I caught up with art director Ashly Hodge, and interviewed him on his collaboration with photogapher Nicky Emmerson and model Ryan Mertz to create the Emmerson Hodge Magazine: The Mertz Issue, which recently graced the London newsstands.
What is your career background and how did you get into art directing?
I come from a graphic design-based background, and fell into art direction whilst designing underwear packaging. I’d previously done a bit of art direction on still life food shoots, I then found myself directing men in just underwear – it was a big difference. I was lucky enough to work alongside a really good creative director who gave me some great advice and tips, which has helped a lot.
How did you meet Nicky Emmerson and Ryan Mertz and how did the Emmerson Hodge magazine come about?
I worked with Nicky for the first time in March, and we got on really well. I loved her attention to detail, enthusiasm and she’s a great photographer. I had her on my list of people I really wanted to work with, so was really pleased when it worked out. Ryan was actually the model on that shoot, and we loved the idea of doing a book on one model, with lots of different stories…more of a self-promotion thing, to begin with. It was Nicky’s idea to actually make the book into a magazine that we could send out to people.
Why was Ryan the perfect model for your first issue?
Well Ryan was the inspiration for the magazine, and we knew we wanted a “real” man for the shoot, a model with a decent body to pull off the ’80s feel to some of the stories we had in mind. From some of the stories we’d seen in his book, we saw that he could pull off different looks, and take on personalities. He’s a great muse!
What are the three stories in the magazine about and where were they shot?
The first story is based on my favourite film American Gigolo. It’s so stylish and cinematic and I thought that it would translate well as stills. We found a great penthouse apartment in London that had a Miami/LA vibe to it. Ryan really took on the persona of Richard Gere on the shoot, flirting with everyone, which I think gave the shoot a great narrative. Retrospective is a homage to Elvis; something that Nicky had been wanting to shoot for a while, and it happened to be bang on trend with what’s going on in menswear for s/s 11. It was shot in sunny Watford in the south east of England of all places! Finally, The Breakfast Club is based on some old early 1980’s tear sheets from a magazine Nicky had. The tear sheets were a location shoot, so we interpreted it into a studio to give our own twist on the story.
Speaking of stories, a little bird told me you like to make them up – care to indulge?
Haha, yes that’s the kid’s stories I make up for my Niece and Nephew! Who told you that!?!?! I’m embarrassed!
What are your plans for Issue Two and when can we expect it?
Issue Two is coming out this summer; I don’t want to give too much away, but it will be a womenswear focused issue, and we will retain the one model concept throughout the magazine…everything else is top secret!
You obviously have an eye for fashion, what were your favourite trends of 2010 and where do you shop most?
My favourite place to shop is most definitely J Crew when I go to the states. I like simple classic items that I can put with something that’s may be on trend to mix things up. My favourite trend in menswear is the whole denim story. I LOVE denim.
Do you have any fashion No-No’s?
Personally I hate seeing turn ups on men when they are too high! Any more than three turns and you are paddling in a pool!
A sneak peak of the images from the mag…
What are you waiting for…go grab yourself a copy, they are being sold in a selection of London book/magazine stores – Artwords Bookshop, 65a Rivigton Street, London, EC2A 3QQ; Compton News, 48 Old Compton Street, W1D 4UA; Good News, 23 Berwick Street, London, W1F 8RB and Charlotte Street News, 66 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 4QE. Or email Ashley Hodge for a copy at: email@example.com