Behind the Scenes: Capturing a Day in the Creative Life

For his Culture 2022 issue, “The Artist’s Way”, T photographed and interviewed 34 artists from various disciplines to provide insight in...


For his Culture 2022 issue, “The Artist’s Way”, T photographed and interviewed 34 artists from various disciplines to provide insight into how creative people live and work. Rather than focusing on grand gestures, the idea was instead to highlight the seemingly mundane activities that some of our greatest artists incorporate into their creative processes – or pursue in order to let their minds go blank and drift. “I told our photographers that this issue was about intimate, internal moments,” says Nadia Vellam, T’s photo and video director. “I wanted the portraits to be cinematic and voyeuristic, and to focus on someone ‘one in a moment of self-expression or contemplation.’ Collectively, the images open windows into the daily routines of the subjects: the choreographer Raja Plume Kelly waiting for the F train, concept artist Rirkrit Tiravanija kitchen pad thai and actor Ethan Hawke walking his dogs (“They’ve been incredibly well behaved,” notes Vellam).

“People were thrilled to share that intimate side of themselves,” says Carter Love, photography editor at T. He points to the actress Katerina Tannenbaumwho recently appeared as Carrie Bradshaw’s bohemian neighbor in the ‘Sex and the City’ revival”And just like that…” and is seen in this number in a dance studio. “She seemed thrilled to be able to show people something they didn’t know about her,” Love says.

The logistics of running a problem with so many moving parts are complicated under the best of circumstances, and have been even more so during an ever-changing pandemic. Filming and interviews began in the summer of 2021 and continued as Omicron levels increased across the United States during the winter months. The usual precautions – distribution of PCR tests to subjects, presence of medical personnel on site – were all in place, but everyone was “much more relaxed” than they had been at any other time in the last two years of Covid-19, says Amour. Indeed, there was something heartwarming in the fact that the biggest production challenges did not involve the pandemic but rather something even more difficult to predict or control: the weather. Filming projects with the author Louise Erdrich (who appears on one of this issue’s six covers, strolling daily through her bookstore in Minneapolis) was upset after a major snowstorm hit the Midwest. Filming with Kelly in New York also had to be postponed due to snow.

Still, there was an undeniable feeling of having turned a corner. Kelly discusses in his interview the inspiration he draws from random people he sees on the subway in New York, their movements and the daily vitality of the city – the kind of things he’s been missing for the past few years. , but is excited to start observing again. A shoot with the playwright (and former editor of T) Mona Mansour reunited her with the cast of her play”The Wandering Trilogy,” which opens this month, for the first time since shelter-in-place orders halted production in 2020. Someone brought booze, and everyone caught up and shared stories.

It’s impossible to say what the future holds for all of us, but watching little moments like these – the type typically absent from most magazine profiles – T was able to capture, in remarkable detail, what is to live as an artist today. , and the resilience that people have had to show to continue their work in a time of unprecedented upheaval.

“All of our daily habits have changed immeasurably over the past two years,” says Kurt Soller, reporting director at T who edited many of the stories for this issue. “But reading all these different practices, hobbies, and routines together, you get the sense that there’s not just one way to be an artist – or even to be a more creative person: just various human attempts to make their way through life and through work, regardless of outward appearance.

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