Unsigned – a new zine curated by BBH dedicated to showcasing diverse undiscovered talents

04.12.2019 | Art , Blog , Fashion | BY:

Unsigned came to fruition by dint of strong will, creative vision and a desire to celebrate emerging talent in all its forms. 

Surrounded by creatives struggling to find sufficient avenues to showcase their work, Tom Burns felt inspired to provide an event that allowed just this. Working alongside Art Director Stephanie Flynn, Film producer Nnena Nwakodo and Strategist Sofia Bodger at the global advertising agency BBH – they saw an opportunity to do just this at the agency. Through its creative department UP @ BBH – the cultural heart of BBH, a curated programme of art, music, film, technology, talks and events – this team launched the first Unsigned in 2018. 

Twin spoke with the Unsigned team and a selection of artists included in the most recent issue of it’s zine to learn more about its journey towards democratising the creative industry. 

The idea itself was initially pitched as a talent fair to be hosted at BBH; The idea would be to invite a variety of artists into the agency to pitch up a space and showcase their work, with their books and prints on show for people to view. When the idea was given the go ahead, and the team established, they went on to develop the concept and see how it could be best placed within the industry.

 Unsigned grew out of their close and insightful collaboration. The team explains; 

“Our observation was that the advertising industry was losing relevance. In 1990, 31% of UK adults thought that the adverts were as good as the programme, in 2018 it dropped to a meagre 14% (TGI, 2018). One reason for this is that we too often resort to established talent over emerging talent. More so than ever before. Tighter deadlines and smaller budgets mean it’s easy to become complacent. To take the safe route. Brands are nervous and need to sell, which leads to producers and creatives alike defaulting to that ‘safe pair of hands’ talent rather than taking a risk.”

Unsigned was created as a tool to challenge perspectives within the agency, opening its eyes to the plethora of individuals working within the creative and cultural realms who may often be overlooked for commissioned work due to a lack of experience; Unsigned was an opportunity for us to observe the pool of fantastic, diverse makers surrounding us. 

Attending degree shows, using social media, call outs, word-of-mouth, and recommendations to source talent, the team explored every avenue in order to find and showcase raw, cutting edge and diverse content; 

“Over the months, the artists would be invited into the agency to meet and chat through their work. They’d often bring in a portfolio, or perhaps an iPad and go through their projects. It’s been an incredibly exciting experience meeting all these artists and has massively enhanced the team’s art buying knowledge. It’s also been an invaluable way to remain educated on current trends within the art world, and take note on some of the key narratives that lead their work.”

Speaking with photographers and visual storytellers Anett Pósalaki, Jonathan Wykes, Daniel Jackont and Domino Leaha from this year’s issue provides insight into the events success as offering visibility to emerging talent within the creative industry. 

Born in Hungary, Anett Pósalaki’s images are not replicas of a reality, not even composed alternative dimensions. Instead, they are lucky segments of life, where everything has found its perfect place. Pósalaki explains;

“these little details become a manifesto of quietness, leaving a sense of what life should be. My work is to show all the tranquility around me, around everyone. “

For Pósalaki, the zine gave her the opportunity to showcase her work to a new audience, offering up potential collaborations with designers and magazines. Similarly both Daniel Jackont and Domino Leah highlight the access that Unsigned provided for them as foreigners to London’s creative scene. 

Living and working in Tel Aviv, Burns came across the photographic work of Jackont through instagram; 

“Earlier this year, Tom discovered my work and invited me to join the Unsigned exhibition. The event’s concept gave me an opportunity to make acquaintance with new approaches and mix different styles of photography and visual arts. Presenting my work alongside brilliant artists and creators from all around the globe. Thanks to the exhibition, I was noticed and have been contacted with regards to inquiries and UK representation.”

Originating from a small village in Italy, Domino Leaha’s images are often intimate snapshots into the lives of her subjects; 

“I like to capture their vulnerability, without touching them. I think of them as delicate objects. They are precious to me. I want to see their scars I want to push their boundaries and see how far they will let go. I am interested in those boundaries that lie between strangers. There is an immense mystery in that space, it is a place where anything is possible. “

Describing herself as shy, Domino explains the importance of Unsigned to help elevate and promote her work; 

“I don’t like to share or advertise my work a lot so for me it was really a challenge to be able to do this and I felt great. Also the opportunity to be seen and that people can actually asked to work for them or share your work is amazing. “

Image by Jonathan Wykes

British photographer Jonathan Wykes draws inspiration from popular culture – with an interest in fashion and hair styling – fusing these elements together to present a fantasised version of his subjects. For Wykes, Unsigned was the first public showcasing of his works; 

“It introduced me to a community of other unrepresented artists out there, having the opportunity to be featured in an exhibition of upcoming talent has definitely been an exciting experience for me. The exposure from the show has been beneficial and I’m extremely grateful to Tom Burns and the rest of the team for recognising all of our work and for bringing us all together.”

Since 2018 the Unsigned zine has grown from featuring 31 artists across Film, Photography and Illustration to now include an additional total of 49. This year’s exhibition to celebrate its second issue attracted over 600 visitors, featuring 33 large scale prints and over 350 prints as well as 9 individual screenings for the directors, which included an installation by exciting up and coming filmmaker Starkie Reay. 2019 also featured a live performance from soul sister duo, The KTNA. The team itself expanded in its second year to accommodate its fine execution, with Beth Mechem, Thandi Mibre, Lauren Gillies and Angus Lees completing the Unsigned team. 

This BBH initiative will continue to bring underrepresented emerging talent to the fore, providing a platform for this work within the agency and the wider industry. Stay tuned for Unsigned’s 2020 plans, which Burns explains are to make it: … “bigger, better and even more collaborative. We want to push the creative potential, and make sure we are vigilant of being as inclusive to all different diversities along the way.”

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The Anonymous Sex Journal & a new age of erotica

07.09.2015 | Literature | BY:

The Anonymous Sex Journal – that pleasurable, pocket-sized zine – is back and the new issue is all about solo sexual adventures, or the “ménage à mois”. For those not familiar, the cheeky zine consists of anonymously submitted stories that range from awkward and sordid, to hilarious and endearing – adjectives which often describe the broad range of human sexual experiences. Created by London-based editor, Alex Tieghi-Walker, its success lies in the name: anonymity, where contributors are freed of having their names attached to revealing and compelling sexual exposés.

In a similar way that iconic gay zine, Butt, did over a decade ago, The Anonymous Sex Journal represents a new wave of sex-themed magazines with strong artistic sensibilities that are changing the way we look at sex. Other examples are Irene in Paris, Treats from Los Angeles, and Adult in New York, all of which are shifting the atmosphere of sexual discourse towards a more honest and diverse one.

With a vested focus on art direction, they sell at a premium with the aim of, as described by the New York Times, “moving sex periodicals from under the mattress up onto the coffee table.” One of the best aspects of The Anonymous Sex Journal is its focus on celebrating the creativity of one illustrator per issue – for this fourth issue, Laura Callaghan (her work is featured above) – making them as beautiful as they are fun, and increasing the publication’s good humour.

The new issue of The Anonymous Sex Journal: The Solo Issue has been restocked at Ditto Press and submissions for the next issue, “The Hotel Issue of Dirty Weekenders,” are already being taken.

theanonymoussexjournal.com

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Illuminati Girl Gang

09.04.2013 | Blog , Culture | BY:

Any news of an independent, creative publishing endeavour is good news, but Illuminati Girl Gang is especially noteworthy.

Available in both an online and print format, the publication founded by poet and editor Gabby Gabby is a celebration of female poets, artists and writers.

Containing everything from short fiction to collage work, Twin recommends you check this one out.

vol3.illuminatigirlgang.com

 

 

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KnockBack Times

06.09.2012 | Blog , Culture | BY:

Taking its title from the concept of traditional women’s magazines constantly degrading us due to lack of designer wardrobe/überly attractive partner/perfected physical appearance, KnockBack Magazine is an A5-sized package of feminist fun.

Having launched its debut issue with the tagline “The magazine for women who aren’t silly bitches on a diet”, the publication with tongue in cheek humour and razor sharp wit is currently on its sixth issue.

Twin caught up with contributions editor Hilary Hazard to talk about modern feminism, independent zine making and the joys of not taking life too seriously…

As a self-described “anti-Cosmopolitan”, how did KnockBack Magazine come about and what is the mantra behind it?
KnockBack (KB) was started because there weren’t any magazines talking to us. Sure we wear high heels and mascara, but we also have ideas and think being mean about someone because they look bad is worse than looking bad. We value good manners and good times and we were bored of being patronised by women’s media. We also wanted to show that ‘light hearted’ doesn’t have to mean ‘idiotic’ we can do low-brow and intelligent and good looking. We can, and we did.

What does feminism mean to you today?
I really don’t know anymore. I thought I had it down and it was just about respect but then a proper feminist kicked me in the shin and now they make me nervous.

KB aims to occupy the middle ground between political feminism – which is all female circumcision and rape statistics* – and women’s pop culture, which is all deodorant and celebrities. They are the two extremes of the female experience, KB is the happy medium.

*not a million miles from the comment I made just before getting kicked in the shin.

Issue themes have ranged from Hardcore to Smoke and Mirrors. How do you decide on the concept of each issue and what is the process of producing an independent zine like?
We use the themes as a guideline to be ignored in the face of something better. The process is a slow one, everything has to be perfect (it isn’t) and everyone has to work hard (we don’t). The problem with working independently, with no advertisers, deadlines or money, is that when we have meetings we also have bottles of wine and parties and lie-ins and days off and roast dinners.

Who are your feminist icons?
Jane Bussman (author of The Worst Date Ever), Tank Girl and my Nan, because they’re fearless and funny and they work hard. My Nan got alopecia when she was 27 so spent her whole life bald as a melon. When we were kids we’d wait until she was in the shower and then steal her wig so she had to chase us while we ran away screaming. She is a tough old broad, but she is also confident and content and that’s a massive challenge for modern women, even skinny ones with pretty hair. Most women spend their whole lives thinking they’re fat and ugly and comparing themselves to people who are thinner and prettier, my Nan just got on with it.

Jane Bussman is a comedy writer who went to Uganda because of a handsome US aid worker and subsequently wrote a book that somehow manages to bridge the gap between comedy and horrific war crimes, corruption and a child army (which is a f*cking big gap). And I like Tank Girl’s shoes.

We find feminist icons in women who are cool to each other and are proud to be women and are good at it. The KB hero is Tina Fey (Liz Lemon), because she’s funny and she loves sandwiches.

Who is the typical KB reader?
Students doing PhD’s in women’s studies, and the editor of The Spectator.

There is always a humorous tone to KB, is this an attempt to put a bit more fun back into the publishing industry?
It’s partly because funny women are something we set out to celebrate, and we really don’t take ourselves seriously at all. But also if we did straight down the line feminism stuff then only feminists would read KB, this isn’t for them, they’ve got forums all over the shop. Plus we’re funny women and it’s ours so it would be weird to make it serious.

What can we expect from the next upcoming issue?
A long wait, a snazzy cover and some jokes (but not as many as we’d like because half the team had babies or got married and everyone’s too exhausted to stay angry).

Last but not least, what are some KB words of wisdom to live by?
If it’s not funny, don’t do it, if it’s not free don’t eat it and f*ck cupcakes.

knockback.co.uk

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Art-Zine

16.04.2012 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

What do you get when two young creative women, call together their friends to contribute to a zine dissecting what it is to be creative and female? The answer is teenVAG, a zine that explores coming of age, beauty and the body from a firmly feminine viewpoint. Confounding stereotypes and creating new imagery that fits their own feelings, Twin spoke to Natasha and Allison about teenVAG…

Where did the name teenVAG come from?
The name “teenVAG” is rooted in yesteryear conversation with an especially dear group of friends- we often threw around the word “pussy.”  Coincidentally, we all previously held internships at Condé Nast.

What thoughts preoccupy you as artists and how is teenVAG a conduit for them?
There are infinite forms of expressions. Collectively, the constant desire to create has fuelled our greatest artistic ventures and our initiative enables these visions to come into fruition. We are constantly developing ideas, themes, and insights while cultivating a unique rapport with an incredibly talented group of our contemporaries. teenVAG has allowed us to create an evolving, communal space we share amongst our featured artists and audience.

Why did you feel the need to form a female collective of artists?
New York is a super hub of creatives. The artists we worked with on Issue # 1 inspired the idea of an all female project- they set the groundwork for the basis of the project. The progression of Issue # 2 continues to foster a strong voice and female presence we feel most necessary amongst the creative community.

Why is a zine still an effective way of communicating ideas in the era of blogs, tumblrs etc?
It is tangible- there is physical contact with our audience. The viewer experiences the artist’s work without interruption and becomes a part of the collective dialogue taking place. The zine becomes a perpetual vehicle of communication that can always be revisited. In our digital age it offers a slight sense of nostalgia and a quiet escape from the fast paced nature of the information super-highway.

 

Who are the other female artists involved in the zine?
We work with twelve artists each issue- a mix of friends, acquaintances and artists we admire. Issue # 1 focused on the basis of photography and featured the work of Nina Hartmann, Sandy Kim, Maggie Lee, Nicole Lesser, Kathy Lo, Katheryn Love, Luisa Opalesky, Logan White, Coco Young, and Nadriah Zakariya.

Issue # 2 encompasses several mediums ranging from sculpture, to illustration, painting and mixed media as well as the inclusion of photography. Issue # 2 features work by Aimee Brodeur, Elizabeth Jaeger, Olivia Locher, Carly Mark, Katie Miller, Anamaria Morris, Sophie Van der Perre, Rebecca Andrea Richard, Tara Sinn, Brooke Ellen Taylor, Alexandra Velasco, and Jessica Williams.

What, if any, obstacles do female artists still face?
teenVAG: When initially reaching out to print teenVAG Issue # 1, a business denied carrying out the job due to “explicit sexual content,” “pornographic”  imagery, and a questionable title. Female artists face connotations that are inherently attached to their art due to gender- we want to break that stigma.

Where is the zine available?
The zine is available on our online shop http://teenvag.bigcartel.com/. as well as a selection of stockists in NY, LA and TX. For a full list of stockists check out our website teenvag.com

What’s next?
We are planning our second show for May of this year- it will be a collective exhibition surveying the work of artists we have been working with for the past year. In the coming months we will begin the conceptualisation of teenVAG Issue # 3 due out in September 2012.

We’ll also be doing a collaborative selection of pop-up shows and mini-events throughout the summer- we are very excited to continue working with an amazing network of creatives and hope to expand teenVAG to its fullest potential

 

 

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