Batman, Hitchcock and Photography With Andrew Boyle
We sat down with Andrew Boyle, one of our Milk Made’s ace photographers. He seems to be obsessed with pretty much everything: comics, photography, other photographers and lighting. We set out to discuss all of that, but basically we talked about him.
Milk Made: Are you obsessed with comics?
Andrew Boyle: Yes.
AB: ‘Cause it’s kind of funny to be working here, amongst all this fashion and photography and to be the one that’s the nerd in the crew… My grandfather was an illustrator and painter, and he painted a lot of James Bond movie posters in Australia — the big ones that would be on the sides of buildings — like you see in New York. He used to be commissioned to paint those in Melbourne. So that carried through to my mum, and to me. I think the first thing I read myself was a Batman comic, at the age of four. Since then, I opened a book up, fell in and never came back out.
MM: What is your favorite comic?
AB: My favorite comics were the Detective Comic series, which is the one Batman started in in 1939. But I’ve probably gravitated towards Mad magazine, cause I taught myself to draw by copying Mad magazine. In Australia, my granddad owned a jazz record store, and there was a shop across the street where I used to go with the $5 he would pay me for my day’s work when I was nine. I would buy myself a batch of American Mad magazines from the ’50s and the ’60s, and I amassed a huge collection of stuff that’s rare now. I have hundreds.
MM: Do you still have them?
MM: Did you bring them to NY?
AB: Some of them. A few key ones, like the one from the month I was born, and other rare ones. Certain key issues. But they are all boxed up in storage in Australia.
MM: Do you like the “world of comics," do you find it is as nerdy in real life as it is depicted in films and in people’s minds?
AB: It’s obsessive… People always go on about how print is dying and so on, but I think comic books, comic art, comic media and graphic novels is the one place where that opinion doesn’t extend to. Digital comics aren’t as popular as print comics, because comic book readers are by definition nerdy, they like to collect, they’re hoarders, because there is value in collecting the book rather than the file. There is something a little less majestic about collecting a PDF, as opposed to a beautiful print book.
MM: What do you think about comic book shops?
AB: It’s a shame that some of them are closing (for whatever reason). St. Mark’s Comics on St. Mark’s Place is by far the best shop in the city. You have to walk down a few steps (it’s just below ground level), so it is a little cavernous and ramshackled. They have an unending supply of back issues in the basement. There is something about going in there — the smell, the texture…
MM: Tell us about this comic book cover you made.
AB: Eddie at Locations (here at Milk Studios) thought it might be fun for me to do a rough and Marvel-esque take on the Milk gorilla mascot that was used a few years back. After promising it for months (years maybe), I thought it would be a cool Christmas present to do a large size comic book cover to commemorate Milk Location Rental moving to Brooklyn. The number #2 references that a #1 large scale comic cover I created and hung in the equipment room from 2008 until last year, depicting any Milk staff that worked in the equipment room through 2007 and 2008.
MM: What else are you obsessed with?
AB: I’m obsessed with art, the technology and the aesthetic of 8-bit and 16-bit video games from the early ’90s and late ’80s. I grew up collecting video game magazines as well; and they’re actually quite interesting to look back on 25 years later and see what we were all getting excited about back them. But there was an aesthetic back then in Japan, which was different to the one in America. Particularly at that time, there was a very aggressive marketing war between Nintendo and Sega, about who was the best. We used to argue about it in school at recess. I have a little bit of interest / obsession about that era. The plastic… It was all big, bulky and futuristic at the time.
MM: What else do you do besides photography for MADE Fashion Week?
AB: I shoot my own jobs. I shoot a lot of music photography, portraiture and fashion — they’re my main areas. The guy who inspired me to be a photographer was Anton Corbijn, a Dutch photographer who was personal photographer to R.E.M., U2, Metallica… He directed the Joy Division movie Control. Without bells and whistles, he creates these incredibly rich images, tones… He shoots natural light. I took a queue from that, and was inspired to shoot in terms of the music photography. I was inspired to shoot, and find my own aesthetic that was like that… A little bit cinematic, iconic. Now that there is image saturation out there online, in print, and Instagrams (and things like that), we gotta work doubly hard to get a great image.
MM: Do you have other inspirations?
AB: David Lynch. I watched Twin Peaks for the first time when I was eleven, and I didn’t have a clue what was going on but I just liked the atmosphere and the weirdness. He has a way of shooting things… And also, Alfred Hitchcock. Since I was a kid, I knew I liked Alfred Hitchcock movies. Rear Window was my favorite movie of all time. There was just a way that he shot things, there’s a thing to him that is difficult to work out, just the way he sets the lens in front of Grace Kelly or something, or the way he frames things… You just know you’re in a Hitchcock film or a Lynch film when you watch it.
MM: What are your future ambitions?
AB: I am also a photo assistant, so sometimes I go for weeks without focusing on my own stuff. But with MADE, I get a chance to get back into my own stuff, and think “Well this works, this doesn’t,” and it gets kind of obsessive… The portraits I’ve been doing, I’ve become a bit obsessed… I am noticing what people are wearing, thinking about lighting on this or that ceiling everywhere I go, even in the subway! Future wise, I would like to take the mobile aesthetic I’ve been doing, and maybe put it in a studio where it can be refined, or do this thing on the fly for places like Coachella, Lollapalooza, Paris Fashion Week, London Fashion Week, and actually do it for various outlets like i-D, Style.com.
MM: What do you think about MADE Fashion Week?
AB: It’s funny because fashion week, regardless to what city it’s in, is untouchable and elite. But what was interesting about MADE is that they throw it open to younger designers that are not as well established in the beginning. Like Public School, go from a presentation in the smallest studio at Milk, to the penthouse, and then to a big runway show with Anna Wintour on the front row; they take risks on people. MADE created an era of being accessible to people. It’s a very enjoyable, accessible, downtown, fun version of what’s been going on uptown. It’s more welcoming, and they are open to interpretations and ideas.
MM: How did you come about working here?
AB: I used to work in the equipment room upstairs for two years. It was my first job here. I moved from Australia in 2007, and I interned for three weeks cause I had nothing else to do, and then they offered me a job shortly after. I left there to become a photo assistant/photographer.
MM: Do you shoot a lot at Milk Studios?
AB: It’s a mix really… Milk NY, Milk LA, the photographer I assist has his own studio. It varies. But I love shooting here obviously, it’s a 5-star hotel.
Photography by Andrew Boyle