Zoetrope: All-Story

Five Questions with Sylvia Plachy

Why did you accept the invitation to design the Winter 2021/2022 edition of All-Story?
You called at the right time—if you had called half an hour earlier or later . . . I don’t know. The timing was right: I needed a shorter, smaller project. 

Any challenges?
The biggest challenge was to arrange the photographs not only to have connection to each other but also to fit with the various short stories in the issue. 

Were there any surprises in the design process?
You [Managing Editor Anne Ray] were a surprise. It was lovely to talk and laugh with you, sometimes daily, ironing out the details of the project. 

Might you offer any advice to future designers?
I would tell them to definitely accept the invitation. 

What’s inspiring you of late? 
I’m inspired by ghosts: rereading books I used to love, going through boxes of old pictures, old scraps of paper—trying to remember what I forgot. I recently found an old tape of phone messages, and suddenly I heard the gravelly voice of Dick Avedon reading to me the blurb he wrote for one of my books. What a treasure! I hadn’t even remembered until then that he had ever left me a message. I found it while looking for a recording my father made. This is what happens when scavenging in my past: looking for one thing and finding another. 

I wouldn’t say it’s all good, but it’s amazing. 

Sylvia Plachy, The Gecko and I (detail), 2009