Amandine Alessandra is a talented photographer and graphic designer and runs the blog The Interior Photographer. Her portraits of individuals are becoming increasingly renown in the design world as she builds a strong portrait collection of London’s design community. Amandine also runs an independent publishing house Tower Block Books, which published the successful The Big Letter Hunt – a children’s book about hidden letters found on the buildings and landscape of East London. She balances her photography and publishing businesses with being a joyful urban mother to Jeanne, 2 and lives with her French partner, Jerome, in Bethnal Green, London.
Amandine, we are big fans of your creative work at Ilado. Can you tell us how you became a graphic designer and photographer?
AA – I studied fine arts in France, and started working as a professional photographer while studying for an MA of Graphic Design in London.
Once I graduated I just kept doing both, developing 2 identities, 2 businesses and 2 websites. Although both practices somehow feed each other, I find it easier to keep them separated.
Your portraits are honest and beautiful. They are gathering quite a following! How does it work, how do you choose your subjects, or do they choose you?
AA – I got the idea of starting this series of portraits while shooting some amazing designers projects during the London Design Festival last year.
I was trying to think of a way to approach these designers and ask them about how they work. Then I realised that I didn’t have to wait for interesting designers to contact me: I could get in touch myself and offer them a portrait.
I love the chemistry that can happen when you make a portrait, the fact that the sitter and I both take some time off to give something to each other, and that we spontaneously get talking about how they got that specific idea, or simply about their background, around a cup of coffee and in a very relaxed way. I then ask each sitter to recommend the next, which is a nice way to move across social circles and get to meet new people.
When you become a mother you don’t go out in the same way as before and it can be harder to meet new faces, so this platform is just perfect for me to get involved with people whose work I love.
Your daughter Jeanne is 2 which is a special time for learning about creativity, how do you encourage this as part of her activities and play?
AA – Jeanne always has her pencil box at hand, and as soon as she could hold a pen we gave her huge sketchbooks, which were pretty much as big as her, on which she would lay and draw. She also has a small journalist notepad and a pen for when we got out. We draw a lot together; I get a lot of requests for tortoises with glasses at the moment.
Her play dough kit is also always at reach and this is her other main activity of the moment. She has a small box with a collection of random objects she uses to emboss and imprint: shells, lego, marmite jar tops etc.
How wonderful to have published a children’s book! What was your inspiration for this?
AA – The original idea for the book actually came from Rute Nieto Ferreira, another inspiring mum and my partner in the Tower Block Book Publishing adventure. She was walking along the Regent’s canal with her 2 year old twin daughters when they spotted a big M in a warehouse roof.
That’s how it all started. Knowing that I had done quite a bit of work on playful typography and that I was myself quite seriously obsessed with letterforms, she told me about their special game and we took it from there.
Lastly, for a day out with your daughter where would you recommend in London for other joyful urban mothers?
AA – We love going to Stepney City Farm. It has its own little farmers market on Saturdays, a nice café (where else can you eat rösti in London?), and of course animals that you can feed and run after.
On a hot summer day we go to the secret paddling pool in London Fields, behind the lido. We can have a picnic under the trees and splash in the shallow pool. If we still feel like a treat after the picnic, the E5 Bakery (Mentmore Terrace, London E8 3PH) is a favorite to share a large slice of out-of-the-oven-hot sourdough bread and homemade jam on the spot, while spying on the bakers working in the open plan workshop.
If we are feeling a bit adventurous and in need for a change of scenery, we go to Richmond Park, there are so many different landscapes there and it feels far away from the city. It’s a magic place where you can observe deers and green parrots in the forest or in a kind of savannah, and look for bluebells at springtime.
> Discover Amandine Alessandra’s website