Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ali Smith Interview

Ali Smith shot the photos for all of my books, including the ones for Passing Strange,above(did I mention I received a couple copies of the actual book from my brilliant editor? It is even prettier in person!)--so naturally I love her and think she is awesome. I thought it would be fun to do a mini-interview with her, so here it is!

And before I forget, make sure you check out her work at her fabulous website, And while you are there, check out the "Making of a Bookcover" video, which features some of the beautiful GenDead cover models!

1. Why are you a photographer?

it suits the way i live and helps me make sense of the world. i've always been a visual learner and visually expressive. Plus I have strong beliefs and curiosities and care about sharing them. it's the way i have found to express myself best and tell stories. my mind sees stories in chunks rather than fluid narrative. I might as well embrace that.

2. Who/what/where inspires you?

i come from a music background- punk and all that goes along with that. I played in bands most of my teen and adult life and traveled the world with it. Punk artists- like siouxsie sioux and exene cervenka- were visually genius. the whole punk aesthetic was creative and painterly. those things still inform me. my punk and goth days definitely informed all the gen dead covers! before music, i was a ballerina. that brings an appreciation for another aesthetic. if i were a lot younger and didn't sound like a fool saying it, i'd call my aesthetic a " mash up" of a few different lifestyles I've had.

my political beliefs inspire me as do my feminist beliefs and my search for meaning.

3. What is the best thing about your what you do?

F-R-E-E-D-O-M! and the blurring of the line between work and life. i mean i work damn hard, but i love what i do. I get to make art for a living and it melts fantastically into my off hours so that it all just becomes about being creative!

4. Any advice for aspiring photographers?

If you love it, you should be doing it. If not, why bother. making a living at anything is a challenge, but nothing beats loving what you do every day.

5. Tell us about your new book

It's a photo based look at the realities of how woman live their lives as mothers.

My first book, Laws of the Bandit Queens, was released by Random House and was a celebration of women who'd influenced my career and personal goals throughout my twenties and on into my thirties. It included portraits of and "life laws" from 35 extraordinary women such as Alice Walker, Sandra Bernhard, Geraldine Ferraro, Janeane Garofalo, Pat Schroeder and Sheryl Swoopes. The idea was the construction, through these life laws, of an alternate life philosophy that made more sense to me and to the women around me, who sometimes felt out of step with or unsupported by accepted social norms.

Momma Love picks up where Bandit Queens left off. It still reveres an enthusiastic, vibrant, longing spirit in women, but it shows the ways in which that spirit is inevitably altered—sometimes frustratingly diminished, sometimes gloriously enhanced—by motherhood. Also addressed is the transformation that’s occurred between the way our own mothers experienced motherhood and what it’s like to be a mother today, illuminating the differences and some of the startling similarities as well.

Thanks, Ali!


Paris said...

I totally agree with Ali. Why bother doing something if you don't love it? All of my friends think I'm so weird because I haven't joined any clubs at school "But it'll look good on your college application!" "But I'm not going to miss out on hanging out with my friends at lunch going to a club that doesn't interest me." Everyone's worried about college, and we're only in 9th grade! I just think everything will fall into place in the next few years. I'm not completely sure what I want to do yet, but I'm leaning towards the film industry ;) have copies of 'Passing Strange'? Can I have one? Please? Pleeeeaaaassseeee??

second chances said...

i have a question why is it that the american and british covers are totally diffrent


Anonymous said...

Great job Ali! =D And I can't wait for the new book! I'm holding my breathe waiting for Passing Strange. I love your books, keep up the good work!

Val said...

The covers are gorgeous, and Passing Strange is no exception! Ali does a great job and I admire her passion for the art of photography. Like Paris said, why bother doing something if you don't love it? And of course, it helps when your passion is also something that you're very talented at, which Ali is. I'm totally stoked for the release of Passing Strange!