Lydia White is the kind of badass you want to be when you grow up. After a few clicks through her photography portfolio, it’s pretty obvious why. She’s edgy, confident, creative. Truth be told, anyone that can make a shoot … more
Lydia White is the kind of badass you want to be when you grow up. After a few clicks through her photography portfolio, it’s pretty obvious why. She’s edgy, confident, creative. Truth be told, anyone that can make a shoot out of Mylar balloons, over-sized eyes, and striped pantyhose has our vote, but it was her interview that really catapulted us over the edge into full on lady boner land.
In your own words, what type of creator are you? I’m a photographer and multidisciplinary designer currently living in Brooklyn by way of San Francisco. I work primarily as an interactive art director but I’ve been taking pictures for a little over ten years now and I love that there is always something new to discover and new ways to push myself creatively.
Do you have any rituals to your creative process? Procrastination! I’m constantly bouncing around between projects- in one day, I may go from concepting and shooting photos, to building a website, to designing a brand for a client. I really love having a variety of things to work on that feed off each other and keep me sharp. I like to spend a few days thinking in a vague way before I actually start. Brainstorming and executing on something in a short time doesn’t leave room for ideas that emerge in idle moments. When I am ready to focus, I find watching a show in a smaller window or listening to a good podcast helps me crank. It gives my brain something to focus on when it drifts off. Also coffee and seltzer water are essential.
At what time of day do you come up with the best ideas? Right before I go to sleep! I try to write them down but they are often lost. I have amazing dreams and have also experienced sleep paralysis and out of body experiences. I also bought a waterproof notepad for my shower so I can write down any ideas I have then. Showers are great places for aha moments because you are alone, completely free of distractions, sort of spacing out, and feeling good.
How do you keep your work fresh? I am really fascinated by the world and I love learning about odd places, unusual history, interesting people, scientific discoveries. The internet is an endless well of amazing and terrifying things to discover. I also travel quite a lot. I have been to over 25 countries, many of them traveling alone. I’m particularly interested in urban planning, unnatural lighting, and otherworldly landscapes such as salt flats and volcanoes. I’m definitely obsessed with volcanoes.
Where’s your favorite place to find inspiration – both online and off? Tumblr is my go-to everyday source. There are many talented people on there and it’s fun to follow them along on their career and get insights into their process or practice. Atlas Obscura is an awesome travel/oddities resource and I am really looking forward to their redesign. Offline it’s bike rides, museums, cafes, dancing, being in nature. It’s all about a healthy balance between being inspired and informed by other artistic works and being inspired by the world and humans at large.
What is a new trend/technique you’ve been recently inspired by? Since I’ve moved to New York I’ve become interested in working with objects and making images that are more about the composition and colors than anything that makes sense or is functional. I think it is partly informed by my work as a designer and also has to do with the lack of natural scenery here. While I was at the Picture Berlin residency last summer, I had a lot of fun creating sets loosely inspired by alien landscapes I have seen or imagined with collected materials.
Who is a mentor of yours? I was really lucky to have grown up in an artsy town in Northern California. My father is a painter and always encouraged me to be creative and taught me how to use computers and photoshop when I was really young. In high school I had a wonderful mentor, Murray Rockowitz, a fine art photographer whom I assisted for a couple of years. I got the job because I marched up to his studio one day and said I wanted to work for him and that he should hire me. I wish I could be as confident now! I helped him manage his studio, and we also did a lot of shoots together- I treasure the images he took of me at that age. I learned a lot about how to make beautiful darkroom prints, lighting, and the challenge of being an independent photographer. I like to think I also opened him up to the potential of digital and the web. In college and as an adult I haven’t had mentors and I’ve felt the absence.
What is the best advice you have been given that you find yourself constantly remembering? I revisit Bruce Mau’s Incomplete Manifesto for Growth every few months. I also constantly remind myself that who we are is a product of whom and what we surround ourselves with. It’s important to choose brilliant and positive people to spend your time with because they will challenge you and elevate your life.
What/who is on your radar right now? I just discovered the work of Daniel Kukla and I’m really drawn to his landscapes that deal with concepts of artificiality and scale. I LOVE what Tania Shcheglova and Roman Noven aka Synchrodogs are up to. Viviane Sassen from the Netherlands is doing interesting things with color. I also heard Michael Cina speak and he inspired me in the way that he works fluidly between design, branding and fine arts. But most of all my friends are on my radar- I feel pretty blessed to be surrounded by a lot of talented and smart folks.
You once asked this question on your own Twitter, so now we ask you – What genre would your (life) story be?: Definitely some sort of adventure novel. I feel most in my element when I am embarking on something potentially dangerous and stupid.
What’s your favorite word? Flughafen. It means airport in German and it’s one of the only German words I can ever remember. It’s fun to say and I like airports.
What is your spirit animal? Mantis shrimp. Google that shit and be amazed.
Lastly, tell us a story behind your favorite project: I don’t know that I have a favorite. But the most recent project I have been working on is an ongoing collaboration with my friend and neighbor Camilla Bareiss. She’s a painter and our different backgrounds and perspectives play off each other well. I collect a bunch of random things from polish dollar stores or off the street and dump the box in front of her. She helps edit what’s shit and what’s awesome and we brainstorm from there. We recently had a bit too much fun with mylar space blankets, gold spray paint, googly eyes, and our friend Tiffany who was a lovely and gracious model (we fed her lots of champagne). I’m attracted to mylar because of it’s materiality and because it can literally save your life if you are in an emergency situation or lost in the wilderness and need to stay warm.
For more on Lydia White, and to develop your own girl crush on her, visit her website and Tumblr.