Billy & Heather

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The love story between Billy Kidd and Heather Huey is one born from mutual admiration of each other’s work, and it was their work that ultimately brought them together.  Kidd, an aspiring photographer, moved to New York with the intention of working for the late, great Irving Penn.  Sadly, as Penn passed away within a month of Kidd’s arrival, he set out to make a name for himself as a fashion and profile photographer.  Meanwhile, after graduating summa cum laude from Fordham University with a degree in architecture, Huey managed to mary the architecture art form with millinery.  Creating her eponymous line of head pieces with body cages, she has seen great success with credits in high fashion publications.

After a stylist included Huey’s pieces in a spread shot by Kidd, he finally met Huey face to face during a chance visit to her showroom to pull for a future shoot.  The rest, as they say, is history.

During their courtship, Huey became muse to Kidd’s work, ultimately rushing in their first partnership.  “Heather Huey was shot by Billy Kidd.”  A hyper-personal collaboration of Kidd’s photography and Huey’s design pieces (not to mention her naked body), the work explores the complex relationship between artist and muse, lovers and collaborators.  The limited-edition book was complimented by a gallery showing at Clic Gallery in Soho, and was funded with help from a Kickstarter campaign.  Huey and Kidd sat down with SOMA to talk about love, life, and art.

How did you get together?
Kidd: You know this always felt natural.  I had a feeling we would date and live our lives together.  THere is no one more perfectly fitting for me.  We started dating shortly after my birthday and just a couple days before hers.  After constantly trying to get her to grab a drink with me, and always being rejected with a subtle no because she’s not a social person, she needed a favor from me.  Luckily, her friend Jason Last who was going to shoot this video for her at my studio was late, so that gave me time to convince her to come over later for dinner.  We are partners to everything since then.

Huey: Aww. (She crawls over to give Kidd a kiss.)  What woman doesn’t want to hear that?

Heather, did you always want to be a milliner?
Huey: No, because I had no clue what a milliner was!  I was interning for [Colin Kathcart] and I didn’t want to be an architect.  I didn’t want to sit at a computer all day in an office.  It wasn’t creative enough for me.  I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my future and one day my sister suggested I take some classes at FIT in millinery because I loved to collect hats.  I’m a shameless romantic and in love with thoese movies from the 40’s and 50’s where they always wear hats.  It was an integral part of their wardrobe back then.

Kidd: That’s probably why we work so well together.  We’re both romantics.

 And Billy, did you always want to be a photographer?
Kidd: I had no clue I could be a photographer, or an artist for that fact and make a living.  I was taught (not by my parents, but by the schools I attended) that to make money I needed to work for a corporation.  That’s what I ended up doing.  I floated through life for awhile, before working at the big banks.  I worked for Chase as a debt collector for a year or so then Bank of America.  I come from a long line of artists.  My mother is a brilliant painter and my sister is a master baker who can create amazing 3D sculpture cakes.  Though my sister was incredibly talented, she was taught the same thing that she had to work for someone else to make ends meet.  My mother was concerned for the family and felt she couldn’t pursue art, but had to join the work force to take care of us.  It wasn’t until later in life that they said, “screw it,” and decided to follow their hearts.  I picked up photography as a hobby was I was about 26.  Shortly after that a friend hooked me up with a photographer who needed a smart guy who understood computers.  He hired me.  Two years later I moved to New York to be a photographer.  Six months laterI met Heather and six months after that I rocked her world!

How have you impacted each other’s work?
Kidd (to Huey): You changed my direction.  In life and photography.  Before you I was taking pictures to take pictures.  After I found you and felt what I felt for you, I started to trust my heart and what I thought was right.  I started to deviate from what was being told by everyone as beautiful with my photographs.

Huey (to Kidd):  Well you have this way of making everything beautiful.  Even people and things that I wouldn’t think  of looking at, you find the beauty in it and you make me see it, this way of finding that unique characteristic.

What advice would you give young artists struggling with individuality?
Kidd: I just follow Aristotle. It’s not that tough.  He said, “Beauty is what I believe beauty to be.”  Basically, the only person who can define beauty is ourselves.  It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.  If someone disagrees with me, so be it, but that doesn’t affect how I feel about that beauty.  So I just create pictures for myself.  It’s just luck that others see the beauty in it.

Huey: Life as an artist is a constant exploration of beauty and developing the skills to create it.  Trust your judgement; if it feels right, it probably is.

Kidd (to Huey): That’s what I love about you.  You trust your judgement.

Huey: Well after years of experience and questioning yourself, you just know.  When you question yourself it stops you from creating.

“Heather Huey was shot by Billy Kidd” is such a revealing project on its own, let alone as a collaboration with your partner.  Did either of you have any reservations about working together?
Billy (to Huey): You did have some hesitation in the beginning about being completely naked.

Huey: It wasn’t a hesitation about me being naked.  It was a hesitation about not being able to… You work with these professional models who are beautiful and young and know how to move.  I didn’t think I could do justice to the project.

Kidd (to Huey): But you did.

Huey: You know how long it took for you to coax me at the beginning of each session.  It definitely did help that you were so confident and sure I could do this.

Billy (to Huey): That’s because you are beautiful.

Heather: I just had to let go.  It was scary and exciting but I surprised myself.  This was a great experience creatively as an individual and as a couple.  I’m excited to work on another project with my best friend and partner.

Billy: Me too, soon enough.

Visit billy-kidd.com and heatherhuey.com for more information.

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This reading is by Lena, who has no idea these palm belongs to Billy Kidd and Heather Huey.

THE OBSESSION ISSUE

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