Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The New Kind of Art Mags

I searched high and low for an online version of the article in PAPER mag to post but I guess you will have to pick up a copy. The issue is all on "the other side" of LA...the side that you might not associate with at first - a more "NY/hipster side" to LA. Anyway, the article worth reading is an interview with some of the founders/editors of LA's growing number of art magazines. Here are a few good excerpts:
"Los Angeles has become the epicenter for a seismic shift in American art magazines. Fresh, fanatical and fantastically informal, the way Angelenos look at visual culture, package it and (unbelievably) even find a way to sell it represents the crucial antithesis of everything stodgy, pretentious, elitist and, well, arty with which the publishing industry in New York has managed to alienate so many potential art lovers..."

Carlo McCormick (editor of PAPER): "There's a real difference between the sensibilities of art magazines in NY, like Artforum, Art in America and ARTnews, and those in LA. Is that something you're conscious of?"

Shepard Fairey (Co-founder/director of Swindle): "We don't really call Swindle an art magazine. We use the all-encompassing term "lifestyle magazine," but the kind of lifestyle we are trying to promote is definitely and art-heavy lifestyle. We don't take art as seriously as Artforum, or keep our audience as elite or narrow. One of the things that we really believe is that however someone can live a creative life, whether they have to paint on the side and work as a graphic designer or work for a clothing company, they deserve to have some exposure..."

Tracey Forman-Snyder (manager Arkitip): "...You don't have to have a MFA to contribute [to the magazine]."

The article goes on about some other interesting points like about not covering the giant art events like the Warhol retrospective because other mags will already be covering it. When I read this this morning I thought, "this is great...someone else is noticing those alternative art mags for being a good source of arty, very current, often underground info and stories!" I have honestly tried to sit down and read Artforum and even Art in America but they just seem like wordy, art-talk - the kind that makes it difficult to respond to. Some mags are just meant for sitting on your coffee table to impress your friends with or a good source of pics for bathroom reading!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think that's a terribly accurate view of magazines like Artforum. I know a good deal of of people who read Artforum because the articles are often dense and full of interesting and intelligent views on art and artists. I totally understand that an initial viewing of it can give the impression of it being chewy art fluff, and I believe there was a time when it did decend to that level but for the last few years when I started reading it I've found it much more rewarding than almost any other publication.

It certainly depends on how you like to read. I prefer to spend a lot of time and get a lot of ideas and information, but I know there are others who want to be able to read an article once and get it right away. For that I would defintely recommend Flash Art. There's plenty of good information there and it's often fairly accesable.

I haven't read Shephard Fairey's magazine so I can't be entirely fair in saying this, but in general Fairey is a huge disappointment to me. The original Obey campaign was fantastic, but as soon as he recieved significant attention he quit creating interesting work and went head on into marketing. Obey was an interesting take on the concept of the logo as it realtes to street art. Now it's just a logo like any other that he uses to sell designer clothing and flashy posters. I would be extremely wary of his approach to art writing as I would assume his desire to appeal to the masses has little to do with anything but fashion and trendyness.

This kind of approach to faux-underground stylization may be accesable but that in and of itself means nothing without content.

I agree that it's a shame that there are less publications searching out off the radar artists (Artforum will often write about those barely in the radar, but that's as far as it goes). I would like to find an intelligent publication that does do this without trying to appeal mainly to those who would rather be home watching television.

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"however someone can live a creative life, whether they have to paint on the side and work as a graphic designer" it's too bad that they make being a graphic designer sound so dirty.

Curtis: "I would like to find an intelligent publication that does do this without trying to appeal mainly to those who would rather be home watching television." That is an equally unfair criticism. It's incredibly self-aware of this rag to be conscious of not-duplicating what is in Artforum, et al because they know the majoritiy of their readers already get that info, and the rest don't care for its style. But it's not because their readers would rather be home "watching television", if that were true then they wouldn't be reading either rag.

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a good one to check out is bidoun (, arts and culture from the middle east.

10:59 PM  

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