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Friday, 27 September 2013

GarconJon meets...Luke Winter - GQ x GAP

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There's a lot going on behind Luke Winter's piercing blue eyes. Having spent over a year on the road, experiencing the world, he's amassed a number of stories. I asked him to share a couple as we shot around the Glasgow School of Art, our old stomping ground. Luke is wearing a Bespoken Plaid Shirt Jacket. See the full GQ x GAP collection at

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Luke Winter, Photographer & Writer

Where did you grow up and where do you live now? I grew up in the countryside and currently I'm trying to figure out where it is I want to live.

What's your star sign? Gemini.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Something to do with Lego.

You express yourself in multiple mediums - photography, music, writing. Do you have a favourite? Photos. They lock you to the rhythm of the present and they're hardest to make. No rewrites.

As a photographer myself, I love to know technicians - what do you prefer to shoot with? Metal bodied cameras and prime lenses. They're hardier, which is important when you drop them.

Is there an image you've taken with this camera that you can't get out of your head? The images that stick are the ones that got away. It's a slippery business with moments by and by always. I'd say one stickler at the minute would be this photo of rocks on the American Pacific coast last Fall, and it's a stickler because its slightly off. I didn't nail it. BUT the circumstances which led me to the beach where I made the image, and then lead me on down that coast were so incredible, want the image to be better, I want it to mean more to people. That's a constant struggle, being more in love with life than your technical abilities allow you to tell.

There's a good story behind the rock image. One day hitchhiking, a self made millionaire ex-traveller picks me up quoting Ginsberg at me, takes me to this mansion him and his buddies are renting - one is an ex-nuclear sub engineer, aged 30, now concentrating on building a machine to revolutionise energy production. They needed garlic, which the dude I'd stayed with the night before had given me to trade on the road. So these guys make bruschetta and a steak dinner whilst I'm sent bug eyed to go see the beach all wrapped in fog. I experience the Pacific Ocean for the first time, where I made this image of the rocks then have dinner with wine and bootloads of absinthe and half an hour later I'm warm-glad drunk in the car of another dude who drives me down route 101 onto yet another incredible story. The photo you see is just of some rocks; some slightly ill-composed rocks at that.

Who do you think is the most underrated photographer right now? Man, so many kids are shooting so much ill, in so many ways. I've no idea. All of them deserve to be doing what it is they want. There was an exhibition in New York on August 2nd 2013 called 'Re-blog' curated by Max Marshall and Paul Paper. If you look that up, that's a fairly comprehensive list of kids killing it currently.

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I met you through clubbing and Subcity Radio. How important is music to you? What music are you listening to right now? The great thing about Subcity, and then Vitamins afterwards, was getting to hang around kids whose passion for music far eclipsed mine. When I was a kid blasting Greenday, they were listening to bands I still haven't appreciated. My passion was creating the kind of parties I dreamed of going to. So that's what we started at Subcity then at Vitamins, bringing to life nights that people would be telling stories about for years after.

Do you have a favourite record or one you come back to time and again? There's an English guy called Johnny Flynn, whose songwriting is incredible. I've listened to his first album for years without it getting tired. Before I'm going into a busy street to shoot I'll blast 'Rhythm is a Dancer' and tan a few coffees. When I'm editing I'll play a lot of Autechre. Different records for different rituals.

Which book has influenced your life more than any other? On The Road: it showed me where our 20th century counter culture began and taught me how the cult of the everyday had been celebrated throughout history. Leading back to Joyce, Proust, spontaneity's importance to world religions. And it gave me the confidence to begin hitchhiking.

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What do you think Glasgow's greatest strengths are? Scarcity of vacuousness is one of that beautiful city's main strengths. Kids encourage each other to be interested and create things. You can't be disingenuous, you can't be a fanny, you can be as eccentric as you like and follow what you love and you can turn up wearing a mouldy mattress to a club and get straight in. Tenements, compactness, saturated in life. Incredible buildings. Humor. Always.

Favourite Glasgow hang outs? Yoker boat yard is a recent favourite. All the parks. Walking round the city centre gawping at some of Europe's finest most monied buildings crumbling above unnoticed. The abandoned train tunnel systems too.

You've been travelling a lot recently, which location inspired you the most? Spain was pretty crazy. Temperature, food, pace of life, sharp light. Paris. Makes London look like an embarrassingly over-anxious older-uncle.

What’s an average day like for you? Read, write, walk, shoot, walk, shoot, cook, eat, read, write, edit.

How would you explain your personal style? Clothes you can sleep in.

Give me 5 words to describe you...Obtuse.

As the GAP Collection is all about new American designers, what do you think is great about American design? Art Deco, Chrysler Building, Film Noir, Eugene Smith, 70s colour photogs, Eggleston, Stephen Shore et al, Tom Wesselmann.

Why is it important to support new design talent? To avoid the spurious notion that everyone must fill their lives labouring at things they neither enjoy nor believe in, and to celebrate those that nurture the imagination.

What's on the horizon for Mr Winter? I'm looking for copywriting work and exciting projects to get involved with in London or beyond.

Finally, leave us with some words of wisdom... Scare yourself, do, overcome. A lot of those fears aren't rational, and the most beautiful lives are achieved when people are not afraid, to be themselves, to allow other people to be themselves, not to assume the worst, not crippled by terrors of something hiding the bed. The unremitting kindness of other humans astonishes me. I wonder why we're all so afraid of each other and eager to draw petty social lines. The most beautiful things in life come from communities helping each other, loving each other. Two quotes I'm carrying round with me at the minute:

"The truth about the world, he said, is that anything is possible. Had you not seen it all from birth and thereby bled it of its strangeness it would appear to you for what it is, a hat trick in a medicine show, a fevered dream …" Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian.

"It’s hard to maintain, the softness. It’s an effort [...] Don’t be afraid to be confused. Try to remain permanently confused. Anything is possible. Stay open, forever, so open it hurts, and then open up some more, until the day you die, world without end, amen." George Saunders

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