A Conversation with Lisa Eisner: continued...

Dewey Hicks

Damion: Lisa, why did you decide to start Greybull Press with Roman Alonso?

Lisa: Roman I knew from the fashion days. When he was at Barneys I knew him, and then he worked at Isaac Mizrahi. I worked with him because I had done a couple of projects with the company. I mean, Isaac's a good friend, but I had worked on a couple of campaigns. Roman and I worked really well together, and I always thought that if I ever had a partner that he would be the perfect one. He was sort of interested in moving to L.A. And then with Isaac closing, fate just sort of fell into place. He moved to L.A. and we just started it together.

How do you collaborate?

We work on everything completely together as a team. Clearly there are certain things that he's better at than I am. I'm not very good at business. He knows a lot more about that. But we have the same sensibilities. Because we both have just spent so much time in bookstores, buying books for so many years, there were certain things and certain books that weren't out there that we really wanted to have and find. And I guess from working on a lot of these campaigns you would always be searching for a certain book, and you couldn't really find it. So that was another reason. It was like, "God, wouldn't you like to find a book on, you know, the Latin American culture more?" or something like that.

How did you start photography? Did you have any formal training?

Well, from working just as as a stylist I worked with some really great photographers and observed them; but I think it was more like I just kind of jumped in the water. I've only used manual cameras. I got a Leika and a Hasselblad, and I actually got a Rolleiflex at a Sammy Davis, Jr. auction. Those are sort of like the three cameras. And yeah, just sort of taught myself, and experimented and shot a lot and lot of film. I always sort of knew that photography is something that takes a while for you to discover your own style -- or maybe all art is -- and that I was ready to put in the time and the adventure, and excited about the adventure of just finding out about yourself and what you like and what looks good to you and how your eye changes. I had some guidance. Dewey Nicks is a good friend and he's always been there. I have a lot of friends who are sort of in a similar visual field, and we always help each other.

Speaking of Dewey Nicks, I saw his book "Kustom" last week. It's gorgeous! Why was his the first book published by Greybull that you didn't shoot or write?

We've worked so closely. When I was at "Vogue" I sort of hired him for his first job. And just like anything, there are people you know you can work with and that have a similar sensibility. Dewey has always been someone that we've really loved working with. He sort of started with me at the same time, so I know his work and have always been a big admirer of his. When everyone was doing that whole grunge and heroin chic thing, Dewey would always photograph people with life. People that were really happy about life. Lots of energy. I always appreciated that because that's really how I look at life, and hopefully all the Greybull Press books will be this sort of slice into, "Isn't life great and wonderful and weird?"

That's why I loved "Height of Fashion." It shows how fashion makes people feel good and enriches their life. So many books about fashion theory don't take into account how positive it is.

Yeah, or how it sort of affects the masses. I'm so glad you got that because that's exactly what this book was supposed to be about in that everyone has had a moment in fashion -- whether you think you're fashionable or not -- and how good those kind of moments are where you take the time and make the effort, and how good you feel about yourself. You know, when you're feeling good, and you look good and you've got it together, it sort of changes your whole way of looking at life.

It makes life more exciting, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Nothing wrong with that. If you've got the time.