Issue 02: A Funny Story Summer 2011
SUMMER 2011, ISSUE 02 c/o Katie King 25 Inlet Ct Santa Rita, Guam 96915 President Big Cheese Katie King Grammar Guru Sara Montague Miller Design Ninja Ashleigh A. Coyner
MP logo: Julia Williams Page 3: Jennifer Lopez, Walk This Way Page 6: Suzie Cheney, Parade Page 39: Gayle Ketzel, Skyclimber Front cover: Marianne LoMonaco Hunt, Fork you Back cover: Found photograph owned by Axel Stevens
Resident Renaissance Woman Galia Alena Wannabe Wordsmith Jen Jae Stanley
Any typos will be attended to with great to-do in future issues.
Night Hawk Erin Hawkins Method Press Superhero Julia Williams
--------- ---------------------------Follow us:
Method Press is quarterly and independently published.
Blog: www.meetmethodpress.blogspot.com Twitter: @MethodPress
Subscriptions & Advertising Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org Distribution Method Press is available globally. Email us at email@example.com or call (773) 850-0760 Submissions We accept both physical and electronic submissions. Address submissions to Method Press c/o Katie King 25 Inlet Ct Santa Rita, GU 96915 For digital submissions submit via email to firstname.lastname@example.org with "I am a submission" in the subject. Or on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/groups/mpvault
All rights reserved by the artistsâ€™ individual copyright & owned by prospective individuals.
We are currently searching for independent printers & publishers to support our subsequent issues. If this is you please contact us at your convenience.
1 method press
A FUNNY STORY FOREWORD
CREATIVE SPACE | Gabrielle Jones
A FUNNY STORY
FOUND | A Quiet, Unassuming Soul
PHOTO JOURNAL | A Funny Story
EXPLORE | Fear
Ashleigh A. Coyner
FEATURED ARTIST | Frankie Norstad
PASSIONATE PLACES | IslandShy Katie King
Ashleigh A. Coyner
MISSED CONNECTIONS—Sophie Blackall
Ashleigh A. Coyner
Caleb Manci, The King of Elphia
KYLE LEVENICK ON HUMOR & IMPROV
Jen Jae Stanley
2 method press
Meet Method Press
Ashleigh A. Coyner is a wannabe ornithologist. She gets irritated at the word seagull and can identify birds by song. She drinks her coffee with too much creamer and eats anything that contains raspberries. | www.ashinbleu.wordpress.com Galia Alena is a part-time renaissance woman, part-time juggler and full-time dreamer. An unashamed coffee snob currently residing between countries on the precipice of her whims and an overly stuffed suitcase. | www.galiaalena.com Jen Jae Stanley lives in Austin, Texas. When not lending a hand at Method Press, she spends her time trying to capture this wide world within a tiny frame. | www.FiveFootThreePhotography.com Julia Williams is a marketing girl and published photographer by day, aspiring activist and gypsy by night. She has a penchant for shenanigans, up-cycling, gardening, travel, design, and painting. | www.flickr.com/jujubalee Katie King created Method Press in 2011. She likes to leave spun out voice mails and could go for a mini miracle right about now. | www.about.me/katieking Sara Montague Miller is the grammar guru who edits the magazine. She lives on the Gulf Coast with her husband, works as a full-time mental health therapist. | www.colorsnotyetinvented.blogspot.com
4 method press
FOREWORD Martin Regan
5 method press
6 method press
A FUNNY STORY Caleb Manci, The King of Elphia
7 method press
8 method press
9 method press
10 method press
KYLE LEVENICK ON HUMOR AND IMPROV Photographs and transcripts by Katie King
I had the opportunity to meet up with Kyle in San Francisco in June for photos and an interview. A big fan of ska music, Kyle was visiting from NYC to see the Asian Man Records 15-year anniversary festival. Not only is Levenick a cute and creative chap, he's also certainly an intellect. He speaks about the growing diversity in the comedy scene over the past five years, the role of gender in comedy itself, and his own personal experiences as a performer. Not to mention human feces, undertaking, and 2nd grade angst. I was happy that he shared a bit about what he does best, improvisation. What follows here are some selected responses from our conversation. You can hear the full session on our blog at meetmethodpress.blogspot.com/digdeeper.
On a first comedic memory: I guess my, I'd say, maybe my strongest comedic memory… I mean my dad was always my source of humor; he was always the guy that taught me everything that I know about comedy whether he meant to or not. He always showed me really lame jokes or really bad puns, and that's the kind of stuff that I just love. I love puns. I love bad jokes. And we used to watch a lot of Are You Being Served? on PBS growing up, which is a British department store comedy which is just very sassy and dry. But the thing that kind of really got me started in wanting to do comedy and be funny, I guess, was when I was in, I guess, about 7th grade. It was 1997, because the PlayStation had just come out, and I wanted a PlayStation, and my dad, he made a deal with me. He said, "If you can improve your handwriting…” (because I'm left-handed, and so I've had terrible, terrible handwriting my entire life.) He said, “If you can improve your handwriting, improve your penmanship, I will buy you a PlayStation." And so I made this deal with him, and he said, “Just pick a book, copy 3-4 passages out of it every night, a couple times a week just to work on your handwriting, and do that for two months and we'll see where you are at the end.” And I found a book in our basement, which was this old joke book from the 1960s just full of this Catskills comedy--real dry, not even very funny jokes that don't really have a punch line or a beginning. But I just copied so many of them and memorized a lot of them and would use them on my friends at school, and nobody would get them, and I wouldn't even get them because they were about obscure 60s celebrities and stuff. I would definitely credit that with my love of kind of dry, unfunny humor and bad puns. 11 method press
On early comedic moments: I remember, for some reason, being really thirsty outside my friend's house. We were playing basketball, and I decided to get a drink by a stand-up basketball hoop, and the base was full with liquid. There was a hole in the back, and if you punched it, the water would fly out of the back, and so I decided that instead of getting a drink I would kind of press on it and drink what was coming out, and it looked just absolutely silly, and his dad just came out, and he said, “What are you doing?” And I said, “I'm just getting a drink.” And he said, “That's antifreeze in there. You know that right?” And this was after I had been drinking for a minute, and I looked like a total ass, and it was just… when you thought about it… that's so fucking funny… to view that from the outside. And it's better if you didn't know that it was antifreeze and you find out with that person that it's antifreeze, and you're like, oh my god, and that's just one of those moments that you think about and you think, I wouldn't trade that moment for anything.... Especially because I lived.
On how a sense of humor affects his daily life: I find it easier to go through life when everything is really funny to you. But my main humor is, I love, love puns-they're my life--and stupid dad jokes. I like offensive jokes and offensive comedy, but bad jokes are the kind of jokes you can share with everyone, and as long as you don't expect them to laugh or not and you laugh, then it's going to be funny. Even really tragic things, [my family and I] try to look at it like "there's humor in this," and that's what comedy is: it's looking through something tragic that happens, just through a different lens. When I die, I want people to just rip into me. I want them to make fun of me. For better or for worse, I just treat everything as a joke, which definitely gets me into trouble sometimes…
"If you can laugh at a situation, you can overcome the situation." On live improv: Everybody should see as much improv as they can. I don't think anything compares to seeing really good improv on stage, because It's something that's created on stage right there and you're never ever going to see again. You can't recreate the same improv scene. There's something really amazing to that to know that what you see now is gone when it's done, and all you have is your memory of it. I've seen improv that's made me cry; I've seen improv that's made me laugh. One of my favorite improv shows was a group that did the set based around this guy's family, and his mom had just died two months before the show--in a car accident while his dad was driving and his brother was in the car, and this kid decided not to go on that car trip. And so, they, do a format where they interview you about your family, and then they do an improv as your family, and they interviewed this kid, and they realized that, oh my god this guy's had a really tragic year. But we can't just say, “Hey, we're going to take someone with a less tragic back story.” They can't just back out of it. But they went ahead with it, and they were totally honest about it. They didn't make fun of it. They just said this was the shit that happened and we're going to play the character. They started off the whole show. They interviewed the guy. He sat down. He comes out, sets up a car, and is basically the mom, and there is the dad and the son and they're like “All right, everybody get in the car.” And that's how they start off, and it was the funniest, best improv show I've ever seen in my entire life. The kid himself busted a gut laughing; he was rolling on the floor. They got a standing ovation at the end because it's, I mean, people couldn't believe what they just saw. They turned this horrible, horrible tragedy into something this guy could laugh at, and I have to imagine… I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I would have to imagine that if it happened to me, it would be this amazing way of having a community help me get through a really bad time in my life. And people have done shows at UCB about 911. They did the heroes of 911 shows that got a standing ovation for like 3 minutes.
12 method press
"There’s nothing as ephemeral and honest and beautiful as really good improv." On the nature of improv: You're not supposed to be funny when you're doing improv; you're just supposed to be honest. You learn how to be more honest with one another. And even though I tend to treat everything as a joke, it's an honest joke at least. I'm not trying to hide something. When you're doing improv, you're not in the spotlight. You're a part of a machine; you're part of a scene; you're part of something that's being created. You're not doing it by yourself. If you are standing out in a spotlight in improv, you're most likely doing it wrong. You're not supporting the other people on stage; you're supporting yourself. And so it's just been a great way to just kind of realize that you don't have to be the quickest wit onstage or have the best puns or the best ideas. Once you get over the "you don't have to be a funny person to do improv," you become a better improviser. It's about creating something that you're going to be proud of. Somebody told me once the best way to figure out your characters is ... to almost have something that is just totally unrelated to the scene that your character knows or has that basically drives them as a character. The example that somebody gave me about this is that there are two guys doing a scene about one guy visiting the other guy's house, and it turns out that they're Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, and it became this hilarious scene about one-upping each other and just this beautiful, beautiful scene, and he asked the guy afterwards… he's like, “You played Steve Jobs as a character, flawlessly, without even… it's not that you just dropped Steve Job-isms or whatever; you just played Steve Jobs as a really believable guy,” and he's like, “ How did you do that?” And he's like, “Well, I basically thought , here I am; I'm Steve Jobs; this is my house; I'm showing Bill Gates around, and I, as Steve Jobs, have personally taken a shit in every single floor in my house.” And that was his thing; that was his intent. He had this pride in him as he's showing Bill Gates around his house, and what Bill Gates doesn't know is that there is [his] own fecal matter in every corner of this house, and that's what motivated him in this scene. He never talks about that in the scene… he never addressed it, but that's how he got this Steve Jobs character out. The same thing as when you're a person and you meet someone new: the way you're coming off to them isn't always what you're trying to present to them, but it's a sum of everything that you are. And there are these things that are deep inside of you that are coming out in how you present yourself that you don't address, but they're there. And when you're playing a character, you can't start that character at the beginning of the scene. You have to have that character have a life before the scene started.
On whether people typically expect improv to be funny or not: The comedian has somewhat of an antagonistic relationship with the audience.... With improv, I've kind of found that people go there, and even if they think they have a "make me laugh" mentality, it's more… they're kind of on our side a little bit more. They're not saying, “Oh, make me laugh." They're really interested to see what we are able to come up with. When they find a genuine moment of good creation, they really appreciate it.
How the comedy and improv scene has changed as a genre since he has begun studying: It has gotten really popular, actually, since I started doing it. I remember Who's Line Is It Anyway? was on TV and was fairly popular; people loved it. But that was really gamey, joke-y improv. Having moved to the city since then, the improv scene in NYC has just grown exponentially. It's insane how big it is now and how many people are doing it and ...it’s really cool to see. The infrastructure isn't quite there to handle it, because I don't think people were expecting it to take off the way that it did, but it helped a lot by… Amy Poehler being on Saturday Night Live, and Horatio Sanz--people that have kind of brought it to life. There’s a lot more women doing it; there's a lot more people of color doing it; there's a lot more people of varying sexual orientations doing it, and that just brings so many more dynamic viewpoints into the comedy that it makes it better. It's just hands-down better because of all that...that kind of changes everything.
13 method press
On female comedians or improv artists: My favorite female comedian is my friend who is in my improv group; her name is Kat Nunez. She is… to me, she is just one of the funniest people I have ever met, and I've been performing with her for three years. She's just totally unrestrained, and she's also not totally confident in her abilities. She kind of creeps up on herself and goes, “Oh, I'm not funny.” But we all kind of do that. When she gets up on stage, stuff that she says and comes up with is just so unfiltered. A lot of people tend, when they're on stage, they don't say the first thing that comes into their head, but they think about that and then maybe think it's funny and then try to make it funnier and then say it. For her, it doesn't even stop; it just comes from her brain out of her mouth, and it's hilarious, and it’s always fun to work with, because it’s never the same thing twice. Even just…my larger kind of celebrity female idols are, for the most part, improvisers, because I just find it to be a kind of comedy that, if you do well, you can do anything else. You can do any other kind of comedy and totally own it. Amy Poehler, she came up doing comedy and improv and just is at the top of her game. She is one of the most hilarious women I have ever seen. There's this woman Silvija Ozols at The Upright Citizens Brigade who is just hilarious. It's kind of hard to find that in the improv scene, because there is still kind of... It was really hard for women to get credit in improv until recently, and I think Amy Poehler had a lot to do with that; Tina Fey had a lot to do that; people like Rachel Dratch and Kristin Wiig… lots of great people that are really coming out in the open lately who have kind of dominated the comedy scene, more so than kind of the "boys' club" that you're used to.
On females in comedy: Back in the 70s, there was this guy Del Close who was kind of considered one of the fathers of modern improv, and he ran schools out in Chicago and basically started what we think of as improv now, and I came across a couple years ago… a friend gave to me an actual manual of--a little pamphlet of--improv rules that Del Close put together in the 70s, and it’s totally not meant to be followed to the letter, but basically he wanted to put together just a bunch of tips for improvisers, and one of them was--I think it was number 26 on a list of 40--that women aren't funny. Del Close, granted, was a bit of an antagonist, product of his time, kind of, in the comedy scene there, but he actually rationalized it in a really interesting way that I actually think is pretty true, and it's not that women aren't funny, but it’s that, especially in improv … you're on stage. At the very base level, you're making an ass out of yourself. You're doing weird things; people are laughing at you--laughing at things you do, and yeah, back then, I don't think people were as comfortable watching women make an ass out of themselves. That's total truth in some degree, for whatever reason, but I think it's becoming more and more a thing where it doesn't really matter what your gender is or what your sexuality is. As long as you're being honest about making an ass out of yourself, it's going to be fun.
14 method press
On ironic detachment & characterization: If you're onstage, and you are being an improviser that's playing a character, you're detached from the character. You're not being that character, and so you might have really funny lines or funny jokes and you think you're the cat's pajamas. But the audience isn't buying it. They're watching the character through you when they should just be watching the character...One of those things that just ruins good improv... Everybody does it.... I recommend, the next time you see an improv show, listen to the lines and think about the lines as not what is happening in the scene but as a commentary on the scene, and you'll see a lot of people, when, if the scene is not going well, their character will say, “Oh, man; I've got to get out of here." And you realize the character isn't really saying that: they want to actually get out of the scene. They want to get out of the scene itself. They don't want to leave the house or the boat that they're in, they want to get out of here. And it's kind of funny to see that metacommentary that they are not aware of, but when that meta-commentary becomes something they are aware of... it takes you out of it. And you're aware that you're watching improv.... and you're almost waiting for it to end now; you're almost trying to direct it yourself as an audience member in your head. You're thinking they should have said that or they should have done this…
On Post-Show: I'm really hard on myself about my shows. More so than a lot of people that I know. We did a show once; it had to do with time travel, and I played a character who was an undertaker who was bringing bodies back into the church to burn so we could reuse the coffins, and when I said that that’s what I was doing I was like, “Yeah we reuse the coffins; I thought everybody knew that.” There was some guy in the audience that we heard just go "YES!” like he had this theory that he's been trying to be convinced of and someone else just validated that on stage. [In this other show, we] ended up going back in time and catching Thomas Jefferson writing the Declaration of Independence, or whatever, and we took it, and we ripped it up. We ripped up the Declaration of Independence, and it was just this quick move. I think I just took it and went like this *makes ripping motion* and all of us onstage heard this guy in the audience gasp, and he was genuinely upset someone had just ripped the Declaration of Independence. And to know that you had someone hooked that badly ... After the show, that's what you remember more than anything else. Even in bad shows, you still usually have a moment like that.
On humor and humanity: I think people in general are just funny. But then when people try to cover that up and try to pretend that they're better than that--they're not just these sex-crazed, hairy human beings--it's, again, it's kind of scatological, which I apologize for, but I had the thought the other day that it's weird how we treat everyone as if we all don't do these disgusting things. Every single person in this world poops; every single person does, from Barack Obama, to girls, Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, me, the homeless guy on the corner… and it's the same disgusting way, and we don't treat each other like we all have these things; we hide them. Nobody talks about them, and the same thing with sexual stuff. Nobody. Everybody hides the fact that they masturbate, but everybody does it, and because of that, we try to pretend that we're not that kind of person, and I think you're funnier when you do just admit that. I'm a living being. Disgusting things happen as part of being a person, and funny things happen. And I do stupid things. I say things that sound stupid, or I say things that are wrong, or I say things that are right. Just don't pretend that you're arbitrarily better than me for no reason, and we'll all get along a lot better. I think comedy is probably the most important thing in life, especially considering how short it can be, and I haven't had a tragic life, but I have had a lot of people that have had their lives cut short, and if there's one thing that I want to make sure of, it’s that I have as much fun in my life as possible , and I think comedy's the best way to do
15 method press
that, and I've been to a lot of funerals lately and have thought that I don't want a funeral--I want a fucking party. I want people to have a good time. I don't want people to be sad that I'm gone. If people are happy about a memory that we've had, I want them to celebrate that. The really terrible atrocities, they deserve attention, but I honestly don't think they'd even be a thing that's happening if we’d just have more fun. No matter what's happening, I'm having fun all the time, and I'm doing what I want all the time.
A funny story: When I was in 2nd grade… I've always been a big computer nerd, and we were playing number munchers on an old Apple 2, and I was playing with my friend and we were doing a great job. We had high scores. We were doing really well, and all of a sudden, this hand comes from behind me between the two of us and shuts off the computer. And the power button in those days was on the front of the computer and I… it was just a moment of suspension where I was like, What just happened? I was in shock, and I stood up and turned around, and there's this girl, standing behind me, and I guess she was just pissed at us for using the computer for so long, and just without even thinking, in a blind 2nd grader rage, I just went "What the hell's wrong with you?" And I shoved her in the chest and didn't care about her response or whatever--just shoved her and started going back to my desk and just sulked off and was like I wish she hadn't ruined my game, blah, blah, and as I was going back to my desk--I didn't notice it at the time, or I didn't pay any heed to it--but a lot of people were going past me, they were kind or running quickly past me, and I threw myself in my chair, and I was at my desk, you know, and was [thinking] I don't care that I shoved someone.. she ruined my game, whatever . And I look up, and I see everyone is crowded around the computer desk now and I'm just ”What? What is happening?" and I get up, and I start going over there, and I see that there's a body lying on the floor, and I get closer and I see it's the girl just sprawled out on the floor, eyes wide open, nothing there, and I lose my shit. I thought I'd killed her. I thought somehow I had the death touch in my hand, The Dim Mask. And it turns out that she had a heart condition that no one in the school knew about, but the school nurse did, and the administration did, and when I shoved her, I hit her basically right on the heart and her heart stopped, or skipped a beat or something momentarily, and she just totally went down out, and I start bawling my eyes out thinking I killed this girl. The teacher freaks out and runs out of the room to get the nurse. The nurse comes back and is trying to work on her, trying to get her back or breathing and revived or whatever, and the kids are all just in a state of shock. Some of them are crying; some of them just don't know what to do, and this principal comes in who's this tall, old, really nice guy, but at that moment he basically looked like he was the guy that was walking me down the green mile to the electric chair. I thought I was going to jail. I didn't even know if 2nd graders could go to jail, but I thought I was going to jail, and I cried even harder when I saw him, and I can't imagine how he dealt with it. He was just like "Come on, come with me." And he walked me to his office through the hallways, which suddenly seemed so much longer, and the whole way down the hallway, I was screaming my head off saying, "I don't want to go to jail! I'm so sorry!” And people were looking out of the classrooms peeking their heads out and saying “Why's this kid screaming bloody murder going down the hallway?” And he gets me into his office, and he doesn't even say anything for a couple minutes, and I'm just bawling my eyes out and when I finally settle up, he says: “I kind of brought you here to help you calm down. You clearly know what you did was a bad thing. There's nothing I can really do to punish you. You've punished yourself, and I think you probably have learned a lesson.” And I say, “Yeah I don't know what happened.” And so he explained to me what happened, and how they didn't want to tell people to scare kids or whatever, and it was just this moment where… It taught me a lot about how I interacted with people from then on. But it's one of my most embarrassing stories because, not only did I shove a girl and almost kill her, but it was probably the hardest and most scared I've cried and felt in my life. And to a second grader... It's such a tragic experience for a 2nd grader to think that you've killed someone and you're going to jail...And the nurse trying to save this girl to make sure she didn't have brain damage. Everything
16 method press
about it was such a mess, and to look back on it now and to just think, Oh my god, it's ridiculous that that happened. And it was one of my favorite stories to think about, and if that is something that you would have done onstage… if that was something that you would have seen as an improv scene, it would have been hilarious, because it's so sad and so tragic and scary. But being able to view it through that lens makes it hilarious.
She is okay, right? She’s totally ok. She grew up to be a real mean girl, which sucked.
I wonder if you had something to do with that... Yeah and I kind of think I should have finished the job.
That’s terrible...Where can our readers find you: I am in New York. I do stuff with my group, Swartzlander. We perform kind of periodically, sporadically. I guess the best way for people to see where I'm performing is to just ask me. If they would like for me to come and do it in their city, they should ask me! Find Kyle on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/lessthankyle
17 method press
PHOTO JOURNAL | A Funny Story , various interpretations from the Female Photographers of Etsy Team Ashleigh A. Coyner
Aw, San Francisco avecjasmine www.avecjasmine.etsy.com
18 method press
Laundrylandâ€”Chicago Helene Smith Photography www.helenesmith.etsy.com
Buddha Bar Honeytree Photography www.honeytree.etsy.com
19 method press
iPhone Fun Slide Gallery 32 Photography www.gallery32.etsy.com
Charcuterie Melanie Alexandra Photography www.retrospectphoto.etsy.com
20 method press
Milk Farm Jen Zahigian Photography www.roadsidephotographs.etsy.com
21 method press
Party Girl Oh Joy Photography www.joystclaire.etsy.com
Iâ€™m Your Biggest Fan Postal Therapy www.postaltherapy.etsy.com
22 method press
Have you any wool Shannon Blue Photography www.shannonpix.etsy.com
Hereâ€™s Looking at You Kid Pleasing Image Photography www.pleasingimage.etsy.com
23 method press
Afternoon on the Potomac Kosmosceratops, Art Squared www.kosmosceratops.etsy.com
Clowns Carnival Hey Harriet Photography www.heyharriet.etsy.com
24 method press
25 method press
26 method press
CREATIVE SPACE | Gabrielle Jones Galia Alena
“I am interested in the slippage between the real and illusion, fast and slow, movement and static; the point at which nature disintegrates or decays (and the decay of the image); the time between light and dark; and nature as a site of flux and impermanence--that is, the transience of the real.” —Gabrielle Jones, a Sydney based contemporary abstract landscape painter.
27 method press
Down a magical, winding garden path, tucked well away from the street, you will find Gabrielle Jones working in her studio on her beautiful and dreamy ethereal abstract landscapes. This hidden artist studio, shared with a few other professional artists by invitation only, is where Gabrielle chooses to immerse herself in her art.
When I arrived at her studio for our interview, I was whisked away for coffee and a chat at a very busy nearby café where the walls were covered in artworks. I have had the privilege of taking some of Gabrielle’s workshops, so I know firsthand the extent of her knowledge and her generosity with it, but sitting in this noisy café chatting, I only wish we had longer to converse about art, travel, and life.
Gabrielle confesses that she is able to compartmentalize her work, from her teaching and painting to the tedious jobs of being an artist (such as admin, stock control and self-promotion), to her private life. Our lively conversation does not reflect this as we flit all over the place touching on so much: how she works, her travels, the themes that inform her work, where she is moving to, where I am moving to, and so on. When we return to the studio, this compartmentalizing becomes apparent: the chit chat is over, and it is time to get down to the serious business of painting.
This personal working space is almost private, and whilst Gabrielle is a very generous art teacher, imparting much knowledge and inspiring critique, she is very protective of her own work in progress, choosing to keep it safe from flippant comments and unconsidered critique until she knows it is ready for public viewing. Her work is connected to her own sensory memories of the Australian landscape, and her works in progress are inward journeys that she alone can navigate until she feels they are ready to be shared. Only a select group of trusted colleagues are turned to when she feels the need for feedback. Mostly, she opts to turn inward to her own work for inspiration and direction, allowing her own authentic voice to nourish itself.
Having just returned from extensive travel in Europe, Gabrielle claimed to be still trying to get back into the swing of things, unsure of what she was going to work on. However, after a few minutes of rummaging through unfinished canvases, one was pulled out and placed on the wall. She was constantly looking at her work while she lay out her palette, and soon a paintbrush jumped into her hand, and she was at work. Back and forth between contemplation and laying down paint, she was suddenly in conversation with her imagery.
“I have an easy switch on button,” she says regarding getting herself into the creative “space.” Just walking into the studio where she has left some unfinished work seems to trigger her straight into her flow, allowing her to pick up the threads of some previous session, and get back into it straightaway.
Before she even arrives at the studio, she often has already perused her own work by thumbing through drawings she has done and looking at photos of sections of her previous paintings or works in progress, immersing herself in her own ideas and concerns which oscillate from reality to abstraction. This practice of self-reference is a call to action and triggers further ideas, developing ever deeper her own visual language and unique voice.
28 method press
29 method press
30 method press
One Thing Leads to Another
31 method press
32 method press
Her trusted iPod is always handy and loaded with playlists, which also help to transport her back to an earlier working state by their associations rather than by their particular inspiration . Like a food smell that can take you back to a childhood memory, the music takes her back to a working sensory memory of an internal landscape where her artistic sensibility delights in abstract landscapes of her own creation.
When all these simple techniques fail to ignite her creative fire, and the world seems just all too dark, Gabrielle finds that a quiet meditation will allow her to tap into her creative energy—another example of her inward journey feeding the practice of making art.
Watching Gabrielle work, it is very clear to me that it is essentially her own work itself that is the catalyst for further work. Looking, always looking, she stares at her work, moves forward, applies a few brush strokes, and then retreats back where she can take in the whole work again in contemplation. It is a private dance back and forth between looking and reflecting, between realism and abstraction, between the present and memory, between the landscape on the canvas and the landscape of her imagination. It is this inward self-reference that ultimately makes Gabrielle’s work unique, a manifestation of her own authentic vision.
It was not long before I felt that I was eavesdropping on a private communication, so I packed up my camera gear and left her to the intensity of her work. I am sure she delved even deeper into her own dialogue in my absence. Perhaps it is this depth that explains why Gabrielle’s abstract painting portrays an intimacy that resonates with viewers, while claiming a voice that is distinctly hers.
A Further Glimpse:
What are you reading? Nicole Krauss’s Great House, a beautiful, poetic novel of interweaving stories that I just ration out for those times I need a lift and can really concentrate on something that is truly a joy to read. I am also reading The Best Australian Essays 2010 (edited by Robert Drewe) because they are a wonderful mix of writing by new and older writers. I just finished Life with Picasso by Francoise Gilot, and I can't believe anyone would live for as long as she did with such a selfish person!
What are you listening to? I have studio playlists on my iPod, blended so there are no major interruptions or loud changes of tempo. Van Morrison gets a ridiculously oft repeated outing , followed closely by Tord Gustavsen and Enrico Einaudi (modern composers), then Eddie Vedder (unplugged), Mazzy Star, Azure Ray, Antony and the Johnston's, Bjork (when I need a creativity boost), Keith Jarrett, The Cinematic Orchestra....you get the idea.
33 method press
Who is currently inspiring you and why? Elisabeth Cummings. I went to her recent show at King Street, and she is still pushing boundaries at the age of about 68. There was work there that was new for her, and so energetic--I want to be like that at her age and beyond. Other than that, there's an American collage artist called Mario Naves whose little works (about 60x50cm) of pasted paper and acrylic are just beautiful. And I am always inspired by any woman who can make it in a "man's world". . . I think I gave up!
Find Gabrielle: www.gabriellejones.com.au www.saatchionline.com/GabrielleJones www.gabriellejonesart.blogspot.com www.baliartretreats.com
34 method press
FOUND | A Quiet, Unassuming Soul Ashleigh A. Coyner
I found a quiet, unassuming soul in Celeste Reason, a Louisiana native. She is 25 years old. In her own words, she tells us her story: I like to use acrylics on stretch canvas. Acrylics dry faster so that would be my preference but honestly I will use anything I can to create art. I've used oils, charcoal, watercolor, pastels, etc. One of my paintings is actually done by fingernail polish because I had no money and it's all I could find! When you're in the moment, you use what you got! The first thing I ever remember drawing was a sketch of Mickey Mouse, at my grandmother’s, when I was about 4. Art was my entertainment. I would be silent for hours glued to a sketchpad. Ever since then, I've used art as an outlet to express my feelings and thoughts that run through my head. Every piece of art that I've done reflects an image of my imagination. It's so hard to part with them because of the emotional attachment. When I paint, I lock myself away, turn on some music, take a deep breath, and just let everything in me pour out onto the canvas. I paint of dreams I've had. Sometimes I will wake up from a dream and just start painting. Most of my work is done in the early morning hours or late night. I'm nocturnal. It's an intimate, freeing feeling creating these things that come from your soul. I love them; I know they're not perfect and precise or up to some college art professors’ standards, but why should they be? They are a reflection of me, and that is beautiful. My art gives people a chance to see me, who I am, and all I can be. I'm not sure if I have a true favorite; I love them all of my artwork. But there is one that is very vibrant, full of color, and when I see it, it takes me back to the morning I painted it...I have a very vivid imagination, and the images on this painting just flowed out of me like I had no control of the brush. It was an amazing experience. The painting is called "Trippy." I am inspired by… everything! Dreams I have, music, especially music. I cannot paint in silence. Music was born in me, the two go hand in hand. I like listening to artists like Incubus, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Arcade Fire, Coldplay, and also a list of classical composers, especially Danny Elfman. The 70s are a big influence in my work. I would definitely call myself a modern day hippie. My favorite color is green, green, everything green. Emerald green. I lived in Ireland for 3 months, so I got to see lots of green. I not only paint, I love to sing and act. Any form of art is in my blood. I painted murals on the walls of my middle school when I was 11. Some of my artwork is hanging in my high school also. I've done a few pieces for charities for breast cancer awareness. One of my biggest pieces is in Ireland. My art is scattered here and there. Like I said, it's very hard for me to part with it. I would love to see my art hanging on the walls of people who appreciate it. I'm willing to share it with anyone who wants to take a look. It's not something I plan on making money off of, though, sure, it would be nice. It's about emotion, not money. If my art can make someone stop and think, or feel something, then my job is done. A funny story that comes to my mind is when my friends and I would sit around sometimes flipping through my art and just crack jokes or make up stories about them. One phrase a friend said comes to mind of one piece (Trippy): "it's floating meatballs!" That made me laugh so hard! It's all about imagination; the mind is a wonderful thing!
If you have an artist or individual waiting to be found, email email@example.com with the subject line FOUND.
35 method press
Select pieces from Celeste's collection
No Hands, painted with fingernail polish
70s Sunrise Bowie 36 method press
PASSIONATE PLACES | IslandShy Katie King
Sometimes, while living in Guam, you drive past the dog on top of the carabao and think, oh yeah that's just the. . . Oh, wait. And pull off to the side of the road to take a picture. It's amazing what you can start to take for granted living in a place like this.
39 method press
EXPLORE | Fear Ashleigh A. Coyner
There’s a party at the marina, ©BleuOiseau Photography
Fear. How often do you think about what you fear? I do not often think about it, but, on occasion, I do. This particular subject had me in fear: the subject of stepping outside my box, of doing something completely atypical in my routine. I decided to challenge my fear by tackling it head on. In my photography, my inspiration or subjects are usually right in front of me. I do not usually go and find a scene; the scene is usually off my deck, around my yard, or in my neighborhood. I told myself, “Why not try something new?” And it so happens that it was eye opening and inspirational. The photo above was taken in the late evening. I was totally alone with my camera, tripod, and remote shutter release. I tell you, it was a little unnerving hanging out at the marina at night. But I could not have gotten this shot without stepping outside my box--without facing my fear of trying something new. What fear have you faced? And did you accomplish your goal? We would love to hear from you. Send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org
40 method press
select missed connections by sophie blackall
41 method press
42 method press
43 method press
44 method press
45 method press
46 method press
MISSED CONNECTIONS— Sophie Blackall Katie King
You may have seen or heard of Sophie Blackall’s work before: in children’s books at your local library, on NPR, covered by the New York Times, or maybe around the Internet--a pin here and a blog post there. Maybe you thought you saw her--or imagined you did. If so, you could probably post about the event on Craigslist’s missed connection column. She may just draw a funny story about what you wrote. Sophie’s Missed Connections series is only a small part of what she produces as an artist. She just recently finished illustrating a revival of Aldous Huxley’s The Crows Of Pearblossom. Her new book, Missed Connections: Love, Lost and Found will be in stores this October. Considering that she has clients like Hallmark & Delta (to name just a few), we’re just glad our contact with Sophie did not end up being a missed connection in the first place. Sophie’s series embodies the gap between a treasured moment and its possible future. She doesn’t know the ethnicity, age, or disposition of many of the strangers she is portraying, but she clearly understands their feelings. I adore Sophie Blackall's work. How could you not? But it's so much more than adorable--it's filled with meaning. And heart. I think that's why it works. Or why anything does, right? Not only that… I love Sophie's style: the way she uses words, the way she carves her space out in this world as a bright human. I appreciate that in her shop description she feels it is necessary to add that "Each print is signed and dated and shipped with care in a serious, sturdy, cardboard envelope which you can put to use later as a wobble board, a fan, or a convenient rectangle for sitting on damp grass." Just so we can have a few extra ideas on how to be resourceful. I enjoy seeing what details she feels are necessary to draw out with each missed connection, and when I heard that our theme for this issue was going to be "A Funny Story," her work came to mind. I hope you enjoy this Q & A I was able to gather from her.
47 method press
"People have been eyeing each other and missing their chances and kicking themselves afterwards for centuries.â€?
Have you ever had a missed connection of your own? Once, I was carrying an impossibly large piece of black foam core board down into the subway. I could barely grasp the sides and struggled to control it in the wind. It also made a giant black wall, which seemed to really annoy people trying to get past me on the stairs. The whole situation was ridiculous. Of course, I couldn't fit it through the turnstiles, and I was standing there feeling all hot and awkward like Buster Keaton when this lovely fellow tapped me on the shoulder and suggested sliding it underneath. It was so simple and obvious and he was so kind, and suddenly the black wall between us disappeared, but then I had no choice but to follow it through, and there was a turnstile between us instead. We stood smiling through the fence for a second, went our separate ways, and that was that. But here I am remembering it years later.
What's the funniest one you've heard of yet? And how did you go about giving it life as a painting? One of the funniest read, "So yeah...um, looking for the girl who I was dancing with last night, she bit me twice. I forget her name." So many questions rushed into my head when I read that the first time. Why would you want to reconnect with someone who BIT YOU? TWICE? And how could you forget her name? I had an instant picture of a kind of innocent looking girl with pointed shark teeth. I don't know; it made me laugh.
Do the authors of these ads ever contact you? Occasionally, but not too often. I do get hundreds of messages from people who met through missed connections though--people wanting me to illustrate their stories. They all keep their first message, the one that led them to each other. It's so interesting to have this archived courtship.
You've described your work as modern day smoke signals...can you comment a bit on what this type of technology-inspired art says about what our society looks like psychologically at this place in history? I'm not sure how equipped I am to comment on what our society looks like psychologically. After all, I'm an illustrator who spends most of her days locked up in her studio... but I won't let that stop me. The idea of the missed connection is not new. People have been eyeing each other and missing their chances and kicking themselves afterwards for centuries. The thing that is new is the technology, obviously. In earlier times, people placed ads in the newspaper, (or threw notes in bottles into the sea), but the odds were low. The odds are still low, but judging by the aforementioned emails from united couples, they're considerably better than those of the bottle method. The question is, is all this technology getting in the way of us talking to each other? As for how my work comments on this, I'm clearly happy to use the technology to suit my own needs, even as I lament the decline in human interaction. But there's something very handmade about my drawings. I work with brushes and paint on paper and hand letter the messages. It's satisfying to produce something tactile from all this virtual material.
Who was the last person you texted? I thought way too long and hard about this, about how unsatisfying texting can be as a way of communicating and also how strangely intimate, depending on the person. I have a dear friend in Australia who texts me long, poetic, absurd, hilarious messages, which often reach me in the wee hours, and if I wake and read them, sometimes influence my dreams. I'm old-fashioned about writing; I like punctuation and whole words and even spell out "okay" which is just ridiculous. So texts are not my best medium. But they can be a good exercise in editing and succinctness. Ahem.
The missed connections series is only a part of what you do as an artist, can you take us through some of the other things you create? I have another project called Drawn From My Father's Adventures, which I mentioned earlier and I am working on a number of children's books. I have illustrated about twenty picture books and am starting to write more of them now, which is good fun. www.drawnfrommyfathersadventures.blogspot.com
48 method press
Odds & Ends by Sophie Blackall
49 method press
These things you collect...these shards of conversations, tattered shopping lists-that you are said to collect as inspiration...may we see some of them? Can they be scanned or photographed? Or seen from your workspace? Um...yes. I'll see what I can dig up. I'm in the process of moving my studio, so everything is in boxes. Or at least I wish everything was in boxes, most of it is still in chaotic piles all over the floor.
How does one draw on the beach with sticks? Doesn't everyone draw on the beach with sticks?
I'm fascinated by series that artists choose. Does the one you're doing ever get old? There are hundreds of missed connections messages posted every day in NYC alone. Every few minutes, a fresh one arrives. Not to mention the rest of the country and beyond. I'm curious about how missed connections change in different cultures. The essential idea is universal, I think, but there must be subtle differences. Up there at the top of the world where there's nearly 24 hours of daylight right now, do people still lock eyes, or they too busy shielding them? So the answer is no, I guess; this series doesn't seem to get old for me. At the same time, I have other projects I'm excited about, which are vying for my attention. I have started illustrating my father's stories, which is really exciting. I've heard these stories all my life, and always seen them as pictures in my head, but now I'm actually putting them on paper.
It's 9:15AM on a Monday, what are you up to? I am up at my farmhouse in upstate New York and just got back from a trip to the dump. I love the dump. It's kind of depressing and kind of beautiful. Everything is sorted and arranged. There's a huddle of doorless refrigerators. I love seeing what people throw away and thinking about how we value things. I collect old scrapbooks, usually put together by teenage girls, made from the 1920s through 1950s. Their pages are filled with mementos, treasures: ticket stubs, chocolate wrappers, get well cards. All bits of rubbish, really, which were temporarily elevated to valued keepsakes and which, for whatever reason, reverted to rubbish when they were cast aside. Until I found them and treasured them again. The dump has eccentric opening hours and it's a long, winding, smelly drive to get there, all of which makes me think twice about tossing any old thing into the garbage. This is a good thing.
We also want to work in what you refer to as the "Museum of Unfinished Projects." We're jealous of you for coming up with that idea. Can we say we know you and possibly get comped in if you ever create this place of wonders? It's partly an idea to ease my conscience about all the half finished projects under my own roof. But again it's all about the stories buried in objects. Why did someone put down that half knitted sweater? Why did they stop the toothpick Eiffel Tower so close to the top? I just bought a whole folded pile of half-embroidered linens. Apparently, they were one woman's work. There are at least fifty pieces in the pile; some she got close to finishing, others on which she only managed a few stitches. I guess she had commitment issues. But, yes! You can all come to my museum.
What children's books influenced you most as a child? The House at Pooh Corner, Alice in Wonderland, The Wind in the Willows, Milly Molly Mandy. Gentle English books with a hint of darkness, mostly. As a child, I spent whole summers up a tree working my way through every Enid Blyton book. I was obsessed with The Famous Five and wanted to find an island and camp on the moors and make a bed of heather even though I had not the first clue, growing up in Australia, what heather was. It sounded soft and nice. The Famous Five were also always prepared for anything, and my brother and I were very influenced by this. We used to carry around old army canvas bags with useful things like safety pins and rubber bands and matches, a penknife, a piece of string, and a pencil stump. You just never knew when you might find yourself trapped in a cave with evil smugglers.
50 method press
Vintage Taxidermy by Sophie Blackall
51 method press
Tell us about your upcoming book. Missed Connections, Love, Lost & Found is a book of my missed connections drawings published by Workman, which will be out late September. There are lots of the paintings from the blog and a bunch of new ones, too. There will be a launch in early October in New York, at which I am hoping people will tell their own missed connections stories. Who knows, maybe some of the people from my drawings will show up in real life.
Tell us a funny story. No.
What materials do you create with? Since you ask, I use Chinese ink and Schminke watercolors on Arches hot press paper.
What is your greatest weakness? Time management. I am trying to be more organized and efficient and to start each day with a list. Problem is, by the end of the day the list has more things on it than it began with. I want to do everything and there are never enough hours in the day. I also have a weakness for whiny singer songwriters and Anne of Green Gables.
Explain what vintage taxidermy is and what exactly yours is doing in Paris? I have some pieces in a gallery in Paris, owned by Albert Einstein's great niece. They are made of old dolls and feathers and fur and skulls and bones and the fingers of old kid gloves. Not everyone's cup of tea.
Your work is, as you wrote yourself, gaining global attention. What does that feel like at this point in your career? How is it going? That sounds awfully boastful of me. But it continues to amaze me that people are reading my blog all over the world. I recently did an interview for a Norwegian newspaper and a Brazilian one. The response from readers has been overwhelming. It makes the world feel like a small place and makes me feel rather humble.
What are your three favorite bands this week? Fleet Foxes, Regina Spektor and old Wilco.
What goes on around you when you create: are you eating? Talking? Working in silence? In casual clothes? I wear a cloak made of peacock feathers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and a straight jacket on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This part is true: I am about to move into a studio with four of my favorite illustrators: Brian Floca, John Marciano, John Rocco and Sergio Ruzzier. I have never shared a space before so it's going to be a dramatic change. We are all giddy with excitement. Well, some of us are giddy; some are more sensible.
Anything else you would like us to know? I am teaching a Continuing Education course in illustration at SVA in the fall, and also--fingers crossed--a workshop in Nigeria next year. I am thrilled about both of these.
You can keep up with Sophie here: http://www.sophieblackall.com
To purchase prints: http://www.sophieblackall.etsy.com
52 method press
FEATURED ARTIST | Frankie Norstad Jen Jae Stanley
53 method press
Yard Dogs Roadshow picnic, copyright Frankie Norstad
54 method press
Frankie Norstad looks upon creating her images in the same context in which she views life. The Universe has a plan, and if you follow the spark, listen for the clues, and act when the timing is right, everything comes together to make beautiful magic. In fact, the universal forces are wholly entwined in her work, based in the notion that, as Frankie puts it, she is a "conduit of universal creativity."
When speaking of creating an image, her response is this: "I'm just holding the camera and all of the energy that we're all putting in (hair, makeup, stylist, subject) something is happening. I feel like Iâ€™m the visual, sort of channeling that energy down from the stars...it feels like it's a collaborative effort, and whatever ingredient that everybody is bringing to that shoot is what makes the magic happen."
And the universe seems to be taking care of Ms. Norstad as well in life as it is in creating her outstanding photographs. Frankie's days so far have been a series of fantastic "coincidences" for those non-believers, and just plain, smile-inducing fate for those of us residing in the other category. In her early years, she traveled almost perpetually with her nomadic parents and older sister, fostering the gypsy disposition that is so prevalent in her life and work.
There are so many interesting twists, turns, and fateful meetings that surround and involve Frankie Norstad that I couldn't begin to include them all in this article. But have no fear, she is in the midst of wrapping up an autobiography of her first 28 years. Typically, I'd think that was a little premature to be putting oneself to paper, but in Frankie's case I can't wait to get my hands on it. She has lived a lifetime in those 28 trips around the sun.
As it turns out, Frankie had originally planned on ending her book last year to coincide with the Seven Year Cycle concept.
"I was raised by hippies for the first portion of my life, and was told growing up that every seven years, something will happen to change the direction of your life."
This ideal has been substantiated over and over in her own experiences. At the age of seven, during the California earthquake of 1989, she met the family who would adopt her seven years later. At the age of fourteen she began the slippery slope into drugs and alcohol that so many artists fall prey to, and at twenty-one she kicked the habit. These experiences were all interwoven with a noteworthy cast of strangers, friends, and family, including artists, racecar drivers, vagabonds, Hells Angels, nurturers, and Zen masters, who all aided in Frankie becoming the creative and down-to-earth person she is today. No one can predict what the next seven years will hold for Frankie, but if it's anything like what she's seen so far, it should be an intriguing ride.
"I read a lot of memoirs last year, and I was saying to my friend, 'I feel like there are so many [biographies] which are so incredible, or so tragic, or so dramatic that I kind of feel like I have nothing to write about', I feel like 'why am I writing', and [my friend] said 'you were raised in an extraordinary family, and then you were adopted into another extraordinary family. Your scenario was totally different than other people.' And it's funny because for a long time growing up I sort of resented the Grateful Dead or, you know, 'hippies', and now...I'm pretty much doing what they did, traveling around, living sort of on couches, waiting for the universe to point me in a direction. It's funny to me that I spent so much time being anti-'that scene' and now I'm kind of doing it."
It was while she was observing her Aunt Jerilyn at work creating "The Grateful Dead Family Album" that her interest in photography was sparked. Photos covered every available surface in her aunt's office where they lived, and the images compelled a young Frankie to pick up a disposable camera and organize her first photo shoot. Her sister and cousins filled in as early models, foreshadowing her fondness for using the average Joe, or Jo, to take center stage in her pieces.
55 method press
I was lucky enough to snag some time to talk with Frankie about her work and her life while she was starting out on the first leg of a four-month-long trip to propagate art, adding in some positive social mojo, and spying the world along the way. She is taking this journey with friend and cohort in crime, comedian and activist Katie O'Brien, from the duo The Bareback Banshees. The trip is being sponsored by Global Glue Project, which focuses on chronicling encouraging love stories from all over to share with us love-jaded folk, in hopes of preserving the endangered species, "commitment."
Q. So where are you now? I know you're heading out on the road. A. I'm in Brooklyn right now at a friend's house.
Q. Do you have a show going on in Brooklyn? When is your next show? A. My photo show right now is in storage in Austin, and it's going to be coming to NY...I've been speaking with some gallery owners...but I kind of put everything on hold to finish taking care of some projects in the last couple of months, and I didn't find a spot to show here, so I'm still working on getting my ducks in a row for that. I think with this trip I'm going to find a place to show in NY, and then find a place to show in London and Berlin while I'm out there.
Q. Your photos are amazing, very significant. How do you create the feel of your photographs? Do you direct your subjects, give them a story, and let them go? What's your process? A. I typically do two different kinds of shoots...I do these sort of portrait shoots, where we [she and subject] walk around locations...there's not much preparation for that. The other type of shoot, which is kind of what I love, is highly stylized, with more people involved...hair, make-up, wardrobe stylist, crew...I'll be shooting multiple people and we'll pick a kind of theme, or a lot of times I'll find random things, like a vintage suitcase that I love... and I build the whole photo shoot around these items. There was a yellow vacuum cleaner once; I saw it, and I immediately knew "I want a girl in a yellow dress, a lemon tree, a vacuum cleaner outside..." A click of inspiration.
Q. Do you sketch your photos out first? A. Before a shoot, I do what I think is called "mind mapping"... it's where I draw a circle on paper, then draw lines off that say "vacuum cleaner" or "lemon tree" or "underlying message" but, yes, I do put a lot of my ideas onto paper to get them out of my head so they're not just stuck.
Q. Your lighting seems so integral to your work; do you set it up yourself, or have a crew do it? A. I do the lighting all myself. I have a good eye for natural light... many of the portraits on my site are natural light. The more high production stuff I'll bring in some lights and equipment. I went to school for photography...and the one thing we learned very well there was lighting.
Q. Where did you go to school? A. Hallmark Institute of Photography, not related to the cards [laughs]... it was a ten-month-long program in Massachusetts. I was 18, 19 at the time and it seemed like the quickest, easiest thing to do. And now Iâ€™m like, "man, I wish I would have gone into a longer program" because living off student loans was really nice. [laughing]
56 method press
Q. The photo that really sticks out to me on your site is the homepage of the Yard Dogs Road Show (a group of entertainers who are self-described as "...a hobo cabaret, a living patchwork of vaudeville and rock and roll..."). Was that done with natural lighting as well? A. That was Profoto 7bs with Octabanks...lighting it from either side...that whole shoot was really fun. It was two days in the woods, in Northern California, and those were the last set of shots we were doing.
Q. That looked like a lot of fun, actually. Were those your props, was that kind of your idea, or was it collaborative? A. That was completely theirs. That was actually a really interesting shoot...a young artist friend had asked me to assist...the girl is really, really talented...They wanted bright, popping, Annie Liebovitz style images, which is really kind of the genre that I do, and the genre that [my friend] does is really low-light photojournalism...kind of grainy stuff, and it is really beautiful, but it's definitely not what I do. So she asked if I would assist.
They had had it all styled up. They came up with four different concepts of what they wanted. They had a hair & makeup person who was amazing, they had a stylist who was incredible...just an amazing collaboration of people out there working on this. The first day, I didn't really take [photos]...I just tested the lighting. The second day, I thought "I have to take real photos because...this is incredible; the amount of work that was going into it was outstanding," and so I lit the whole thing and posed everyone for each shot, and that picnic shot was incredible. I thought for sure I was going to have to retouch a head or two...if you look at the picnic shot everyone was looking at [the main photographer], and nobody was looking at me. One of the things that makes that photo is the fact that not one person is looking into the camera. It was one of those things where had I not been there as an assistant, but instead as the main shooter, everyone would have been looking at me, and I wouldn't have gotten the same shot. I look at it and feel like I didn't create it, that it was the universe coming together and pulling all the strings...I was assuming that somebody at least would be blinking or have a weird smile and I'd have to retouch a head or something, but I had to do very minimal retouching on that shot. It was a complete surprise to me. I feel like for going out there and being of service to another artist and helping create their work...to leave that shoot with a photo that I feel is priceless, is really nice.
Q. In looking at your stuff, I don't see much compositing. Do you use Photoshop strictly to adjust, like you discussed, say if someone is blinking? Or is that something you really utilize at all? A. When I went to school, I was probably the person who retouched the most, and made everybody look like they were plastic. They were horribly over-retouched to a ridiculous level. Now I just do very minimal clean-ups. I try to retouch to how I would want to be, pump up my colors, and vignette the edges...I think that's kind of one of those things that...I mean, life itself is sort of like "fiction vs. memoir," life is crazy enough, we don't need to go in and see where we can change it...there's so much cool stuff out there in nature and the world that's absolutely wild on its own..."
Q. Your Katrina pictures are so powerful. How did it come about that you were there to document the aftermath? A. In 2009, I went to visit a friend who attended the Catholic boysâ€™ school in the photos, which was in the Ninth Ward right on the levee. They were hit pretty hard. It was two years later, and it was as if it had been paused in time. It's sort of a lesson. We try to create all these structures and these things to go against nature, and then nature really shows us. She's like, "...is that your art, lemme show you my art." Gives you some perspective on who's boss.
Q. Do you have a favorite photographer? A. I used to really love David Lachapelle, and I still think he's very, very talented, but now I think it's a bit over-stylized. But I think that there are some incredible photographers. I mean, there's Nan Goldin, Helmut Newton...but right now, I don't feel super pulled to someone. My favorite painter is Yoshitomo Nara who does little Japanese girls who look really sweet, but then they'll be holding a cigarette or a knife, and it's in these popping colors. I feel like I identify with 57 method press
that work, the bright colors with the dark undertone....
When I'm looking for inspiration, I actually won't really look at other photographersâ€™ work, mostly out of fear that if I look I'll subconsciously copy it. However much I love looking at an artist's photographs, I'll just stay away from them. There's one David Lachappelle photograph shot from above that he did of Shirley Manson (from the band Garbage), and then he took a similar shot of Whoopi Goldberg, then all of these art school students started shooting that same portrait, directly overhead with the hair going out in a circle. I feel like everybody has done that, and I even did that shot once. That was the first time I realized I had copied somebody else without intentionally doing it, and I said I would never do that again. So now, when I need inspiration, I go & look at paintings and museums because I feel like my brain will pull color palettes or general ideas, but I won't go out and end up creating the exact same thing...
Q. What music do you like to listen to while you're shooting? A. I would love to listen to music while I'm shooting, but most of the time I don't think about it. You know, most of the time we're shooting and my brain isn't even there. Definitely, when I'm brainstorming, I'll listen to music. My Pandora station has been playing "The xx" nonstop, which is this Swedish band that basically makes, like, sex music...and you see them and they just sorta look like drama club dorks, and I love them, I love them, I love them...it's sort of like "Heartbeats" by The Knife--that level of [making] you feel like today is the day to do...what, I don't know! (laughing)...When I'm listening to music, it's gotta either make me wanna dance or make me wanna make out; those are pretty much my qualifiers for music.
Q. Digital or film? A. I wish I could say film. If it were a dream world with endless supplies of money, I would shoot 4x5 color slide film--it's just insanely pretty. I shoot with a Canon 5d MarkII now. It's a huge, beautiful digital camera.
Q. Do you still shoot with your Argus (the first camera Frankie ever owned, which was given to her by her adopted family)? A. I don't, but I do still have it. It's with a friend in Austin. I shot with it for six months until I got a Canon AE-1. I owned that camera five times... I mean, not the same camera...it kept getting stolen, but I loved the way that shutter sounded; it was incredible to me.
Q. Any advice for photographers starting out? A. People would always say to me "shoot what you love," but I felt, as an artist, that I love shooting everything. Keep shooting, utilize Facebook. Word of mouth is so valuable. Post photos after you've taken them, tag people. As an artist, getting your stuff out there through word of mouth is so important.
Q. Method Press is also focusing this issue on funny stories, or crazy things you do for art. Can you think of anything crazy you had to do for a photo? A. A funny story. Hmm, I don't know... I mean, anytime I can get a model in water I will, and some of those photos are actually sort of terrible, but I think there's some part of me that loves being able to be like "jump in the pond," and have that possibility of it being a good shot. More than the photos I relish the fact that people will do anything for photography. I mean, I will do anything when I'm on the other side of the camera: I will get naked anywhere, and other people feel the same way... It gives them that pass, I tell them "if we get caught, we'll just say I'm in art school," that sort of thing... (trails off laughing)
58 method press
FRANKIE NORSTAD | New Orleans, Ninth Ward 2009
59 method press
60 method press
61 method press
62 method press
63 method press
64 method press
65 method press
66 method press
67 method press
68 method press
Q. Where are you headed next? A. I'm buying a ticket to London Monday or Tuesday. If I find a deal, I'll leave right now, but if there's a better deal in two weeks I'll wait and go then. I have some friends I'll be visiting in Amsterdam, Berlin, Athens, Stockholm, Barcelona, and Paris. Hopefully, I will find places to show in these cities.
Katie and I will also be starting our work for the Global Glue Project. My friend DJ, who I met last year (kind of one of my coincidental, sort of cosmic meetings) is a creative director at an agency in New York, and his project is "Global Glue," where they're basically recording what's happening with marriages and long-term relationships. The idea is that long-term relationships and marriages are dying out, in part because the generation before us didn't have them, and nobody [now] really has a role model for a successful one. Katie and I will also be interviewing single people as well, asking whether they want long-term relationships, and whether it is something they think is dying out. Katie will be doing relationship stand-up comedy, and we'll be doing photo shoots and video. I'm really excited about it and feel totally guided by the universe.
You can find updates on Frankie and Katie's Relationship Roadshow through Youtube. (http://www.youtube.com/RelationshipRoadshow)
No matter what they do, you can almost guarantee that it will be interesting. Talent runs deep in this artist, Ms. Frankie Norstad, and even though she may lose herself in the act of creating and may not remember taking a particular shot, there they are, amazing and powerful, moving and captivating, and they demand your full attention. If you find yourself lucky enough to be anywhere near one of her shows, I encourage you to make your way over. You will not be sorry.
Find Frankie online at: http://FrankieNorstad.com http://FrankieShotMe.blogspot.com http://twitter.com/FrankieShotMe
69 method press
Method Press is extending a call for submissions to all fresh and emerging thinkers (or even old dogs with some unruly tricks) for consideration of their work to appear in our future issues. By thinkers, we mean people who think about stuff. Maybe you're a professional clown or an amateur photographer. Maybe you're a house-husband, a struggling stamp collector, or a 9-5 non-creative and all this artist stuff gives you the heebie-jeebies. We don't care. And we don't really have heebie-jeebies. We just want your ideas & to see them presented in an interesting way that respects your individual method. We celebrate the creative process and welcome all ideas on presenting not just your final pieces, but the method of your madness in bringing them to life as well. All submissions must be original. We cannot presently pay for the use of work, but strive to gain exposure for artists and writers through our digital and print media. We just ask one thing; give us the real deal.
If interested in having your art included in our magazine, submit to email@example.com.
70 method press
75 method press
76 method press
Enjoyed the read? Feel like helping us out? We're looking for comrade low-fi method press distributors, guerilla style. Drop your copy at your favorite hair salon, the empty seat next to you on the metro, or nonchalantly in front of that cute guy at the grocery store. Leave it there for the chain to continue. Then tell us all about it. Stories will run in our 3rd issue and will include a link to where readers can find your work. Now, disperse!