Coffee or Cigarettes with Wanda Martin
Wanda Martin is a London-based visual artist and fashion photographer, represented by The Art Board. Wanda is also an Art Director of Foxes Magazine, a rock’n’roll luxury men's fashion and music magazine. She has her MA in Fashion Photography from the London College of Fashion and a BA in Photography from the prestigious Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design.
Wanda’s piercing stare from the lens of a camera creates portrait shoots that are unforgettable and fashion stories to rock your mind. Glossy, fine-art-like impressions of a long time forgotten era are born again through the fashion prism and edgy translation into today’s modern visualization.
We speak with Wanda about the project Foxes Television, Jane Austen, The Dreamers, Budapest, and drawing inspiration from her dad, a photographer.
Hi Wanda, so do you prefer sophisticated interactions flavored with coffee and cigarettes?
Hi there. Yes, coffee always, anytime, anywhere! I know it’s not very rock’n’roll and not very Jim Jarmusch either, but I don’t smoke. (Everyone around me does though, and I have to admit I do love the smell of it, brings back lots of nice memories..).
Tell about your new, a one of a kind, project FOXES Television, as you say a rock'n'roll inspired hub for music and fashion designers. What is the idea behind it and how do you prepare for the pilot?
The founders of FOXES Magazine are starting this project as modern day music and fashion television series with Orian Williams (the producer of the movie “Control”) and Kevin Haskins (the drummer of Bauhaus) attached as producers. They’re working on the pilot in LA atm, more updates to come! I am involved mainly with the magazine itself, as an art director (and contributing photographer).
How would your friends describe you?
I guess you would need to ask my friends!
I am a very social, outgoing and friendly person, but I don’t actually let people too close very easily. Although, once I let one in, you can count on me for good! (I can be quite impulsive, so a big thanks to my friends for dealing with me).
Everyone has some craziness about himself as doing things differently, eating foods of weird combinations, or simply watching films that none of your surroundings understands. What is your 'crazy' trait?
Well, I am not sure how “crazy” it is, but secretly I have this super nerdy side, I am obsessed with period dramas and fantasy movies, with beautiful long-haired men wearing skirts with swords in their hands.
I didn’t drink or party at all till I turned about 18 and started university in Budapest, where I got with a new crowd and the Night drew me in.
Before that I was a shy teenager, living in the countryside, getting good grades at high school, reading all the Bronte, Jane Austen, Dickens books I could put my hands on. The whole rock’n’roll craziness, a new chapter, started when I moved away from home.
"My dad is a photographer, that was probably the main, subconscious inspiration, although he never wanted me to become a creative myself".
"The ongoing search for your identity, who you really are and all the themes relating to it, like youth culture, subculture, belonging and/vs opposing and their postmodern approaches".
How did it all start for you, what was the first brick to lay the path to your career in photography and film direction?
My dad is a photographer, that was probably the main, subconscious inspiration, although he never wanted me to become a creative myself - since I always had good grades at school, he really wanted me to study something “normal”, like law, architecture or medicine, something financially more stable. I got my first camera when I was 15, he taught me some history of photography and art, and some of the technicalities - that’s how the love started! I was also considering to do painting for a while, but I realized I was too impatient for that, I wanted instant results, so photography just seemed like the perfect match for me. I applied to study at the prestigious Moholy-Nagy University of Arts and Design Budapest at age 18. It’s really tough to get in, and I didn’t get accepted for the first time, so I started another course meanwhile, a film course! Later on, I got accepted for the University, but that’s the short story of how I got involved with all film and photography and all that.
Projects we work on and challenges we solve has this peculiar effect of showing us new angles of what we are capable of. What did you learn about your skills or character this year?
I am an extremely impatient person when it comes to work and get things going (and getting back texts from boys lol).
I think the main thing I need to work on is just the ability to appreciate where I am right now, being happy for all the small moves forward, instead of rushing, shooting, doing stuff, being constantly on the road, without enjoying the journey itself. I have never been bored in my life for sure though.
What motivates you to create? Do you have times when your muse leaves you?
There are so many things that inspire me, music, art, literature, films but mainly people! I am interested in people, interesting characters, artists, musicians, the old, the young, the outsider! I am interested in the same things in my fashion and my more conceptual personal projects, as well - identity itself! The ongoing search for your identity, who you really are and all the themes relating to it, like youth culture, subculture, belonging and/vs opposing and their postmodern approaches. I am also very much interested in Gender Studies.
Modern “love” is one of my key interests and constant inspiration. Even right now I am working on a personal project on it.
So, basically, even when I feel my muse had left me, it actually had not! I am always working. Everything and everyone in my life inspires me, in a way we are all forming each other.
You have studied cinema and photography and now you pursue an MA in fashion photography. How does theory influences your professional decisions or what was the most influential lesson you remember?
I finished my MA course at London College of Fashion about 3 years ago. The theory does influence my work a lot still though. As I mentioned above, my background was more like fine art, and at the University of Arts and Design Budapest, the course I did was mainly a fine art photography course, so Iit taught us a conceptual, meaningful approach in our work. At my master course, which was a fashion photography course, our amazing course leader, Paul Bevan was actually not a fashion photographer himself, more like a performance and fine artist. He also pushed us to think conceptual and transfer relevant messages even in our fashion, commercial work, since at least it has all the tools to transfer those messages to masses via just the system and its tools of the fashion industry. These were the times when I really got into Gender Studies, and when I was working on my personal project “Lovers”, where I photographed real couples, all kind of couples of all gender, in their own intimate environment. Even though I do lots of commercial work today, I still try to keep this approach.
On a cultural aspect, London, Paris, Budapest, which city is friendlier to young and aspiring creators? Where can one find more opportunities to succeed?
I guess it depends who you are. I am very much into rock’n’roll and for this London is the right place to be!
Budapest was my home for 5 years, I have lots of good memories from there and friends. I still love to be there, it’s a beautiful city, with lots of fun things to do, and it's pretty cheap compared to other European big cities. It is pretty refreshing to go “home” a few times per year, somehow life seems lighter and less crazy there, but as a creative there are not that many opportunities. Especially since my work is quite specific, not very commercial, and very much youth culture, and music driven, probably I couldn’t make much money there.
I have an agent in Paris, so I’ve been travelling quite a lot there in the last year, and I just love the idea of Paris, but somehow not the reality of it. I definitely vote for London for now.
I am not sure If I would be still thinking the same in a different phase in my life, with a family, husband, kids and dogs and cats and garden. In an ideal future, I would have agents and jobs all over the world so It would not matter where I am actually based. Right now I just have to be in London.
What is the best film of all times and what makes it special for you?
Oh God! That is the toughest question! I couldn’t pick one. There are so many I love, especially since I studied film, too
I love The Dreamers, Buffalo 66, Northern Soul, Control, Only Lovers Left Alive, Blue is the Warmest Colour, Perfume, Hiroshima Mon Amour, Chungking Express, etc., unusual love stories, movies about weirdos. I think these are the main characters of my “universe” too - the lovers and the outsiders.
I used to be a big Tim Burton fan, again, I loved all of his lovely strange loners! (And again my nerd side, I still absolutely love everything about Lord of the Rings, I think I watched them at least 100 times).
If you could change one thing in the world today what would it be?
I just look around, and I feel my generation is in a really weird place right now. I just wish people could accept themselves. I look around, and I see so many beautiful, amazing and talented people, some of my friends too, having an amazing life, great opportunities, but still so troubled, unable to appreciate how lucky we actually are.