It was two in the morning and I was supposed to be asleep. With my phone in hand, I scrolled through Instagram, where I was stalking a good friend's account. I clicked on who he followed and Marina Fini's name popped up. The moment I tapped on the screen, I was transfixed by pictures of girls wearing beautiful oversized light-reflective earrings. Whether it be a pineapple or a flower, something about the shape and aesthetic of the jewelry caught my eyes. From then on, I wanted to get to know the woman behind the magic.

On a breezy Monday afternoon at Native Foods Café in Santa Monica, a woman with bright purple hair, galaxy-printed crop top and shorts set, blue socks with a spaceship motif and black UNIF chunky lace-up boots sat on a chair. Up close, her butterfly tattoos peek underneath the criss-crossed laces of her crop top, which evokes a Stevie Nicks-esque vibe during her heyday. A finger-sized titanium rainbow crystal quartz dangles on a thin gold-plated choker on her collar. On her ears, palm-sized circular holographic plexiglass earrings with a glitter purple moon motif dangle from the lobes. Without an ounce of makeup and hair parted to the right side, a pair of pink butterfly-shaped sunglasses sits on top of her head. Meet Marina Fini.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Fini is the hippie alien princess that every girl in the interwebs dreams to aspire. Although Fini is best known for her jewelry, she's also a filmmaker, sculptor, and photographer. All in all, she is ready to make her mark as a visual artist.

What does jewelry mean to you?

FINI: Jewelry has been a part of my life for a really long time. My mom was a jewelry designer in the '80s. She always had large accessories and I always loved large accessories that were statement pieces ever since I was really little... when I was in college, I started doing crystal jewelry. I loved the idea of wearing them... I started doing crystal rings and necklaces for two-and-a-half years before I started doing plexiglass stuff. I saw a smaller version of alien earrings online and I was like, "I want to make these big." My ex-boyfriend taught me how to laser cut. We printed the first alien earrings and then from there, people were asking if they can buy them from me.

You are heavily influenced by the late '90s, early '00s, flower child era of the late '60s, psychedelia and Internet culture. So what made you come up with this aesthetic?

FINI: I always feel like I've been extremely attracted to like, multiple eras. I was born in the '80s and I grew up listening to a lot of '80s stuff - so the big earrings were stemmed from that time period.

When I was in high school, I started to be enamored with counterculture, hippies and psychedelia. When I started going to raves and festivals, that's when I found my style. I feel like my experiences both mentally and physically at that time period have shaped the way I dressed and made my jewelry. If it doesn't trip people out, I don't make it.

With the cyber jewelry, it's very connected to our obsession with Internet and always with being connected. It's commentary on our obsession.

You are primarily known for being an Etsy designer. In what ways has the Internet helped you sell your items and engage with your audience?

FINI: Without the Internet, I would not be anywhere. I started on Etsy when I was in college. My major was performance and new media, I did with an emphasis on film production and minor in costume design. So, I mainly started doing jewelry as a way to fund those projects - as a way to make costumes and get a vision I wanted for those projects. It turned into an actual full-time thing and I started getting wholesale orders when I was 20 or 21. It's just been an ongoing thing. Jewelry has been a self-sustaining system [and] the first dimension of the world I'm trying to emulate. With the Internet, it's a great way and outlet for indie designers. I have customers from all over the world and stores from Japan, Australia, New York and Canada carrying my stuff. You wouldn't have all those customers without the Internet.

I'd love to ask you about your film stuff.

FINI: I mean for me, like, photography and film and the jewelry all go hand-in-hand in the same world. It's all about dressing people up as these characters that I see them as or as these hyper-reality cartoon goddesses that I ty to consistently emulate. I love photographing real girls; I'm not into photographing real models. I find a lot of inspiration from the people I meet online and the other artists that I want to collaborate with. A lot of my work is heavily collaborative. I find that to be self-fulfilling. Something about photographing all girls from different ages from teens to 80-year-olds. [Instagram sensation] Baddie Winkle is such an inspiration to me because she's just so confident and out there for her age. She's just so cute.


FINI: I just love her.

I love Baddie Winkle. People think that people her age should dress like this dowdy grandma and I love that she proved everyone wrong. She's one of the celebrities wearing your things. Miley wore the holographic mushroom earrings with denim-on-denim and the dreads. How did they know about you and how you feel about them wearing your designs?

FINI: Well, I met Miley Cyrus last year in Miami and that was because I met her really good friend [Flaming Lips lead singer] Wayne Coyne's girlfriend Katy Weaver [designer of accessories label Wicked Hippie]. She bought a lot of stuff outside the Moschino party and that night, gifted Miley the alien necklace. It was the next day [that] I saw paparazzi photos of her wearing it. That was the start of it all. [Then] I saw Katy in August 'cuz she was in LA and she got some stuff for me. [She] said to me that Miley wanted some mushroom earrings 'cuz she saw Kennedy, who is Baddie Winkle's granddaughter, wearing them. There [were] photos of [Miley] wearing the mushroom earrings. For the whole Baddie Winkle thing, Kennedy was commenting on my stuff. I told her, "I'd love to collaborate with you and send you some stuff."


FINI: So, we started talking and texting a lot. She was telling me she's coming out in August for the VMAs for her and Baddie to meet Miley. We did this editorial at the lounge and dressed Baddie up in my new sunglasses. She has great energy. Her and Miley are awesome people and I love that they're wearing my stuff.

I remember that you just did a Halloween collection with Jacqueline Denton, who's a neo-psychedelic artist.

FINI: I've never met her in real life, which is funny. But we've been online friends for at least a year or more. We did a trade over a year ago because I wanted some of her inspirational art, so I traded her jewelry. We always had love for each other online. She wanted me to make her bat and coffin earrings.

September rolled around, my two friends, Kelsey [designer of WhateverNBD] and Devani [designer of Devowevo] were producing a Halloween collection for their stuff and I guess, throw up some new Halloween stuff. Like, I have never thought about it and did it last minute. I asked Jacqueline if she wanted to do it. She was totally down and then, we made it happen in a couple days. I printed her my designs and I made some of my own designs, too. So, it's like half my stuff and half her stuff. I produced it all.


Speaking about your films, you just photographed and filmed your lookbooks - I remember that you filmed Niki Takesh [Internet personality] wearing your jewelry and "Ghoulfriend", which was featured on Tunnel Vision. You put so much insight to it and come up with a story that people can relate to. What exactly made you come up with these concepts?

FINI: Well, I started doing film in high school [and] I started taking film classes. My Dad's in the television industry and I grew up on set a lot. Story has been a key aspect in producing stuff for me. I'm pretty much a self-taught photographer - I've only taken one photography class my whole life. Film coincides with photography because I want to make the photograph seem like it's part of a movie. The story has to have some sort of connection to the viewer. They all have their own story to tell.

Like you had one where you had some girls at Venice Beach, where they were skipping school for the back to school collection. And then you had another one called "Cheaptime Morals", which came out last month.

FINI: It was at my house.

Really? I thought it was at a church!

FINI: Well, it was shot at a mausoleum near my house and my house.


FINI: I shoot a lot in my studio and I just like change up the scenery and the sets in my house so it looks like new places. The mausoleum was half of where we shot. I was inspired by The Craft meets girls in their bedrooms. It's really cool that you noticed the conceptual aspects of my work versus it just being fashion because I don't always know that people know that. [Laughs]

Aw, I always love to pay attention to what's the big concept behind it - I have to admit, I'm more of a big picture gal. Let's move on to the Art Basel installation. Art Basel is something so international and well-known. How did you come up with this ambition to do your installation for Art Basel?

FINI: Well, I've been going the last two years. The first year I went, my friend who lives out there invited me to come...Last year, [there was a] pop-up event at the Mondrian Hotel with a bunch of designers. I showcased my plexiglass dress and sold some of my prints and jewelry. I made money back on that trip and was able to pay back my flight, which was cool.

This year, I was like: "I need to do something." I was either gonna go and do something crazy and life-changing or not gonna go at all. When I talked to my parents about it, it was like: "Can I go? I need to borrow some money to go?" and they were like: "No, we can't afford it right now." And I was like: "No, you know what, I need to take out money and do this." It was in the last three weeks that I decided that I was gonna go - it was a super last minute thing. But I am very determined to make it amazing.

Me and my friend Signe [Pierce], who calls herself a "reality artist" [i.e. performance art]. So, I approached her about doing a collaboration in Miami and we are also friends with this girl named Sierra who lives out there. We all have a Tumblr presence in our own ways. We just thought about it'd be a really cool show our stuff somewhere. Then, I had this idea of: "Oh, what if we do it in a motel?" I was trying to think of the cheapest way of go about doing this because it's such a struggle. My friend Sierra always talked about doing a photoshoot in heart-shaped hot tubs in motels. I was looking up all these motels and [found] Miami Princess. It had these crazy themed rooms and each room has its own hot tub that is heart-shaped. We have to take this motel room over, make it our own and do something crazy. We're all going to put our work up in some degree and see how it goes. We're going to have a collaborative zine that people can pick up at the night up. There's going a performance that Signe is going to do and Sierra is gonna have prints. It's gonna be like, technology-meets-Miami Vice. [I will be] having a lot of light installs and projections. It's gonna be a whole different world there. I'm stoked about it. I hope it goes well! [Laughs]

Fingers crossed, here. I just wanna shove my money to Art Basel! [Smiles]

FINI: Just to see it! [Laughs]

Exactly - I wish I can come! I love how you're flipping against the traditional idea of doing a formal exhibit.

FINI: That's the whole thing. We're going against the grain of capitalist art-making. Art in Art Basel is very unaffordable and how it's like, very bougie. Only rich people can afford fine art for the most part.


FINI: You wanna make something that is available and accessible for all people. But at the same time and same place with Art Basel. We're making something affordable for everyone to come see, be a part of and immerse themselves in.