A Conversation with Leigh Patterson


Part I


morning… opportunity

noon… putter

night… glib

fear… the feeling of inevitability; narcissism; prophecies; giving up

love…  casual brilliance; mainstream thrillers; free samples; salted Scandinavian licorice; feeling necessary

extravagance…  Sundays

comedy… honestly the first image in my mind was Ron Swanson

work…  euphemism

our time…  embarrassing

the past… remains a struggle

the future… I am all for it


Part II


most interesting thing in your wallet… This is a receipt from the largest gas station in Texas. Consider it!

Image credit © Leigh Patterson (2012)

in another life, you’d be…  less earnest, more upper body strength

words to live by…  act without expectation

prized possession… one tiny gold ring that belonged to my grandmother

one wish… clarity

Image credit © Julie Pointer (2012)

your most marked characteristic…  I think my glasses even though that is not a true answer to this question.

Top: Kim Hastreiter via StyleLikeU; Tavi Gevinson via marie claire

a dream dinner party would be made up of who (dead or alive)…  Kim Hastreiter, Tavi Gevinson, Amy Poehler, Hillary Clinton and a few real-life friends

favorite shoes…  No. 6 zip ups

top: IKO IKO © Jessica Comingore, 2012; Maryam Nassir Zadeh © The Rio You, 2012

favorite store…  Iko Iko in Los Angeles or MNZ in New York

favorite friend… Michael

favorite place… West Texas at dusk or sitting in spring grass in my parents’ backyard or my brain, when it is feeling full

favorite color… is it cliche to say: gray

Carson McCullers via T-SQUAT

favorite book… The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

favorite website…  I check Arts and Letters Daily to find new things to read. If I want to buy something, I choose Amazon or Totokaelo. Otherwise, The New York Times. This is a complex answer.

a favorite photo that you’ve taken…

Image credit ©Leigh Patterson, 2011

I’m not personally interested in the act of photography. It is a very casual hobby, if that. Sometimes I do take pictures on this very old forgiving film camera, but rarely because I always forget how to load the film. This is a picture (of a picture) of my friend Erika. I don’t have a scanner so I just took a digital picture of a print. It was taken in Kent, Connecticut, last autumn. It is very imperfect, but it is memorable to me because this was a really good day.

Image credit © Meredith Patterson, 1964

This is a photograph of my grandparents on the beach in Port Aransas, Texas, in 1964. It was taken by my mom, age 11.


Part III


Image credit ©synonym, 2012

You just finished the first issue of synonym journal. Tell me about this. Why a journal? Why now?

synonym is a collection of photography, interviews, art, design, style and writing all centered around an overarching theme. It’s a project I conceived with a friend, Amelia Giller, last winter, and we published the first print issue in september.

I think the conversation of defending print is moot; people who value and understand print are the ones who make a choice to consume it. I knew I wanted this project to be printed (and not digital) particularly for the contributors involved. I have a lot more incentive to take a chance on a new project if it is going to manifest in something physical.  

I think more than anything, for me synonym represents the sort of magazine I would want to read. It’s a little rough around the edges, a little experimental, and hopefully feels like it has both a level of depth and a sense of humor. I just want it to feel refreshing, something you want to sit down and spend some time with. 

Image credit ©synonym, 2012

The subject of your first issue is ennui. Talk about this.

The topic was conceived in an ennui-inducing desk job, the kind where you just felt like it was 4:00pm all day long. You know that feeling? It’s the saddest hour. 

The concept of ennui is very old — it is alluded to in all sorts of art, writing, and philosophy (which is oddly refreshing) but I find it to be a relevant conversation for the present, particularly as it relates to feeling constantly stimulated and bombarded with newness. At some point, it all starts to get so boring. 

Talk about the color peach.

Hah! It is haunting me. Peach it seems like the perfect shade to me, not too masculine or feminine, and both neutral and alluring. I am a serious peach user ( / abuser). 

Talk about Susan Sontag’s likes and dislikes.

My dear friend Leah Finnegan, who is a real, professional journalist and is a much more astute observer of things like this than me, found a tiny excerpt of Susan Sontag’s diary that The Times’ republished, called "On licorice, Bach, Jews and penknives." Leah sent it along to me, circled with a bunch of exclamation points, and I became kind of obsessed with the idea of it. What is interesting to me is not the specific things that Sontag liked, but rather the challenge of creating a perfectly specific and personal list.

We reinterpreted this idea for synonym, first in the print issue (actually featuring Leah’s own version of Sontag’s lists). We now have this as a running feature on our site, featuring the lists of various guest contributors that we’re pretty excited about. 

Image credit © Michael Muller, 2012

Describe a day in the life of Leigh. How would it begin? What would you do? Where would you go? What time would you be in bed?

On a weekday, I wake up very early and usually go for a walk in my neighborhood. I have a route that takes me through a nice neighborhood and then along a creekbed; it is a good route but too hilly. 

I come home and make coffee. I start working. I work from home where I have about five different real, paying ‘jobs’: I make websites and also do copywriting and occasional freelance editing and styling stints. 

My productivity fluctuates: I will make good progress on a website and send a lot of emails on a good day and struggle with technology and stare at the wall for a long time on a bad day. 

I usually maintain some sort of working stasis until the early evening. Then, I will go out to have drinks or hang around with friends for the night or I might stay home and make dinner with my boyfriend, Michael.     

Talk about your creative process.

Most of my creative ideas come from casual observations. I feel most inspired when my brain is uninhibited, so while I do spend a lot of time online, I try to generate most of my own projects and ideas from my experiences and memories. I find that when I spend too much time on the internet looking at “inspirational” work I get in a box that I cannot think outside of, especially when it comes to design or styling. My friends are also a constant source of ideas and creative inspiration, as they are all doing very interesting work that is all very different and refreshing to be around.   

Talk about a dream project.

I would love to facilitate a shared studio that housed a bunch of different projects, as well as has a space for events and a shop. One of the best things about synonym has been the ability to collaborate and connect with so many other interesting people; I feel most excited about my own projects when I am surrounded by this sort of creative energy, and I love any long-term, public convergence of these things.