I’ve fallen hard for Installation Magazine, and I’m just one issue in. Created by A. Moret, Literary Director, and Field Sells, Creative Director of California-based Installation Media, the quarterly Installation Magazine brings you emerging and established art from artists working in a variety of mediums. I chatted with Sells and Moret about their new venture, California, and what it’s like to digitize art. This kicks of five awesome interviews we have for you this week, thanks to support by Mag+.
Having been born and raised in Southern California, Moret and Sells were drawn to the idea of creating a magazine that was written from a West Coast perspective. The debut issues centers on the theme of California to set the tone for the publication as a whole.
“We’re not tailoring our content to a specific coast or region, however, we want to create a symbiotic channel for creative “import and export” from California. Our reader is a new breed of collector, including a new generation either starting a collection or expanding on their families’ legacy. They’re smart, already own a product of high-end design [iPad], and curious about both innovative and classic art mediums,” Sells says. They seem to have done a good job so far, as their readership is growing very quickly – reaching a global audience (a plus to using a digital medium).
Moret explains, “I attended a progressive art school in Santa Monica from Kindergarten to my senior year of high school. The environment was laid back and fused endless sunshine with live music and art exhibitions curated in the school’s gallery. Looking back I realize how formative those years were in my development as a Californian art writer because the landscape is inextricably linked to the aesthetic that the Left Coast inspires… I like to think that you can feel the warmth of the sun when reading “California” because our goal was to make the feeling of living in this surreal space tangible. While our forthcoming issues have unique themes assigned to them, I feel that there will always be a suggestion of California because it is our part of our DNA.” You can feel it yourself upon opening the first issue, which starts with a video of a sun-kissed couple on a beach from Keegan Gibbs with the slow, lazy sound of waves crashing in the background:
That’s the beauty of going digital; you can interact with the art. “When I look at art in galleries and museums I like to get really close to it and see the fibers of the canvas or the pixels in the photograph. The unflinching lens of the iPad allows us to get incredibly close without compromising quality. Now that the Retina Display is available to us we are able to make beautiful images even more stunning and clear and the with the iPad you can view artwork from multiple distances unlike the inherent flatness of a magazine page or computer screen,” Moret says. Sells adds, “I love the tactile, visceral and physical interaction with art. That was missing for me when I picked up my favorite journals and magazines. We were going to release Installation Magazine as a limited edition, numbered, print edition paired with an iPad version. We immediately pulled the print project, and went 100% digital because we realized art deserved a medium like this. We tested all of the options from Woodwing, Adobe, Aquafada, and Mag+. The second we tested [Mag+] we were floored. We realized the art community and publishing had never seen this before and we could create some amazing experiences with this platform – quickly and efficiently. We wouldn’t have to hire new developers and that was appealing.”
But how to you take this interactive, new exciting digital format and present people with art and words and have it all make sense? As the Creative Director, Sells needed to make some big decisions. His background in cinematography and photography afforded him a different perspective than if he had worked in traditional print design. “John Maeda’s Law of Simplicity has a great influence on me and I designed the layout and interactivity levels loosely based it. I’m constantly adding and subtracting, working intuitively, designing each page or template from a very raw structure of the one before to allow a complete flexibility to react to the elements as their placed. The ebb and flow lets the artwork control my actions, and not the other way around. Each issue will be different; what will keep our magazine’s design cohesive, will be our consistent and controlled adaptations.” Some of his inspirations include PROJECT Magazine, Self-Service, Visionaire and the British Journal of Photography.
I can’t imagine having to curate one of these issues. In the debut issue, there are “Transition” sections between each feature that show works from emerging artists either who just recently graduated or are currently enrolled in fine art programs, and could also become an unexpected collaboration that combines art with advertising, and even a spot in which an artist can create something custom for Installation. Finding the featured artists is an intimate process, Sells says, “we don’t just want to do an article on their new work. We want to get to know them: who they are, where their headed, and allow a glimpse of vulnerably that invites our readers to connect.”
The next issue, “In Blank We Trust,” is due out at the end of this month and explores conviction of the body, mind, spirit, environment and written word. Featuring twice as many artists as the debut issue and including installation, poetry, video and performance art coverage, I’m looking forward to flipping through its “pages” soon. I love that Installation has no issue numbering, too – each issue is instead referred to by its name. Not becoming chronological by nature, the issues will never feel outdated or old.
They will also be releasing a special Photography edition in May. You can download the first issue of Installation Magazine for free here.
This designer interview series is supported by our partner, Mag+, the brains behind a free InDesign plug-in for creating tablet magazines, without a programmer. If you know InDesign, you can create and publish your own iPad or Android tablet magazine complete with rich media and interactivity. See designers being inspired and get started with Mag+ iPad publishing here.