a future. That’s depression, right?” – Side Effects, 2013

November was a sweet month, I turned 20, I had a lot of friends, my grades were above average even though school was the last thing on my very busy mind. I had just signed with an agent, booked enough photo work to travel and spend money on myself, life wasn’t bad at all.

Around December this grey cloud covered my world and every single aspect of my life started slowly falling apart, without a single notice, without a warning, things kept piling up like a huge jenga tower and then this piece slipped, and everything fell apart.

There was this sadness inside me, constantly bothering me, like this little blue man hiding inside of me… who decided to randomly show up at the most unexpected times, at parties, at school, with my friends, no matter where I went, this blue guy would follow me around and screw me over, making me sad and ruining my day.



Life just wasn’t working for me anymore; I wasn’t booking enough work in my city, I had many calls and clients asking for photo work in Mexico City, but school, exams and class schedules would always get in the way of working outside the city, even my agent had stopped emailing me because she knew I couldn’t leave town.

I was stuck in a shitty city not being able to work, therefore not making any money for random nights out, booze, concert tickets or any source of fun that once gave me life. I wasn’t working, I hated school, my friends started drifting apart and this blue man kept fucking up my life.

Previous non related family issues got in the way as time kept passing, by January I had already lost interest in school, photography, photo work, going out, etc.

I would pray not to wake up early during weekends, I just wanted to lay in bed all day long doing nothing, I couldn’t even look at my computer because I hated the fact that my facebook timeline was full of new work, fashion editorials, collaborations, parties and all the stuff I couldn’t do.

Then, I had this breaking point where I just decided to question the reason behind my sadness, and I thought about something. This beautiful girl with pink hair once said to me, “take your sadness and make something beautiful out of it.” 


I picked up my camera, which had not been used in months, and started these daily self portrait therapy sessions, just like the good old flickr days circa 2009, where it was just me, myself and my camera. Nothing else mattered, I had nothing to lose, and by creating art for myself I realized that the answer to my problems had always been there inside me.

It’s up to you to decide whether to sink or keep swimming, I knew that If I wanted to get better I had to do something about it, I had to fix it myself, because you are stronger than you think, and your mind is either your best friend or your worst enemy.

By creating and constantly challenging myself I realized how the power of deciding how happy I was laid inside of me, no one else gets a say in that.

Photography inspired me to create again, I craved art, I needed it for my soul, and these self portrait therapy sessions were just constant reminders of the gifts and talents I was blessed with, and how much of a shame it would have been to throw them all away, simply for the wrong reasons.


A particular Bukowski poem inspired me to write about my depression, the moment I started losing interest in all the things I once craved and loved was when I realized how depressed I was and how much I missed the old me:


there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the ****s and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
you want to blow my book sales in
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody’s asleep.
I say, I know that you’re there,
so don’t be
then I put him back,
but he’s singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it’s nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do


That’s why I’m sharing this story, I talked to a lot of people through my grieving process, I KNOW that I’m not the only person on this planet who’s been depressed, my life might not suck as much as I made it seem like it, the thing is, you can’t change a persons mind, you can’t just ask them “why are you sad?” because they might not know the answer, even if you could take all of their problems away and toss them in this bin, they might not even know how to deal with all the stuff they go through, and sometimes, love and patience are all they need.

Art can do wonderful things for your mind and body, but it’s up to you to accept those things and let them heal you, I learned this the hard way. Depression is as much a physical ailment as an emotional one, and people don’t seem to realize that; it just consumes all the energy that person has, causing pain, aching, restlessness (all you want to do is sleep), and kills any drive to do things.

As my body began to lose its grip on things I used to love doing, such as taking photos, seeing my friends and loved ones, having fun at parties, etc. that was YET another thing to add to that debilitating sadness inside me. I hated myself for being less than others, I knew I could do wonderful things, I would shit talk about all the photos I’d see online thinking about everything I would’ve done differently about them, etc. but still, nobody could do anything about any of that stuff BUT ME. Soon enough, I stopped feeling like I could get better, because If those things made me feel bad before, why would I go back to those old habits? Was I being selfish? Was I being a masochist?

My best friend helped me understand how we all go through stuff like this, it’s actually a natural process, it’s okay to fail sometimes, it’s okay not to be good enough, but YOU are the only person who was a say in that.

I really wish I could take people’s sadness away, now that I’ve been through some hells I know what it is like, but in fact, it really is through the highs and lows of life when you really know what it is to feel.


I want struggling artists, painters, dancers, students to know that they’re not alone, and I know there are many ways of taking someone’s sadness away. People say Van Gogh used to eat yellow paint to feel happy on the inside, it’s actually crazy to believe someone would think painting their organs yellow could do anything good to them. But that’s the thing, you’re just so sad and you want to try just about anything to take this pain away; it’s either drugs or booze or anything that somehow makes you feel better, everyone has their yellow paint.

I thought I’d found mine, got lost along the way and found myself back realizing that my camera and my natural talent had always been that yellow paint I needed to get better and get through this monster that consumed everything I once lived for.

And you can do the same thing, find your yellow paint, take your sadness and make something beautiful out of it, once you’re done, take a look at it and you’ll realize how you’ve immortalized your demons and grown out of them.

Photography saved me from this blue man who kept ruining my life, he’s still there, he tends to visit me sometimes out of the blue, mostly on Sunday afternoons, but I’ve decided not to open my doors for him anymore and simply greet him from the outside.


Interview with Eduardo Acierno


When did you write “I want to get better, I will get better”? How did you feel when you were finished writing your essay and had time to sit back and reflect on what you’ve wrote?

I wrote my narrative after a long battle with depression, I got to a point where I no longer cared about client work or fashion; I just wanted to feel better.

I remember sitting in front of my computer and spilling my heart out as I typed. Once I was done I spent quite some time re-reading everything I’d written and I realized how much better I felt, I somehow managed to get rid of all the demons inside me, it was a therapeutic experience.


In April 2014, you spoke at a conference for “Gestalt.” You are comfortable and have had a lot of experience in the past with public speaking in your career as a photographer. What do you like to or most often talk about when attending conferences and doing public speaking?

I always tell nothing but the truth, I love telling people about my journey through photography, ever since I was 14 and got my first camera I always had a hard time asking people for help, being a self-taught photographer I was completely unfamiliar with all these terms, the fashion industry, everything was new to me. So I try to picture my audience as my 14 year old self and tell them everything I wish I could’ve been told when I was getting started. I try not to sugar coat everything, and maybe prevent them from some of the mistakes I’ve made along the way, but in the end, all I want is to give people that much needed “push” or boost of confidence they need to let them know that IT IS POSSIBLE to make it in this business if you work hard enough and are passionate enough about what you’re doing.


Do you find the process of public speaking to be therapeutic?

Totally, it’s a great way of spilling your heart out, especially when you’re talking about something you’re so passionate about. I could spend hours telling people everything I love about photography, how much it’s changed me, all the experiences it’s given me, all the amazing people I’ve met and all the opportunities I’ve gotten ever since my hands touched my first camera.


What is your main goal of telling your story?

I want to inspire people, that’s it.

I want my story and personal experiences to encourage young aspiring artists and let them know that IT IS possible to make it in this industry; it doesn’t matter where you come from, how much support you have, what kind of camera you’ve got, all you need is some passion and love for what you do. That’s it, I promise.


What are some of the biggest rewards you get/feel from sharing your story and passion with others?

Having people come talk to me after my conferences is the most rewarding experience, I’ve gotten to meet so many incredibly talented artists that have told me how much I’ve inspired them to follow their dreams and that’s one of the most humbling experiences ever, the fact that my own experiences and mistakes can inspire others and create a positive impact in their lives make this whole journey worth it.


How do you feel before/after and during creating art with the presence of the little blue man? Is it worth it?

Once I’d hit rock bottom I realized that I had nothing left to hold onto but my art and that burning passion that inspired me to keep moving forward all these years. I found comfort by doing what I loved the most, creating photos.

These therapeutic self-portrait therapy sessions allowed me to immortalize all my demons and somehow escape into my own world, they brought me back to that time when I was a clueless 14 year old trying to figure out this whole photography world with his point and shoot, it was a great way of clearing my mind for a bit.

In the end, now that I look back at these self-portraits that I continuously shot through those months; I realize how photography saved me from this blue man who kept ruining my life, he’s still there, he tends to visit me sometimes, but I’ve decided not to open my doors for him anymore and simply greet him from the outside.


You can view more of Eduardo’s work at: http://www.eduardoacierno.com/

Angela Butler

Freelance photographer and freelance model. Located in Calgary, AB. Happy to travel. M A K E A R T and (try to) love life.

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