Interview with Evan Pricco of Juxtapoz Magazine
For our latest interview feature we sat down with the managing editor of one of the best art magazines around Juxtapoz - Evan Pricco to find out what is it like to run a monthly magazine, traveling, never sleeping, state of modern art and oh so much more. Evan was kind enough to give us quite detailed answers so get your read on!
YS: What is your background and how did get started at Juxtapoz?
Evan Pricco: My background is both literature and art history, which they both go hand and hand when you study and sort of meander a bit outside of your day-to-day studies. Especially when you are studying literature, the authors hung out with the artists, and vice versa. So that is how art attracted me. But initially, I worked in book publishing and had a few connections and friends working in the art world in San Francisco so I began to pay attention more closely because I was working at a publisher that did computer books. Not especially exciting. I got into Juxtapoz because there had been an opening, and I had done work with the editor before, working in journalistic capacities, so the opportunity opened up. I had been a fan of Juxtapoz, and when i was 24, I was all of sudden the managing editor and a bit shocked by it. Things opened up, and I just went for it.
Estevan Oriol and Mikhael Subotzky in South Africa
YS: As managing editor what is your day-to-day like?
Evan Pricco: We have a solid staff, but a small staff. I'm the managing editor of the print magazine, and the editor of the website. My day to day with the magazine is checking in with writers, art directing photos with photographers, asking tons of questions of people I respect about what they are seeing in their various cities, editing, writing, answering emails, etc. Its a babysitting job in a sense, you just make sure everything is running smoothly, people are turning things in on time etc. Its a bit of everything. The online work is the constant, 24-7 project. I prefer to have a website that operates all the time, for each time zone, for each part of the world that reads the site. I want Brazil posts, Japan posts, Germany posts, San Francisco posts, all going at the time those people are waking up... that is the challenge, it is fun, and its a constant. I prefer to have both original content of shows we go to, but I like finding the random things that everyone can enjoy, and not just a hardcore art enthusiasts who goes to all the fairs. I want something for everyone, all the time, on the site. The magazine we can be more precise, timeless...
YS: Traveling is a big part of your job, does that inspire you to approach and look at things differently, maybe steer mags direction into more of a diverse plain?
W)Taps office Tokyo
To answer you question, which I'm rambling a bit, traveling is a huge part of what we do, and I think it has broaden, and solidified, what we do.
Evan Pricco: Its funny being a monthly art magazine because as we all know, the really good artists don't build multiple bodies of work in 12-month span. They have the luxury of doing multiple shows, of course, throughout the year, but mostly stick to a certain look that we can all enjoy throughout a period of 12-24-26 months. That said, being a monthly mag means you can both report of the staples of the scene and the rising stars who we think will be the staples in the years to come. Being monthly, and there aren't many monthly mags in "art and culture" section anymore means you get to cover a lot more. The editor and I are very conscious of covering both things on the pulse but also putting a major emphasis on connecting the dots of history to the current trend. That is why recently we did a piece on Ed Big Daddy Roth, because we felt that younger readers never really had the chance of learning about this pivotal artist; he is one of the legends, but maybe you ask an 18-year old art student, and they don't know the significance. Then, I think of a few years ago, and someone like Conor Harrington, who has grown into such a stellar international talent, really great, and we had him on the cover just as his ascension was beginning. (I did that interview, so I always think back fondly of it).
One of my favorite issues we ever did had James Jean, George Lois, and PEZ all in an issue, all featured with 12-page interviews, and I remember when I got that issue back from the printer I thought to myself, "how great is having these three in one issue?" It was random, but it made so much sense because we live in such a world now where you can Tumble yourself into such a random mess of good "curation" these days, and in our magazine, we touch so many different moods and genres in each issue. Keep it interesting.
YS: It was such a good issue! I remember the cover quite well it was done by James Jean.
Founder of Juxtapoz magazine Robert Williams
YS: It was such a good issue! I remember the cover quite well it was done by James Jean.
My all-time favorite issue, to date, is our recent Public Art issue. I think we got it completely right. We took a stance, we got some of the best names, and they talked about a subject that, although has been covered a ton, was covered in a new way. Matt, the editor-in-chief, and I really worked hard on it, took years to get it exactly to what we wanted to say, and had such wonderful interviews with JR, ESPO, Swoon, Saber, Revok, Ron English, El Mac, and public art organizers from around the world we just made it special. I think that is a case where you work on something each month, but you can still really hone in and make it great.
Stay tuned for the July 2012 issue... again.. a gem... interesting, new, great help from the good people of Adult Swim... readers will really be into it.
YS: Juxtapoz is a San Francisco based magazine what are your thoughts on the city's changing art landscape?
Evan Pricco: San Francisco has a very tight knit art scene, a good scene, one that I really enjoy and there are some great galleries that have broad scopes internationally and some that do a great job on a local level. I like Ratio 3, Electric Works, Rena Bransten, Needles and Pens, Southern Exposure, FIFTY24SF, Park Life, Fecal Face... to name a few. And we have some really great talent, like the obvious names such as Barry McGee, Tauba Auerbach, who have made big names for themselves on an international level. Then you have the Ed Hardy, Thomas Campbell, Serena Mitnik-Miller, Grime, Bohemia Signs, Monica Canilao, Bill Daniel, Richard Colman, Andrew Schoultz, Jeremy Fish, those artists who have done so very well for themselves outside the city...
What I have always loved about SF, and I have lived here for 30 years, is that no matter how many technology companies are based here, how many gadgets, dot coms, apps, and new media projects are born in the SF area, we do a really good job of keeping things handmade and organic in the art world. Sign-painting here is excellent, a very good scene here. There is still a bit of a underground, roots scene here that makes SF unique, that is beyond any blog post... it always makes me proud to hear about SF and Oakland artists making waves.
YS: It would seem that contemporary art world became more and more accessible and understood in recent years, MOCa's "Art in Streets" exhibition is a good example. Do you think general public's interest waters the magic down or is it a good thing?
Evan Pricco: I just watched an excellent short on 60 Minutes where Morley Safer goes to Miami for Art Basel 2011 and reports on the ridiculous popularity of contemporary art, and the amount of wealthy people that are investing in it and spending billions yearly on contemporary art. What I loved about it is that its not just the "Art In the Streets" crowd that is dealing with immense popularity, its the Gagosians, the Blum & Poes, the White Cubes, that are seeing unprecedented popularity at the moment. Right now, art is more popular than ever. And I think its a good thing. We can't all afford a $4.3m Gerhard Richter painting, but I like that more people are learning about artists and art now than ever. I think its healthy, I think its good. I like that we have people on our Facebook page challenging us, or challenging other readers. I think any dialogue about art is healthy. I love the debates i saw on my own instragram account when I saw the new Damien Hirst exhibition at the Tate, and the praise for the excellent Yayoi Kasuma exhibit on the floor above. Art being popular doesn't mean that its worth any less to me as a cultural indicator. I think it makes it more accessible.
Damien Hirst "Dots" at Tate Modern, London
You say "understood," and what I think is best is that understanding art doesn't really matter to me. I get a feeling in my gut when I see Alice Neel or Lucian Freud, I feel something powerful. When I see Damien Hirst, I get a whole different feeling and analytical experience. When I see Stanley Mouse, I get another thing. And Banksy the same... or Blu. Or a Mike Mills film... I'm not looking for understanding in a broader sense, I just like that it gets people talking (not to borrow from Will Ferrell, Kanye, and Jay-Z). Would we rather people talk about whether Damien Hirst's work should be in the Tate Modern, or should college football have a playoff system? I'm going to side with art...
YS: Juxtapoz website has been getting better and better. Is that part of your responsibilities as well?
Evan Pricco: Thank you!!! Yes, myself, a couple great contributors, and my team that runs Erotica, Illustration, Graffiti and Street Art are unstoppable with great eyes and really do the time to find the best stuff. It is hard to cover page after page each day, but there is so much going on, and we try to inform, entertain, report, review, and at times, be funny, everyday. I want my art friends, my mom, an art student, or a casual reader to get something from the site each day. And, I want someone to be offended by at least one thing. And usually, its something in Erotica, but Hannah Stouffer edits that section... she is good at getting all that news...
But its hard! Man, I have been running the site for about 2 years now, on top of the magazine, and its 24-7, all the time, work. The magazine is hard work, and monthly deadlines are a grind, but the website allows you to experiment and see what readers really get attracted by. A lot of things you on the site make their way into the magazine... a great test group.
We just opened it up. We said to ourselves, there is so much more than art shows... I just want to see portfolios of new artists, all the time, I love that. I love how our graffiti section is just a relentless selection of good stuff from around the world. I love the illustration section, too, and how broad that can be. The first thing I wanted to do, on Day 1, was just open the website to everything and everyone, and I think we have done that.
YS: Do you feel the website is a bit of competition due to it's immediacy and ease of access or an addition to a printed mag?
Evan Pricco: I think the internet in general is one big competition to everything that is not the internet. Of course, we battle with the idea that people come to the site only, and don't get to see the really well thought out, extended pieces in the magazine, but then I feel like mag readers who don't go to Juxtapoz.com miss a bit of the more relaxed, day-to-day art news. But I always treat the website as an addition, an extension of our overall brand and printed mag. Its good to include extras that didn't make it into the mag on a given month onto the site, and its a fantastic way of testing out what readers like with immediate response. It quite advantageous to have a popular, well-read site to go along with our already established print magazine.
YS: What have you been excited about lately?
Evan Pricco: Good question. What did I see recently that i liked... Lucian Freud, David Shrigley, Kasuma in London, there is a lot of fantastic graphic, abstract work I like right now... I just like that so many people are paying attention. Very healthy. I really liked the NADA fair in NYC, that was a great afternoon walkthrough. Love the sign painting scene in SF. Love the Alice Neel retrospective at David Zwirner. Loved my trips to FAME and Nuart this past year... anything Roger Ballen does excites me. Love Jonas Wood's sports paintings, and I really loved that the Costacos Brothers had a retrospective tribute this past year. Saw a great show at Eli Ridgway in SF recently by Matthew Palladino, and anything Raymond Pettibon does with baseball end up being some of my favorites.
Evan Pricco: I don't want to leave names out... but what do I like right now.... Marcel Dzama, Matthew Palladino, Jason Jagel, Remed, Ekta, Conor Harrington, Escif, Vhils, Sage Vaughn, Herbert Baglione, Augustus Thompson, Monica Canilao, Serena Mitnik-Miller, Alex Kopps, Nat Russell, Parra, Dan Witz, Jeff Canham, Basco, David Shrigley, Misaka Kawai, Cory Arcangel, Peter Funch, Wes Lang, Brendan Monroe, Blu, Moneyless, Lucy McLauchlan.... this can go on and on.
YS: Thank you!