How did you become a fine art photographer?
I watched older cousins draw and paint. I wanted to do what they could, but didn’t feel that I could. Then I discovered photography. I eventually worked with a photographer who did covers for rock albums. It was glamorous and fun and I started playing around with photos.
How do you describe your work?
I would describe my work as abstract and minimalistic. I’m influenced by living in Japan for some time.
You also trained in Paris. How did that influence you?
I studied fashion photography and journalism for a couple of years. I was lucky enough to move to Paris and attend Parson School of Arts and Design. For the first six months, we only looked. We did no photography. It drove some students crazy but I enjoyed it. Learning how to look gave me a great foundation.”
I especially enjoyed photojournalism and street photography. I knew that I wanted to do something more painterly. I tried a lot of tricks in the dark room with chemicals at first.
At a party, I got to hear Henri Cartier Bresson hold court. It was exciting to hear his stories because I love street photography. I also met Bruce Weber, who was really hot because of his Calvin Klein work and the golden retrievers. How they crop make their work so different and always interesting.
How did you get started with Photoshop?
When digital photography emerged, I was in the right place at the right time: LA. My husband was the first one to tell me about this new software, Photoshop. I met a photographer at a party who did a lot of work for magazines and the studios who was taking on a small group of students to learn Photoshop. I talked my way into the group.
Today I use Photoshop and all kinds of plug-ins. The computer screen is my canvas, but I print things out and layer on paint too because I like the tactile pleasure of painting.
You don’t enjoy studio work?
I don’t like traditional. I hate studio work where what you see if what you get …The one wedding I enjoyed shooting was done in black light, on Halloween night, in the sewers of Paris. Now that was a fun couple.
Are you continuing your Graffiti series?
I’m still excited about it. My graffiti series is journalistic. It’s storytelling. I don’t really study it or research it. I like discovering it on my own. I’ve shot a lot in Asia and America but now I want to focus on Europe.
I find it all over – on walls, overpasses, bridges. I photograph it and then I make it my own piece of work by adding elements, taking things away, changing color, playing with texture. I turn it into something entirely new.
I love the way that graffiti is always changing. It’s a kind of street art that is very immediate and compelling.
I hope to explore graffiti in more countries. I especially want to get to Germany to see the club posters and bills on the street. I think that gives you a fascinating cultural insight.
You’ve lived and worked in Japan and Singapore. How is Singapore different from Japan?
In Singapore, you see a lot of Romero Britto. His influence is everywhere. There is a lot of American and French art. What grabs me is the signage: “You can’t ride your bike here. You can’t walk your dog here.” There is a control that spills over to art. Wall art has to be pre-approved and monitored so it is executed according to the permit. I like to find the unacceptable art – the unapproved storytelling on a wall or under a bridge.
Are you a collector?
My husband loves Dali. We have a few Calders and small Miros. We have a Vargas portrait. We started collecting California artists Richard Mann and Richard Diebencorn when they were young and their work was cheap! We also have some work by optic and kinetic artist Yaacov Agam.
You’ve photographed street fashion in Japan. Did that influence your personal style?
I used to be a school psychologist. Before Madonna – long before Gaga – I wore the most bizarre costumes to work every day. These tough gang kids from California would keep coming to school just to see what I would wear. They would bet on when I would repeat an outfit. I never did. It was a strategy on my part. It helped them engage and approach me. Now I’m not making fashion statements. It’s my art that stands out.