Ger Tierney

Photography by George Marshall. Interview by George Tyson.
Moving from a small town in Ireland to New York, then to London, Ger Tierney chased her dream to work in the fashion industry, and is currently the photographic director at GQ magazine.
Survey recently visited Ger at her home in Finsbury Park, in North London, to find out about her life, and photograph some of the latest women’s City products.

How did you start cycling?

I actually started riding as soon as I moved to London. I just needed a way of getting around. I’ve lived in London for five years, and before that I lived in New York. Everything is so compact in New York, so getting around felt much easier than London. My friend’s dad brought me a bike down from Birmingham – this huge heavy thing. I was petrified, but you get used to it very quickly. I now commute to work every day, and go on a longer ride at the weekend if I can.

I often get a train out past the M25 [motorway surrounding London] to the countryside, to save the hassle of riding through traffic. I sometimes go out cycling with my boyfriend Richard and his friends, too. In the winter it’s great, because they’re riding below their maximum, but come summer I don’t know how sustainable that will be. I need to find some more girls to ride with. There’s still very few around.

I find I do some good thinking on the bike. Whether it’s a problem at work, or an idea I’ve been working on, the solution will become so much clearer without even really having to think about it. The working week can be stressful so it’s nice to only worry about moving your legs and getting up the next hill.

You’re originally from Ireland, and then moved to New York where you worked with stylist Alastair Mckimm. Tell us about that.

I grew up in Inistioge – a tiny town in Kilkenny. I bought i-D magazine constantly, and loved the work that Alastair was doing for them, as well as for other titles.

Through sheer naivety, I called him up when I moved to New York. It just so happened that he needed an assistant, and that was it. He became the fashion director at i-D while I worked there.

How did you come to move to New York?

I did a year of fine art in Ireland, but then when I went to study further I decided I was really average. I should have persevered, but when you’re 18, you don’t necessarily have that mind-set. I switched to study accounting and human resources, and started working for a massive financial company. I was 24 and realised I was going to be miserable. I had always wanted to work in fashion – I’ve pored over that world from afar my whole life – so I joined some evening classes, and then progressed into styling. I worked with a stylist in Ireland, who is now one of my close friends, and she encouraged me to go to New York. I was very lucky, and it wasn’t easy, but I’m so glad I did it.

You have a beautiful home. Tell us about the photo wall in your bedroom.

It’s a mixture of both of our things, and we’re still working on it. Richard and I moved in together about six months ago, so there’s photos of our holidays on there, and all kinds of other stuff. We’ll add more. The ‘yes’ print is from my brother who is a very talented art director. He used to make gifts for Christmas, and one year I had threatened to get a tattoo that said ‘yes’ – for what reason I have no idea. He made me that print and said it was so I didn’t have to get the tattoo. And I never did.

What’s next for you?

There’s a tonne of amazing projects happening at GQ at the moment. We are working with some really talented photographers and stylists, and the Men of The Year Awards will be starting soon, which is a huge institution now, and I’m really excited to work on it.

In May, my close friend Holly Hay, photo editor at AnOther Magazine, and I are curating a walking tour of East London for Photo London [an international photography fair]. We’re doing a studio visit, heading to a printing lab, and introducing a group of 20 VIP collectors to different characters in East London. Hopefully we’ll get them slightly out of their comfort zone and show them something memorable.