Barker served as creative director and photographer of the 144-page Art Van catalog that’s now available in stores—including the just-opened Woodridge location.
How did the collaboration for the catalog come about? NIGEL BARKER: Mr. Van is a friend of mine. It really was his love of fashion and style and his passion for the furniture business and his interest in what I do, and my very similar passion for fashion and style. And the fact that someone's house—everyone’s house—is an extension of who they are from a fashionable sense, but also because it shows your personality. We wanted to infuse that into the catalog.
What served as your inspiration? NB: Each story, [each] page really, has its own narrative, and we were thinking of all kinds of interestingly exciting ways to illustrate real-life scenarios but with an aspirational edge. If you think of your favorite bits of furnishings—whether [it’s] a sofa, or a special seat, or your dining room table—many things happen around these tables and in these seats. The greatest conversations, the greatest love stories, the special family moments, great stories that a grandfather tells at the dining table. We wanted to recreate those sorts of ideas and moments throughout the catalog.
Nigel Barker with The Face coaches Naomi Campbell, Lydia Hearst, and Anne V.
Your role on The Face is pretty different from your role as an ANTM judge. How do the shows compare to you? NB: Like you said, they’re quite different. I’m the host, not the judge. This is a nice role to have, to be honest. It’s all well and good judging, but it’s also quite intimidating to people when they come up and say, "Oh my God, I’m going to be judged by this man." I’m certainly more popular on set as the host.
Has there ever been a time when you've photographed someone and you've felt starstruck? NB: Oh, sure. I guess I get starstruck all the time. I try to get starstruck by everybody, to be honest. That's part of the fun of it. You look for the beauty in everybody, and you look for the star quality. Certainly when you cast somebody or something or some place even, you're looking for that star quality that's going to help make your pictures come to life as much as possible.
Thanks to Instagram, it seems like we’re all photographers. Do you have any tips to taking a better photo? NB: Do something that I’ve sort of titled “The Turtle.” Lift your chin very high in the air. Tighten that muscle under your neck. Put your body at a profile to the camera or the phone if you're taking a selfie. Bring your chin down. Focus on that camera. Sing a little song in your head—play your favorite theme music. Imagine a piece of chocolate melting in your mouth. Let your eyes do the talking, and you’ve got a great shot.