Jerk of All Trades sat down with our founder and Editor in Chief to discuss her newest personal project, a book: ‘Still Life:The Photographs of Maggie St. Thomas’. With a published career in photo-journalism spanning more than thirty years, here are some of the most asked questions about her journey. In this interview Maggie presents a glimpse into the her photographic beginnings, specifically the dark subjects enjoyed by those in the shadows.
Since the age of 14, Maggie St.Thomas has been published in rock magazines across the globe as photographer and writer. Her work since has been in over 300 print publications since 1994, a plethora of photojournalistic features with dozens of magazine covers, including High Times with her feature photograph of Snoop Dogg. Assorted album covers, and magazine centerfolds, soon followed. By 2016, her work found its way into other national magazines such as Rolling Stone.
Of Note: “I still have Over 40,000 negative files I shot on 35mm film that I still need to categorize and file properly, in addition to twenty years of digital files.”
Your education, academic and self-taught
“I participated in a handful of summer sessions at Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts (ISOMATA) in my youth for many Art Programs including B&WPhotography under the guidance of Erik Metzler, and Hopi Silversmithing with Michael Kabooti, in keeping with my indigenous roots. This was up in the mountains, pine trees, wood cabins, and surrounded by young artists like myself. Everything about ISOMATA was magical and incredible, and taught me discipline in my craft. Eventually, I was noticed by local mags and began getting published with BAM Media, Mean Street, Underscope, Spazz, and Skratch, to name a few. My university time was at Cal State Fullerton for forensics which I began right out of High school. In the Summer of 2017, I became a licensed Crematory Operator through CANA (Cremation Association of North America), over the past few years I have since established a career in Death Care taking pride and respect assisting those who are beginning their journey into the afterlife.“
Tell us about the magazine you founded ‘Jerk Of All Trades’.
“In the Spring of 2011, I experienced publishing a magazine. I completed two issues that made it from my cranium into print, there were 10,000 copies made of each issue and I distributed those around key spots in Southern California mostly. In 2019, I decided to rise the Phoenix from the ashes, and brought Jerk Of All Trades back to life, this time, in an online format. Instead of having to hustle ads to get a print issue together every three months, the content would be available worldwide at the click of a button. It’s something I do as a passion, and it’s a great artistic outlet for me. I’m addition, I offer a welcoming format to some incredible contributions by other guest writers and photographers.”
A magazine signing at Tower Records.
“In 2006 I helped coordinate an in-store magazine signing at Tower Records in West Covina, with store manager Kurt Wada. We worked tirelessly in putting together that entire event, which may have been the only magazine signing Tower Records ever did, I would have to look that up. Over 300 people waited in line to get their magazine issues signed by myself, along with the pin-up models and musicians I had photographed in previous issues, for the covers and centerfolds of Rockabilly Magazine. Even the publication’s editor flew in to take part in the event. It was such a cool time!”
What’s your Most Memorable Concert
“The last summer before I was to enter my teenage years, my dad surprised me with two tickets for us to see The Ramones at Irvine Meadows Amphitheater, with Blondie. It was such an incredible show, and such a treat to see The Ramones live in concert, especially after having only seen them on the tv screen when I would watch Rock’n’Roll High School recorded on VHS tape. Every concert has a magic of its own, but this particular one will always be my favorite! I had no idea I would be photographing them at that same venue just a couple of years later, and the content I would have on them. Interviews I’d do with Johnny Ramone, CJ and Marky, all the photographs I would shoot at events for Arturo Vega, the friendships I would make with the RAMONES Army. Perhaps, I’d release a book on The Ramones someday, as I certainly have enough material!”
“Yes, this is my premier book, it’s a beautiful hardback edition, over 100 pages of photographs that I have captured over the past four decades. Still Life shed’s a unique light on the dark side, for example there’s a photograph of an unidentified “John Doe” skull inside one of the pages, and another includes a Cremation Retort, the silver machine I operate during my Graveyard Shift at the Crematory. Many of the photographs in the pages are from my formative years in photography, captured on film (35mm and 120mm), and were hand developed in the darkroom. Goth concerts in the 90s for example, and cemeteries, there’s a remarkable 120mm sepia-toned film print I captured while onstage with Janes Addiction at the beginning of 2001 with a Grafflex 22. There’s no telephoto lens, I’m standing right beside Dave Navarro. The interesting thing about this photograph is that it was captured on a film roll that sat on my wood dresser for more than 15 years before it got developed. It’s a remarkably gorgeous raw photograph with so much striking intensity, I felt compelled to include it in the book. The images chosen were selected by content, lighting, and technique, and the photographs speak for their own, many of which I hand developed in the darkroom years before. I have so many subjects to choose from for future book releases, and absolutely love that I went the route of self-publishing to preserve artistic control.
I dream in volumes…perhaps releasing a new title every Fall. Books on the blues, rock’n’roll, and everything in between. Etta James, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry; Punk with Sick of It All, Slayer, Suicidal Tendencies… (those are only some of the S’s); RAP with Snoop Dogg, Nipsey Hussle… you get the picture.”
A Book Signing Release Party inside a Funeral Home
“Still Life’ focuses on the reality of life and death. A fine art photo documentation of the Goth scene, film photography, and shedding a light on Cremation all while appreciating the beauty of life. I knew inside the Chapel of a Funeral Home would be the perfect setting for my first ever book signing, and even more perfect was that it took place Halloween weekend. I’ve always had a keen interest on Art and Death. There were live performances by The Bourbon Saints, and Eva O. These are two artists I photographed in ’93 that were featured in the pages of the book. Destiny’s Funeral Home & Crematory in Long Beach was lit with flameless candlelight, the walls of the Chapel hung framed photographs featured in the pages of the book. The attendance and outpouring of so much love and support really humbled me. It was a dream come true.”
Future Book Signings of 2023
“Saturday, April 29, from 4-6 pm I will be holding my 4th Barnes & Noble book signing in Orange, CA. On Saturday, May 6, I will be at Green Apple Books on the Park on 9th Avenue in San Francisco signing books at 1pm, and Sunday, May 7th, attending my first book festival as an author, the 9th Annual Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley, CA from 11-5pm. These will be the last book signing events in SoCal until my second book is released, which I’m presently in the editing stages of right now.”
Going to the Moon
“My photograph of saxophone artist Scott Page is not only the cover of NFT Today Magazine, but will be going to the moon with Lunarprise Gallery on their space mission as Pink Floyd celebrates their 50th Anniversary of Dark Side of The Moon.”
“I appreciate every moment for what it is, and though I plan to be here an exceptionally long time. the truth is our fate is not just determined by ourselves. I am so thankful to have seen some of these fruitions from my work develop as an artist. I’ve accomplished a lot and have so many blessings to count. My living legacies will be 21 this Summer. They are my precious world, and I am so immensely proud of them and the incredible men they have already become. Thank you to everyone who has supported me on my journeys, and a big thank you for those that have read this through, Thank You!”