We were lucky enough to have artist and photographer Valerie Phillips sit down with the star of her new book model Alice Vink, here they discuss everything from dragons, the prodigy, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and much much more.
Valerie: What’s your favourite image from ALICE IN LONDONLAND? Why?
Alice: Super hard question, I like all of them of course. One that makes me laugh is the one where I’m lying on the washing machines in Brixton.
Valerie: What did you think when I first told you I wanted to do a book with you, about 5 minutes after we met?
Alice: Honored and excited.
Valerie: What do you remember from that first day we took pix at my friend Ingrid’s house (around the corner from mine)?
Alice: That the house was magical, like a small palace.
Valerie: What is your favourite experience from our adventures in Londonland?
Alice: Aaah too many. The dinosaur park was so funny, we traveled so far and in our mind the dinosaurs were going to be huge and amazing, they turned out to be so small and you couldn’t even reach them but they were cute.
Valerie: What would you wear to a casting (from the book) if you really wanted to land the job?
Alice: Hello Kitty dress or the vintage BOY punk outfit.
Valerie: Who are you listening to at the moment?
Alice: Boy Harsher and The Prodigy.
Valerie: I hate festivals, you love festivals! convince me to go to a festival!!
Alice: Imagine all your friends at one place, you don’t have a schedule the whole day, so you can hang out all day and sometimes go to concerts from your favorite artists/ At some festivals they also have cool activities like crafting, and interesting talks. And a festival is also a good place to meet inspiring people. But you hate camping, so maybe you can take a caravan to make it more comfortable. Convinced? (;
Valerie: You have traveled to so many amazing and far flung places, what has been your favourite to explore?
Alice: Berlin, London and Tokyo.
Valerie: Favourite city to work in? Why?
Alice: London because of our adventures and the creative shoots.
Valerie: You are heading off to art school, what will you study?
Alice: I’m going to study graphic design.
Valerie: Who are your art influences?
Alice: Too many, I get inspired by a lot of things. Books, movies, Ted talks, color combinations, people, fashion and music. So to name a few David Lynch, Francis Bacon, Franz West, Murakami, Damselfrau, King Krule, Grayson Perry and Bas Kosters.
Valerie: Is the final finished ALICE IN LONDONLAND book different from what you pictured as we were making it? How so?
Alice: No, the only thing is that I thought it would have been a bit less thick.
Valerie: What are you doing right now, today?
Alice: Drawing super heroes.
Valerie: If you were going to eat giant snails for dinner, how would you like them cooked? Who would you invite to this meal?
Alice: They have to be cooked with some nice herbs or something hahahaha I would invite you and David Bowie (;
Valerie: Describe your perfect day
Alice: First coffee, then I want to pick up my dragon and travel to the moon together with a friend after we admired the view, we travel to the universe and check if there’s any life out there. We will be back for a nice dinner and dance party in Tokyo with all my friends and hopefully the aliens we met.
Alice: What is your favorite picture in the book?
Valerie: My fave is probably the picture of you with a coffee - on my corner in a leopard onesie, It was the sleepy start of a super fun day and also your expression cracks me up. That picture is everything that causes me happiness.
Alice: You went to Tokyo this summer to launch the book. How was Tokyo? And what was the funniest thing you did and the most random object you bought?
Valerie: Tokyo was epic as always. I did a bunch of fun book launch events there and one in Osaka. Hung out with really good friends and ran around with Jason - engaging with the beautiful mesmerizing weirdness.
The funniest thing I did was never ever know which button (from the large selection) to push to flush any given toilet, out in a restaurant, at someone’s house, wherever. I had to hope each time that I guessed correctly from the symbols on the side that made absolutely no sense :)!
The most random thing I bought was maybe a box of bullet train band aids (plasters).
Alice: I’m so honored you chose me to be your book girl, why me?
Valerie: Because somehow I knew you would be magical and amazing fun to hang out with for long periods of time. Guess what? I was right!
Alice: Is there someone you would love to take pictures of?
Valerie: My dj neighbour across the street, and I am next week!
Also, Miley Cyrus.
Alice: When did you start making books/zines? Who/ what inspired you to start making them?
Valerie: I’ve been making scrapbooks and collage books since I was a little kid. Then I discovered Printed Matter in New York (where I grew up) which specializes in artist’s books and zines and self published work. I was a teenager and was mesmerized. I knew I had to be part of that world somehow, someday.
My first published book came out in 2001 and that really kicked it all off for me.
Alice: You’ve shown me interesting and historic places in London. In the intro of the book you say that gentrification is slowly bullying its way through London. If you had to choose one of those historic places to never ever vanish what place would you choose?
Valerie: Can I choose all the Arts and Crafts period buildings? Also Trellick Tower (which is in the book) and all the horse & cattle drinking fountains from the mid 1800s.
Alice: In the book there’s a picture of a mash & eel shop. Who would you like to have a jellied eel dinner with?
Valerie: I’d have to be dying of starvation before I’d actually put a jellied eel in my mouth, but in the spirit of your question…I’d like to have a jellied eel dinner with Dante Gabriel Rossetti the Pre-Raphaelite painter - preferably at his Chelsea mansion in the 1860s. He had a menagerie of exotic animals in his back garden, which is not exactly the coolest thing to do in the middle of London, but it might have been interesting to see. It would have been fun to have hung out in his painting studio, drinking ale and perving out over his latest creations.
Alice: You collect a lot of fun stuff like things with horses on it and space themed things, what is the collection you’re most proud of
Valerie: I have always loved going to flea markets and yard sales and finding weird treasures. I’ve also saved lots of my childhood toys and things. Most of my random things end up in my work so it’s a great excuse to indulge the habit. My favorites are probably the space toys, Corgi & Dinky cars and Steiff animals.
Alice: You told me a lot of funny stories about your worst shoots ever, would you like to share one (without names)?
Valerie: The top of the insanity charts would have to be working for Les Halle (happy to name ‘em!) a French high street chain.
I was on a train from Paris to Bordeaux with some people from the ad agency, heading to the location for a few days work.
We were meant to be shooting four models we cast the previous week. On the way to Bordeaux, the agency producer got a call saying the head of the brand had replaced our models with former Miss France beauty contest winners. The girls were completely wrong for the shoot and didn’t fit in the samples, so we couldn’t shoot the coming season’s pieces.
The stylist had to go out and buy larger size items from a local Les Halle shop - pieces that were already on sale and nothing to do with our proposed shoot. Complete and utter crazy.
Alice: If you had to choose between a dragon or a unicorn what would you choose?
Valerie: Like, as a pet? A dragon, definitely. Always a dragon.
Alice: What would you like to ask an alien if you ever got the chance to talk to one (and they understand you and can talk back)?
Valerie: Can you fly me around some other planets for a few hours, I’d love to have a look up close. Also, what’s for breakfast?
Alice: You watch a lot of ‘old’ movies, what are some of your favorites, and why?
Valerie: I love old Sci-fi and horror movies from the 50s mainly. They’re so beautiful looking and slow paced. I love the the crazy naive future-forward sets and props. Those films are completely engaging to me in a way modern movies aren’t. In modern sci-fi/adventure there’s no humanity, just noise and gloss.
Some of my faves:
‘The Thing From Another World’, ‘It Came From Outer space’, ‘Children Of The Corn’, ‘Them’,
‘Earth vs the Flying Saucers’, ‘Creature From The Black Lagoon’ ,The Blob’ ,‘Cat-Women Of The Moon’, ‘Frankenstein’, “the Giant Spider Invasion”.
I also like classic old romance/comedy/thrillers - 1930s to 1970s.
‘It Happened One Night’, ‘All About Eve’, ‘The Apartment’, ‘Some Like It Hot, ‘Rebecca’ ,’The Philadelphia Story’, ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’, ‘Harold and Maude’, ‘Roman Holiday’.
Alice: What is your favorite color?
Alice: If you have a bad day what makes you happy?
Valerie: I’d like to ask all my friends this question and compile a list of cures.
I’d say dogs and horses, and taking pictures with my amazing book girls makes me happiest and has been known to get me out of a bad head space.
Also hiding under the duvet watching old movies and drinking tea.
Sometimes nothing but time helps…and maybe some chocolate.
ALICE IN LONDONLAND is published by Longer Moon Farther and available here