Category Archives: Interviews

New website (and blog)

Screenshot 2014-04-24 22.48.23

We have a new website! This is the first overhaul of the Structo site in years and years, and is in fact the first version not to be hand-coded in html.

The new site has a lot of new features, including a full interview archive and an integrated blog. We will be posting all our updates over there from now on, and have kicked things off with an interview with one of our own staff: editorial team member Will Burns, who was recently named as one of this year’s four Faber New Poets.

Hope to see you over there!

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Illustrator interview: Jade They

incidentalAll images © Jade They

London-based illustrator and printmaker Jade They provided the powerful illustration for the issue 10 Incidental column ‘Loft of Hidden Dreams’. We spoke to Jade about her art background and her method for approaching commissions. More of her illustrations follow below the fold.

Can you say a little about your art background?
I studied at the University of Westminster and graduated with a first in Illustration and Visual Communication in 2012. My work has appeared a number of publications, with recent features in Boneshaker, Lost in London, Strike! and Delayed Gratification magazine, amongst others. I have taken part in a number of shows and exhibitions including  2013 Design Junction, 2013 Members Summer Show at London Print Studio and 2012 New Blood D&AD.

How do you approach illustrating a piece of writing generally?
Generally when illustrating a piece of writing I need to make an analysis of the imagery described in the text as well as subjects and atmosphere. I then develop an idea based on those three things. Then I make a working rough using hand-drawn elements, which gets refined along the way. I cut the final from lino and print it. Sometimes the image will then go through minor changes in Photoshop, but I try to keep to the original print as much as possible. Continue reading

Crowded Isolation: an interview with the photographer Terence S. Jones

CC BY Terence S JonesAll images (CC BY 2.0): Terence S. Jones

The cover of issue ten went through many iterations. We wanted to capture the theme of isolation which threaded its way through a number of stories, but without the whole thing coming across as downbeat or sad. Eventually, a late night search on Flickr turned up the image above. It’s entitled Crowded Isolation, and was taken by Terence S. Jones, an American photographer based in Atlanta. Happily, Terence had licensed the photo under a Creative Commons licence, and so the final cover came together quickly soon after. We talked to him by email about his photography and about capturing his Crowded Isolation.

What drew you to take the picture which ended up as Crowded Isolation?

The picture was taken at a train station in Germany. I was travelling for some time by then and I was quite frustrated with some of the hassles that come with travelling. It was winter around the time when many of the German trains had to be cancelled due to heavy snow, etc. I then happened to look down into the main hall where I saw the guy standing with his luggage staring at the announcement board with all the cancelled trains. All the other people were rushing by and it created this weird contrast of an absolutely calm and isolated element in a high-paced crowd.

Did it capture what you hoped it would?

That’s a hard question. Often I feel that photos develop their full potential only some time after they have been taken, in particular the photographer needs to get some emotional distance. Otherwise the photo is overloaded by external emotions and one cannot really judge. So to answer your question: yes it does. In fact it has certain imperfections that I hated right after I took it and now I believe that they add to it (for example, the slow shutter speed blurred some of the people).

CC BY Terence S. Jones
A lot of your work is travel photography. What came first, the love of travel, or of photography?

That is very easy for me. I did not like travelling very much before I got into serious photography. Now I can motivate myself to go almost anywhere. Even if I expect to hate the location I can still capture why I don’t like it. Of course this approach comes with some serious risks – Susan Sontag wrote about those in her ‘On Photography’. Among one of her more popular statements was:
“The method especially appeals to people handicapped by a ruthless work ethic – Germans, Japanese and Americans. Using a camera appeases the anxiety which the work driven feel about not working when they are on vacation and supposed to be having fun. They have something to do that is like a friendly imitation of work: they can take pictures.” On a more serious note: photography turned me into an explorer. It brought me to places and let me experience things that I would have never gone to beforehand, because I could not answer the question “why should I go?” It is weird, for the very special places and experiences I do not even share the photos with anyone as I rather want to keep them, and what they stand for, to myself.

CC BY Terence S. Jones

If your Flickr stream is anything to do by, you move between portraits and still life, landscapes and cites, candid and posed shots. Do you have any favourite subjects?

I think at this point my Flickr stream is not very representative any more. At some point Flickr just did not work for me any more and there are time where I try to reactivate my Flickr-life but then fall short again. I think style wise I am really drawn to either ‘people shots’ be it staged, candid, fashion, or portraits and ‘geometric shots’, e.g., urban photography where geometry and strong composition are dominating – the latter however is more on my personal work side and not really for business.

CC BY Terence S. Jones

Any parting words?

I feel that all types of art have been severely threatened by the ‘likes’ and ‘hits’ driven evaluation and I urge anybody in any creative endeavor to free themselves from these very one-dimensional outside evaluations and rather find a circle of ‘friends’ to discuss their work with.

For more of Terence’s photography, head to his website.

Once upon a time: Jessica Young

JessicaYoung

Photo © Jessica Young

Every so often we talk to past Structo authors about what they’ve been up to since appearing in the magazine. The latest in this irregular series sees poetry editor Matthew Landrum talk to issue eight poet Jessica Young.

Your poetry appeared in issue eight last summer. A book release, publications, relocation – a lot has happened since then. Could you tell us about some of your recent opportunities and happenings?

My biggest happening has been finalizing everything with Alice’s Sister (WordTech, September 2013), my book that re-envisions Alice in Wonderland.  Working with my editor, we uncovered some anachronisms (e.g., technologies and musical composers from the wrong generation) and place-issues (e.g., cicadas and trilliums popping up where they don’t naturally occur) So it’s been a process of carefully combing and re-combing through the whole book to ensure that each detail belongs.  Suffice it to say that I’ve learned a lot about mid-19th century England!

Continue reading

Once upon a time: Tim Hehir

JuliusAndTheWatchmaker

Images: Text Publishing

As part of our on-going feature in which we talk to previously published authors, here’s a brief interview with author Tim Hehir. Tim’s short story ‘God Bless Us One and All’ appeared in the magazine back in issue seven and you can read it online here. His début novel, Julius and the Watchmaker, is out now from Text Publishing in Australia.

How did you come across Structo? Why did you choose to send your story here?

I do not recall how I actually found Structo. I somehow came to the magazine via a circuitous route on the internet while I was searching for somewhere to send one of my short stories. I chose to send my first story to Structo because of a line in the submissions criteria. You stated that you liked things that “made us smile”. I enjoyed the succinctness and honesty of the statement and thought I would give it a try. The first story I sent to the magazine was rejected but the rejection note I received was very encouraging so I gave it another try some time later. I was with a bunch of writer friends, renting a house for the weekend in a seaside town outside Melbourne and we had a conversation about trying to come up with the craziest horror film idea we could. I came up with the ‘Zombified Dickens Characters’ idea and ‘God Bless us One and All’ was born. Continue reading

Once upon a time: Siobhan Harvey

SiobhanHarvey

Photo © Siobhan Harvey

We recently kicked off a series here on the blog in which we talk to erstwhile Structo authors, finding out what they’ve been up to since appearing in the pages of the magazine. We would usually wait more than one issue before catching up, but Siobhan Harvey just had her issue eight poem ‘Considering the Autistic Boy as a Cloud’ selected for the Best New Zealand Poems anthology, so it seemed like a fitting moment.

How long have you been writing poetry?
I have been writing poetry since I was 16 years old. When I was at school, creative writing began to be considered as an accepted part of the curriculum. In the journey towards O-Level/GSCE exams, my English teacher asked us to write stories. From somewhere unknown, somewhere I am (for various reasons) unable to name but can ‘touch’, narratives, long and complex poured out of me. Neat short stories. Epic, cliff-hanger mysteries. I wrote them all. In the journey towards my A-Levels, we were encouraged to make the inventive leap into poetry, and I fell helter-skelter into the form. Within a few years and a move to London, I was spending much of my time at the South Bank Centre, at the Poetry Library, reading, writing and gathering poetry competition entry forms. To my surprise, to my wonder, poem publications in magazines and competitions followed.

Can you share the back-story to ‘Considering the Autistic Boy as a Cloud’?
This is an extremely long and complex back-story, and one which, as yet, I know hasn’t achieved its resolution – because that’s the nature, the essence of living with a child who has Autism/Aspergers/ADHD/Autism Spectrum Disorder. The expedition of child and parent through this (I dislike the word) “disorder” is incremental and on-going. But for the sake of concision, I can say that at the age of seven years old, after five years in which I knew instinctively something was different (not wrong, or defective, just different) about my son, he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum. If that seems straightforward, the path to reaching that diagnosis, and indeed the path we have trodden thereafter has been very complex and nuanced. For instance, my partner and I were told by educators (kindergarten teachers) that our four year old son was not playing “normally” with other children. It wasn’t long before we were told that our son was “gifted”. But the essence of the definition over that which is “normal” and that which is “other” stayed with me and became so deeply apparent to me when my son started school. By then, at the end of each school day he was dragging me to a local park to look up at the heavens and lose himself in decoding the pictures presented to him by the clouds. And this indeed seemed deeply “different” from his peers who dragged their parents down to the local park to play swings, slides, see-saw and, indeed, play with one another. At this point, I made the additional realisation that though my son’s nephology was his creative venture, it was also a vehicle by which he became an outsider, divorced from the everyday world of his peers. The motif of the cloud-watcher who (a truism it seems to me relevant to all hobbyists) in his fixation becomes something akin to the object he is fascinated by was the spring board into ‘Considering the Autistic Child as a Cloud’. Continue reading

Illustrator interview: Evie Kitt

(c) Evie Kitt

Artwork © Evie Kitt

After talking to Sarah Thomas at the Bodleian for issue nine, we wanted to find an illustrator that would do the piece justice in print. The Ruskin School Of Drawing & Fine Art in Oxford put us in touch with Evie Kitt, a second year Fine Arts student. Head below the fold to read a brief interview with Evie, and to see more of her superb and varied artwork.

Continue reading