Parker Day, Photographer

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Parker DayIn 1997, I was 13 years old and I lived for a British magazine called The Face. I would make my monthly pilgrimage to my local Tower Records and bask in the glory of its large, glossy pages. It gave me a look into a world that was sexy, alternative, cheeky and strange; a world I wanted to step into. I had just moved to a new town, was a home-schooled only child, and the internet wasn't a thing yet so having magazines like that gave me a sense of connection to something greater. My room was literally bordered in pages I ripped out of The Face. My favorites were anything by David LaChapelle, Nick Knight's portrait of Alexander McQueen and a model impaled by nails, and the raucous Diesel ads. I didn't know the names David LaChapelle or Nick Knight back then but I do believe my exposure to art like theirs inspired me to pursue photography. LaChapelle was my idol throughout art school. I still don't know who the art director or photographer of those Diesel ads were but I wish I did. Diesel was the absolute height of aspirational cool in my mind because of those ads. I learned the power of images at that tender age and it's my hope that decades from now someone looks back on my work as having inspired them to create. 

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Anna Alexander, Director of Photography at WIRED

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Anna Alexander: As a teenager, I had a magazine obsession like anyone else, but I was not the girl who thumbed through every monthly fashion magazine of her mother’s. I know that’s a shock for anybody who knows me now (that’s sarcasm if you don’t know me). Fashion is not what drove me to loving magazines. I liked portraiture.  I loved portraiture. Beautiful, black and white editorial portraiture.

My aunt JoJo had a gigantic collection of Interview magazines dating back to when it was first released. Whenever I went over to visit, I would dive into them. I started to visit her just for the Interview magazines and she caught on. Aunt JoJo gave me every single issue of her entire stash. Should I keep them precious and in plastic sleeves forever? Hell no. I ripped them all up and plastered them all over my wall (see below). Other teens had The Sex Pistols & U2 on their wall but I had Greg Gorman and Barry McKinley.

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SPD: What year?

SPD:What were you up to?
[I was a] teen artist sulking & hating the world most likely.

SPD: What magazine?

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SPD: What was it that so enthralled you?
My reasons for loving Interview were not because of its famous pop-art creator, but because it was strictly Q&A’s and the only editorial art that came with each story was a portrait.  I knew back then that I had to have a career in photography but I knew that I did not want to be a photographer. I had to be involved with making magazines and making portraiture.

SPD: Do you know now who the creatives were?
AA: Andy Warhol
(though Publisher) and Richard Bernstein (did the iconic painted on photo covers), also the photographers who they used.


SPD: How does that inform your creative now?
Having had a love for Interview magazine helps me now because I strive to commission artists who want to make an iconic photograph. Not just a close-up black & white headshot, but something that is meaningful on its own, without the support of a hed & dek or caption. It’s quite difficult to get that kind of result with WIRED subjects, but you always have to believe that a meaningful portrait can be accomplished under any situation.

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Ash Gibson, Creative Director


SPD: What year?
Ash Gibson: I am guessing it was 1982 and 83. 

SPD: What were you up to?
I had been at secondary school for a couple of years. I didn’t like it much except for Art and English. I had discovered music at home and I had always liked drawing and books. I had been riding BMX for a while and had just moved to skateboarding too. Looking back on it I think that those were the things I did that made up who I was - as oppose to anything at school.

SPD: What magazine?
Thrasher Skateboard Magazine


SPD: What was it that so enthralled you?
In terms of stories - the collection of words and pictures - it was about a way of life that was impossibly interesting to me. Skateboards and punk bands in different parts of America. Driving places to hidden pools or legendary skateparks or just making something of your own in the street where you lived. On top of that every page was visually interesting - even the ads. Because the culture was so driven by its own fashions and innovations all the products were integrated with fascinating graphics and imagery. As a whole it could not of been further from my dreary and threatening Camden state school. 

I only knew one place where you could buy a copy - a skate shop in Notting Hill. So even getting a copy came with its own thrill. It wasn’t somewhere you could get to very often so when you went a copy of Thrasher was definitely on the list - if they had one you didn’t own already.  

SPD: Do you know now who the creatives were?
No - but the names in it were poured over at the time. I would recognise them if I opened a copy…along with all of the pages individually. Later - when I had moved on from ‘boarding and bikes - I had bought a copy of Transworld Skateboarding that was art directed by David Carson. I kept it for ages and looked back at it when he became quite prominent and I was a young editorial AD in London. 

SPD: How does that inform your creative now?
AG: It was a magazine that connected with its audience by making something exciting for them. It knew how to be real, charming and was about what was happening in its scene at that time. I could also tell it was for the people who were in that world - that lived that life - and they were very different to me. I was thousands of miles away and just a fan really. Strangely, it is the opposite of a lot of publishing and large websites now and similar to specialist feeds and blogs. There is no charm in the churn. 

Beyond the general hipness to their scene I can see now that they were just brilliant at picture usage. Their bold and fast layout style gave them a great tone. Years later I read that Alexey Brodovitch used to tell his designers to surprise him with their layouts, As far as they are from classic Harpers I can now see this is what I loved on these pages.


Piera Gelardi, Executive Creative Director and Co-Founder of Refinery29


SPD: What year?
Piera Gelardi: 1995

SPD: What were you up to?
PG: I was looking to find myself, a creative alt-teen in a small town in Maine, feeling a bit out of place and searching for inspiration and my tribe. 

SPD: What magazine?
PG: Sassy Magazine

SPD: What was it that so enthralled you?
PG: I remember the first issue had Jennie Garth from 90210 on the cover and in the inside spread there was a photo of her wearing a pretty dress and clogs. Her feet were in the foreground turned to the camera and the price was written in Sharpie on the soles...they were from a thrift shop. I was enthralled by that mash-up...thrift shopping with fancy New York brands. I also loved the way they did product reviews. The staff would review them (didn't have to be a beauty expert) and give really honest feedback using colloquial language. I felt like I knew the people who made the magazine and I wanted to be part of their cool girl world. 

SPD: Do you know now who the creatives were?
PG: Of course I know Jane Pratt and that Chloe Sevigny was an intern...I don't know beyond that I'm embarrassed to say. (Googling around now...)

SPD: How does that inform your creative now?
PG: I'm still inspired by the independent spirit that Sassy embodied and how relatable it it gave me a sense of belonging to a special sisterhood. How it inspired me to be unabashedly myself, to keep it weird, to have fun with style. The sense of inclusion, self expression, and having fun with feminism are still alive in my work today!