Every month Beautiful Bizarre Magazine chooses one of our favourite creatives to TAKE OVER social media for the day. This month, we chose television writer and producer Sera Gamble to share with us the artists who have inspired her. Just in case you missed it, below we present the full TAKE OVER.
Sera Gamble // Hi! Sera Gamble here. I’m a writer, collector of ideas, dog person, creator of worlds, dancer, connoisseur of the weird, and appreciator of art. I co-created the shows The Magicians and You. I gravitate toward the fantastical, the complex, the darkly hilarious, the horrific, and the mythic made real. Monsters are my favorite way to tell stories about human beings.
When I’m in the conceptual stage of a new project, I like to expose myself to a deluge of inspiration. That’s how I found Beautiful Bizarre Magazine. When I get stuck, I go stare at art for a while. It helps. The Beautiful Bizarre Magazine editors have generously invited me to be Curator For A Day, so I am taking over their page to share some of the artists I love the most. Hope you enjoy! Here we go.
The Monsters of Guillermo Del Toro// I guarantee that everyone who works with me predicted his name would appear first. The Magicians is basically a love letter to Pan’s Labyrinth. His philosophy of using the fantastical as a tool to illuminate the human resonates so deeply for me and is a guiding principle in making the show. (Google his interviews, especially if you’re surrounded by folks who try to make you feel like fantasy and horror are lesser forms of storytelling. You can just smile and say, “Well, for me, it’s not a stepping stone. It’s a cathedral,” and go on about your rich, deep, satisfying inner life.) Whenever we build a creature, I refer everyone to his films. His monsters are beautiful, terrifying, crafted from a place of psychological truth, and follow a strict internal logic that makes them so believable. The master.
Alexander McQueen and Rick Owens// Here are two fashion designers that greatly influence The Magicians. Magali Guidasci, our costume designer, and I reference McQueen all the time—so much of his work relates to fairy tales and horror, and the way he and his incredible successor, Sarah Burton, tailor clothing for women conveys an independent, royal strength that’s relevant on a show where a woman is High King. Rick Owens plays with human and alien body shapes and rides the line between beautiful and eerie —I brought his designs up when we were creating our fairies.
“Kali Corvus”- Scott Radke// I found Scott’s work on Instagram and was so compelled by his use of symbols and the expressive faces of his creations. His work has a lot to say about archetypally feminine power. I sent him a note complimenting his work and asked if he would make a piece for me. We had great conversations diving into what the piece would “be about.” Then this giant box arrived and holy shit, right?
“Untitled” – Sakiko Nomura // One visual element we play with a lot on You—we shift between Joe’s toxic gaze and a more objective view on what’s actually going on. The bulk of art I’ve experienced in my lifetime defaults to the male gaze—this is true for most of us. When I started making TV, I realized that my vocabulary was skewed towards what I’d been so overwhelmingly exposed to, never mind the gender I happen to be. I started to seek out female and nonbinary photographers, to soak in the way they looked at things. Sakiko Nomura is best known for her portraits of nude men. I’m struck by the layers she captures– the tension between vulnerability and confrontation, assuredness and hesitation, their masculinity and their femininity. I find myself asking so many questions about this person I’m looking at. Also, it just makes me feel a certain kinda way.
“The woman that I still am #2” – Elinor Carucci// You may know her as the photographer of the kiss that accompanied the viral short story Cat Person. Carucci’s work is intimate and lush and often very pretty, but I can feel her commitment to documenting complicated, sometimes unflattering truth. Anytime I see an artist wading into those waters, I’m interested; as a writer, my aspiration is to find the human truth at the heart of the story, no matter how elusive, scary, controversial or weird. Often, Carucci’s work concerns itself with love in its many forms; she photographs her husband, child, parents, her own body. The moments feel witnessed with great care. They also contain so much ambivalence— about the needs of others, and her own neediness. I would say exploring the facets of love and need is especially relevant to the story we are telling in You, but it also threads deeply through The Magicians and really everything I write.
Lisa Congdon// This is a social media takeover, meaning anyone who reads this is familiar with social media, meaning I don’t need to tell you why it’s important to be intentional with it. I follow Lisa Congdon on Instagram and it makes my life better. She makes all kinds of art– large scale paintings, super-aesthetically-pleasing assemblies, graphic hand-lettered pieces. She quotes so many of my favorite poets and thinkers, in such a witty, vibrant way. Most of the “good vibes only” stuff I see online doesn’t do it for me at all—it feels a little manic, a little in denial, like waving a pixie stick at the horror of the world. Lisa Congdon’s positivity feels earned; it comes from a place of having lived some life and learned some difficult lessons.
“No.3 / No.13” – Mark Rothko// I stumbled onto this, but I’m happy to share the intel: this painting has magic powers. Years ago, I worked on a show for several seasons without a break, then rolled immediately into producing a pilot in what turned out to be a challenging, even combative experience. When the show wasn’t picked up, I felt 15% bummer but 85% utter relief. I got on a plane to New York the next day. For 8 days, I saw theater every night and walked all over with no plan. I went to MOMA, and as I stood in front of this painting I felt something happen to my whole body. An energy flooded my cells. I stood there a long time and finally found a bench to have a quiet but serious cry next to a family of baffled Japanese tourists. I realized I’d been producing nonstop for too long without refilling the well. I’d been so focused on responsibilities that I’d stopped feeding the part of me that’s simply an artist, full stop. And, of course, that bit is where the real power comes from. So I am very grateful to Mark Rothko for returning me to it.
That’s a wrap on my day of sharing faves with all of you. Thinking about this little assignment was a pure pleasure and encouraged me to check out so much art I was overdue to revisit. And with that, I’m heading back into postproduction on You season 2 and production of The Magicians season 5. (Both will be out in the next several months—I’ll give a shout with premiere dates; you can follow me here at @seragamble for all the deets, as well as behind-the-scenes looks at both shows and also lots of pictures of my dog Franklin.) Thanks for inviting me, Beautiful Bizarre, and thank you for all the inspiration!