Artist, Creative Director. Filmmaker. Model. Graphic Designer. Publisher. Style Icon. She’s not quite there yet, but it’s only a matter of time before the creative force known as Amy Hood will not only have NYC lying at her feet, but basically the whole world. Whatever project she sinks her teeth into - and there are many these days - you can be sure that the result will be an unapologetic one, as it’s pushing the envelope of how creative women are still perceived in our society.
By the end of last year, Hood’s solo-exhibition “Cauchemar“, showcasing a collection of large scale hand-carved linoleum prints, was launched to great success at New York’s Okay Space Gallery. This ten part series of reliefs told a lot about where the mind of Jonathan Leder’s former muse is at creatively - a retro-tainted soul trapped in modern culture. A description that very much suits the first two publications of her publishing house Viscous LTD. as well as the video she just recently directed for Afghan Whigs’ latest single “Oriole“. She took a break from her busy schedule for a quick chat with Lodown in late May.
Amy, last year you opened a new chapter with Viscous LTD“... does that mean you’re no longer part of Imperial Publishing? Did you and Jonathan separate?
Indeed, I am no longer associated with Imperial, Jonathan and I are creatively and personally separated, and so Viscous Ltd is my very own creative endeavor.
Could you please explain what Viscous LTD is all about... it doesn’t seem to be about publishing books only, right?
Viscous LTD is essentially just a physical manifestation of whatever it is I feel like doing creatively... the list of which is pretty extensive. I love graphic design, art, cinema, nostalgia, darkness, and intellectualism, so that’s the universe the ideas are derived from. They often materialize in the form of books and publishing because they’re collectible, practical, charming and in this modern technology-saturated culture, they exist tangibly in the real world.
Speaking of which: you model, you act, you’re behind the camera as well, you do art-direction and (graphic) design, and last year you had your first solo-show which focused on your hand-carved linoleum block prints... is there one artistic expression you’d favor over others?
Yes, you know, I guess I’m sort of a renaissance woman, multifaceted, having found a number of ways of communication and expression, doing, learning and creating what I need to in order to best achieve this vision inside. It’s a bit like being possessed I suppose... once the thought has been conceived and with a rapid succession of synapses, it finds its own way into existence however it’s able to.
Just recently you directed the video for Afghan Whigs’ latest single “Oriole“... how did this come together? Is filmmaking something you’d love to sink your teeth into in the very near future more elaborately... or is it just too frustrating since they’re so many people involved in the process?
Greg had reached out to me a few months after the discovery of my work and first book “Cult Classic“. He called me, really seeing the potential of using the concept as the video of his new release “Oriole“, an idea I had wanted to do previously so it was the perfect collaborative opportunity to expand exploration within the cult realm... and to give a sexy narrative to the song. So I sent him a pitch and he was enthusiastic about it and supportive of the details throughout. Et Voila! I would just love to do more directing and really enjoy the complex medium of filmmaking! There are a couple ideas and dreams I’ve had recently that would be incredible to execute should the right opportunity present itself… in fact, one in particular would make for a pretty phenomenal Gucci campaign. ;)
Did you already model when you were still living in Florida? And when did you realize that you actually feel very comfortable posing nude?
No, I didn’t really model until I moved to NYC... and even then not really until I met my ex lover and partner. Prior to meeting him I had never posed nude before and we were lovers, together for years, and we shared an aesthetic... so I was comfortable. I trusted him to be flattering at least, and he was, it’s one of his skills, really, to not take unflattering photos. You’d think this would be an obvious trait for a photographer to have, but it’s not really, to ensure the subject is posed in a way that makes all of their limbs and breasts and tummy and facial expression and the way the clothing is sitting. Things need to look great, and they don’t blink and all of the variables are stylish. Shooting on film helps but regardless, the outtakes are just as great as the selections for the most part. So I trusted his skill and that his vision was aligned with my own, and it was sexy as a process to me. We were also together for a long time... what began as a rather Pythmalion type of relationship ended up as the creative duo and business partnership as I began to feel myself out more and more. Really I don’t model nude very often at all... and typically exclusively for my own work. I can count on one hand people I’ve shot with naked. For the most part, I actually don’t care to be photographed at all. My sense of imagery is quite specific and I'll usually only model for photographers, or collaborate with folks in general, whose vision aesthetically harmonizes with mine and/or whose lens I don’t mind seeing myself through.
In which way did life change for you after you’ve moved to NYC... and in which way did it change after January 20, 2017
NYC is unique from anywhere, I had been here a number of times and lived here very briefly before moving to Woodstock but not for as long and it wasn't the same game. New York is a hard place to live , there's not much time to think, to contemplate, to breathe and be in nature, something I find necessary. It's not a very humane way to live, all the concrete and the noise and people all in each other's space on top of each other, good food is often expensive, exercise is inconvenient and it's a stressful place to be. But it forces you to move faster, work harder, and can be a catalytic environment, there are amazing people and opportunities one comes across and a rapid pace of life that doesn't exist almost anywhere in the world and that's what makes it all happen.
Speaking of catalysts, The Women’s March was a really incredible experience! The gals and I drove down from angsty NYC, the first exposure to the march we had was stopping at the busy rest stop in Jersey on the way down... there were so many different women of different ethnicities, ages and walks of life, and so much estrogen, it was a beautiful, powerful thing, women everywhere, we were taking over! And the men that were there were just elated.
We arrived enthusiastic (and stylish, of course). Women who’ve had their protest signs for 40 years proudly bringing them back out with their granddaughters. Everyone telling each other how beautiful they are… the immense power that women have and especially in number, one realizes why certain men have been trying to oppress us for thousands of years, because when women band together we can be more complex, intelligent, beautiful multi-tasking and versatilely skilled, more nurturing, accepting, human, diverse, caring and capable, than most men could ever be. It is so powerful... and since that, unity and support and power still resonates with me.
Your style - your personal one as well as what’s reflected through your publications - exhibits lots of references to (sub)cultures and imagery from the heydays of film noir. What do you find the most inspiring thing about these times... I guess it’s not only about aesthetics, right?
It’s about aesthetics, of course, that’s my visual preference, that’s what I like to look at. But also in previous decades, creatives tended to take more time to contemplate the work, the goal was less current trend and more longevity... so it was better developed, executed, and produced - a vein of mentality I keep in mind when creating. The pace of life wasn’t as rapid, or influenced by technology and mass production wasn’t as prevalent or preferred even, combined with the use of colors, shape, composition, styling, and font - it’s more well done overall and to a greater extent seemed like significantly more genuine periods for humanity as well.
So what’s next for you?
Truth be told, while being quite the cynic and not a particularly spiritual person, I can be very superstitious about my ideas and work. Sooo… you’ll just have to stay tuned, boys and gals!