The Meaning of Life in 10 Questions… Dalia Nassimi, Wired UK

There are some of truly creative people in this industry. Let’s face it, you’ve got to be constantly concepting, developing, and executing or you get left in the dust. I’m fortunate to work with some really dynamic and inspiring people, ranging from art directors, to producers, to creative directors, photo editors, art buyers, and print producers. Instead of questions about email blasts, printed promos, and portfolio reviews, I think that it’s time that I put some of them on the spot to show us their meaning of Life. “The meaning of Life” may be a little far flung to answer in only ten questions, but hopefully these interviews will serve to distill some of the inspired and intellectual energy of the creatives that we work with.

When a photo editor assigns you to photograph a pair of fungus-growing Eco-pioneers, you might be skeptical about what the next assignment for them will be. Thankfully, that next project for Wired UK‘s Dalia Nassimi led us to meet on a rooftop in lower manhattan to shoot the founder of one of the biggest log sites on the internet. We’re still crossing our fingers for a trip to London, but I’m sure it’ll happen soon. She’s a super-creative Brit with a keen eye for photography and deep thoughts for our ten questions – I’ll let Dalia tell the rest…

1. Name one actor in one movie to represent you as a teenager?

Pippi Longstocking comes to mind. I’d love to say I was just as feisty and cheeky as the unconventional Swedish red head daughter of a pirate. But truth is, I was more like her best friend Annika. Always up for the adventure and the laughs, but really actually quite shy.

2. What is your preferred vehicle or mode of transportation?

Private jet. A girl can dream, can’t she?

(Our cover of David Karp for Wired UK)

3. What is your favorite beverage for creative inspiration?

I’m known for my eight cups of chamomile tea a day. And for kicks… Fennel tea.

4. Name your favorite band/singer and album?

Album of 2012 so far, hands down, has been by Alabama Shakes. Such an amazing look on stage. The band has a fabulous understated presence with the lead singer that completely freshens up the look of a rock and roll band.

(Dalia behind the scenes on the streets of Manhattan)

5. How did you get where you are today?

I think the key to excelling in your career is to really love what you do. If you want to succeed in magazines, there is no way around putting in the hours and being super persistent and dedicated. It’s not always going to be a walk in the park, and let’s face it, we aren’t going to be bringing home a paycheck like bankers do. But ultimately when you are passionate about what you do, the journey is really exciting and rewarding. I have quite literally been living and breathing photography for the past 11 years. I can’t get enough.

6. Where do you source your inspiration?

Honestly? Absolutely everywhere. Exhibitions, books, magazines and blogs are a daily necessity. Working at WIRED has also turned me into a huge design vulture. I was just at the Salone di Mobile in Milan, actually. An eye-opening experience, just an overload of mind boggling innovations and beautiful design. And speaking of inspiring design, I recently read about Olafur Eliasson’s latest installation in Denmark, called Rainbow Panorama. Just stunning. He is hands-down my favourite installation artist at present. I am totally itching to plan a trip to Aarhus, to walk around that construction and see how the light and colours come together and affect the experience. Abstract as it sounds, all of these kinds of things wind up informing my work.

(The feature image from that shoot – David Karp looking out on NYC)

7. What is your philosophy on creating?

WIRED has a very particular design philosophy, a unique aesthetic. The photography is super punchy and conceptual, the colours highly saturated and the contrast pushed. We love our images to be really striking, and don’t shy away from pushing the envelope. Sounds very prescribed, but within this framework, we actually have a tremendous amount of creative freedom, which is easily the best part of the job here. I have a tendency to get bored easily, so the fact that I can just change things up all the time suits me perfectly. I am no friend of routine and definitely cannot just let things get comfortable or repetitive. Of course I do have my regular go-to photographers, like all photo editors do, that I know fully well will deliver every time. But I am also constantly on the lookout for fresh talent and energy. It keeps the job exciting and me on my toes. Plus, it keeps the magazine looking fresh and exciting. Not too formulaic. And in addition to that, there’s something to be said about giving new young talent a good go.

8. Describe a defining moment in your career that has led you to where you are today?

I’ve been very lucky to have worked in Hamburg and New York, prior to coming to London, and the experiences have definitely defined me and my method of working. My familiarity with the various cultures and the terrain itself now proves invaluable when commissioning work in the US and in Germany – which happens regularly – particularly given that we cannot fly out to all of our shoots, and therefore need to be extra diligent in our pre-production. Another by-product of having traveled extensively is that I now have a very strong Rolodex filled with brilliant photographers internationally, which is priceless for us in the photo department.

(Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre of Ecovative – shot for wired UK)

 9. Name one photographer that you’d love to work with?

As I have already mentioned before, the terrific thing about my job at WIRED is that I get to commission photographers that are totally up my alley all the time. The super creative and conceptual kind. The really can-do ones that can think out of the box, work utter magic with lighting, and infuse some humour into their work. But someone I have always admired, and not yet managed to work with is Thomas Demand. His crazy elaborate fabrications, so meticulously crafted from cardboard and paper, boggle my mind. Those images of the Oval Office were just off the hook. Even his latest series, the Dailies… So so cool. What an artist. Would be amazing if I could work with him at some point.

(Another shot of Eben and Gavin for Wired)

 10. If the world is ending in 2012, how will you change your life plan?

Life plan? No more plans. No more lists. I need to visit Iceland, go on a safari in Tanzania, trek through Patagonia, and explore Croatia. I’ve jumped out of a plane already, so a trip to space with Virgin Galactic would be a must!

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