Results tagged “interview” from one management blog
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Your character makes her first appearance on the Vikings season finale. Tell us about her.
ALYSSA SUTHERLAND: Yeah, Aslaug. The first thing to know about her is she's the daughter of Brynhildr, who was a famous shieldmaiden. It's a pretty famous story. I won't go into the depths of it, because it's her mum's story. So she has this famous shieldmaiden mother, and she's a pretty strong woman and very smart as well. And when she hears that Ragnar is around her side of town, she's quite intrigued by him.
Had you seen the show before signing on to play Aslaug?
No, I hadn't seen it. They were still filming everything, when Aslaug came up. They did give me a few scripts to read through and I was aware of it as well. I kind of consider myself a rookie amongst all of these actors on set. It's still a fairly new world to me, to have a bigger part. You know, from the get-go, I'm always really excited if a role comes along. [laughs] The fact that it was Michael Hirst was just unbelievable to me. Elizabeth is one of my favorite films, and I'm so in awe of what he does. He writes everything himself, which I just think is, I just think he's quite the man. I mean, how do you say no to that? And when I read it, she sounded really mysterious to me and hopefully that's what's going to come across. It's pretty cool to be able to really get into a character like that when it's one of the first things that you do. It doesn't come along very often, I think, for actors and actress to be able to work with someone, early on, that you admire so much. Every time I see him [Hirst] my knees are shaking a little bit, I think.
Hirst is kind of a master of historical fiction, after Elizabeth and The Tudors. Was there a lot of research involved for you or was it all right there on the page?
You walk onto the set and it's just all there. You feel like a Viking, you know? Even with the exteriors that don't have to be dressed as much, the scenery and locations are just so insane in that part of the world. I'm so glad I got to go and see it. It's really easy to be able to imagine yourself as this person, living their life. It's pretty awesome. You don't have to work very hard ... well, that sounds bad. [laughs] I do work very hard. What I mean is, it's just sort of an easier thing to be able to get into, I think, when you're surrounded by all that. They just went to such great lengths to make everything as historically accurate as possible with the sets and the costumes. When I first got there and had wardrobe fittings and saw the Viking outfits that they had and I went into makeup and I saw the wall of spears they had, I mean it was just insane.
Can you tell us anything about the second season, which begins filming this summer?
The scripts are still being written. You know what, even if I knew, I wouldn't be able to tell you. But the scripts are being written and I have no idea. ...There will be a few loose ends that need to be tied up, how's that? There are some things left hanging. There are cliffhangers, how does that sound?
What kind of cliffhangers?
Aslaug is certainly really attracted to Ragnar. At this point, legend of him has started spreading, he's gone west [to England], he's this great warrior and also an incredibly intelligent person at the same time. So when I come across him, I am very attracted to him and he seems quite attracted to me too. I don't think I can tell you a whole lot more than that. [laughs] There's a level of attraction, I think, and there's a sort of matching of minds that goes on. And for the rest of it, people are just going to have to watch and find out.
The season finale of Vikings airs Sunday at 10 p.m. ET on History. click here to watch the video
Byrdie Bells, West Village
Derek Blasberg You loved this hat, didn't you?
Byrdie Bell Hats are a forgotten accessory in America - almost antiquated. It makes me appreciate the English, who still take pride in hats, gloves and handbags. That said, one thing Americans haven't forgotten are shoes. You'd be hard pressed to find a woman here who doesn't look after the Louboutins she's coughed up a small fortune for.
DB You were excited to reenact some 1970s glamour: Is there anything about that era that like?
BB The fashion! I was just watching Chinatown and found myself bewitched by the immaculate polish of Faye Dunaway. To me that character defines socialite style.
DB What's your favorite film from that era?
BB Where do I begin? American Graffiti, the Last Picture Show, Amarcord... I would have loved to make movies in the Seventies!
DB Which 70s icon would you most likely identify with?
BB Jerry Hall! She is so awkwardly chic... equal parts patriciate and iconoclast.
DB I've always thought I would have loved Studio54. Would you have been down with that vibe?
BB Absolutely. My mother saved some press clippings from when she was a girl about town in the Seventies and I make her tell me stories about what it was like. My favorites are the ones about Studio 54. It sounds so guiltless and joyful.
DB Your mom lives in Greenwich now. Do they were hats there?
BB Unfortunately, they do not. I keep hoping to catch a commuter train out to Greenwich and see men in real fedoras carrying leather briefcases like out of an old Frankheimer film - but it never happens. There are plenty of baseball caps though.
CM: Kayt Jones, a name that always guarantees a happy model at the end of a shoot day. Not once have I had a girl come off your set that does not immediately sing your praise...what's your secret?
KJ: I really enjoy what I do. I feel that I'm really lucky to work in the field that I do. There's really no need for it to be anything other than fun.
CM: Over the past few years in Fashion we've seen one magazine Cover after another titled "Fashion + Art issue". It makes you wonder if it is simply that the two organically grew together, or if it's that Fashion has developed a greater need for Art amongst its ingredients...what's your take on this one?
KJ: I think Art has moved dramatically closer to fashion. Fashion has always been influenced by art. Personally I don't think they have ever been very far away from each other. As long as there has been fashion there's been an artist to capture it.
CM: One of my favorite things about working with you aside from the brilliant results is the fact that you are quite collaborative and interactive on your projects...your creative energy seems to come from a place of passion and genuine excitement that is void of any ego...where do you think you inherited such a quality?
KJ: One of the things I really love about working with you is the fact that you're so collaborative and interactive! At the end of the day the image is the result of the combined energies of everyone involved.
CM: Thank you Ms Jones! There goes that void of any ego tone of yours again..(laughs). Everyone has that favorite story that inspired them in the beginning, or maybe the most creative people find new stories that give them new inspiration on a regular basis...what particular Cover or Story has inspired you in the present or even drawing upon times past...
KJ: One of the earliest moments I remember being inspired - I think I was a child - was seeing Nick Knight working. He had two models, one in a white headscarf and one in a black headscarf, and he was literally moving the models millimetre by millimetre to get the right shot. The graphics, the precision, everything was beautiful. Nowadays my style is very different from his, but the memory is very strong.
CM: I've been told by sources who shall remain nameless, that model agents can be somewhat agressive, pushy or even without any sense of culture...I know that you are too sweet to say but I'll ask you anyway..what's your take on the "bookers" of the world... Is our rep really so bad on your side of it all?
KJ: What is amazing is you work like a manager - you are really involved in the production and have a genuine passion to see it through to completion.
The more positive energy there is invested in the project the better.
Also you also have a "can-do" positivity and creative attitude that I love that really helps pull off the seemingly impossible, you really work to interpret the overall vision of the project.
CM: You are too kind for words, and yes, I do agree..the more positive energy invested in a project is quite surely more promising of a great outcome.. One of my favorite aspects of your work is your ability to capture an aspect of each individual girl...never leaning too much towards the contrived character but instead using the girls own personality and individual beauty as the base of your photographs.....who is your Favorite Goddess? (I.e Aphrodite, Freja, Brigit, Isis, Lakshmi, Diana)
KJ: I love the mythology of Juno - her name is derived from an ancient word for "vital force" - that says it all to me. As far as each individual girl goes, for me their personality is the basis of the photographs. Their energy, their stillness, their inner light, you are playing on everything when you shoot. Models are a lot like actresses, playing a role when they are shooting, but nevertheless you look for their special characteristics to really build on.
CM: So True...It seems a good amount of models, photographers etc have been taking up residence in LA more and more..Has living there forced you to travel more for shoots? Or have you been lucky enough to bring most of them to you?
KJ: I do travel a lot of course but I love LA so where possible I shoot there, I never get bored of the sunshine or the particular quality of the light!
CM: Just as the theatrics seem to be returning to the runway, what show do you usually end up being the most inspired by?
KJ: I love theatrics - the joy of fashion is for me all in the imagination and the chance to recreate dreams and escape "reality". Of course as a Brit, i love that London is coming back strong and has a great new venue.
Kayt Jones, self-portrait for Harper's Bazaar
i-D magazine june/july 2009 cover w/ Tasha Tilberg | Photo: Kayt Jones
Q. When I think Josh Olins, aside from the obvious talent and sharp aesthetic that has become your brand, I also envision group shots that always seem to be executed with a rare precision...is that something you personally love or the result of including all of the required advertisers in the story?
Group shots have become an integral part of my work since I was first commissioned by Another Magazine to shoot a story for their main well with Joanna Schlenzka. For me it wasn't anything to do with the advertisers but just a fresh and appropriate concept that would be a great challenge for me. I didn't realize at the time that it would lead onto so much more or that I would enjoy it so much. A lot of what I love in photography is composition and what better way to do that than fill your frame with multiple characters.
Q. UK born, NY based (sometimes) where do you attribute the greatest geographical source of your ideas to come from?
UK based mostly but NYC frequently. I guess as with anyone inspiration can come at home or abroad. NY can be like a movie for me which of course I find inspiring and I guess you get so used to what's on your doorstep sometimes that you need to step away from it to seek something new and exciting. My ideas are split between the two occasionally coming somewhere at 30,000 ft whilst traveling from A - B but I see things everyday that give me ideas.
Q. Surely the older sister's Solid reputation as a well respected Photo Rep had some influence on you growing up, what would you say are the most obvious traits that are perhaps the result of her influence..
I always tried to keep my distance from that side of her as I wanted to take my own path. But I do remember being petrified of showing her my pictures for the first time knowing how tough and brutally honest she could be and that she had built the careers of some of the most inspiring fashion photographers. Her advice was to start assisting immediately in order to get hands on experience. That was 10 years ago now, I was 19. I still seek her advice on a regular basis but am still reluctant to show her my pictures! Her advice and approval early on partly gave me the strength to persist and pursue my career. She's amazing! Regarding similar traits, I'd like to think that we share a similar taste and that we both put everything into our work.
Q. In times past you've inquired on who styled certain stories that I've sent you, and it's rumored that when working on a story you have your hands dipped in everything from hair&make up to styling and right down to the set itself...are you hiding an art director somewhere in your closet of talents as well?
I think it's called being a control freak and slightly OCD. I love every element of the shoot and of fashion photography, and all are as important as each other. I guess I can be hands on at times but that's because I want to push everything and everyone, as I push myself into creating something that offers a huge amount of satisfaction. The only way you improve is to constantly challenge yourself and try your hardest. I wouldn't say that I'm hiding an art director within just that I think it's the whole package that makes a successful shoot.
Q. I've been told you went to school for Photography, did you go all the way through to the finish or move on earlier than planned?
I studied and specialized in photography whilst on a one year art foundation course. I did then get accepted onto a further degree course but after showing a few people my work, namely Kim, I decided to take the assistant route. It seemed more suited to me.
Q. The Range of Photographers and their involvement with casting is so diverse a spectrum to look at, but it seems that you are quite on top of your game when it comes to who's doing what...how do you keep up with it all during a period where the turn over rates are through the roof?
I have to admit that I regularly look at models.com, thefashionspot and also follow the shows to see who does what. I've also worked with some great casting directors and stylists that also follow this as I do but as you say the turnover rates are crazy. At the end of the day I think that what's important about casting is that the person or people you decide to photograph fit the character idea for the story. Then it just comes down to who you can get a 1st option on. Casting can be a nightmare!!!!
Q. Professional Tennis Player to Fashion Photographer, how does that happen?
Well, a bit of bad luck really. I got a knee injury and the recovery time took too long. When I recovered (6 months later) things where not the same, so I quit.
I always had an interest in photography since I was a kid, and my father always had cameras lying around. When I finished school I started assisting photographers and realized that this was something I could really get into. For my first job interview I was asked if I could process and print B&W film, I said of course, even though I had never done it before. My cover was blown pretty fast, but my employee gave me a second chance. I spent all of my time processing film until I could do it blind folded. Then there was no turning back, even though now I miss tennis quite a lot. My friend who I used to train with before just won the Wimbledon in doubles for the second time in a row...
Q. I have always believed that people who've lived in the presence of other cultures prior to arrival in the big apple seem to have something extra, something different. Which for obvious reasons is why the majority of our industry is composed of people from all over the globe. As someone who grew up in Serbia, then Norway and eventually re located to the US, what has influenced you in regards to your creative edge or vision that you affiliate with your time spent in these other countries..?
The beauty of it is that it makes you a more open minded person. You accept things faster and you can adapt to other cultures faster. As a child I also lived in Australia, so for me it is very hard to identify where I am exactly from. I think the Serbian side goes very deep but is finely balanced with the very mellow Norwegian side. It definitely helps with the creative edge, since your background and history identify you as a person, which allows you to interpret and express yourself in a unique way.
Q. What do you find most attractive about fashion? It seems you can ask 100 different people this question and you will receive 100 different answers... as someone who has made a career out of capturing this business all in the magic of a moment on camera, I'm quite curious to hear your answer on this one..
What I like with fashion is that it has so many layers. It reflects society and again it can inflence a society. It gives you the freedom to interpret and create your own world in the collaboration of the designers, stylists, make up and hair artists. It is like being a kid who never grows up and you are never bored.
Q. It is the Tale of almost any successful fashion photographer to have assisted someone really big in the business prior to branching off on their own, it was your assisting Craig Mcdean that initially brought you to the city no? What do you think you learned most from working with him that we might see in your own work today..
I was very lucky to have assisted someone like Craig. He is one of the best photographers at the moment and he takes beautiful pictures. Before I started working with him I had no knowledge of the industry at this level, so he introduced me to everything. I guess the thing I learned the most from him that I always apply is to never give up until you are satisfied.
Q. Your one of the multi tasking family guy's who has managed to quite rapidly build a successful career in the business and yet you manage to maintain a family as both a Father and Husband. I've discussed this very same question with Nicoletta Santoro but it's no secret that women are better known for their ability to multi task. How have you managed to devote the time necessary to your rising career and to that of your own family?
Luckily I don't need much sleep! I am easily inspired and I really love what I do. I also have a wife that is fully supportive of me as a husband and a photographer, which makes things easier. You need to know your priorities and to divide the responsibilities. I guess structure is just as important especially when having 3 kids.
Q. Your beauty stories always contain very interesting make up decisions, how do you go about deciding who you work with for those elements of your team?
When I started I worked with the artist Vanessa Beecroft and was very impressed how she used make up in her art. It was always very refined but unexpected. It has influenced me a lot in how I perceive make up, I always want the girls to look beautiful, original and in a character. I usually work with the same team, which is helpful, since they know by now what I like and I know what to expect. I like creative people who are technically good, but have a sense of humor. I do like developing ideas with the people involved and am open for suggestions.
Q. What do you find to be the greatest benefit of the way our business has been effected by the 'crisis' ?
It has developed alternative ways for people to be creative. It is very exciting and fascinating and in the long term will be very influential in how the industry is perceived. I personally have gotten more involved in video and music than before.
Q. It seems French and Dutch girls have started to invade the territory once ruled by the Russian and Brazilian models, what's your take on such a change..?
Like anything else it is a cycle. It could also be a sign of the times. At this point I think the French and Dutch girls offer more of a deeper beauty and reflect what fashion is going through.
Q. Japanese Mother, Italian Father...two very strong cultural influences to be born of. What traits do you carry today that you would put in the column of your Father/Italian side vs. the traits you may associate more with being the influences of your Mother?
Both cultures are a big part of my life and work. I am east meets west....Spaghetti sushi!! From my Dad's Italian side I have picked up a love for tacky things but as well I love the glamour of it all and am a bit of a Romantic.. Due to my Mothers Japanese culture I have a huge collection of crazy toys and love for Japanese food.
Q. Just reading off your titles and credentials listed in the number of Publications where you are an editor or Creative director is quite exhausting, how is that you are able to consult for so many labels on top of these publications and then go on to style Celebrity?
I know, so crazy, right??!! I'm currently in Japan working with UNIQLO for few more days here, then going back to NYC to start working on the next issue of Vogue Hommes Japan...Thanks to my blackberry I am always up to date with everyone, everywhere, any time!! I have really great relationships with all of the magazines I work with, (Dazed & Confused, V Magazine, V Man, Another, Another Man and Vogue Hommes Japan) you can never be too busy for things!! I work hard and play hard....but traveling across so many time zones constantly could be tiring but its so much fun what I do.. I'm always so excited to visit new places! I recently started working closely with lady Gaga. My new fashion icon! My collaboration with her goes beyond the typical stylist/ celebrity relationship!
she is so into fashion that she needs to change so many times a day!! love it!!
Q. I was reading about your early days as a buyer in a retail store in London that stocked emerging young designers, was that a conscious choice over working for a store that carried more established brands? Or was the new designer aspect of the store simply a coincidental detail of where you ended up working at the time?
In my early 20s, I helped launch the store Pineal Eye in London. I came up with concept of selling merging young designers because there was nothing like that at the time, and it was what interested me most. We stocked one off things one couldn't get anywhere else. It was mostly pieces designed by my friends and people around me. Through Pineal Eye I got the opportunity to meet such talented designers as Hedi Slimane, Raf Simons, Gareth Pugh and Kim Jones.
Q. When you were scouted by Dazed&Confused who approached you offering a position as an editor for the magazine, you had never assisted any other stylist or had any real previous experience is that right? I'm quite sure that it was your lack of experience or the fact that you were never really influenced or molded directly by someone already set in their ways, that may have been one of the most enticing aspects of your raw talent... what do you think the difference is between your perspective now as oppose to what it may have been if you had spent sometime assisting someone established prior to your own debut?
I was so lucky, I was approached by Katy England and Alistair Mackie to be part of Dazed, then we all started working together under Jefferson hack's direction. It was so much fun! And it still is!! From the beginning they gave me complete freedom to decide what I was about, and what I believed in. I was truly able to do what I felt as there was never any fear of doing something wrong.
At the time I didn't even know a stylist existed, much less that it could be a real job!!! I just did what I loved, which was showcasing things I know around me. It's amazing to think that I haven't changed that much in this....to this day I am still doing what I love and what I feel strong about!!
I have never assisted another stylist however sometimes I wish I had...When I started I didn't know the technique of how to deal with other things like the politics of it all. When you do a shoot it's a collaboration with lots of other people, there are certain steps you have to go through to make it all come together. It was a double edged sword not knowing this at first, because on one had it made things a lot harder for me but on the other hand, if I would have known I probably would have been a lot more scared to do new things and take risks.
Q. I was reading in a previous interview when you were answering the question of 'what items are you saving up to buy' , that you look forward to being able to purchase more art one day... what type of Art is it that mostly captures your eye when wandering through a gallery?
It's just a little personal dream of mine to have very beautiful things in my surroundings.
Q. When I found myself looking at some of the more abstract pieces that you and Solve had done together it made me curious as to how you both conceived of the idea to shoot the images that way...essentially erasing the models right from the photo and replacing them with anything from a blue sky to a poke a dot pattern...
I'm so sorry about that! I am sure you at a model agency are not a big fan of those types of shoots, with the models face erased. With my work I am most interested in the final image, and if that is what has to happen then so be it. Though this is not the case in every project as I love to promote new faces and good models, so it all depends. Working with Solve, an outstanding image maker, always leads to something more surreal and exciting!
Q. This famous sketch book that you never leave the house without, what would one find while thumbing through the pages of that book? Words? Drawings? Pictures glued on to the pages within?
I just love having a brand new sketch book. I just like the book as an object. as soon as I mark up the first page I am ready for a new one. I have piles of empty sketch books lying around my flat with scribbles on the first page!!
Q. You've brought to the 'scene' a fresh perspective that comes from your own experience and genuine interest in various subject matter... if you had the ability to Influence the business today in any way you wanted..what is the greatest result you wish to achieve?
I like to give people something positive and fun, just pure love and if I can make money doing so then that's great. But it is very important for me to give back to people, which is why I like working with young creative designers and new models. The more successful I become the more I can give back, that's the way I see it.
Q. It seems to be a re occurring tale when talking to a photographer about their professional experience up to the point of entering the world of Photography that it was not always the first choice Career. Is it something that you've always known you wanted to do straight from school?
No, definitely not! I studied Industrial Design at college in Toronto. After a couple of years I dropped out & spent the next few years working & travelling. When I went back to school I studied whatever interested me. Mostly woodworking, ceramics, drawing & painting. I stumbled into photography though a friend. He showed me how to use the darkroom & I was hooked. After that I concentrated on photography.
Q. Your work has thus far seemed to continuously pop up in the world of cool kid culture, even your advertising falls under the creative fashion + art umbrella..As a new name in the business your brand seems to be in the making as we speak, how would you best describe it? Surely the public will go on to make their own assumptions and opinions but it's far more interesting to hear the intended perspective or vision straight from the source...
I can definitely see how my point of view had been developing over the past few years. I gravitate towards strength. Strong looks, strong light, etc. I think that's beautiful. Being a woman has also had a bigger impact on how I take pictures than I originally thought it did. When I'm taking pictures of a woman it's a very different perspective than that of a man. It's a different relationship that develops. It's a different intimacy. Obviously when you're taking a photograph there's a lot of your own personality that gets portrayed by your subject. I try to balance mine with whomever I'm photographing.
Q. Living in NY you have access to all of the model mayhem, do you take your casting idea's from a more spontaneous inspiration when conducting go sees? Or do you often times already find that you have a specific girl in mind at the moment a story is conceptualized?
Usually when I'm developing a story idea I know exactly who I want to shoot for it. That being said I tend to cast incessantly. It's become part of my working process and a way to keep me shooting constantly. I've recently done a self published book with a couple hundred of my casting pictures.
Q. You and your husband have been working together on some beautiful projects, it seems couple teams have become quite a prevalent force in the fashion world.. Do you think that the foundation of your personal relationship enables you to creatively work from a higher platform than when you work with someone you have no personal relationship with?
Definitely. Working with people you've built relationships with is very important. Not just photographer / stylist but hair, makeup, model, art director. It's a team thing that we do. There's a language that develops over time that comes from knowing eachother & working together. Plus it's more fun!
Q. Do you have a favorite photographer that perhaps may not represent your own aesthetic but has been the kind of obsession of yours through out your passion for photography?
That's a hard one. There are lots of photographers who's work I really respect but I think I'd have to say Robert Mapplethorpe. Not very original, but I loved his work before I knew anything about photography. I remember seeing his pictures of Patti Smith when I was a kid & wanting to steal the book from the library.
Q. If you were to start up your own magazine, what would be it's content...I feel like amidst all of the downsizing going on, a lot of creative people are yearning for a new outlet or project that may not be weighed down by the years of residual definition. So many magazine's brands have already been built and can leave a team feeling somewhat limited to the concepts their able to shoot, what would you like to see in the new fresh start of a magazine that perhaps isn't something we'd find in the current publications that exist now..
Starting a magazine sounds like way too much work!
Q. What is your favorite all time film ever made?
That's an impossible question! Here are a few off the top of my head:
Midnight Cowboy - John Schlesinger
Night of the Hunter - Charles Laughton
Hairspray - John Waters
Hannah & Her Sisters - Woody Allen
anything by Pedro Almodovar
Midnight Cowboy - John Schlesinger
Q. You've emerged quite beautifully and it seems that your pictures only ever appeared in great magazines, what was the secret to such a perfect launch?
••• Thank you honey! I think for me it has been about having a great agent and being fortunate enough to start working with Edward Enninful a few years back. The right stylist at the right time can change your career there is no doubt about it. I have a fantastic supportive network of people around me who give me great advice, like when to say no to certain things and not to spread myself thin. It's a bit cliche but I always believed in quality rather than quantity but it is also very hard when your starting out to say 'no' as you want to do everything that comes up and shoot as much as possible. But what you don't do is just as important as what you do. It's helpful to have people to remind of you of that.
Q. You once told me that it was your dream to shoot for Italian Vogue, and you are now shooting for them quite often, what's the next dream publication you wish to tackle?
••• A book of my personal work would be something I would love to do. I have a project I worked on for about 7 years, all on polaroid, all self portraits and abstracts, it's been tucked away for the last few years. I have also just started a project with Charlotte Stockdale too which we are both really excited about so we feel we might give that a good year to shoot in between fashion action but we want to exhibit the images when it's done.
Q. From following your stories I find you to have a very cinematic aesthetic, it's something I attribute to your incredible lighting, but also to the concepts you tend to execute..are you the creator of such ideas or do you find that most of the stories are a collaboration between you and the stylist your working with?
••• It's always a collaboration once you start discussing an idea with the editor your working with, whether it's something I bring or they do doesn't matter, once your 'into it' it belongs to the team. I tend to get really involved on every level but it is different with everyone and changes depending on the shoot. Collaborating is a huge part of the fun and inspiration for me. Lighting is another thing altogether and I love to light! I'm really into lighting that doesn't look labored which i guess gives a cinematic quality and i do find a lot of inspiration in cinema, the capturing of emotion, a tale to tell, to try and evoke a feeling even if it comes out abstract in the image.
Q. You live in both London as well as New York, do you find any differences in your inspiration and idea's between the two places or do you feel that your creative is without attachment to your current geographical location?
••• New York for me is about work and madness, London is more introspective and calm. I would have to say I think clearer in London but get crazy ideas out of New York. It took me so long to fall for London, there were many years of struggling to survive here that maybe my love for it is deeper, it won me over. But hey who wants one without the other!
Q. Eva Herzigova told us after shooting with you for Vogue Italia, that you had inspired her more than any other photographer had in sometime..Some would assume that it's your fresh point of view, what would you say the reason is?
••• Wow...that's such a huge compliment! Thank you Eva! I'm kinda lost for words now actually. She was an inspiration for me too, I loved watching her , her expressions, she is a strong beautiful intelligent woman with tons of charisma! We had such a great time on our shoot, I think it was just a meeting of minds and a great energy from the start. I didn't want to control her too much, with a model like Eva you shoot her for who she is, it's like working with an actress and to reign her in too much would feel wrong to me.
Q. What do you think about the Return of the Icons and Supermodels?
••• Bring it on! There is such a need and space for powerful experienced women in the industry who know themselves and are confident about who they are in the world. These things only truly come with time. Don't get me wrong there are young new girls out there who are fantastic but it's the way forward to mix it up more and show the full spectrum of what being a woman is about.
Q. What's an Emma Summerton girl?
••• She is a little weird, sexy, a bit tough, slightly mad and appreciates another women.
Q. You've recently made a habit out of shooting Janete Friedrich, aside from the obvious allure of her almost Art like beauty..what is it that you find so inspiring about her as a model?
•••There is something so weird about shooting Janete! She speaks hardly any english so the communication between us is very much about gestures, showing her a mood, and she just gets it and it's wonderful to watch. She is very 'in her body'...very comfortable, so i think she feels the picture because there is little verbal communication. Besides that she has a extraordinary beauty that is so refreshing, reminiscent of a silent movie actress, or a character from another time.
Q. I admire the fact that you refuse to own a blackberry and have managed to achieve your current success without succumbing to the demands of technology; I also share your habit of not watching much television but indulging in many movies. What is your favorite Film?
As far as not succumbing to technology goes, the blackberry is the only thing I'm loath to acquire, I'm not a luddite, I just find the constant demand to be available to answer questions by tapping away at a tiny screen, demeaning when someone could just pick the phone up and talk to me. My favourite film is a really hard one as there are so many. So in no particular order, here's a Top 10! (think yourself lucky I didn't do my Top 100....)
1. A Canterbury Tale, Dir; Powell & Pressburger.
2. A Matter of Life and Death, Dir; Powell & Pressburger.
3. Peeping Tom, Dir; Powell
4. The Mirror, Dir; Andrei Tarkovsky
5. Gallivant, Dir; Andrew Kotting
6. Fanny & Alexander, Dir; Ingmar Bergman
7. And the Ship Sails On, Dir Federico Fellini
8. Suspiria, Dir; Dario Argento
9. Jubilee, Dir; Derek Jarman
10. Performance, Dir; Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg
Q. You have recently embarked on the journey of making real one of your dreams, to open a British Folklore Museum..Something that you originally intended to be a plan that would unfold later on in life, what made you change your mind and decide to do this now?
There were many reasons behind starting the project sooner rather than later. About 18 months ago, a number of friends and acquaintances all seemed to be stricken with various illnesses that seemed to come like a bolt from the blue. There's nothing like spending time with a loved one in hospital to get you thinking about the bigger questions in life. What do we want from our remaining time here? What do we still want to achieve? Is there anything we want to be remembered for etc. My interest in Folklore and museums has been with me for as long as I can remember so events conspired to make me start the project sooner rather than later.
Working as a free-lance designer is wonderful and I wouldn't swap it for anything else in the world, but over the last few years I've found many clients and photographers have been getting increasingly safe in their outlook and work. The present financial climate has of course affected this. I was reminded of a scene from Tim Burton's film, 'Ed Wood'. The protagonist of the film, dispirited with a failing project, goes to a bar and there spies Orson Wells sat at a table on his own. Ed plucks up the courage to speak to the great man who gives him this advice. 'Visions are worth fighting for, why spend your life making someone else's dreams?' I wrote this down and pinned it to my notice board.
Q. I find myself to be someone who also appreciates and enjoys the history of England and it's ancient traditions, I'm curious to find out what it is that is most alluring about these Rites and Rituals for you, is this something that was common in your family growing up? Or more of a personal attraction. Never. Styling is like an out of body experience for me-and I kind of like that state! If anything it's the politics that makes it tiring...
I can't really say that there has been any direct family influence, my parents were antique dealers not Morris Dancers, but they both have a great love of the British countryside and particularly my Mother who was evacuated to Devon during the war. As children we would often spend trips exploring the UK and the history of an area would always be researched and relayed to us as children. My parents also had a copy of 'Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain, published by the Readers Digest in the mid-sixties. Inside its black, embossed covers, was a rich and magical world of Stone Circles, Witches, Giants, Haunted Houses and Seasonal Customs. In many ways it engendered my life-long interest in the folklore traditions of these Islands. Over the years I've become increasingly involved with the customs themselves, not only going to witness them but also taking part when invited to do so. By their very nature, they are anti-authoritarian, anarchic and often downright dangerous. They represent a moment out of time, where the norms of existence are bent or forgotten. Bonfire Boys can carry burning crosses through the streets before burning the Pope in effigy, (Lewes, November 5th) men and women paint themselves green and cover themselves in flowers and leaves to honour the coming of summer, (Jack in the Green Festival, May), crowds of people can follow a madly cavorting Obby Oss through the streets of Padstow on May Day, singing a song unchanged for hundreds of years. With the museum project, I hope to highlight that our Folklore traditions are just as alive and relevant to people today as they were hundreds of years ago. Times change and the meaning may not be the same, but the music and the customs go on with new relevance.
Q. As my own obsession with art and it's importance in Fashion increases, I've become incredibly inspired and somewhat obsessed by the works of Certain photographers such as Tim Walker and Emma Summerton, both of which work quite frequently with you! It was only recently that I stumbled across the information that you were the creative genius behind these legendary sets that have found themselves on many a blogs as well as the wallpaper on my own computers. I would love to start with the over sized props of your Tim Walker sets, where did this style originate for you? What was it that initially inspired you to design the oversized objects concept?
Tim and I must have met over seven or eight years ago now. The first shoot we did together was for Italian Vogue and featured Camilla Rutherford passing through a magic mirror a little like Alice did. When we first met, we found that we shared a similar love of British History, Folk and Fairy Stories and what has been termed, English Magical Realism, as exemplified by the films of Powell Pressburger and Derek Jarman. The visual language that Tim uses in his images is drawn from many of these strands and the story of Alice in Wonderland may well have been the starting point for the over-sized prop idea. We found that the unreality of a gigantic camera, glass, book etc instantly gave the viewer an invitation to step through that magic mirror with us.
Emma is completely different and has her own very particular inner world. Again, we have found we both share a love of similar artists/books/films and there was a moment last year when Emma started to tell me about an incredibly obscure artist she loved. As she described her work I suddenly shouted, 'Vali Myers!!'. I have one of the only books on her work in my library and Emma even lives in her old apt in NYC.
Q. With all of the sets you design and build, surely it would be a shame to have it all go to waste..what happens with the objects after? Where is that large camera for example that was use for the story you did with Tim?
It often breaks my heart to consign the props I create to the skip, but sadly, with them being so large, there is little alternative. When I work in NYC I can call Materials for the Arts and have things dropped off to them. Sadly London has yet to set something like that up. I'm pleased to say though, Tim has been able to store many things and has then displayed them at exhibitions of his work. The camera is one such prop. Nick Knight is currently setting up a scheme at his new Show Studio home in W1, which will aim to offer to the public, items that have been used in shoots, which is a fantastic idea and a huge relief!
Q. What was your first break in this business? How did you start?
Between the ages of eleven and sixteen, I used to visit the Natural History Museum on a Saturday morning to attend a Young Naturalist's club. I should point out that it had nothing to do with nudism but everything to do with the study of the natural world. One of the things I ended up specialising in was the art of taxidermy. Many years later at Art School, I made what could be called jewellery or body sculpture and once I left college I continued to do so, refining the techniques and using more diverse materials such as precious metals and stones and notoriously, human sperm. Once they started appearing in shops the magazines at the time, such as I-D and the Face, reported on them and so the fashion industry became aware of them too. After several years of working in this way I became frustrated at the scale I was forced to work in, given that they had to be wearable and so started making more purely sculptural pieces. Around this time a fashion student from Central St Martin's wrote a very sweet letter asking if he could borrow any pieces I might have left for his degree show. Never having shown the work in this way, I thought, why not and loaned him 7 pieces. His name was Alexander McQueen. I later became his Art Director for seven years.
Q. What is your favourite Set ever designed to this day? Be it your own, or that of someone else...for a show, editorial or even perhaps an advertising job?
That's such a hard question. I used to love those mad over-blown shoots Steven Meisel and Peter Lindbergh did for Italian Vogue, about eight years ago, when it was so creative, having it's renaissance. Tim Walker of course has shown consistently that a good fashion story can be elevated beyond the norm by having inspiring sets and the work he now does with Shona Heath is stunning. A fashion show that I will never forget was a Dior Couture show, designed by Michael Howells at a Railway Station in Paris where a beautiful steam train pulled in to a platform covered in coloured sand and plants and disgorged the models. As far as my own work within the industry is concerned, a personal favourite would be the Untitled show for McQueen where I was allowed to turn the catwalk into a piece of sculpture, a glowing 60ft long structure made from low tanks of water which turned black when ink was pumped into them at a moment when there were no models on the catwalk. Then after some minutes, when the next girl did appear, a curtain of rain poured down for the final half of the show drenching them all. It was a great marriage between the set and the collection. Oh, and a party I did in a stunning private house in Florence where the hallways were forested and all the forest fruits, nuts, berries and mushrooms were all made from chocolate infused with flowers and the party last year for Hermes set in the grounds of an 18th century house which resembled an Indian Palace, where the guests visited Indian Gods in the ornamental gardens and then watched as a live horse painted pink transformed into a life-sized mechanical elephant..........
Q. What question have you never been asked in an interview that you've always wished someone would ask you...? If there is one...
Recently it would have to be, 'Would you like a cheque for 4.5 million for your museum project?'