AN AMERICAN ABROAD

AN AMERICAN ABROAD

Comic book artist, Ali Fitzgerald, on the hype behind Berlin

by Maria Raposo

Articulate and witty, Ali Fitzgerald is an American living in Berlin. As a writer and artist her creative output is vast. Her work can be found in The NY Times, The Huffington Post, Art 21 and Kids of Dada. She creates charming comic books in a gestural, painterly style. Fused with dark humor, her cleverly crafted characters have a lively satirical spirit. KOD had a chat with Ali about cultural crossovers and her favorite film directors:

KOD: Journalists are labeling Berlin as the new creative capital. Does the city live up to the hype?
Ali Fitzgerald: I think Berlin does, in some ways, live up to the hype. It has this incredibly dense history, and the city’s architecture reflects that.  You can still slither across basement parties and defunct warehouses. Some people have massive, unheated studios and pay a meager amount for them (old contracts), and the bars and cafes maintain this lovely, not-quite-sanitized presence that’s hard to find in London or New York – other than Brooklyn.   

Still, I don’t think Berlin will ever be New York, because it’s so ideologically different and well-regulated- and I’m thankful for all of that, I really like living here.

Ali Fitzgerald, 'Yayoi Kusama', 2013

Ali Fitzgerald, 'Yayoi Kusama', 2013

KOD: What inspires you to be so creative and to work so hard?
Ali Fitzgerald: One thing that inspires me to be creative is the fear of not being creative.  The idea of letting your day job become your real job, of losing touch with your greater ambitions, totally frightens me.  I think that’s a big part of my drive: fear. On the other hand, there is genuine enjoyment in what I do, I find drawing calming, and the act of creating a physical object is really gratifying.

KOD: Do you think that Berlin has a direct effect on your work?
Ali Fitzgerald: When I moved here I was making sculptural installations, and somewhere along the line I decided to start doing comics, something I stopped doing while I was in grad school as I was overly concerned with “high art/low art” distinctions.  But then I met people and saw things in Berlin that made me want to tell stories more directly. 

I began with writing and drawing comics about my former roommate Lucia, with the working title, The Berlin Cool-Dead.  It was a story about collapsing ideas of Bohemia: these two lost girls in search of some sabotaged, dark romance.  I’ve since expanded that idea, which is now a larger graphic memoir called The New Berlin Stories, 2008-, which I’m still working on.

Ali Fitzgerald, 2013

Ali Fitzgerald, 2013

KOD: Your comics talk about how everyone in Berlin wears brown jumpers all the time. Was there anything else you found particularly striking about German culture when you first moved there? 
Ali Fitzgerald: Oh man, so much. I’m still in a kind of cultural purgatory because I’m not German enough and not American enough.  The other day my girlfriend and I went on a big boat trip down the canal, and every time we went under a bridge all the Germans started clapping, which is just another bizarre ritual for me to come to terms with.  Germans always surprise me, sometimes with that famously brusque and direct manner of theirs which, in the end, is pretty funny.

KOD: Working with both words and pictures, which do you believe has more impact? Do you think that the media has made us reliant on imagery to capture our attention?
Ali Fitzgerald:While images tend to have more immediate impact, I also think they are more easily dismissed, overlooked, or discarded.  For example, Joe Sacco’s Notes on Gaza is a graphic novel which documents his time spent on the Gaza Strip. I think his words are made more powerful by his drawings, which resonate in a different way to a photo. 

I’m not sure if the media has made us more reliant on images; it seems like a natural state to be drawn to pictures. I just think the world we live in now is one of unlimited visual access and so it’s really hard not to be gluttonous and entitled about it.

Ali Fitzgerald, Extract from 'Hungover Bear', 2013

Extract from 'Hungover Bear'2013

KOD: Your comics could easily be made into films. Do you have a favorite director?
Ali Fitzgerald: I have a lot of favorite directors, maybe because making comics is also about world-creating.  I like Lars Von Trier despite his reputation as a misogynist.  I also like Werner Herzog’s documentaries a lot.  My favorite director is probably Luis Buñuel, and my favorite movie is his Viridiana, which was banned in Franco’s Spain and stars a nun in decline.  I also love Terry Gilliam’s quirky rococo aesthetics.

In writing this, I’m sad to not have any female directors to include, which says more about the idea of the male director as “auteur” than anything else. I did however recently watch the miniseries Top of the Lake, directed by Jane Campion, which was amazing.

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.

90'S GRUNGE WEIGHS IN ON FASHION

Smudged lipstick, lolita-esque nighties, & ripped stockings, ready to confuse & disturb

Chloe Mackey

Read more »
Share »

A SEXLESS SOCIETY IS HERE

Fashion rides the gender blending trend  

Maria Raposo

Read more »
Share »

THE HEDI SLIMANE EFFECT ON YVES SAINT LAURENT

How the designer remade the house of Yves Saint Laurent

Greg French

Read more »
Share »

NAN GOLDIN: THE BALLAD OF SEXUAL DEPENDENCY

The artist captures the essence of humanity and life on the edge

Ellie Howard

Read more »
Share »

SYNCHRODOGS: “I must be dreaming”

We speak to the photography duo about synchronicity & the power of dreams

Ellie Howard

Read more »
Share »

MEET THE ARTISTS CHINA CAN'T KEEP CONTAINED

Artists Sun Yuan & Peng Yu use dead babies & live animals in their creations to blur the lines of art & reality

Peter Yeung

Read more »
Share »

JOSEPH BEUYS: I LIKE AMERICA AND AMERICA LIKES ME

What we can learn from artist about race relations and how to heal a nation    

Peter Yeung

Read more »
Share »

THE COLLAGE RENAISSANCE

Contemporary collage is the new Pop Art collectors are buying into

Harriet Baker

Read more »
Share »

DAVID BOWIE PUSHED THE LIMITS OF MUSIC, ART & FASHION

Bowie was an artist and an explorer that embodied true individuality that our generation craves

Fiona Ma

Read more »
Share »

FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY GETS HYPER-REAL

From Erwin Blumenfeld to Nick Knight, fashion constructs fantastical images

Greg French

Read more »
Share »

90'S GRUNGE WEIGHS IN ON FASHION

Smudged lipstick, lolita-esque nighties, & ripped stockings, ready to confuse & disturb

Chloe Mackey

Read more »
Share »

A SEXLESS SOCIETY IS HERE

Fashion rides the gender blending trend  

Maria Raposo

Read more »
Share »

THE HEDI SLIMANE EFFECT ON YVES SAINT LAURENT

How the designer remade the house of Yves Saint Laurent

Greg French

Read more »
Share »

NAN GOLDIN: THE BALLAD OF SEXUAL DEPENDENCY

The artist captures the essence of humanity and life on the edge

Ellie Howard

Read more »
Share »

SYNCHRODOGS: “I must be dreaming”

We speak to the photography duo about synchronicity & the power of dreams

Ellie Howard

Read more »
Share »

MEET THE ARTISTS CHINA CAN'T KEEP CONTAINED

Artists Sun Yuan & Peng Yu use dead babies & live animals in their creations to blur the lines of art & reality

Peter Yeung

Read more »
Share »

JOSEPH BEUYS: I LIKE AMERICA AND AMERICA LIKES ME

What we can learn from artist about race relations and how to heal a nation    

Peter Yeung

Read more »
Share »

THE COLLAGE RENAISSANCE

Contemporary collage is the new Pop Art collectors are buying into

Harriet Baker

Read more »
Share »

DAVID BOWIE PUSHED THE LIMITS OF MUSIC, ART & FASHION

Bowie was an artist and an explorer that embodied true individuality that our generation craves

Fiona Ma

Read more »
Share »

FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY GETS HYPER-REAL

From Erwin Blumenfeld to Nick Knight, fashion constructs fantastical images

Greg French

Read more »
Share »

THE EVOCATIVE IMAGES OF STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

Eminent street photographers find beauty in the ordinary

Leah Sinclair

Read more »
Share »

THE ZINE SCENE IS BACK

Self-Publishing is Having a Moment and It’s Redefining Youth and Self Expression

Leah Sinclair

Read more »
Share »

PLASTIC PURGERY – BARBIE IN BONDAGE BREAKS THE INTERNET

Photographer Mariel Clayton Reinvents the Stereotype of the Female Form

Fiona Ma

Read more »
Share »

LOUIS VUITTON - SERIES 3 EXHIBITION

Nicolas Ghesquière: less mask, more man

Greg French

Read more »
Share »

REGENERATION OR GENTRIFICATION?

The changing face of London’s artistic communities

Peter Yeung

Read more »
Share »

INSIDE THE CHELSEA HOTEL

The legendary New York hangout of rockstars and Hollywood royalty

Ellie Howard

Read more »
Share »

IN CONVERSATION WITH OLAF BREUNING

The artist talks about the endless interpretations of his work and life

Ellie Howard

Read more »
Share »

REVEALED: KURT COBAIN'S ORIGINAL ARTWORK

A dark look into the mind of Nirvana’s tortured frontman

Daryl Mersom

Read more »
Share »

ABOUT A GIRL: TEENAGERS IN POP CULTURE

Exploring media fantasies from saints to bad-ass sinners of female youth

Leah Sinclair

Read more »
Share »

ART GONE VIRAL

Performance art videos are paving the way for activism through social media

Leah Sinclair

Read more »
Share »

IN CONVERSATION WITH ARTIST TOM LEAMON

The ritual experiments of painting and poetry

Ellie Howard

Read more »
Share »

COLLAGE ARTIST HOLLY-ANNE BUCK/COLLAGISM

We talk to the artist about playing with abstraction & reconstructing reality

Ellie Howard

Read more »
Share »

FROM UNISEX TO ANTI-FASHION

Meet Rudi Gernreich, the first gender blender fashion activist

Alessandro Esculapio

Read more »
Share »

THE REVIVAL OF WARP N’ WEFT

From artisan to art; the lost craft of tapestry is making a comeback

KOD Staff

Read more »
Share »

THE ALCHEMY OF COLLAGE: ARTISTS IRINA & SILVIU SZEKELY

Art is not art if it doesn’t generate misrepresentation, confusion, anger or sarcasm

Ellie Howard

Read more »
Share »

THE CREATIVE CLASS: MAKING IT THEIR WAY

Photographer Francesca Allen captures the talented, genuine and real

KOD Staff

Read more »
Share »

'80S ICON KEITH HARING’S POP SHOP

The Art and Commerce of Giving Back

Alessandro Esculapio

Read more »
Share »

THE DEATH OF BRONSON

The art and literature of "Charles Bronson"; Britain's most notorious prisoner

KOD Staff

Read more »
Share »

THE PSYCHEDELIC LOVE-IN OF THE FABULOUS COCKETTES

San Francisco’s original underground glitter troupe

KOD Staff

Read more »
Share »

THE MODERN DAY DANDY CULT

Old fashioned values and classic sartorial style returns to mens fashion

Ellie Howard

Read more »
Share »
Top