Lia Clay, Photographer


Lia Clay: I started reading TAR Magazine when I was 17 years old. A person that I had a rather romantic pen pal relationship with used to send me it from New York. As many teenagers finding their way into the spectrum of other artists and photographers, Ryan McGinley was god. Part of Ryan’s initial series “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” was in the first issue. I remember associating with the types of models he used — often with androgynous features. As someone struggling with gender identity, this new found rebellion against conservative body standards that I was taught growing up with in the South was sort of a revelation. In the spring of 2009, Tar released a cover with Kate Moss by Damien Hirst. It was a photograph of Kate with half of her face, revealing the muscles and tendons underneath her skin. It went along with this article that stated something like “Kate Moss is Never Going To Die.” It was a satirical piece on how Kate had an underground laboratory that was keeping her young forever. It was my last few months before I graduated high school, and immortalized the feeling of being young in the time right before I left home for college. It’s been almost a decade since I first started reading Tar, and even though I am looking forward more and more to growing older,  I will forever remember the feeling that magazine gave me as a teenager. 


SPD: What year? 

SPD: What were you up to? 
I was a teenager, wrestling with the ideas of gender, sexuality, and leaving home.

SPD: What magazine?
Tar Magazine


SPD: What was it that so enthralled you? 
There was a resonance of youth that I was drawn to. It really epitomized a lot of the things I was feeling, and gave me an association to something outside of what I grew up with. Growing up, I always felt out of place. I was grasping on to everything I could to help me find a sense of attachment to another world where I could start to understand myself. 

SPD: Do you know now who the creatives were? 
LC: Evanly Schindler
+ Maurizio Marchiori

SPD: How does that inform your creative now? 
It was definitely a beginning. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. There’s representations of things I did when I was taking pictures at 17 because it’s where I began to grow artistically, but I think over the past decade, my work has changed so much that maybe it’s best as something to be nostalgic about, rather than inform what I do now. As much as I gravitated towards those images because it was similar to my body type, which ironically was categorized as ‘different’ from growing up in North Carolina, it also glorified an idealized version of youth and representation that is something we are trying to change now.