Accidentally Wes Anderson creator Wally Koval on his new book, and what he looks for in an image
With a foreword from the director himself, the book collates some of the most remarkably Anderson-esque photos of real-life places around the world.
- Jenny Brewer
- 29 October 2020
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
Accidentally Wes Anderson began “on a whim” Wally Koval, the creator of the hugely successful Instagram account, remarks, “with no intention of growing beyond a personal bucket list for (his partner) Amanda and me”. Nonetheless, fans of the film director’s singular aesthetic were drawn in their droves to Koval’s account, with its expertly curated photos of places around the world that seemed readymade sets from Anderson’s oeuvre. Gathered from international submissions, the photographs brim with offbeat quaintness, pop-pastel tones, retro grandeur and satisfying symmetry, paying homage to Wes Anderson’s idiosyncratic style and proving his meticulously constructed alternate reality can truly exist in real life.
Now publisher Trapeze, an imprint of Orion Books, is putting out a hardback tome collating some of the finest imagery from Koval’s Instagram account, with authorisation and a foreword from Wes Anderson himself. “The photographs in this book were taken by people I have never met,” Anderson writes, “of places and things I have, almost without exception, never seen – but I must say: I intend to.” The director goes on to describe it as “both a very entertaining collection of images and also an especially alluring travel guide (at least in the opinion of this actual Wes Anderson)” and adds: “I now understand what it means to be accidentally myself. Thank you. I am still confused what it means to be deliberately me, if that is even what I am, but that is not important.”
Koval has a clear idea what he’s looking for in an image, he tells It’s Nice That. “Visually, we're looking for something somewhat ordinary that has a little special touch to it at the same time. While most photos do adhere to some general characteristics of symmetry, colour palette, perhaps a touch of nostalgia, there is always something that you can’t really put your finger on, but you know it fits perfectly when you see it. And then diving into the story, better understanding the background and the interesting narrative that exists behind the facade, that is the other half of the equation.” The book, like the account, tells the story behind the image and its location.
As the account grew in following, so did the pile of submissions in Koval’s inbox. He says that his job has gone from pure curation to more collaboration, as fans and contributors share stake in the overall vision. “Ever since the community began growing, we have made it a point to listen – I very much respect the fact that they trust us to bring them something interesting, unique, and beautiful in its own way on a daily basis, and I do not take that lightly. We shifted that one-way listening into a two-way conversation, and through that continual dialogue, it is almost as if we have evolved together over the past three-plus years.”
Looking back, Koval says the earlier posts adhered more fluently to the staple Anderson characteristics of symmetry, pastels and nostalgic typography, among others, but the feed has since progressed naturally to “a more nuanced take on the aesthetic as a whole. [There’s] a stronger focus on story than just symmetry alone, and an attention to details we may have missed in the early days. At the same time, I think it’s safe to say there will always be a place for those classic AWA shots: trains, lighthouses, and of course, pink facades.”
That’s not forgetting the reason all this began, and with The French Dispatch due out soon (though delayed due to Covid), widespread appreciation for Wes Anderson’s work is sure to surge again. But what does Koval believe is key to the director’s enduring appeal? “Personally, what draws me in is that each film is visually set in the ‘real world’ while evoking somewhat imaginary qualities. And while the settings and scenes are all perfectly placed, the underlying narrative and the inner struggles of the characters are quite contrastingly complex.”
Accidentally Wes Anderson is out today, 29 October, published by Trapeze.
GalleryWally Koval: Accidentally Wes Anderson (published by Trapeze)
Wally Koval: Accidentally Wes Anderson (© Wally Koval and Trapeze, 2020)