The man behind The Journal (not the Wall St. one)
The latest issue of the Brooklyn-based glossy art quarterly known as The Journal features Juergen Teller photos of a deranged-looking Pamela Anderson cavorting in a laundromat; exquisite corpse drawings by Anton Kern, Jack Pierson and Dan McCarthy; and intimate pictures of Gia Coppola by fashion photographer Todd Cole. Although the magazine’s tiny circulation makes McSweeneys look like Us Weekly, it’s featured many such high-profile collaborations since it was founded 10 years ago by Michel Nevin. A snowboarder and art school grad from Vermont, Nevin, 28, has clearly mastered the art of reeling in contributors through word-of-mouth or plain cold-calling: the forthcoming September issue, for instance, will feature drawings by William Eggleston. Nevin also runs the Journal Gallery, a storefront space in Williamsburg featuring mostly emerging artists.
What’s the idea behind The Journal?
The magazine operates as a personal journal, where you’re out there seeing things, pulling things in and writing them down, like an open book. I feel that the gallery should function the same way—to take in whatever we feel is important at the moment.
The art market isn’t doing terribly well these days. How’s business?
We had a couple of rough months last year, but surprisingly, right after that, it’s been great. These days we’re selling quite a lot of artwork. Maybe it’s because people have stopped buying those big-ticket items and are feeling more adventurous.
How about the magazine?
Starting with the September issue, Peter Miles [a graphic designer who has worked with Marc Jacobs and Sofia Coppola] is coming on as art director for the magazine. And we’re increasing the size of the magazine, as well as the distribution.
How do you get such major names to collaborate with you?
I guess you just never know what will happen, but there’s no harm in asking. Almost always we’ve been successful in getting somebody to do something. They see what we’re doing as something that’s really honest—there’s no hidden motive. It gives those people the opportunity to take a bit of a risk and do something a bit crazy or fun.
The Rodarte designers contributed to an issue last year. How did that come about?
Someone told me that Laura and Kate [Mulleavy] really liked the magazine, and I thought that was cool. We got their contact information, and now we’re in touch all the time.
Helmut Lang debuted his art work at the gallery back in 2007. What was he like to work with?
He’s a really interesting, creative person, and I wanted to do something with him because I knew he would do something great. It was very natural: He came out here to look at the space, we sat outside, had coffee and bagels—he really likes the bagels in Brooklyn.