Who doesn’t love going Au Naturel?
And who doesn’t love interesting, creative retorts to political and social concerns – especially when it comes to the way society defines and dictates the image of beauty.
Laura Alston is an American photographer currently living and studying in London, England. When she isn’t producing music or enjoying the street-art in the vibrant city of London, she is raising her lens towards the distinction of being a black woman, living in a world where Western art defines beauty standards.
We got in touch to have little chat with the perfect advocate for women, especially in their natural and most striking, state, and hear more about her new art label, The Afrobaby Movement.
What is your name, age and where are you from?
Laura, 20, Tampa, Florida
Can you tell us a little bit about where you live?
I currently call several places home. I was born in Florida, though I have been living in NYC for about 2 and half years and am currently studying in London for 6 months.
With that said; if you happen to be on the West coast of Florida, you definitely don’t want to miss going to Siesta Key beach (imagine baby powder sand). In New York I love to visit the Brooklyn Bridge Park and take the ferry out to Governor’s Island and in London I enjoy going to the neighborhoods of Brixton and Shoreditch.
What do you do with yourself and what would a typical day in the life of Laura look like?
A typical day for me follows a loose schedule along the week. Tuesdays are reserved for classes, on Wednesdays I am usually in art workshops. On Thursdays I take DJ and producing classes, and the rest of the days are a toss up between visiting family & friends, cooking and watching A Different World.
Can you tell us a bit more about your creative process?
My creative process actually starts off very organized because I love to make big (nearly impossible) lists of things to do. When things spark an idea in my head, I write a note on my phone and add it to my list. I have yet to fully complete a list but it has always been keeping me busy.
When it comes to taking photos, do you have more of a controlled style or a spontaneous style?
Very spontaneous. For about 3 years I have been documenting moments of my life through disposable cameras and then waiting to develop them until the end of the year. I prefer feeling the nostalgia that comes from looking at these images, rather than trying to capture a moment 20 times on a digital camera. Therefore I have always had a preference for film cameras.
What type of camera do you shoot on?
I recently just bought an old £10 Olympus Trip AF 30 off of ebay that I have been using to document my European travels. But I also loan a different type of film and digital camera from my University’s loan store each week to try something new.
Are there any other mediums that you want to experiment with in the near future?
I want to venture into sound art and 3D rendering!
What is the strangest thing or thought that has inspired a photo?
For a while I have been thinking a lot about how constantly recording experiences on our phones and social media can limit our perspective on life- so that thought in general has actually inspired me to take less photos and be deliberate in what I am taking a photo of.
When you are not creating or on a shoot, what would we find you doing?
Traveling and visiting family. If I am not making any art then I try to occupy my time being inspired by other people’s art or just relaxing and having a clear mind.
So we have heard about the fabulous Afro Baby Movement, can you tell us about it and what inspired you to start it?
Sure! Afrobaby Movement (www.afrobabymovement.com) is an artistic brand I started in 2013 that focuses on the intersection of natural hair, art and hip-hop. I am drawn to these three things, not only because they were what allowed me to find my individuality, but also because I believe there are many people who also enjoy those topics yet may have never believed that they could intermingle.
Growing up, I received a lot of backlash from peers about wearing my hair natural (i.e. no texturizers or relaxers) and it wasn’t until I started to feel confident in my hair, that I felt comfortable. However through that I noticed there lacked a representation of black women with natural hair in art and media, especially in the South. Thus I started placing images of a woman with an afro everywhere I went and it grew from there (all documented through the IG account @afrobabymovement)
What sorts of themes back your work?
My experience of being a black woman is always significant in my work, whether subtly or blatantly. I am tired at looking at Western Art and being told what the standard of beauty is.
Where do you find inspiration?
Creative direction; especially within music. Nowadays I watch music videos and read magazine spreads, less to hear about the musical artist and more to analyze the creative direction behind them.
Do you have a favourite art book or publication?
There is an amazing publication I read called ‘Contemporary And’ (http://www.contemporaryand.com/), which is a platform for international art from African Perspectives.
How do you remedy a creative block?
What advice can you offer on finding your personal style or aesthetic?
I would say it is important to try new things, go to galleries, watch an independent film, and go to an event where you know no one. It was often in those moments that my biggest inspirations were found.
An exhibition you will never forget?
Beyond Bilng, Voices of Hip Hop in Art Exhibit at the Ringling Museum
Favourite place to view art?
On the street, I love graffiti.
Will Smith and his family.
Most exciting moment in art history?
Internet art circa Windows 95, Yahoo Geocities, Early 2000s fashion
The last song you sang in the shower?
Im not really a sing in the shower type person.
Best or most productive hour of the day?
Past 8pm till like 2am.
Your favourite artist run initiative?
Other budding artists that you love?
Too many great artists I’ve seen on Instagram to name!
Where can we see more of your work and track your progress?