Q&A with Alice Bertay:
Tell me a little bit about yourself, who you are, and where you are from.
I am a Parisian. Late ’70s early ’80s baby. I grew up in Paris in Pigalle, which at the time had a certain reputation, but has become a super hip neighborhood in the last couple years. Especially since places like Hotel Amour, that Andre from Le Baron opened, have appeared.
Somehow I never fully connected to the energy in Paris. It was always like a bad love story… I love her, she is stunning but not kind. She is better from a distance.
I studied and worked as an actress in my teenage years. I came to New York in 1996 on a “coup de tete”, very impetuously, and I was accepted after auditioning at the Stella Adler conservatory of acting.
Coming to New York was such a relief and breath of fresh air. If I had thought too much about moving I probably would not have done it. My move and decision was very spontaneous and I am so thankful that it happened. Sometimes its good not to overthink things – living in the moment is ultimately rewarding and you should trust your instincts.
New York has constantly challenged me, but allowed me to discover and reinvent myself.
When and why did you decide to start Kid-In?
I started Kid-In in 2012. It was a reaction to seeing both myself and my friends losing their creativity and joy in their art because of working purely for commercial reasons. I wanted to give us an outlet for real creativity and a platform to work together and express ourselves.
Please explain what your job as Creative Director of Kid-In Magazine entails.
The magazine is based around the subject of childhood, but its is not a magazine for children, or just aimed at parents. We take a different approach on the idea of childhood, whether having children or children themselves. It is about art, fashion, culture and literature.
I come from a set design, then fashion stylist background. I still style for fashion and films, and for the magazine.
From acting I learned how to use the details and how to tell stories. I learned how to create characters and form a narrative using everything from wardrobe, set, action.
The magazine launched in 2012, after my son was born. I found myself surrounded by parents who were also artists, designers, musicians, photographers, writers… all of whom were coming to terms with a new incredibly important part of their life, and exploring how that changed them and influenced them.
Rather than just a magazine, we are an Art Collective, a platform for collaboration between artists pushing for freedom of expression. As a fashion stylist for many years, I came to the realization that both for me and many of my friends working in creative fields, that the initial reason that we were drawn to these careers – stylists, photographers, filmmakers or the like – had started to disappear by just working commercially. The magazine was created to be an outlet for pure creativity. There is no advertising, and no revenue. It is self-financed, and supported by myself and the long list of amazing collaborators.
The magazine could not exist without the incredible touch and writing of my fabulous friend and partner at the magazine Larissa Zaharuk, who manages the interview section. We are both very different personalities with very different views on many subjects, but somehow it works, and our energy together creates this adventure.
What other creative things are you doing?
I am studying alternative medicine – homeopathy…. It has definitely has changed my perception on a lot of subjects. Homeopathy is really under appreciated and denigrated because of the lack of information about it and pressures from the pharmaceutical industry. It was actually created by an academic – Hahnemann – in the 1900s.
Homeopathy is an energy medicine that focuses on treating the person, and not the disease, and looks at how a disease affects each person in a unique way. If you rethink in those terms, this concept can apply on many other levels and spectrums in your life.
How did you get to where you are today?
Love and support from my friends, family and husband for sure. It is a big long journey that feels like it has just started.
What has been your creative path?
I’ve done a lot of things! Its always been hard for me to be pigeonholed or trapped in solely doing one thing. I’ve been an actress, a singer, an assistant to directors, a stylist, a set designer, a creative director and studying alternative medicine… Everything has taught me something important, and my life has been a search for the best way to express myself in the truest and least constraining way I can. I like to reinvent myself, it’s part of my personality. I like new challenges.
How did you figure out what you wanted to do?
It’s been a truly organic process. As with moving to New York, my best decisions, in hindsight, have been the ones I have made instinctually. Being true to myself has always worked for me. With that said I have been so lucky to have been surrounded by people who have inspired and taught me. One of my main inspirations has always been my mother, an incredibly strong woman who went from a very simple background to becoming a major figure in advertising in the 80s. She ran a business, raised a family and fostered creativity in all around her.
How did you learn to do what you do?
I have always learned by doing. Other ways are right for other people but for me, I have to get my hands dirty and jump into something. Often when you don’t know that you can not do something, you find out in fact you can. When I started styling, all I knew was that people liked my taste and trusted my ideas. I worked with great talents that taught me the craft, but all the essential parts were there from the start. Its been the same with every part of my life – If you believe in yourself you can do amazing things.
What are you currently working on?
Currently we are in post production for a new film for Kid-In, directed by Peter Sluszka and shot by Ivan Abel, two great friends and incredible artists (we all met on the first music video for Regina Spektor “US” that I was doing the styling for at the time, directed by our friend and amazing director Adria Petty). This is the second film we are making together for Kid-In, and a continuation with some collaborators – again the music is by Aaron Alden at Robot Repair, and with new collaborators – the choreography for this film is by the amazingly talented megha barnabas. The first film, “Buttonhole” had a great reception, and we are excited for this one.
Describe your style. Is your personal style different from your professional style?
I love practical, elegant that can be day or night, that can be worn in different ways depending on the mood and adapt to different situations. Good fabric is essential. I could probably only wear one designer – Leana Zuniga’s label Electric Feathers. My husband tells me I always look like a character from a Alejandro Jodorowsky film.
What do you love about working on the magazine?
I love the freedom I have to improvise. The time I spend brainstorming about ideas and concepts with my collaborators, knowing that we can push our limits as artists. Meeting new people through the magazine and creating connections.
Anything unexpected about the work you do? Maybe something you didn’t know before you started on this path?
It is all unexpected – the beauty of where I am right now is that everything is possible.
Where do you get inspiration?
I get my inspirations mostly by not looking at magazines or the internet. I don’t want to be influenced by what someone else has already decided is interesting or relevant. I do believe that there is a collective unconscious and that certain things are relevant to all of us at the same times. Sometimes I see similar work happening from different places across the world, but without copying or plagiarism, you can’t get angry about it. It’s just a creative response to something that everyone is feeling as a collective.
I love collaborating and getting deep into a body of work, almost studying the work of people who inspire me, and inspiring them to want to be part of the magazine. I am constantly thinking about a concept that would excite and challenge them either because they never worked with children, or worked too much with children, or even dislike children! Great art or work can come from aversion and discomfort.
The theme of childhood is so vast and so universal that I am really OK if we get a bit out of subject. The magazine can have a surreal feel to it at moments. Everything is possible and can be done when you get a bunch of talented and excited people with the right energy and with the only objective being to make art together.
To balance lifestyle with my creative ideas. So there is no distinction between life and art.
What is your dream project?
Co-directing a scifi movie with my fabulous husband Alan Bibby.
How do you define success? What has helped you to become successful?
I actually dislike that word ‘success’ and I believe that the idea of success in our society is destructive to humankind in general. It’s just all about ego.
I really don’t think we should be using that terminology anymore. I believe that feeling love , loving and being able to appreciate one each other with respect and communicating knowledge is a massive achievement in one’s life. Everything else is just filler.
Any advice for someone interested in following in your chosen path and learning to do what you do?
I don’t like to give advice! You have to go through your own path. I would only say you must believe enough, trust yourself and don’t surround yourself with people that tell you any different. This is something that you never stop working on.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
There is no past, there is no future, there is only now.