Introducing: Our “In A Lonely Place” Cuff

Our own design, this is my manifesto accessory, the one I wear every single day. I have written about my favourite noir, In A Lonely Place, time and again. And now I have made a piece of jewellery inspired by it.
In A Lonely Place Cuff - Classiq Shop 
“Inspired by the fascinating world of cinema and by the never-fading beauty of the tangible” reads our online shop manifesto. This In A Lonely Place cuff epitomises all that, but the beauty of it is that it transmits an even more universal message: in an increasingly more artificial and fast-living world, it was first and foremost designed as an invitation to slow down, look around, live in the moment and listen to your heart.

I have worn it every day since our jewellery designer handed it to me to try it on. I instantly became attached to it, not only because I find it beautiful in its simple design and powerful message, but because I literally forget having it on. And I am particularly proud about this detail. The exquisite finishing touches, the smooth silver ends, its lightness – these all work together to treat your skin so gently that you don’t even feel the cuff around your arm. It slides on and off easily, without hurting your arm or leaving marks, which was one of my biggest preoccupations when designing a brass bracelet, because, regardless of quality, they usually lack in this department. In the same regard, it’s kids-friendly. For almost three years, since I had my son, I haven’t been able to wear metallic bracelets because they can prove quite perilous when handling a baby or a toddler. Now, with our “In A Lonely Place” cuff, I can give my mama worries a rest, while being able to enjoy the liberty of wearing something that makes me, the woman, happy.
In A Lonely Place Cuff - Classiq Shop

And now, on to the important stuff: how can you style it? Naturally, you can wear it with a trench in a true noir and timeless style, but, really, it goes with any classic just as well. Quite honestly, I wear mine all the time with absolutely anything, and usually with the writing on the inside – it’s like a little secret which makes me smile every time I remember to stop and soak up the moment. You might not want to take it off either. One click away and it can be yours if you want it or you can gift it to someone dear.
photos: Classiq

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Celebrating A Designer, A Friendship, A Legacy: Hubert de Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn

A retrospective of the special friendship and unique collaboration between Hubert de Givenchy, who passed away over the weekend at age 91, and Audrey Hepburn in the way I know best: talking about movies.
Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany's

Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, 1961

“His design, his thought centered and focused on her [Audrey’s] physical being. It’s like a great composer when he writes for a great artist. She was the physical expression of what Givenchy did,” said Stanley Donen, who directed Hepburn in Funny Face (1957) and Charade (1963).

There have been quite a few remarkable actor-director partnerships in the history of cinema, but Audrey Hepburn’s most symbiotic screen collaboration was with fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy, whose creative mind and understanding of Audrey’s figure, needs and personality played a key role in defining her singular style on-and-off screen. She was a beacon of style. And I don’t think there is any other actress whose roles have emulated her personal style to such extent as in the case of Audrey Hepburn. From the moment Hepburn and Givenchy met, the actress’ personal style was inextricably linked to the designer for the rest of her life, and, after Sabrina (1954), their first film together, Audrey requested Givenchy to design for all her films (they eventually worked together on eight films – the most important five of which I am talking about today). “His are the only clothes in which I am myself. He is far more than a couturier; he is a creator of personality.” This could explain why Givenchy had such a successful contribution to cinema, unlike many other fashion designers.
Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina

Audrey Hepburn, “Sabrina”, 1954

Sabrina, directed by Billy Wilder, marked the beginning of the beautiful friendship between Audrey Hepburn and Hubert de Givenchy. She wanted to wear a real Paris dress in Sabrina. Audrey Hepburn had a style that was very much her own, knowing exactly what complimented her slender figure, and insisted that she selected her own clothes for the film. She was sent to see Cristóbal Balenciaga in Paris, but he was too busy preparing his latest collection, so he sent Audrey to his good friend, Hubert de Givenchy, who had worked for Balenciaga. It turned out that Givenchy couldn’t design something especially for her either, as he was in the middle of a collection himself, so Audrey asked him to show her his previous collection.

It was exactly what she needed and she ended up buying a capsule wardrobe, formed of three outfits, that would mark her transformation from a shy waif into a sophisticated Parisienne in the film: a collarless Oxford-gray wool tailleur and two gowns, the white organdy bustier dress with navy floral embroidery (a design which directed the attention to Hepburn’s narrow waist and slim upper torso) and the bateau neckline black cocktail dress. All the other costumes were designed by Edith Head, who won the Oscar for costume design, without crediting Givenchy’s significant contribution, but that’s a story for another time.
Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face

Audrey Hepburn, “Funny Face”, 1957

Funny Face (1957) is not among my favourite films with Audrey Hepburn, although I do acknowledge its importance in fashion – not just because of Givenchy’s beautiful gowns that are at the center of the film, but also because of Audrey’s beatnik style as book clerk Jo Stockton, and of the way the film, despite its seemingly ridiculous plot, is smarter than it first appears to be, revealing a Pygmalion story in the form of a parody about the fashion world. Audrey Hepburn’s clothes that she wears in Paris for the photo shoots were, once again, designed by Hubert de Givenchy, and watching the film is like taking a trip through the fashion history and French elegance of that time.

Not only that, but Fred Astaire and Kay Thompson, playing fashion photographer Dick Avery and fashion editor Maggie Prescott, respectively, are clearly a hint to Richard Avedon and Diana Vreeland, two of the most important figures in fashion history. The photos for the title sequence were produced by Avedon himself and many of the pictures Dick Avery takes in Paris remind of the famous photographer’s work, so watching the film did very much seem like flipping through a ’50s fashion magazine, one directed by Diana Vreeland herself.
Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's

Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, 1961

Today it is hard to imagine anyone else as troubled call girl Holly Golightly, but Truman Capote, on whose novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) was based, was disappointed when Audrey Hepburn was cast in the role. When Capote sold the rights to Paramount, he had envisioned Marilyn Monroe as Holly and believed that Hepburn was completely wrong for the part. Paula Strasberg, Monroe’s acting coach, felt that playing a call girl was not good for Marilyn’s image, and the actress dropped out of production. For Audrey, on the other hand, was a welcome change after her princess and chauffeur’s daughter parts she had played in the past, even though Holly Golightly’s character was softened for the screenplay. But Breakfast at Tiffany’s was still a very modern film for 1961, and Hepburn was funny, yet moving in her role.

“I should be a stylish Holly Golightly. Even if that’s all I can contribute”, modestly said Audrey. She and Hubert de Givenchy teamed up again for Blake Edward’s romantic comedy. Her wardrobe is simple, elegant, iconic, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s was the movie that, in 1961, consecrated the black sheath dress, heralding a new era for women’s dresses, a more relaxed, freeing, modern style. The couturier designed two sleeveless black dresses for the film. From the very opening scene, when Holly stepped out of a yellow cab on a deserted Fifth Avenue, outside Tiffany’s, at that time of morning when the dawn had broken, wearing the black column gown with an open back and the Tiffany necklace of draped pearls, Audrey Hepburn made movie fashion history.

The other black dress is a knee-length cocktail dress with a slightly flared frilly skirt. But there are other Givenchy designs that are at least just as note-worthy: the fabulous lampshade hat, the pink cocktail dress and the double-breasted orange wool coat that was much copied after the release of the film. The funnel neck coat was classic Givenchy and Audrey would wear similar versions in Charade (1963), How to Steal A Million (1966), and in her personal wardrobe.
Audrey Hepburn Cary Grant Charade

Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant, “Charade”, 1963

Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn together on screen. It’s hard to escape them. Stanley Donen’s Charade (1963) is one of the last great Old Hollywood entertainments and none other than Grant and Hepburn could better portray that idealised sort of perfection. It doesn’t hurt either that this skillful blend of adventure, suspense and style is set against the timeless Paris.

Givenchy dressed Hepburn in contemporary styles very evocative of the era, including a selection of high-buttoned jackets, coats and raincoats (Audrey favoured dress cuts that masked her collarbone), pencil skirts and shift dresses in colours of mustard, cream, red and black often cinched with a large belt to accentuate her petit frame. The image of Hepburn in a red suit and white pillbox hat walking the banks of the Seine with Cary Grant has become of one the film’s most enduring images.
Audrey Hepburn in How to Steal A Million

Audrey Hepburn, “How to Steal A Million”, 1966

Few actresses had as much influence on the fashion of the 1950s and 1960s as Audrey Hepburn. Richard Avedon was one of the people who advised her to emphasize and not hide her qualities and distinctive traits like her body, a new, modern model of femininity opposed to the shapely sexiness in vogue at Hollywood at the time, her eye-makeup created by the Italian Alberto De Rossi, thick eyebrows and her natural brown hair, cut short.

In How to Steal A Million (1966), as Nicole Bonnet, the daughter of a master art forger, Audrey plays alongside Peter O’Toole, another great match for Audrey’s style, just as Cary Grant had been in Charade. In William Wyler’s How to Steal A Million, Audrey’s Givenchy wardrobe is maybe even more representative of the designer’s signature minimal fashion than in other films like Sabrina or Funny Face – a sophisticated, but very clean, essential, practical form of high fashion. It is the best reflection of the perfect synergy between Givenchy’s elegant lines and Audrey’s impeccable taste: it felt like they both designed the clothes. Memorable clothing pieces here would include the iconic white helmet, the unforgettable pink coat, the beige shift dress with sculpted front pockets, and the black lace eye mask.
photos: movie stills all captured by Classiq / “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (Paramount Pictures) / “Sabrina” (Paramount Pictures) / “Funny Face” (Paramount Pictures) / Charade (Stanley Donen Films) / “How to Steal A Million” (World Wide Productions)

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Peter Lindbergh and His Movie Making Photographs

I remember coming across Peter Lindbergh’s “City of Angels” editorial of Amber Valletta shot in New York City, and inspired by Wim Wenders’ Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire), 1987, some time after I had watched the film. I could immediately pinpoint the influence, one of my all-time favourite movies, but I was also transfixed by the photographer’s interpretation, by his own visual narrative showing an angelic figure in a cold and dark city. The German director is a lifelong friend of Lindbergh’s and his film is but a small part of the huge influence that movies have had on the photographer’s work.
Peter Lindbergh A Different Vision on Fashion Photography

White Shirts: Estelle Lefébure, Karen Alexander, Rachel Williams, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patiz and Christy Turlington, Malibu, 1988, Vogue USA

He was the first fashion photographer to put models in nothing else but simple white shirts, no recognizable fashion, for a photo shoot. They were giggling on the beach, looking natural and casual, wearing hardly any make-up. This was never heard of before him. Peter Lindbergh offered a new interpretation of women post-1980s without paying too much attention to clothing, as it is noted in the book Peter Lindbergh: A Different Vision on Fashion Photography, one of the dearest and most beautiful photography books in my library, a stunning photographic collection of more than 400 Lindbergh images, many previously unpublished.

Peter Lindbergh never loses sight of the woman in his images – it is a special kind of woman, it is her personality, attitude, inner-self that shines through, not the clothes she’s wearing. “Peter is a photographer who will make photography history, because he is not linked to trends. He has his own identity: he is not a fashion photographer. He uses fashion to talk to women and to talk about women, which is very different,” said Franca Sozzani, the editor in chief of Vogue Italia for almost 30 years. Of all the fashion magazines Lindbergh has collaborated with, I have always considered the Italian Vogue the perfect platform for his stories. Maybe because Franca Sozzani’s Vogue, too, offered a new interpretation of fashion and went beyond boundaries, while emphasizing that visual storytelling is the most universal language. “Before fashion, I love images,” she would say.

“I wanted to move away from the rather formal, quite perfectly
styled woman who was very artificial. I was more concerned about
a more outspoken, adventurous woman in control of her life and
not too concerned about her social status or emancipated by
masculine protection. My ideal was always the young women I met
in art school, very independent and who could speak for themselves.
The supermodels represented this change. It explains why they
dominated the visual world for many years.”

Peter Lindbergh A Different Vision on Fashion Photography

Amber Valletta, New York, 1993, Harper’s Bazaar

He loves the classics. His photography is timeless, you can not place it in a particular decade or another; it does not date. His truth- and true beauty-revealing black and white images are grainy and cinematic. One of his biggest influences is the cinema, after all. He favours sets that remind him of the behind-the-scenes bonus features found on DVDs, which he prefers to the actual movies. The subtle play of light and shadow, the smoky atmosphere of his sets, the movie studio equipment, the cinematic framing and lighting, the fine line between reality and fiction – he likes to make his own movies. The models are his actors, and he lets them inhabit his movie sets.

“Black and white is interpretation of reality,
a more privileged connection to truth than color.”

Peter Lindbergh A Different Vision on Fashion Photography

Catherine Deneuve, Deauville, France, 1990, Vogue Paris

Peter Lindbergh A Different Vision on Fashion Photography

Linda Evangelista, Parma, Italy, 1990, Vogue Italia

The German Expressionist films with Asta Nielsen, Josef von Sternberg’s Blue Angel with Marlene Dietrich (“transforming par excellence, feminine but androgynous, totally unconventional”, one of the strong women he loves), Fritz Lang’s Metropolis were among his first cinematic influences. But his fascination with cinema went on to the Italian neo-realist films, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Mamma Roma, Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2, Luchino Visconti’s noir Ossessione, Marcel Carné’s Hôtel du Nord, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and The Birds, or Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. Lindbergh reinterpreted all these films in his photographic stories, reinforcing the far-reaching power of cinema, advancing the language of fashion photography, but ultimately inventing his very own, distinctive visual universe.
Peter Lindbergh A Different Vision on Fashion Photography

Linda Evangelista, Corpus Christi, Texas, 1994, Harper’s Bazaar

Peter Lindbergh A Different Vision on Fashion Photography

Masculine/feminine, one of the recurring themes in Lindbergh’s photography
left: Linda Evangelista and Hugh Grant, New York, 1992, Harper’s Bazaar
right: Linda Evangelista, Brooklyn, New York, 1990, Vogue Italia

Lindbergh’s 1990 story with Helena Christensen and American actress Debbie Lee Carrignton as an alien from outer space was the beginning of science-fiction representation and cinematic suspense in his work, considered the first ever narrative story in fashion photography, drawing inspiration from his captivation with science fiction movies from the 1950s, like The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), The War of the Worlds (1953), Invaders from Mars (1953), or E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial (1982). A different vision on fashion photography.
Peter Lindbergh A Different Vision on Fashion Photography

Marie-Sophie Wilson, Paris, 1988


“This should be the responsibility of photographers today:
to free women, and finally everyone, from the terror of youth
and perfection. Beauty coming from real values is a different
thing and it does not need retouching.”

photos: Classiq, of the book “Peter Lindbergh: A Different Vision on Fashion Photography”

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Shadowing Cinema: Raymond Cauchetier, the Photographer of the French New Wave

La Nouvelle Vague proved that there were other paths than those followed by the traditional cinema of the time, and created a new language of film. It broke with cinematic conventions, showing that everything could be questioned, as had already happened with Italian neo-realism before the War. From 1959 to 1969, Raymond Cauchetier was the set-photographer on some of the most important films of the French New Wave. His images captured the invention of a new kind of cinema, with films like À bout de souffle, Une femme est une femme and Jules et Jim; they are historic records in their own right, some of the greatest and most revealing photographic documents ever made of films in progress as they illustrated the revolutionary movement as it happened, on set and on screen.
Anna Karina by Raymond Cauchetier

Anna Karina, “Une femme est une femme”, 1960, directed by Jean-Luc Godard


A series that brings together two worlds I love:
cinema and photography. Shadowing Cinema is about
the unit still photographer: the one who documents everything
that happens on and behind the screen, the one who can capture
the essence of an entire movie in one shot.

“I am a reporter, not an artist. I believe that reportage teaches us more – it’s more important to capture life than constructed situations.”

To this day, Raymond Cauchetier still lives in Paris, in the same apartment where he was born in 1920, having returned there after spending his life under different skies. The first time he left Paris was on a bicycle, in 1940, fleeing the Nazi occupation. In 1943, he became involved with the Corps Franc Pommiès, a large resistance group in southwest France which took part in the 1944 Liberation. After serving in the Third Algerian Infantry Division and travelling to the French Africa, he was eventually sent to the French-Indochina war in the 1950s as part of the press unit of the French Air Force. It was there, in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, where he learned photography as an autodidact, after having been suggested by a superior that he should look for a photographer in the units who might be able to put together a photo album for air service personnel. He appointed himself, bought a Rolleiflex, the camera used in Indochina by all the war correspondents at the time, and started to take pictures of everything he saw around.
Jules et Jim by Raymond Cauchetier

“Jules et Jim”, 1962, directed by François Truffaut

Jules et Jim Raymond Cauchetier photography

François Truffaut and Jeanne Moreau on the set of “Jules et Jim”

His experience in the war no doubt contributed to Cauchetier’s photojournalistic eye that he would later imploy on the movie set when he returned to Paris. His fast-paced, up-close, unstudied style fit perfectly with the New Wave method of hastily assembled scenes, spare intimate moments, and unconstrained filming in the street. A “reporter” photographic style that was far removed from standard set photography and which Cauchetier confessed that he was severely criticized for at the time.

“At the time, set photographers were technicians with ill-defined jobs. They were mostly asked to take a photo from the spot where the movie camera was standing at the end of a scene, and then to make themselves scarce. They got in everyone’s way and cost the producers money as every minute had to be used profitably. Their role as button-pushers brought them a meagre salary that was aligned with that of junior machine operators. Besides, nobody really knew what to do with the photos, which only really interested the script girl trying to get the continuity right. As for my pictures, which belonged to the production company, they stayed in boxes for fifty years,” Cauchetier explained.
A bout de soufflé Raymond Cauchetier

Jean Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg on Champs-Élysées during the filming of “À bout de souffle”, 1959,
directed by Jean-Luc Godard

Jean Seberg in Breathless

Jean Seberg filming “À bout de souffle”, Hotel de Suede, Paris, 1959

Fortunately, the unit photographer’s contribution, and in particular Raymond Cauchetier’s, to the world of cinema has now been given the credit it deserves. As a great unit photographer often does, Cauchetier could capture the essence of an entire film in a shot. During the filming of Breathless, Cauchetier created enduring moments that Godard’s shoot only implied. There is a scene on the Champs-Élysées, filmed in long shot and from overhead, in which Godard has Seberg give Belmondo a sweet peck on the cheek. Cauchetier brought the actors together to reproduce the scene in a close-up, which became one of the movie’s iconic images despite not existing in the film at all. Cauchetier caught the film’s immediacy and free-form style, as well as the star power, ease and effervescence of Seberg and Belmondo throughout the shoot.
Jean Luc Godard by Raymond Cauchetier

Jean-Luc Godard and cameraman Raoul Coutard on the set of “Une femme est une femme”, Rue Lafayette, Paris

But it is François Truffaut, my favourite New Wave director, whom Cauchetier speaks most highly of in his self-portrait. There he is in the image below, filming the opening establishing shot from Baisers volés (1968). The Eiffel Tower is a recurring image in Truffaut’s films. In 1957 he was even assigned to direct a short film about a man who can see the Eiffel Tower but can not get to it – this was the inspiration for the opening titles of Les quatre cents coups (The 400 Blows), 1959. On several of his films, Truffaut worked with legendary New Wave cameraman Raoul Coutard, who also shot many of Godard’s reply films. There is a photo of the two of them (the third one below) captured by Cauchetier while filming Antoine et Colette. Truffaut and Coutard always worked quickly with available daylight to get as many set-ups per day as possible. Antoine et Colette was finished in a week. Cauchetier had the ability to catch the innovative techniques, frenetic pace and the exuberance of the actors and crew working on the movies that came to define an era.
François Truffaut by Raymond Cauchetier

François Truffaut with the camera crew on the set of “Baiser volés” (“Stolen Kisses”), 1968, Paris

François Truffaut by Raymond Cauchetier

François Truffaut gives a cigarette to an extra dressed during the filming of “Baisers volés”, 1968

François Truffaut on the set of Antoine et Colette

François Truffaut and cameraman Raoul Coutard on the set of “Antoine et Colette”, 1962

Cauchetier also worked with another great French director, Jacques Demy, who appeared in the wake of La Nouvelle Vague, but he stood out from his fellow New Wavers. Mostly uninterested in the formal experimentation that define many of his contemporaries, he distilled his filmmaking style through romantic and deeply emotional storytelling, dispelling the notion that cinema had to be lifelike. Usually known for his colourful movies, which were as open to tragedy as to comedy, Jacques Demy soberly filmed La baie des anges (Bay of Angels), 1963, in black and white. “I wanted to lay bare the workings of a passion,” said the director about the film that has Jeanne Moreau play Jackie, a compulsive gambler who pursues the goal of a doomed and reckless passion. It is a film that stands apart, not in the least because of its aesthetic and style and because of Jeanne Moreau as a vision all cladded in white. Cauchetier’s still photographs are proof of that.
Jeanne Moreau Bay of Angels

Jeanne Moreau and Claude Mann in “La baie des anges”, 1963, directed by Jacques Demy

La baie des anges Raymond Cauchetier

Jeanne Moreau, “La baie des anges”, 1963

Anouk Aimee Lola by Raymond Cauchetier

Anouk Aimée in “Lola”, 1961, Nantes, directed by Jacques Demy

A few years back, a book about the photographer of the French Hew Wave was published. Raymond Cauchetier’s New Wave provides a comprehensive look at the photographer’s influence, garnering him much deserved recognition for his role in creating the aesthetic of the Nouvelle Vague.
Jean Luc Godard and Anna Karina by Raymond Cauchetier

Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina, on the set of “Une femme est une femme”, 1960

La Peau Douce Raymond Cauchetier photography

François Truffaut and Françoise Dorléac on the set of “La peau doua e”, 1964, Rambouillet,
directed by François Truffaut

Related content: Behind the Hollywood Scenes: Bob Willoughby / Shadowing Cinema: François Duhamel / One Day That Summer:Shirley MacLaine on the Set of Can Can
Still unit photographers
photos: Raymond Cauchetier | James Hyman Gallery

Posted by classiq in Film, Photography | | Leave a comment

Alex Beard: Making Art and Creating Awareness

Exotic creatures like elephants, giraffes, rhinos and sailfish are drawn out by artist Alex Beard’s hand into colourful, whimsical, fantastic landscapes. Some of them are interacting with the street scenes of New Orleans, Alex’s residing city, taking the form of children’s illustrations – these are among my favourites. Not just as art pieces in their own right, but because their purpose is to encourage children to embrace creativity in their own lives and to educate kids about the importance of preserving the Earth’s wilderness and saving endangered wildlife. It is about making art that is accessible to and that has meaning for the widest possible audience. This is the beauty and power of art.

Alex Beard’s entire body of work concerns raising awareness and preserving the world’s most jeopardized species. His Watering Hole Foundation is dedicated to help save endangered wildlife and to preserve the Earth’s remaining wilderness, and supports antipoaching measures in Northern Kenya and other conservation efforts.
Alex Beard On the Ngare Ndare River

On the Ngare Ndare River

Raised in New York City in a family that fostered philanthropy, creativity and exploration (he is the son of a philanthropist father and a magazine editor mother, and the nephew of renowned wildlife photographer Peter Beard), Alex Beard has travelled extensively around the world from early on, which profoundly influenced his work. He graduated from Tufts University and attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and The New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts, where he honed a distinctive painting technique that he has coined “abstract naturalism” – a vivid, elaborate style influenced by both the natural world and abstract expressionism that has become his signature mark, landing his work in public and private collections and in solo exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles, New Orleans and Hong Kong.

Artists are conveyors of the times that they live in, people that express the times that they live in. They have something to say that is a statement of the world today, of society today. Alex Beard is one of them. I had the great pleasure to talk with Alex about the importance of exposing children to art, about his social responsibility as both a human being and an artist, and about his fondest memories from Kenya (like drinking Tuskers with his friends as a teenager beneath the tree where Denys Finch Hatton was buried on the Ngong Hills). Honest and inspiring. Thank you, Alex!

“I believe that it is my duty as a human being to be a
responsible tenant of the natural world. As an artist,
I have certain tools to help accomplish that goal.”

Alex, I am particularly fond of your children’s art prints. As a parent to a toddler, I would like to ask you: What is your philosophy on exposing kids to the arts at a young age?

​There is no age too young to expose children to art!

Your unique, intricate wildlife paintings seem to reflect both your love of nature and your concern with the preservation of the flora and fauna of our natural surroundings and with the conservation of the world’s most jeopardized wilds. Do you believe it is your duty, as an artist, to effect change?

​I believe that it is my duty as a human being to be a responsible tenant of the natural world. As an artist, I have certain tools to help accomplish that goal, therefore not using the talents at my dispoal for greater good is both irresponsible and selfish.

You make art to create awareness. How can every individual impact change?

​All activism is local; politics, environmentalism, civic responsiblity, and charity. So everyone can effect change by taking care of their own little piece of the planet.

Alex Beard The Uptown Streetcar

The Uptown Streetcar

Alex Beard artwork

left: Gestural Bird I | right: Stack of Beasts II


How has your up-bringing in New York, moving to New Orleans and extensive travelling around the globe influenced you creatively?

​Travel and exposure to other cultures and peoples have influenced me to think beyond my own narrow lens.

Who and what inspires you?

​Nature and those that you find in it.

Given your lineage, was it difficult to find your own voice in the artistic world?


What was the galvanizing moment that made you realise you had your own story to tell in your very own way?

There was no single galvanizing moment, but rather a slow erosion of ego. It’s hard work trying to be someone or something other than who you are naturally yourself, so exhaustion had a part to play in it, too. Ultimately, I just stopped worrying about what and who I wasn’t, and all (or at least most) of the narcissistic angst went away. Phew.

Alex Beard Crossing the Mara

Crossing the Mara


What is the most valuable lesson that Africa has taught you?

​Africa offers a glimpse at the timelessness of the natural world, its enormity, and my insignificant yet impactful part in it.

A travel writer once told me that the most fulfilling thing about her work is being able to change the false impression that somebody has on a country and its people. Did you leave with any prejudices to Africa? If so, how has your experience there changed that?

​I first went to Africa with a clean slate because I was too young to have any prejudice as to who or what I might find. In general, I find prejudice unhelpful, small-minded, and, if possible, to be avoided at all costs. Nonetheless prejudice is an easy track which leads to complacentcy, proventiality, and an acute myopic view of the world, one which is ultimately unsatisfying, uninteresting, and dangerous. As to changing people’s false impressions, I am an advocate for everyone to go as far afield as they can to see for themselves. It is a universal vaccine for narrowmindedness.

Audience Portrait II Alex Beard

Audience Portrait, II


The first project of your Watering Hole Foundation was centered on protecting the Wild African Elephant in Northern Kenya. Are the efforts of the foundation visible? What has been the most challenging part of this project?

​Elephant poaching in Northern Kenya has plummeted over the last three years. The Watering Hole Foundation’s efforts are but a small piece in a much bigger puzzle. The most challenging part of any conservation project is the fludity of the situation on the ground and the needs of the community to best protect their local environment. With that in mind, The Watering Hole Foundation is happy with the relationships cultivated over the last five years and looks forward to continuing the fight to preserve Northern Kenya’s wilderness.

What is your most beautiful memory of Kenya?

​I have different memories from different ages.
​- Drinking Tuskers with my friends beneath the tree where Denys Finch-Hatton was buried on the Ngong Hills as a teenager
​- Particularly good elephant charge in my early twenties
​- Lions in my camp
​- Bringing my son on camel safari
​- Carrying my young daughter on my shoulders tracking elephants on foot

Alex Beard Dreaming of Africa

Dreaming of Africa


You have also written a trilogy of storybooks, Tales from the Watering Hole. Could you tell me what they are about?

Tales from the Watering Hole are anthropomorphic parables in the vein of Aesop and Kipling. The Jungle Grapevine is about rumors, Monkey See, Monkey Draw is a book about the fun of making art for little kids, and Crocodile’s Tears is a story about endangered species and the environment, and coming in September, the fourth book is called The Lying King and it is about a warthog.

One favourite thing to do in New Orleans and which you would miss if you lived anywhere else in the world:

​Eating crawfish with your neighbors – standing in your garden around a table covered in the local newspaper, stacked with mudbugs, and shooting the bull.

One thing you wish people appreciated more:

​I wish people appreciated how thin the vinear is between light and dark, order and chaos, civillization and brutality.

Crossing the Elephant Highway Alex Beard

Crossing The Elephant Highway

Gestural Elephant 2017 Alex Beard

Gestural Elephant 2017


Website: | Drawing the Line, a documentary by Alex Beard
Facebook: @AlexBeardStudioNOLA
Instagram: @alexbeardstudio

Crocodile's Tears Alex Beard
photos: courtesy of Alex Beard

Posted by classiq in Art, Crafts & Culture, Interviews | | Leave a comment