A book's cover design is a major part in my decision every time I walk into a bookstore. To me a books cover should give the reader the initial mood and feeling of the story thats about to be embarked upon. When I picked up Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood without any prior knowledge of the story or even the author himself I felt that its cover gave a sense of perfection..From the colour choices and arrangement to the beautiful girl in the background it gave me the confidence to buy the book thinking, why would such amazing cover design be wasted on a uninteresting novel. Thank God I was right.
I finally decided to do some research on John Gall, the man credited for the novels design. Unsurprisingly, he has quite a few covers that really catch my eye. On a site simply called "Covers" John takes part in an interesting interview about his life and involvement with book cover design.
Here is a 'back number' interview I did with independent writer Steven Vogel early last summer after the release of his book STREETWEAR- Insiders Guide. Despite the somewhat unattractive title the book is very honest and intelligently written. Nonetheless, the interview turned out to be a interesting set of Q&A and actually demonstrated one reoccurring theme throughout his book, the Internet and how it has almost single handedly shaped the way street culture is organized. Having exchanged everything for this interview via e-mail was something very ironic for me.
First off, can you give us a little bit of your background and information on what you’re currently up to?
I’m a skater, musician, fan and writer. Most of my past time I spent partying, skating and / or making music or fretting about music, and occasionally I write for a living too. Currently, or for the last year I’ve been working with Burton on all their special projects which has been very enjoyable. Mostly, I sit around play guitar, think too much, sometimes write the thoughts down and drink too much.
What motivated you to start your book STREETWEAR?
I have always liked writing and the subject matter is second nature to me, and in combination with my previous endeavors one thing led to another. It wasn’t as if I woke up one morning and said to myself “well damn Vogel, time to write that streetwear book today.” It all came about quite organically.
In the book you chose a host of persons to discuss their thoughts and roots in culture. What is it that you see in those individuals that represent the essence of street culture?
For one, the majority of people I chose we’re either friends, colleagues and / or people who’s work I have been into over the years. After that I chose some other contributors based on their contribution to the whole to bring a little subjectivity to the table.
Blogs have played a major role in the development of streetwear, one that is positive or negative depending on the person. Do you feel that they can ultimately ruin the true meaning of street culture, putting focus more on hype than the people and ideas behind it?
No. Blogs cannot, lazy people that rest on their laurels can. There are some blogs and web magazines out there that really do contribute creatively and intelligently to the whole, which is great.
With the recent explosion of the fixed gear bike culture and New Rave, what place do you feel they have in street culture?
Well, that’s for each one of us to decide, I am hardly anyone to tell other people what is cool and what not. If people are into it, right on, that’s their gig and if they have to call it street culture to escape their sheltered suburban hell, cool. All I know for myself is that I couldn’t give a shit about New Rave, or rave in general, I have always hated that shit. I never understand the co-relation some people, especially in Europe, try to create between dance culture and what I am into and wrote about. Someone once told me it was all about looking hot in a club, but that’s bullshit. When I grew up I was never let into these “cool” clubs wearing what I wanted so I spent my time skating at night and hanging out with my friends. That’s something people really forgot today, being into what I wrote about wasn’t cool in 90s.
What ultimately makes a particular movement ‘accepted’ in culture? Is it just based off the fact some respected people are into the subject?
Interesting point, I never really thought about it like that and yeah you
are right. It's an interesting discussion whether the "fans" determine what street
culture is or those who provide the goods that constitute street culture.
It’s almost a catch 22 situation, chicken and egg sorta thing. That's why I don't consider myself to be so much a part of what this subculture has turned into. I think I am still stuck in the 90s.
What is the current state of street culture, where do you think its going?
Again, that’s something very individual I think. I know people who are completely fed up with it all and still participate in it every day because it is their job. On the other hand I also know people that after 20 years are still very passionate about it. I guess I am trying to say that you cannot generalize it, I think there are parts of what used to be street culture, which have removed itself from the greater part of it and new elements, have together. Some say this youth sub culture is becoming the new “urban” and to a certain degree I can see those signs as well, but there will always be an angry rebellious underbelly to it, that it is not urban outfitters conform.
Tell us some of your favorite young talent in street culture. Who are some brands/people you feel are promising, focusing more on substance than hype?
A young new brand, that’s a tough one, I really like Garbstore out of London, and even though it’s young brand, the person behind it has been at it for a long time.
In regards to American, European, and Asian corporations which do you feel have made the best attempt to understand street culture?
None, even though some American corporates have hired some interesting people, it will interesting how well they will do within the corporate confines.
To me doing a book solely on the streetwear aspect of street culture opens up a lot of possibilities, would you consider making a series of books focusing on different aspects of street culture?
Absolutely not, and maybe yes. At this point in time I am really not interested in making another book on youth culture, especially one that focuses on clothing. Maybe on Music or on People, that could be interesting.
Any last words?
Enjoy yourself it’s later than you think.
Black Lodges│Steven Vogel
Interview originally recorded on 4 June, 2007
032c consists of a workshop of writers and R&D design managing consultants based out of Berlin, Germany.
Their description and The New York Times beautiful statement about the 032c Magazine is amazing in its own right. I'd like to get my hands on the publication ASAP.
032c is a bi-annual contemporary culture magazine at the intersections of fashion, art and politics. Finding the new in the old and the old in the new, 032c invites leading and emerging creatives to collaborate on mono thematic issues. It has been considered to be "dedicated to the celebration of ideas" by i-D, "revue ultra-pointue" by French Vogue, or simply as "the Berlin magazine that propogates an aesthetic of brutal elegance" by Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. "The magazine fuses art and architecture, literature, urban studies and fashion in ways", states New York Times, "that can make one forget how depressing a visit to a newsstand has become."
still from "video portrait-amanda-"
Good photography in its purest form. Paris based Swede, Lina Scheynius has a sort of erie yet calm quality to her work. From her photography alone I'd like to know more about her and seemingly interesting lifestyle.
+ Her video portraits are very beautiful as well and further exemplify the whole erie thing I stated above.
If in Paris, Lina is showing work at a group show which goes on until 27 avril.
Kern and Sons chez Mycroft, c'est :
13 rue Ternaux 75011 PARIS
(m) Oberkampf (bus) 46, 56 et 96
I had always loved those days..a class where all we do is watch old science films from laser disc, this short video created in 1977 by the office of Charles and Ray Eames go's through 'the power in increments of 10'. The video also demonstrates how there is not only a Universe that surrounds our planet but one within ourself and pretty much all other raw matter.
Cultural entrepreneur Jack Heller recently brought attention to a new film in production called New York, I Love You. Apparently the film is going to be the sister movie to the Paris, Je' t'aime project. I'm anxious to see how the idea is going to be interpreted from the world and eyes of a New Yorker. The possibilities are virtually endless, if done right can make for an epic set of short films.
I swear this is the last of my New York related posts.
+New York, I Love You
Brushing up on my networking skills was one of the main goals I set for myself during my trip to New York. So I decided to interview employees of some the the city's most respected shops. The questions focus a little bit about personal views on the city's urban framework and their shop in general. Unfortunately I was only successful at Opening Ceremony, where I met Tama a young soft spoken creative who couldn't understand why I picked her for the interview. Here's what she had to say:
How did you find yourself being involved with Opening Ceremony?
A friend hooked me up with it.
Would you say the experience inside Opening Ceremony is based around the clothing itself or a specific idea?
The experience you get when walking in here is a little bit disorganized but everything is stimulating in the right way. There are a lot of different price ranges and designers that Carol Lim and Humberto Leon feel like would be fun.
From a peronal observation, what shape do you see Opening Ceremony taking in the future?
Its already pretty well known so I feel like it’s going to be more staple, not too much downtown specific. Originally, mostly people downtown knew about it and not so many living uptown.
Are you pursuing any creative endeavors at the moment?
I make jewelry.
Favourite culture related publication, print or web based?
+Word? i-D magazine's 'The Couples' issue
I recently took a seven day trip out to New York City and bought a Canon Snappy 50 to accompany me. I was anxious to see how the $10 camera would hold up and I have to say I'm impressed with some of the shots that came out of the 26 year old point and shoot.
Originally, I was waiting to upload these photos to a now debunked personal webspace project that was still in the brainstorming stages..I had just decided to throw a few of them on here for fun.