Tagged: matthew hoffman

Magazines as Muses: The Muse Issue by Verities

Following my previous post on CLOG Magazine, a themed architectural digest, I’m excited to dig into the book bag and pull out a different type of themed magazine: Verities. A London-based biannual, Verities “reveals the arresting and irrational in the everyday,” and the latest issue, titled The Muse Issue, doesn’t miss the mark.

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Muses are an interesting topic for anyone within the creative industries. As Verities aptly points out, inspiration is a commodity, and developing a system to spark inspiration is vital for a successful creative. The issue uncovers “muses” in the everyday, while at the same time critiquing the established idea of the vixen as the sole source of stimulation.

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In lieu of advertisements at the front, the first spread kicks off with a well-written Letter from the Editor, which is something that I miss from most magazines. Verities utilizes what I call an “atomized layout,” where images and text are scattered around each spread, creating a collage feel. The text provides shining moments and is further emphasized by sparse, moody photographs.

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Verities goes beyond providing content that a reader could find online by sourcing a series of well-researched stories on Eleanor Callahan (muse, and wife of Harry Callahan), an illuminating story of transgressive artists with Catholic backgrounds by Philippa Snow, and a powerful, fictitious (I would find out later) photo essay titled “Dora Fobert” by Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, that masquerades as a set of found images of female prisoners at the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942.

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A well-designed and well-curated magazine is an amazing source for inspiration: a Muse. Jean-Louis Cohen is quoted in one of the stories saying, “Exhibitions construct narratives, and they tell them with spatial, visual means,” and this is an apt description of this issue of Verities. Pick up your copy here.

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Unclogging Architecture: CLOG

My background is in architecture. Unfortunately, most architecture magazines are horrible. Architecture is about 15 years behind the rest of the design world, and this is particularly evident when you look at magazines. Industry staples like Architectural Record, Architecture Digest and Architectural Review revel in the “tradition” of architecture, but don’t offer a progressive direction for the profession or any editorial space to those who are paving a new path.

Luckily enough, there is CLOG. Unlike its contemporaries that focus on the flavor of the day, CLOG “aims to slow things down.” Launched in 2011, every issue tackles a single subject pertinent to architecture, and it does so by gathering submissions from whoever feels like they have something to say about the subject, regardless of their background. You can think of CLOG as a crowd-sourced architectural digest that goes beyond any given topic, and beyond architecture itself.

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The inaugural issue focused on Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), an architecture firm that has quickly risen through the ranks to become one of the most visible practices in the world. Highly digestible 500-word entries examine every facet of Bjarke, his team of BIGsters, and their projects. The icing on the cake is an appendix of responses from Bjarke himself, attempting to refute the more venomous of the features. The formula is powerfully effective.

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Fast forward to Spring 2013, when CLOG launched their fifth issue, titled National Mall. The issue is more mature than the first, but still features the same cheeky, analytical punch. Testifying for the variety of backgrounds that CLOG refreshingly draws ideas from, the issue leads with an article by a journalist, my wife, Francesca Giuliani-Hoffman aka The Italien), as she examines what the real American Mall is: the National Mall in DC, or the famous commercial center, the Mall of America. As she points out, the first 6 search results on Google are for the commercial center.

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CLOG’s themes are great, but the magic is in the format. The magazine prides itself on publishing content “succinctly, on paper, away from the distractions and imperatives of the screen,” but I think the alchemy here is a bit different than what the editors are touting.

Flipping through CLOG is more akin to browsing a well written forum-thread, than, say, Architectural Record, where you’re going to have just a handful of lengthy features. Gone, also, is super-gloss architectural photography, and in its place is a smart use of black and white, a minimal layout, and punchy typography.

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The length of time that it takes to absorb the content of a magazine is vital, and CLOG, unlike the speed that its name implies, actually expedites this relationship between content and reader. CLOG is more effectively understood as a cross-breed of architecture magazine and bathroom reader; succinct, entertaining, and informative. Compared to something like Paradis, CLOG is fast.

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CLOG will be launching its next themed issue, on Brutalism, within the next few weeks. If you would like to see more, be sure to check out the CLOG website.

The Sexiest of Sexys: TISSUE Magazine

TISSUE first caught my eye almost a year ago at McNally Jackson, tucked on a hidden half-shelf between the glossy fashion section and the cafe. The cover was nondescript, but the edginess of the darkly patterned background combined with an atypical layout promised a few punches. It was love at first sight.

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That was the first issue, and now TISSUE is officially launching their third issue in Berlin on February 26th at their big sister’s office, 032c. Unfortunately the commute is a little too long for me, but I encourage any of my German friends to make the trip – it will be well worth it.

TISSUE is all about sex, and it flaunts its sexiness in a shockingly honest, voyeuristic way. It is both anti-stylized and highly refined. The content begs the questions: Is it porn or art? Is it erotic? Is erotic a fitting term to place something between sex and art?

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What does not exist in TISSUE is the high-gloss, high-photoshop, highly-implanted corpulence of porn. There are no snarling 40 year olds with boob jobs, oompa-loompa-orange skin, patterned knee-high socks and pigtails. Gone, even, are the couples, triples, gang bangers and gay brothers. In their stead are artful (through composition, texture and lighting) nudes gracing the likes of spare art galleries, window ledges, horses and suburban bedrooms. TISSUE tasks itself with creating a new eroticism that proves it is possible to communicate sexuality by completely devoting itself to exhibition and whimsy.

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Breaking into the publication world is not easy. There is a growing genre of magazines that toe the lines between fashion, art and porn. The result of this often finds its home in highly stylized editorials, done in the name of Art but often lacking it, filled with soft-core porn. This approach dresses up porn a bit, kind of like putting lipstick on a bulldog, but in the end its still porn. At the same time, typical editorials are stuck in a nether world where people lay around in ridiculous poses and situations. It reaks of the same staged fakeness as porn.

Luckily enough, TISSUE is at the other end of the spectrum by avoiding the pitfalls and cliches of both porn (hard and soft) and fashion (HIGH and low) and sets out to take “sexy to the most unsexy of places” through a host of subjects including “women, men, horses, architecture, fire-breathing and porn paraphernalia.” The result is a new understanding of eroticism that unites very talented contributors within a graphically unique format.

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The layout is minimal, but it’s not lazy. Infact it must take a massive amount of work to craft a magazine like this. I have a theory that TISSUE could be about anything, the graphic quality and layout are so unique that it would still be a fantastic magazine even if it traded cake decorating pics for the nudie shots.

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There are only a few magazines that I swear by (032c, Purple Fashion, Pin-Up) — magazines that hold their weight every issue, magazines that are recognizable on every spread, and TISSUE is the newest to the list. Lazy magazines rely on the success (and consequently the failures) of their contributors like crutches, doing little more than placing content on the page. TISSUE breaks the mold by crafting a singular, immersive landscape for themselves, their collaborators and most importantly, their readers. The result is a very special magazine.

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We managed to catch-up with the mastermind behind TISSUE, Uwe Jens Bermeitinger and set out to uncover a bit about the magazine and its mission.

Matthew Hoffman & Francesca Giuliani Firstly, can you tell us, why the name TISSUE?

Uwe Jens Bermeitinger Well, the title refers to the tissue you use to clean up your mess. And of course, the biological term “tissue” fits very well with what it’s all about. At least on the surface…

MH/FG Before embarking on TISSUE, you created and directed Nude Paper, which unfortunately only lived to see three issues. Can you talk a bit about your adventures with Nude Paper, and what the similarities and differences are with TISSUE?

UJB Nude Paper was big fun. I was sharpening my tools. We had a few difficulties with the publisher of Nude Paper so the whole team split up. Now we’ve started something deeper: TISSUE Magazine. Melanie Jeske and I publish it on our own, along with an ambitious team, the best contributors, and a lot of support from colleagues, friends and readers. TISSUE is a collective. It only works because nobody, except the printing house, is asking for money. I fund it with my own savings and the money I earn as a freelance art director. Nude Paper explored the ways of expressing nudity – a much simpler and short-dated concept. TISSUE Magazine goes deeper into human sexuality. We like to call it a “bedroom produced art and sex manual.”

MH/FG You mention that TISSUE takes “sex to the unsexiest of places.” Can you elaborate on that? What place is the unsexiest?

UJB This is a pretty cool quote from our friends over at 032c from an article on Nude Paper in their 20th issue. We loved it so much, we just stole it for TISSUE. It’s like having the Midas touch in sexy matters.

To answer your second question, the waiting room of a urologist is the unsexiest place. The unsexiest of things are definitely foot orthotics – which I should wear. But I don’t.

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MH/FG As far as TISSUE is concerned, is there an added value in approaching the topic of sex from a German perspective?

UJB Germans are hardcore. Like Kurt Tucholsky said: “Deutsch sein heißt eine Sache um ihrer selbst willen tun.” It means: doing something for its own sake. This is exactly what we are doing. We have no business plan and don’t do marketing – we just do what we want and give it all to the project.

TISSUE is proud of its German origin and we also know that it’s an international product with contributors and influences from around the world. Germany had some very dark times in history, but there has also always been a strong will for freedom. There were nudist movements in the first decades of 20th century, as well as in the 60’s and 70’s; people were striving for sexual freedom. On the other side of the wall, too. There have always been feminist and gay movements in Germany, and these influenced me a lot in my youth.

At the end, I think TISSUE is about freedom!

MH/FG What would you say is vulgar?

UJB Constantly complaining about one’s life while not recognizing that life itself is the highest gift of all. The privilege of living in the western world where everything is available at anytime in big amounts. Not seeing the opportunities of the freedom you live in. That’s vulgar.

MH/FG How do you go about selecting contributors for each issue?

UJB The best results show when the artist has total freedom and the guts to use it. I chose artists because of their special view on things; on sex, on life. I want them to dig deeper into the universe of human sexuality and the human factor. At least it just has to look cool.

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MH/FG You made a leap from Issue #1 to a much more substantial Issue #2, from “underground fanzine to wannabe-highbrow magazine.” Is this natural growth or is there something more to it?

UJB This is natural growth, or better: we’re accomplishing our objective issue by issue and we will never stop improving or re-inventing ourself. With issue 2 we obviously gained more color without getting glossy. We fight against stupidity, convenience and the visual fascism the mass media forces on us. We are searching for the truth.

MH/FG What publications inspire you, and who do you look up to? Do you collect magazines yourself? What makes you choose one magazine over another?

UJB I love and collect magazines. It’s my fuel and a big spring of inspiration. I look up to our big sister 032c from Berlin. 032c is the best magazine in the world. Richardson Magazine is a benchmark for us too.

MH/FG Last question, what is next for TISSUE?

UJB We are releasing issue N°3 right now. We are looking for a small distributor in the U.S. and more outlets. We are thinking about opening a gallery in our hometown of Hamburg, Germany, at least for a few months to bring all of our friends and artists from around the world together in one place. Japan is our biggest market, maybe we should release issue N°3 there. Let’s see what happens!

The Beginning of the New Year Compilations…

It’s that time of the year again – when every news source, blog, and Jack Nicholson-type OCD co-worker (we all have one) takes stock of the year and posts a “Best Of” list consolidating and ranking whatever their favorite hobby might be. The New Year seems to turn every person into an Ebert or a Roeper. This year is no exception, and as we gain momentum towards the end of the year (end of the world?) the lists are beginning to pop-up like whack-a-moles.

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Here is a good one by Designers & Books — although this falls outside of the magazine target of this blog – its still pretty enough to post here. A few notables are the Torre David book which includes the photography of Iwan Baan (whom I previously posted about here), alongside the ever entertaining Abstract City by the New York Times visual-blogger Christoph Niemann, and a book called Hippopposites which I’ve never actually had a chance to page through, but whose cover (look at those Hippos!) I distinctly remember walking past many times in Rome last Christmas. I hope that it is still there this Christmas (leaving for Rome in a little over a week! yay) or else I’ll bathe myself in guilt for not getting it last year…

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HIPPOS!

Out now: Gypsé Eyes

The revival of nudie magazines a la Richardson and Jacques over the past few years is nothing new. Increased interest in promoting sexuality without resorting to the low art of pornography has led to a slew of new publications, some retro, others glossy, focused on communicating sexiness in alternative ways. Enter Gypsé Eyes

Gypsé Eyes is a magazine lovingly crafted from inside a Brooklyn studio that prides itself on “plumbing the depths and dimensions of sex, love, and relationships.” Led by designer-cum-publisher Tyler Lafreniere, each issue is brimming with work from up-and-coming designers, all within a well-crafted format that shifts dramatically from issue to issue. From its humble photocopied zine-ish beginnings in Issue 1 to a glossy Issue 3 (The Make Out Issue), to Issue 4 on large sheets of newsprint (The Magic Issue), the ever-changing style provides for surprising moments along the way.

Last week I received a very special package on my desk containing no less than 5 issues of Gypsé Eyes, a handful of magic buttons, a plastic necklace, a mix tape, a mysterious baggie labeled “Make-Out Powder” and two tiny phalli. The party bag is closely related to the mission of the magazine: to toe the line of in-your-face erotica alongside kitschy, tongue-in-cheek and unquestionably awkward moments that make it feel voyeuristic and amateur (in a good way). The general campy-ness of the content is something unique that I haven’t seen in this genre of magazine, but it comes off as a kind of love-child between Vice Magazine and Giddyheft. Hipster loving here we come!

Issue 5: The Food & Drink Issue

Gypsé Eyes “investigates the hilarity and loneliness of sex, love, and relationships,” and it does a hell of a job at capturing every possible face of sex from downright sleaziness and hipster pretentiousness to the humorous, clumsy and authentic. The themed structure creates highly digestible issues that effectively cross-breed erotica with outside topics, like magic and food, uncovering sexiness in previously unsexed locations.

Issue 5: The Food & Drink Issue

Issue 5: The Food & Drink Issue

But of course there is more to it than that, Gypsé Eyes publishes each issue in limited runs, and incorporates hand-made techniques like silkscreen and letterpress printing. Issues are framed within well structured layouts that gives each contributor’s work the center stage. High-quality graphic flourishes (especially in the Food & Drink issue, and I love the logo!) and careful production lets each issue shine in its own unique ways. Helpful charts and diagrams alongside well written stories add an additional layer to delve into within each issue.

Issue 4: The Magic Issue

Issue 4: The Magic Issue

It is no small feat to publish a magazine in this day and age, as a result Gypsé Eyes has harnessed the power of crowd-funding on more than one occasion via Kickstarter to raise the necessary funds. Every issue can also be downloaded here, but I strongly encourage you to spend a few bucks and get the printed editions. Gypsé Eyes is a wonderful addition to any bookshelf… or night stand.

The Slowness of Paradis 6

Paradis 6 Cover

Over the past year or more I have heard and read so much about Paradis, the brainchild of French art director Thomas Lenthal,  but for some reason or another I never got about to ordering a copy – it remained in the back of my mind until I stumbled across this copy a few weeks ago and could no longer resist. For whatever reason – maybe the amount of references I had read, I had a relatively defined image in my mind of what the volume would contain, but the contents were actually quite different than I initially anticipated.

Launched in 2006, the latest issue of Paradis is 400-pages thick and has been nearly two years in the making. This issue includes lengthy features from cultural heavy-weights such as Chuck Close, Cindy Sherman, Massimo Vignelli, Juergen Teller and Alain de Botton.

“What I am looking at” by Juergen Teller in Paradis 6

“What I am looking at” by Juergen Teller in Paradis 6

“The Dennis Freedman Collection” in Paradis 6

A shining gem in the issue is a piece on the furniture collection of Dennis Freedman, sprawling over 20 spreads and packed with a dense landscape of one-off furniture pieces and artwork. The photographs relate well to the contents of the whole Paradis issue — an assortment of mysteries and beauties, from famous to unknown.

“I’ve always felt that inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.” by Chuck Close and Hans Ulrich Obrist and Julia Peyton-Jones in Paradis 6

The two features on Chuck Close and Cindy Sherman border on dry, but a lengthy interview with a personal hero of mine, Massimo Vignelli, (interviewed by my amazing wife here) is a goldmine.

“In those days, the idea was that you should be able to design everything from a spoon to a city.” with Massimo Vignelli by Aaron Betsky in Paradis 6

“In those days, the idea was that you should be able to design everything from a spoon to a city.” with Massimo Vignelli by Aaron Betsky in Paradis 6

Paradis is worth a read – and I will definitely revisit it in the future (hopefully it doesn’t take 2 years for the next issue!). The features are the real drivers of the magazine, and there is lots to be said for curating such a high caliber team for a single issue. In a market awash with magazines overflowing with content, Paradis is a breath of fresh air due to its relative “slowness”. Spending time with Paradis is more akin to meandering through a quiet museum than flicking through a periodical.

Sandy’s Iconic Cover and The Story Behind It

Perhaps the most iconic photo to emerge post-Sandy is this cover of New York Magazine – shot by architecture photographer Iwan Baan (whom I actually just met a few weeks ago at a Halloween Party hosted by Storefront for Art and Architecture). Following the storm, Manhattan was left divided in two, that is “SOPO” and “NOPO” (“South of Power” and “North of Power”) for almost a week.

By now this cover image has already gained lots and lots of coverage. There is one anecdote that I’ve read in a few places that goes like this:

“What was on your mind when you took this picture?” Iwan replied, “As I looked at the glowing Goldman Sachs tower and the bright buildings surrounding this financial icon—I saw who has the power and how problematic that is for this country.”

I think that the conclusion that Iwan reaches is forced. The fact is that Goldman Sachs was crazily prepared for the storm, while others brushed off the severity of impending Sandy (_cough NYU Hospital _cough). In an interview with the CEO of Goldman Sachs he states their borderline OCD preparation for the storm, and frustration following criticisms of Goldman Sachs after the storm.

All in all the cover is gorgeous and bound to be remembered down that line as an iconic image – but it is also important to remember that “iconic” can cause vast over-simplifications of complex circumstances.