URL/IRL BY AUSTERE MAGAZINE
PHOTOGRAPHER SABINE RUTH FLETCHER
© 2016 AUSTERE MAGAZINE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
If you're reading an issue of Austere for the first time, know you've stumbled upon a special one.
We have known we wanted to make this
swers we initially expected. We struggled
isn’t getting compensated adequately or
issue for a long time. The internet has
through a couple clunky interviews,
As we head to New York City this weekend to release this issue, we will be
been so essential to the course of Austere
reaching for an idea that couldn’t possibly
and we’ve always wanted to find a way to
be packed into one experience. Trying to
We found ourselves shifting our ap-
represent what it means to us. But the way
get every perspective, every aesthetic, ev-
proach, our tone, our idea of what this
These people and ideas that we interact
we envisioned it back then was not what
ery subculture that exists online, became a
issue needed to be about. We started to
with from our keyboards have become a
you are looking at now.
daunting and almost impossible task.
realize that all the artists we had been idol-
part of our lives. What happens between
izing from our bedrooms for so long are
the URLs of the internet are just an exten-
just people too, and they live in a reality
sion of what happens and who we are IRL.
We wanted to make an issue about what
When we talked to Madelyne Beckles,
meeting people who we have only known
it is like to create online: the high of the
she talked to us about her frustration with
much like ours. Talking to them as peers
superhighway, the influx of information
how representing feminist art online
helped us reframe the way we think about
at your fingertips, the opportunity for
seems to have been degraded to just a col-
how feminism is depicted on the internet
by URL, Instagram and late night emails.
Of course we will still always be enamored and inspired by the people in this
discovery. We wanted to reflect the colors,
or scheme. Legacy Russell, shared with us
and what these digital connections really
issue. We will probably always write about
art and creativity we see on Tumblr and
how the concept of Glitch Feminism has
mean in our lives.
their work and ideas. They create fearless-
Instagram. It was supposed to be glitchy,
changed for her since she first theorized it
weird and disjointed from “real life.” We
and reinforced to us the idea that being at
maniacally fantasized about the idea; we
your keyboard is still a part of your real life.
built it up to impossible standards like an
Signe Pierce taught us about question-
lives and ideas of these “digital artists” that
ing what is real in an increasingly digital
we really realized how making a magazine
But as it came together, not a single person we interviewed gave us the an-
ly; they remind us why we want to share We had always entertained the idea, but it wasn’t until we started diving into the
world. Molly Soda reminded us that as a
about the internet in 2016 is really just
digital artist, she gets a lot of attention on
making a magazine about life in 2016.
social media and from the media, but still
their stories. After all, isn’t that what keeps the cyber fantasy alive?
LOVE, Vicky Andres, editor-in-chief
Austere URL/IRL // 9
ARTIST MEGAN ARMSTRONG
This project started with my interest in the color pink, a love of
persona very professional, following traditional rules on how their
nerdy animated mediums and job searching. Pink is a very pop-
website should look and how their artist statement or their bio
ular color right now, as it is a sign of chic femininity in American
sounds. While others are attempting to sound more human-like
pop culture while being kitsch. The art world is recognizing that
and less robot-like in hopes of challenging “professional norms.”
mediums born out of nerd culture such as cartoons, comics and
What is “professional” and can it exist in the internet realm? Why
video games embody a specific intelligence and creativity that
should we fuss over appearing as if we have it all together when in
other mediums do not. They are able to create a bridge between
reality we are charmingly human?
professional and playful. This has allowed for these nerd culture
Using digital 3D rendering to create scenes that draw from both
mediums to be brought to wider audiences and to be utilized in
physical reality and online identities, this work directly confronts
these ideas. Each scene is revealed from two perspectives: one
As a young creative professional, you have to be trendy and
invites the viewer into a space as if they themselves are there. The
“in the know.” It also helps to know how to have a strong inter-
other brings the viewer farther away, revealing the fabrication
net presence. Creatives use online personas to showcase how
behind each scene. You choose how others perceive you in this
~*~*special*~*~ they are. Some choose to make their online
fabricated world—but is the internet a truly fabricated world?
Are our online identities far from our physical presence?
(LEFT) TIMECLOCK / (RIGHT) PINK POOL
Austere URL/IRL // 11
ARTIST GRACE MICELI / PHOTOGRAPHER SAVANNA RUEDY
HOW TO BE AN
BY ELIZA TRONO & VICKY ANDRES
Curator and illustrator Grace Miceli (aka Art Baby Girl) is one of the baddest girls on the internet. Miceli founded Art Baby Gallery in 2011, a digital gallery that celebrates multimedia artists in the beginning stages of their career. With the gallery’s first IRL show “Girls at Night on the Internet” in 2015 and more recently her national “Nowhere Tour” with Alt Space, Miceli continues to work with a legion of women who connect online and aims to give artists who have been ignored a voice.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST GET ON THE INTERNET AND WHEN DID YOU START USING IT AS A CREATIVE MEDIUM? Middle school. I can’t remember the exact year, but that is when I got my first digital camera and started using LiveJournal to post my extremely edited photos. HOW DID USING TUMBLR AND OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS HELP BUILD THE FOUNDATION IN YOUR CREATIVITY? It wasn’t until I was studying at Goldsmiths (2010) that I finally felt like I was onto something with my art and that had a large part to do with my friends and peers there. So when I was back in the U.S. and living in the middle of nowhere, I felt like I still needed that community, so I found it online instead. I’ve been lucky to receive mostly only positive or constructive feedback on my creative efforts online, and when I started using Tumblr it felt like a really safe place for me to test out ideas and new projects. WE ARE ULTRA POP CULTURE JUNKIES AND REALLY BELIEVE THAT POP CULTURE CAN BE CONSUMED IN CONSTRUCTIVE WAYS. IN WHAT WAYS HAS POP CULTURE INFLUENCED YOUR WORK?
I’ve always been obsessed with watching things. In a normal week I probably watch at least 15 hours of TV or film. I’ve often looked to pop culture for strong female role models or visual inspiration for my own work. When I first saw Gregg Araki’s “Teen Apocalypse Trilogy” about 10 years ago, it changed everything for me. It was the first time I was like, “yeah, this is exactly what I want my world to look like.” I understand that celebrities are regular people, but I’ve never been embarrassed to be a fan—I’m totally sincere with all of my references. Certain pop culture icons have an overwhelming physical effect on me and it’s an amazing feeling to be moved like that when you are only interacting through a screen. ART BABY GALLERY IS A DIGITAL GALLERY WHICH IS SO UNIQUE. WHAT IS IT LIKE TO RUN A DIGITAL GALLERY? WHAT HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE BEEN LIKE TRANSLATING THAT INTO PHYSICAL SPACES? At the beginning it was just a fun side project so it’s really exciting to see how it has evolved. It’s a natural inclination of mine to look for new artists online and share work that I’m excited about, so it wasn’t difficult to decide to legitimize that practice and call it a digital gallery. I either have preexisting friendships or develop them through
Art Baby, so it’s honestly such a pleasant way to work. I’ve worked in physical gallery spaces since college so the transition was easy. I know how to hang a show and handle all the logistics, no problem—it’s beautiful to see these two worlds merge together and I can’t wait to see how it continues to evolve. WE’VE READ THAT YOU STUDIED ART/PHOTOGRAPHY/VIDEO IN SCHOOL. HOW HAS A FORMAL TRAINING INFLUENCED YOUR IDEAS? I learned that I’m not a patient or precise creator. I never had the attention span or ability to focus when it came to formal training, but once I finally embraced that I figured out how I do work best and that was really important for me. I work best when I’m the one in control and making the rules. HOW DO YOU VIEW THE DYNAMICS BETWEEN “FINE” VS. “LOW” ART? The definitions are based on class and education. I think important work has been made in both genres and [you have to] consider that "high" art is made with financial and often institutional backing. Those terms are problematic, as “high” and “low” are very loaded words and signify specific value. WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF FALLING INTO THAT?
Sometimes I entertain the desire to infiltrate the “high” art world with my work that I made with computer paper and Crayola markers. But I’m most interested in working with people who genuinely are excited about what I’m doing and not pushing my work into a certain gallery setting just because that’s what is considered success. Sure at the end of the day as an artist and curator I need to make money to support myself, but so far I’ve been able to do that without compromising my beliefs. I’m interested in supporting art that doesn’t already have a platform. WE’VE BEEN TALKING LATELY ABOUT HOW THERE REALLY ISN’T AND SHOULDN’T BE A FEMINIST AESTHETIC. DO YOU SEE A FEMINIST AESTHETIC? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT? I think that ties into my frustration with being categorized as a “feminist artist” instead of just an “artist.” You don’t hear males who make huge minimal sculptures referred to as working in a “male aesthetic.” I mean, of course when you work with and look up to certain artists your work is going to be visually influenced by each other, but I think it’s lazy to understand and classify work on such a surface level. We’re all feminists but we’re also so much more than that. Austere URL/IRL // 13
WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THIS COMMUNITY? IS THERE A REASON THAT YOU THINK THESE WOMEN ARE SO WILLING TO SHARE THEIR IDEAS AND CREATE TOGETHER? I think that as females we have often experienced being silenced or ignored in a lot of ways—whether it’s in school or by the media or in everyday social interactions with men. Dealing with oppression makes me really angry and I want to go out of my way to provide a community and a platform so that other female creatives have an opportunity to avoid that bullshit. I think that feeling is shared by a lot of us. HOW DO YOU THINK DIGITAL PLATFORMS HAVE AFFECTED DIY CREATIVITY? I think that digital platforms have allowed for a greater abundance of DIY communities to populate, and they have also encouraged lots of young creative people to be entrepreneurial with their own projects and reach out and collaborate.
“We’re all feminists but we’re also so much more than that.”
HOW IS THE “NOWHERE NOW TOUR” GOING? WHAT’S BEEN YOUR FAVORITE STOP SO FAR? It’s fun! But hard to be away from home for so long—I miss my friends a lot. But it’s super inspiring to meet young artists in all of these cities who are inspired by what we’re doing. I was really blown away by the turn out and overall vibes in Oakland. It was a legit art party. HOW DO PRACTICE SELF-CARE? IT SEEMS LIKE YOU’RE THROWING A NEW SHOW EVERY WEEKEND. I’m honestly so bad at this! It’s easy to be a total workaholic when you love your job, but whenever I feel I’ve been working non-stop for like a week I’ll binge watch some random TV show or go to the club to turn my brain off for a few hours and just have fun. Also, the nail salon is one of my favorite places to relax. WHAT THEMES AND IDEAS HAVE BEEN INSPIRING YOUR WORK LATELY? I want to work on learning animation. I recently had some of my illustrations animated for the new Carly Rae Jepsen video and I was so into it. I think an Art Baby Girl cartoon show would be really rad.
RA P ID F IRE ROUND
WE ARE SHAMELESS DRAKE STANS AND WE HEARD YOU LIKE DRAKE, SO WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT THAT. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WHEN VIEWS FROM THE 6 COMES OUT? As soon as I listen to the album—if it’s as amazing as I know it will be—I’m getting “VIEWS” tatted on my knuckles, no joke. I was sitting in my living room with a bunch of my best friends when the last mixtape dropped, and they witnessed a lot of hysterical yelling. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 FAVORITE DRAKE LYRICS? “Wish you would learn to love people and use things and not the other way around” / “I’m so high, even when I’m coming down” / “You know it’s real when you are who you think you are” WHICH “WORK” VIDEO IS YOUR FAVE? The second one, I’m so obsessed with Rihanna’s outfit in it. IF YOU COULD PICK A RAPPER TO DRAW A PICTURE OF YOU, WHO WOULD YOU CHOOSE? Lil B
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE TATTOO? My rose neck tattoo—it just looks like it is supposed to be there. IF YOU COULD TAKE ONE INTERNET BABE/ARTIST ON A DATE, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHAT WOULD Y’ALL DO? I’ve been lucky enough to meet most of my internet friends IRL, but I’m still waiting to chill with one of my faves Maja Malou Lyse. We would definitely go shopping for sex toys; I just have to make my way over to the Netherlands sometime soon. ON A SCALE OF 1–10, WHAT ACTIVITY (ANY ACTIVITY) WOULD YOU RATE A PERFECT 10? Travis Scott, Young Thug and Justin Bieber come over to my apartment in Bushwick and we order pizza and have a sleepover and watch 10 Things I Hate About You.
ARTIST GRACE MICELI
Austere URL/IRL // 15
ARTIST KEN MONIQUE
Austere URL/IRL // 17
AN INTIMATE VISIT WITH
VICTORIA SIN PHOTOGRAPHER PEPO FERNANDEZ
Victoria Sin has been doing drag as a cisgendered woman for three years now and is often met with a bit of deri-
society, if you identify as a woman you’ve been measured against those who perform it ‘successfully’ and to a
sion and a lot of questions. “Often people start with the assumption that I’m impersonating a man impersonating a woman, however my wider point is that drag shouldn’t really be considered female impersonation at all, as this assumes that femininity is natural to women,” Sin says. Victoria is part of a generation of drag artists branching away from drag which simply reproduces gender stereotypes, intending instead to question the constructed nature of the gendered society we live in. “Femininity is something that most people have struggled with at some point," Sin says. "In heteronormative
Western beauty ideal. If you identify as a man you might have your sexuality brought into question if you show too much of an inclination towards self grooming. Regardless, femininity is something which is policed in culture; the laws of which are set by media representations, which are enforced by people around you.” Pepo Fernandez visits Victoria in the intimate space of her room as she transforms into her drag persona, photographing imagery that explores the artifice of femininity within a narrative that has lead to produce analogue prints with several artists studying gender through performance.
FEATURED VICTORIA SIN
Austere URL/IRL // 19
20 PHOTOGRAPHER PEPO FERNANDEZ
Austere URL/IRL // 21
BY VICKY ANDRES
Every romantic relationship I’ve ever had has been started on the internet or facilitated by it, but I’ve never used a digital dating service. Jump back in time with me. The year is 2003, I am nine years old, an introverted middle child and I gain unmonitored access to the internet on a regular basis. Like many kids at this time, I turned to Neopets, where I had three accounts—two for scamming users by creating popular celebrity guilds and one to transfer my stolen paintbrushes and Neopoints to. This was who I was at this time: a pre-teen addicted to the internet before anyone really told me about ‘stranger danger’ online. Through Neopets, I learned about messaging boards, which lead to my fascination with AOL’s infamous AIM chat service. Every day when I got back from school, I would run to the computer. I learned about asking people for their A/S/L and fantasized about finding a boyfriend online, but I always chickened out. It wasn’t until 5th or 6th grade when more of my “real life” friends would get on AIM or Xanga and be able to talk to me. It was online where I first really thrived. (There’s material for
a whole other story here, like coding Xanga layouts, downloading the best celeb “skins” for my Sims and printing Dollz Mania stickers to sell at school. But I’ll try to stay on topic). From kindergarten to my senior year of high school, I spent entire summers with my family in Brazil and only got online once every few weeks. Even then, missing one day online felt like missing a year of information and communication. I had severe FOMO and no one was there to tell me how to navigate that feeling. I’ll never forget the summer of 6th grade; the first time I went to Brazil over the summer while in a "relationship". This boy and I had a very “online relationship” that was masterminded by AIM. We didn’t go to the same school, saw each other maybe four times, but dated eight months. While I was overseas, someone [this is actually still a mystery] logged into my AIM account and broke up with him for me. I heard the news when I looked at his Xanga and read the first post that said something like, “I asked her out and she said yes!” Then I scrolled down to find a post from a week earlier: “I can’t believe she dumped me.”
I got over it. A few weeks later, while I was still in Brazil, I started dating someone else. He was an 8th grader, who I had never met, but according to his Xanga he went to the middle school where I was about to start 7th grade. We broke up after eight days for reasons I can’t remember. I moved on and started talking to another similar, emo boy on Xanga who was also an 8th grader at said school.
my friends list after I “discovered” him. My experiences were mild compared to a lot of my friends. I had a friend who was dating a guy she met on Xanga in middle school who turned out to be a fake person created by one of her friends. The reason she found out? Her friend had the persona commit suicide and we were all confused, some rightfully traumatized, when we could find no record of it.
The very day I got back to the U.S., I had an encounter with all three boys. They all came to my house together, flipped their swoopy bangs at the same time and feelings were everywhere. I didn’t even know they were friends. My excuse is that this was before you had things like “mutual friends” lists. At the end of it all, I ended up with none of them.
In 2016, with some common sense, it’s pretty easy to know if someone is real, or know who they’re friends with. When you meet someone now, however it happened, you can control your fate more or less. You carry your entire dating pool with you in your pocket at all times. You decide when you want to talk to them or meet up with them. You “accidentally” run into them because you both RSVP-ed to the same event.
It didn’t stop there though. The next summer, I started dating another boy online. Except this time, I had no reason to believe he was actually a real person. It was 2006, and I had transitioned into Myspace. I found this boy randomly and saw he lived in the same town as me, but we had no mutual friends. It ended up working out for a few months—this is not a catfish story. But I will throw in that he dated like half
As for me, I started dating my current partner before Tinder was a thing. We met through a mutual friend and I Facebook-friended him right after and invited him to a housewarming party at my apartment. I may have skipped digital dating services, but I owe the internet for everything romantic in my life. Austere URL/IRL // 23
DISTORTION You see the model in strange poses that seem almost silly, but we do this on a regular basis when preparing our social media posts. Contorting our features, or setting up angles that portray us as we want to be seen rather than what may be real. 24
SOCIAL DISTORTION We are the generation with the ability to stay connected to billions of others within the internet while being completely alone with ourselvesâ€”to portray ourselves as anyone we want, any personality we can imagine. Reality? We make it.
PHOTOGRAPHER SABINE RUTH FLETCHER / MODEL JOELLE SAVAGE
ISOLATION The isolation part of this is looking at the girl taking these selfies, ready to be shown to the entire internet, yet she is completely alone, posing for nobody. The internet creates this wonderful place for us to share ourselves and be creative, yet at the same time isolates us from the need to interact in person.
Austere URL/IRL // 25
THE BLACK SUPERHERO Markus Prime has been drawing since he was a toddler. The self-taught artist uses his voice to empower, illustrating themes of blackness and sexuality. Inspired by the women in his life, Prime listens to their stories and illustrates the world as they describe it. With his new book B.R.U.H. (Black Renditions of Universal Heroes), he pushes the idea that black women canâ€”and shouldâ€”be superheroes. BY ELIZA TRONO
WHAT’S YOUR ILLUSTRATION BACKGROUND? My illustration background is very mixed; I didn’t get any formal training. I’ve just been drawing since I was a toddler. Anime was a very big influence, comics and cartoons, and a lot of Disney animations. I used to just take things from each of those and mix them together. Then obviously there is the blackness aspect too, adding that perspective to it. And over the past five or ten years, I’ve used YouTube to learn different techniques.
like I had the ability to do it. It’s more [about] putting all the things I love all together. Obviously I want to represent my people—there’s that aspect—and I love comic books and cartoons. I wanted to take two things that I was passionate
SOMETHING ELSE I REALLY LOVE IS THAT YOU INCORPORATE A LOT OF SEXUALITY INTO YOUR COMICS IN SUCH A BEAUTIFUL WAY. That’s really tough because a lot of people are still close-minded when it comes to sexuality. So it took me a while to figure out how to do that in a tasteful manner. Because a lot of people are doing it, or they think they’re doing it, and it’s really just porn. So it was like, “how can I get these types of images or imagery across so people would still want to hang it up in their house?” HOW DO YOU THINK YOU DO THAT? I try to think of it from a woman’s perspective. Most of my closest friends are black women. It’s like market research. The things they tell me, the experiences they go through. A lot of people assume I’m trying to be the ambassador or god
of black women, when I’m really just letting the black woman speak and I just draw based off what I’ve learned. That’s the frustrating part. A lot of times I’ll draw things and certain groups of women say, “oh that’s not real. No one does this or goes through this.” You can’t please everybody is what I’m learning. SO YOU HAVE A NEW BOOK YOU’RE WORKING ON, B.R.U.H.? Yes, B.R.U.H., that stands for Black Renditions of Universal Heroes. Over the past couple years I’ve been known for taking a lot of signature superheroes, gender swapping them and turning them black. A lot of people do that, so I definitely didn’t start that, but I think the way I approached it people appreciated because a lot of people were just turning them brown without giving them any characteristics or personality. So this book is a collection of all those and my favorite pieces from the past year. It’s kind of pushing the issue of “why can’t this be normal?” Why can’t we get used to seeing black women as superheroes as a regular thing? Why can’t a black woman carry a story? And that’s just it. Why does she have to have a romantic situation? Why does she have to be saved by somebody? Why does she need help? If it was
a Superman comic, it would just be Superman. Why can’t a black woman have that same power? It’s a coffee table book, but it’s meant to give people that spark of conversation. Like, “oh it would be cool if Dragon Ball Z was all black women, and Adventure Time was about a black girl instead.” It’s a collection of images that hopefully get that representation more vocalized. WHEN DID YOU REALLY START VOCALIZING YOURSELF AS AN ARTIST ONLINE? Well I’m about to give away my age, but I can take it back to Myspace. At the time, I wasn’t really looking to make any money of it. I would say that was probably in 2002–2003. WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR WORK? I don’t necessarily agree with everything I draw. I draw based off things that [women tell me] are actually happening. I’m not a black woman; I can’t sit here and say this is actually how all things go. I don’t know that. I just want people to see that there are so many perspectives. Even though we are black, we are still human, and we are as layered as any other human being. That’s all I’m trying to portray.
PHOTOGRAPHER ANTHONY PRINCE / ARTIST MARKUS PRIME
YOU MENTIONED THE BLACKNESS IN YOUR WORK. HOW DO YOU INCORPORATE THAT? Blackness is obviously a very important message. More so, I felt compelled to push black women to the front of it because there’s already a lack of things for black men, but there’s a super lack of things for black women. So it wasn’t necessarily me trying to put on a cape or something, but I saw a need and instead of complaining about it, I felt
about and put them together and mix it without being redundant. There’s a lot of work that’s very much “black art,” in the sense like, “ok, we get it.” I tried to make it to where it’s still modern and shows that black people are universal and not just a category that people put us in. Those are my two main perspectives: trying to keep us out of these boxes and still making sure you’re aware that it’s black.
Austere URL/IRL // 27
Iâ€™ve used my softness to establish a sense of community along with other soft black femmes. A TENDER LOOK AT BLACK FEMININITY 28
Use radical softness as a weapon.
Remember to stay soft. ARTIST ANGELICA DAVIS
“We have to consciously study how to be tender with each other until it becomes a habit because what was native has been stolen from us, the love of black women for each other.” Audre Lorde Austere URL/IRL // 29
PHOTOGRAPHER & MODEL HANNAH SIEGFRIED
SEXUALITY AND THE INTERNET
BY SIERRA PAIGE DENNIS
“In my generation, we chose women on how they made us feel, not just on how they looked,” my dad explains over the phone while I chew on a cookie/brownie cake I ordered from a local pizza place, knowing I’d regret it while working out tomorrow. “You see, you guys have things like Instagram and Facebook to look at. It helps create a false perception of what women should look like.” I hang up the phone after about 30 more minutes of talking and, although I enjoyed the conversation, my dad wasn’t telling me something I don’t already know. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, Tumblr, and any other social media platform I failed to mention, are changing the game for women entirely. Using these sites, women feel they are finally able to voice their confidence in various ways. We have internet platforms to express how we feel, when we feel, what we want to feel, and you know what? I think it’s great.
Many women even use the internet to feel liberated because they feel they can’t do it elsewhere. “I feel happy I’m able to say how I feel, post what I want, and feel okay about it. Some stuff I feel more comfortable saying online,” my girlfriend told me over coffee. “It’s not just about posting a picture in a bikini; in fact, it’s so much more than that. People just focus on the negative aspect of women being free with their bodies online, that’s all.” And she is right. Women feeling empowered to express themselves on the internet is paramount due to the fact that roughly 96 years ago we couldn’t vote, roughly 66 years ago we were forced to be in housewife mode, and only 42 years ago we had no choice on if we could provide life or not. We as women have come a long way, but some people seem to take issue with the way some women have chosen to come along. Let’s look at two of the biggest women influencers of our time right now. Kim Kardashian created her empire off of a sex tape with her boyfriend. Amber Rose went from stripper to author, renowned feminist, actress, and much more. Starting from the bottom and making your way to the top is nothing short of incredible, but some see causing unrealistic expectations for not only women, but the way men see women, is a problem. From a
young age, women are sexualized but taught to ignore society’s influence, and if they attempt to express their sexuality in any way, they are mocked. We slander women for posting pictures of their bodies online, but we demonize slut shaming. Can you see where confusion sets in for not only our generation, but the girls and boys behind us? Many women I spoke with on the subject of women being sexually confident on the internet used words like “unrealistic,” “annoying,” “thirsty,” “attention seekers,” “nasty,” and “slutty.” “I just don’t think it’s okay,” my friend Tee expressed after I sent a screenshot of a half-naked woman to a group message of all women. “It gives the wrong idea, and honestly, who would take a girl like that seriously?” another girl in the group explained. I asked the question, “Why?” many times trying to get an exact answer on why a girl feeling good about herself online wouldn’t be taken serious, but I kept getting, “I just don’t think it’s okay.” Many men I spoke with said just about the same thing, but added that they would have sex with the women being sexually confident online, they just wouldn’t wife them. “You see, no one wants their girl exposing herself online, but shorty who’s doing it could potentially get taken home for a night.” After talking to multiple men about the subject, it was clear to see a lot of them
still have the quiet, timid, and soft idea for a girl they want to date or potentially marry. The sexually confident woman online, however, they just can’t handle. I’ve always had confidence issues, and I’ll admit it. I also know many men and women, myself included, have enjoyed a high from getting 100+ Instagram likes. We as humans want to be accepted, we want people to like us and we want to feel confident. I am not an Instagram model, in fact I’m fairly regular, but I have been guilty of posting a “thirst trap.” Why’d I do it? It made me feel confident, pretty, and wanted, but at the same time I’ve learned to seek satisfaction within myself, not other people. I don’t condemn women for posting sexual pictures on the internet; I think their confidence is great. It bugs me that the men I spoke with about this issue told me they look at “sexy” Instagram pictures, they “like” sexy Instagram, but they won’t date a girl that posts them. It also bothers me that the women I spoke with called girls who post sexy pictures “slutty,” “annoying,” and “nasty.” Before we act like saints and convict the young women who act provocatively via social media, we should look at why they are acting this way. How do we expect women to have the self-respect that so many scold them for lack-
ing when we tell them to be sexy and then criticize them for doing so? As a woman, finding confidence in yourself can be tough. We feel the need to have our hair cut a certain way, our bodies perfectly proportioned, our nails painted at all times, but a confident woman understands that confidence cannot be found by comparing herself to someone else. If a person feels a certain way about a woman expressing confidence via Instagram or anywhere else, maybe, just maybe, they should examine themselves first.
“WE SLANDER WOMEN FOR POSTING PICTURES OF THEIR BODIES ONLINE, BUT WE DEMONIZE SLUT SHAMING.” Austere URL/IRL // 31
PHOTOGRAPHER TREY WRIGHT / FEATURED SAM LAO
HOW SAM LAO MADE AN ALBUM FOR THE WOMEN OF DALLAS BY ELIZA TRONO
I recently started a list of albums that “make everything okay.” It’s a short list; Late Nights, Anti, Ego Death, Beyoncé, among a few others. They don’t make everything okay because they are all critically acclaimed or explicitly socially meaningful or anything like that, but they make everything okay because they all help me feel like myself in the way only music can. During my first listen of Dallas-based rapper Sam Lao’s SPCTRM, I knew it had joined the ranks. So let me tell you why SPCTRM makes everything okay. At her album release show, Sam Lao’s mentor and rapper 88 Killa took the stage to introduce her. “Sam went through so much to make this for us,” he told the audience. “So many people tried to say she wasn’t shit, but Sam is probably one of the best, not only female MCs, but best MCs in Dallas.” It’s probably true. It’s probably true because with every play, SPCTRM fulfills a female perspective that women in the Dallas hip hop scene crave.
Lao says her husband calls her his “budding feminist.” That makes sense. SPCTRM is such a “budding feminist” body of work because it expresses the versatility of who Lao is and the complexity of her confidence and willingness to discover who she wants to be. The album resides in the idea that Sam Lao is not just one thing and that she will not always be the same thing.
“SPCTRM SHOWS WHAT I AM CAPABLE OF,” LAO TELLS ME. “[It represents] all the feelings I have. With a song like ‘Bitch I’m Me,’ you get angry, angsty Sam—the ‘you are not going to tell me what to do’ Sam. With ‘Gold Link,’ you get sultry, sexy Sam. I wanted to show this is all me, it just depends on a mood or a situation.” The power in SPCTRM comes from many places, but what makes it so valuable is its versatility. “Bitch I’m Me,” “Be Cool,” and crowd favorites “If I” and
“Gold Link” all represent explicitly different feelings, ideas, and versions of Lao. While in its early stages, Lao lost most of the project and had to again start from scratch, but while it was a lot to overcome, she says it wasn’t the only obstacle. “Obviously, the biggest thing that happened was me losing the tracks, but there was a lot of the other stuff that was more personal,” Lao says. “Writer’s block, doubting myself, wondering if I could follow up the success of [Lao’s debut album] West Pantego. I felt like I really had to deal with this perceived notion of outside pressure when really most of the pressure is in my head. I think that really held me back the longest.” SPCTRM is a testament to her endurance; her fight to share herself with the world makes her work that much more powerful. “I liked what I was making [in the early stages], but it felt like I was just doing it because that was the logical next step,” Lao says. “What I was making wasn’t
bad, but having to go through adversity to do it made me really have to really get my shit together. I was just able to function better under pressure. I just had something to prove to myself and to everyone who had been waiting so long. Once I got past all that shit it got done, and dealing with all that shit—losing my tracks, the internal nonsense— it made me work harder to make a good project. And I think I succeeded in that.” In the process of conquering the setbacks, Lao realized that she was making an album for women. “Originally I just wanted to share different experiences and emotions, you know, just the spectrum of what someone’s personality and emotions are,” she says. “I don’t think I initially realized [that these were feminist ideas]; it wasn’t until it started coming together and I started to see that pattern happening. [Once I noticed that,] I started really feeding into it.” I remember a conversation I had with Lao last fall, before I even knew she was
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working on a new album, I cornered her after a show (sorry Sam, I was excited!) to talk to her about how good her music makes me feel and how it makes me feel really good to be a woman. She told me, “Yeah? That’s something I’ve really been trying to work on.” The sentiment has not faded. “I think [in writing music for women] you just have to think about your own experiences. So many of these experiences that I’m writing about are experiences that other women share,” Lao says. “On a song like ‘Pineapple,’ I talk about dudes trying to holler at you and then getting mad when you don’t respond. It goes, ‘Oh you mad because you couldn’t get the digits / so the script you wanna flip it / you sayin’ I ain’t bad but you damn sure tryna kick it.’ I feel like that’s the epitome of how men treat you sometimes. Or ‘Gold Link,’ a song about being a woman and approaching a guy. I feel like that should be way more acceptable than it is. I feel like so many women can identify with that.” Lao wants part of her narrative to be about being a woman and a feminist. “I think we are in this age of awakening for feminism, and it’s finally in a 36
broader sense. I feel like when we are introduced to feminism, we feel like it is this bra-burning, man-hating feminism,” she says.
“BUT NOW WE ARE SEEING THE RISE OF WOMEN WHO ARE TAKING CONTROL OF THEIR OWN NARRATIVES, IN THEIR OWN WAYS, AND THAT IS SO IMPORTANT. It is also very important for us to share those experiences and speak to one another, because you never know who might have had a similar experience and how that might have resonated for them. I feel like that’s a really important thing to happen, and I’m trying to do better and be more vocal.” Lao is inspired by the women of all ages who are listening to her music and connecting because of it. “One thing that has really inspired me to do that is I have a really young fan, her name is Marley,” Lao tells me. “She is in elementary school and she loves me. I was sort of thinking about how much she looks up to me and how
excited she gets. My friend babysits her and sends me videos of her dancing to my songs. It means a lot to me, because Marley is also mixed, and I didn’t really have a lot of role models who looked like me when I was growing up. To suddenly be thrust into these shoes of someone looking up to me, I think that it’s really important and I’ve tried to embrace that. “Not only for girls like Marley, but for women who are my own age. I feel like we are at this point—thanks really to the internet—to see women of our own age that we admire and learn about their experiences and share that. Just to build a community of women who know that we can do this shit together.” I ask her if she does something that I do: search for the women and community around me in Dallas. I think a lot about all of the women around me and how many of us don’t know each other. At moments like a Sam Lao show, we come together, because when there is an opportunity to build that community, we take it. “It’s hard to find spaces to be a woman in Dallas,” she tells me. “Like, what do we do? Who do we talk to? How do we build these spaces? I’m still trying to
figure it out myself. I know how I feel, and every once in a while you run into someone who feels the same, and it’s relieving to feel like, ‘Oh, you get it!’ I think that in SPCTRM it is pretty apparent that those feminist ideas are in my work, and I think it will help me figure out how I can build that safe space of sharing knowledge and ideas.” What makes SPCTRM so meaningful is that Lao packs the complexity of her ideas, her experiences and what she wants to provide for other people, into the actual music. She’s not trying to be who or what someone else wants her to be. She’s interested in learning, growing, and sharing her hard work and soul through her music. SPCTRM is an album that Dallas needs, because it shows unabashed bravery in who she is, not a desire to fall in line with what anybody expects from her. SPCTRM makes everything okay because, above all, the album is a wholehearted acceptance that being a woman, a creative, and a person will always mean you are a complex combination of experiences and ideas. Plus, it’s a fucking jam.
PHOTOGRAPHER TREY WRIGHT
Austere URL/IRL // 37
HOW DID SCOOTER ISLAND COME ABOUT? It kind of came about as the triangulation of three separate ideas. Years and years ago, when I first finished working on Skins [the TV show], I had the good fortune of building a practice space with my best friend where we started loading instruments in, and I started writing a lot of music. Back then I was really obsessed with bands that had four or five members, but were able to create these sort of locked rhythms where if you take even just one of them out of the equation it doesn’t work. The three examples I like to use for this are Foals, Little Dragon and Twin Sister, which are totally different, but every member is so crucial to that sound. I was writing a bunch of music back then that was just me and I was playing all the instruments, but I was trying to get to that sound. I think maybe six months to a year down the line of recording and working with an engineer, I realized that it definitely wasn’t what I wanted to put out. That was actually right when I started DJing a bunch and that kept getting bigger and bigger. My aforementioned
and really interesting people. Fast forward to now, another year later, where I’m sort of realizing that the whole DJ crew thing isn’t really sustainable and Broad City comes out of nowhere when I needed it most.
studio mate, as well as a few of my best friends, all wanted to start DJing. We all agreed that we had interests in slightly different genre ideas, so we sort of formed a DJ crew and did that for a couple years and threw big warehouse parties. That’s where I really started meeting a lot of interesting producers
I LOVE THE FIRST SCENE OF THE NEW SEASON WHERE THEY’RE ALL IN THE BATHROOM. Oh yeah, that was a really fun one to do. That was definitely one where there were a bunch of really great options that we had sort of figured out, but I myself and the girls weren’t going to
SO I’M TRYING NOT TO FAN GIRL TOO MUCH OVER THIS, BUT WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE BROAD CITY EPISODES MUSICALLY? One of my favorites is the party-hopping episode. I cut my teeth on warehouse [and] rooftop parties so that was really fun for me. In [Broad City] season 3, episode 6—I can’t really talk about it now—but I think as soon as people see it they’ll be like, “oh yeah, this is the big music episode.” I joke around that the girls wrote montages into the seasons in the same way that the Fibonacci seasons work, in that now that we are in season 3, it’s not like one an episode it’s four an episode. The episode length hasn’t changed, but there are so many big slow-mo, crazy, no dialogue montages this season and I’m really excited for a few more of them to start airing.
settle for anything less but perfection. If it wasn’t the first scene of the first season, maybe we would have, but we knew we could do better. “Let ‘Em Say" [by Lizzo and Caroline Smith]. The day that we found the song was one of the first days where the girls were in there the whole day working on the season. I remember sitting down with them and asking them for the list of artists that they wanted in the season. So I went to listen to it—it might have been the first or second song I played— and I ran right back in the room and as soon as I opened the door, Abbi looks at my smile and is like, “you found it didn’t you?” And I was like, “found it!” DO YOU REMEMBER THE FIRST SONG, PLAYLIST OR MIX YOU POSTED ONLINE? I feel like that must be back in my Neopets or Gaia days. I think...okay, this is crazy. Ready for this? If it’s Gaia Online, I remember one of the first things I [posted] was like an animatic music video type-cut from a scene from a PlayStation 2 video game called Suikoden III. It’s still a banger. Someone could remix that tomorrow and it would be some awesome tribal house jam. It’s like in Japanese, but sounds way more indigenous. It sounds way more native than that. It’s a crazy epic video game, but for whatever reason that one just came into my head. That must have been it.
WHAT ARE A COUPLE WAYS THAT YOU FEEL YOU’VE BEEN ABLE TO CONNECT WITH PEOPLE DIGITALLY THAT YOU MAY NOT HAVE OTHERWISE? I don’t think I’d be able to do my job without Facebook or Twitter, straight up. Let’s throw Gmail in there too, but Facebook more than the other two has been the biggest proponent of my career. As a music supervisor and promoter, a recruiter...any crowdsourcing work I’ve ever done has been primarily done through Facebook. If anything, it’s like a gratefulness that I can’t even express in words. Those algorithms have been such a big help for me. [There are] so many artists who I’ve now met but would have never. There’s a female rapper from South Africa called Push Push who followed me on Twitter last year. How would I have met this rapper from Capetown? It’s crazy. I’m the internet’s bitch. I couldn’t do it without the internet. LAST QUESTION: ON A SCALE OF 1–10, WHAT ACTIVITY (ANY ACTIVITY) WOULD YOU RATE A PERFECT 10? Yeah, I just want to hang out with Shep Gordon and Kanye at Shep Gordon’s house in Hawaii. I’d have like a meal, maybe a J, like low key, nothing crazy. Four to six hours, Shep Gordon’s house in Hawaii, Kanye West is the only other guest.
The NYC born-and-raised Matt FX is a pretty cool nerd. He's the music supervisor behind Broad City, curator of his own vibes on his project Scooter Island and a badass DJ. We talked about his work, internet beginnings and how he connects to the world around him.
PHOTO COURTESY OF MATT FX
MATT FX AND
THE SOUNDS OF BROAD CITY BY ELIZA TRONO
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THE COLLEGE GRADUATE: 3 YEARS OF COLLEGE SOUNDTRACKED BY KANYE BY GRACE BARBER-PLENTIE
Grace Barber-Plentie is a London-based writer and one-third of Reel Good Film Club, a group which focuses on racial diversity in film through affordable and inclusive film screenings. Her passions include films with interesting representations of women of colour, coconut oil and 90s/early 2000s R&B and hip hop. 40
PHOTO COURTESY OF GRACE BARBER-PLENTIE
Before I start, a disclaimer. Because the man can’t keep his mouth shut, we are always
misogynoir and numerous attempts to prove his undying love for his family by dissing
in the midst of a Kan-troversy. I don’t want to use this essay as a platform for my views
other people—and listening to his music gave me a boost of confidence. The album
about Kanye as a person—there are already loads of brilliant essays doing that. Here, it’s
motivated me when I felt utterly at a loss and alienated at uni—I’ll always remember
all about the music. My time at university has been bookended by Kanye West albums. When I arrived in London to study film, Yeezus had just been released—the refrain “Uh-huh, honey” seemed to be played everywhere, from the dank and sweaty student union to tinny low-quality speakers at “parties” in people’s kitchens that seemed to boil down to ten
storming out of a seminar where I called out my seminar leader for repeatedly using “the N-word” and defending said use by stating, “we can say it because we’re academics,” plugging in my headphones and blasting out “Power,” feeling vindictively victorious. A lot of people underestimate rap music, and sure, it’s not for everyone. It wasn’t the music for me for the longest time. While I’ve always enjoyed Kanye and Jay, I don’t
people crammed together like sardines, trying to impress one another by talking about
think it was really until last year when I had my Sanaa Lathan at the beginning of Brown
their degrees and gap years. Full of an unbridled optimism that has naturally worn off
Sugar-style musing on how much I loved it. I spent my last summer on Kanye hiatus,
the longer that I’ve lived here, I decided to conquer London and spent most of my free
indulging in 90s hip hop for the first time. I watched the film Dope a lot, and from that, I
moments marching around the city, the malevolent “New Slaves” leaking out of my
fell madly in love with Digable Planets and A Tribe Called Quest. I think I audibly sighed
headphones as I stormed up and down escalators at various tube stations.
with joy the first time I heard “Passin’ Me By” by The Pharcyde.
That optimism wore off partly as I exited teenage-dom and entered the tricky business
Do I enjoy rap music more now that I’m a bitter disillusioned Strong Black Woman?
of adult life, and partly due to the complete lack of enthusiasm I felt for my studies.
Maybe. I can still elicit the same amount of joy I always used to feel listening to Joni
When choosing to study film, I hadn’t really thought of how my status as a black woman
Mitchell’s Blue though, so maybe it’s more that I can appreciate good music now. And
would fit into my degree, so enamoured was I with my first viewings of directors like
while a lot of people may disagree—and fine, I accept that maybe it’s not for everyone,
Jarmusch and Cassavetes. It was only in the summer between my first and second
but I hate people using hating Kanye as a person as a legitimate excuse to hate his
years of uni that I reflected on the fact that we’d only studied two films about non-white
music—I do think Kanye’s music is good. I’m not just talking about a good beat to make
characters, and that only one of these was actually directed by a non-white director.
you dance, but I’m talking the way he crafts his lyrics. I’ve avidly scoured pop culture,
Around this same time, Mike Brown was murdered in Ferguson. I was obsessed with the
both “black” and “white” to find things that speak directly to me, and Kanye seems to do
Ferguson riots, meticulously scrolling through Twitter and Tumblr to try and gauge the
the same. One of my absolute favorite, ridiculous lyrics is how he refers to himself as
full weight of the atrocities being committed against black people in the U.S. Whatever
the “King of Leon-a Lewis” in “Dark Fantasy.” But he’s at his best when he’s reflective and
naivety I may have had about police brutality against black people around the world
honest, singing not only about himself but about others. Take the ever-brilliant “All Falls
was instantly destroyed. In fact, my naivety in general vanished. I changed a LOT in my
Down” for example—I find it disturbing how much its opening lyrics (which I’ve used to
second year of uni, due to my disillusionment with my university, the film industry, the
open this essay) relate to my university experience.
way the world treated black people…everything basically. I turned, as I often do in times of need, to pop culture, particularly music. Kanye’s The College Dropout was an album I’d never really given a lot of thought to. It
Kanye’s latest offering, “The Life of Pablo,” has dropped. It’s…okay When it’s good (such as album opener “Ultralight Beam,” Kendrick Lamar-featuring “No More Parties in LA,” “Famous” and “Real Friends”) it’s brilliant. But regardless of the record’s quality, there’s
was only whilst reading a roundtable about Kanye on Rookie [Magazine] in my first year
no other album I’d rather had dropped as I prepare to finish uni. While I grew up on
of uni had my interest in “Through the Wire” piqued, and I sort of gravitated towards
Kanye’s music, I never realized how important it would come to be to me. I survived
the album in my limbo period whilst waiting to go back to uni. So I came back deeply
the university experience, and yeah, I learnt about mise-en-scène, deep focus, and the
changed, in both my listening habits and my attitude. I began to admire Kanye’s “I don’t
male gaze. But when it comes to surviving and making a space for yourself as a black
give a fuck” attitude—something that I’ve since realized is a lot of misjudged bravado,
face in a white place? Yeezy taught me.
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PHOTOGRAPHER NATASHA BRITO, AUSTERE / ART DIRECTOR, STYLIST, HMUA & MODEL JACQUELINE CREECH, AUSTERE
(LEFT) TOP UNIF, CHOKER NIKKI LIPSTICK (RIGHT) BRA TOP BITCHING & JUNKFOOD, FAUX FUR JACKET NASTY GAL, NECKLACE ELIZABETH COLE
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FXXXXY FXXXXY BY ELIZA TRONO / PHOTOGRAPHER SABINE RUTH FLETCHER
I texted with 19-year-old Dallas rapper FXXXXY for about two weeks, learned a lot about him and even addressed some of my own feelings. 44
Austere URL/IRL // 45
WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION? When I first started writing, I was super into being poetic or metaphoric. As I did that project, I thought: How about saying super small stuff that holds a lot of weight? Just super subtle lines that hold a lot of meaning or a lot of weight. In my song “Everything Above,” I say, “In this moment, there is no pull or tug.” It’s so simple, but people can perceive it differently and dissect it differently. WHERE DO YOU WANT TO TAKE YOUR MUSIC? I definitely want to experiment with more genres. I feel like a lot of people are really used to the sound I’m doing and I’m super new, so I guess I can still figure this out. I have a lot of tunes that are super different than what I’m doing now and I’m worried that if I put them out now people will get confused. I’m kinda holding them now, but I’m super interested in collaborating with artists you wouldn’t picture me with. As far as songwriting, I really, really want to travel because that’s when I write the most. I like to experience different cultures and meet new people. When you’re in a city for the majority of your life—one city—you run out of things to even think about or talk about. You see the same people, the same stuff, over and over. And it gets to be...there’s no inspiration there. So when I’m in Chicago for a little too long, I get frustrated because I’m doing the same thing every day. There’s no spark. So when I do travel, I’m so excited. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE OF MUSIC AND CREATIVITY? I was on SoundCloud the other day and I was scrolling through comments and someone said, “this is ‘future soul.’” That really spoke to me because I’ve never 46
heard anybody say that, and I thought that was the closest thing that I could label my genre. People ask me all the time, “what’s your genre? Is it R&B?” I’m super hesitant to label myself because then I feel obligated to stay in that line. But I think “future soul” is so broad, I can say that. Because I have a really soft voice, I tend to cling more to intricate production or super busy production because it makes the writing process harder. Any real artist can write to a super simple beat, but when you have those super intricate beats where there’s key changes, it’s more challenging. I like a challenge. That song where I’m on a train was one of the most intricate beats I’ve ever worked with. It was so difficult at first because I was trying to overwrite. I decided to take out so many lines and just say the same thing over and over in the same melody. Sometimes saying less says way more. There’s no need to overdo it because the beat is doing so much itself. I think I would label myself as “future soul” because it is a modernized version of soul. DO YOU USUALLY START WITH A BEAT AND THEN WRITE? The writing technique I like the most is sitting with the producer and building the beat together—it all works organically that way. When Monte [Booker] is making a beat, I’ll make a melody to it. But I try not to sit on a song or write it all at once. I think it’s important not to overwhelm yourself with it because you’ll force yourself, and you want it to come naturally. So when I feel compelled to go back to it, I go back to it. I don’t want to give myself a deadline unless it’s super serious and I have to. YEAH, YOU WANT TIME TO LET YOUR IDEAS GROW. Exactly. That way it’s more natural. It’s like I’m pulling stuff out of my head that’s not really there. I don’t know how to explain it. HOW DO YOU THINK THE INTERNET HAS INFLUENCED YOU AS A CREATIVE PERSON? I guess I’ve never really experienced what it was like before it. I think social media is super huge for artists. That’s your main source of contact and interacting with people who support you. It can be a pain sometimes, too. I deleted Twitter and Instagram off my phone. It becomes a little too consuming, and I try to stay level-headed. I appreciate all the compliments, but sometimes it gets to be...not overwhelming, but I see why people take it to heart a lot. On the flip side, I think
PHOTO COURTESY OF RAVYN LENAE
I WANT TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT YOUR NEWEST RELEASES. CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT WHAT THOSE MEAN TO YOU? It wasn’t super planned. It happened all organically, it just happened to be cohesive. I was going through a lot of stuff relationship-wise, so a lot of my inspiration came from there. Also, it was just me discovering myself as an artist. I’m super new; I’m brand new. There’s a lot of things you go through mentally when people recognize you or say “thank you” for making music. I was listening to it the other day (and I don’t listen to it that often), but when I do it feels like I’m going back in time or revisiting old mindsets or old situations I had. So it’s amazing how fast I’ve changed or evolved as an artist.
I found Ravyn Lenae one day when my SoundCloud playlist was over and I was shuffling through the musical abyss of cyberspace. I stopped everything I was doing, dug through my infinite pile of browser tabs and immediately became enchanted by this 17-year-old Chicago native and her actually magical “future soul” sounds.
RAVYN LENAE’S FUTURE SOUL BY ELIZA TRONO
it’s amazing to just be able to get on your phone and connect with people. It’s cool that on Instagram, people are interested in me as a person and not just me as a singer. They’re interested in my daily life and who I’m hanging out with. That says a lot to me. I just don’t like when it infringes on other parts of my life. Sometimes it’s so accessible that it becomes a problem. I SAW YOU TWEETING ABOUT HOW PEOPLE NEED TO THINK ABOUT WHAT THEY SAY BECAUSE THE PEOPLE THEY ARE COMMENTING ON ARE REAL. People are behind screens all day and there’s no physical contact. You wouldn’t say those things to people to their face. And I’m an artist, so I’m really sensitive about everything I do. It scares me. It hurts me. And I guess people don’t see it that way. I think it’s important for people to know that your words have weight, even if they’re typed. Even for people who aren’t artists, it’s hurtful. I don’t read the comments on my videos anymore because I know I’m going to cry. I stay away from that stuff. People bash what they don’t understand or don’t relate to, and that’s okay if you don’t relate to it, but just keep it to yourself. They forget that we are people before artists. We have feelings, too. HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO CONNECT WITH PEOPLE ONLINE IN A MORE POSITIVE WAY? Yeah! I think SoundCloud is the most amazing thing ever. I’ve met so many cool artists through SoundCloud. Most people I connect with are underground artists like me who aren’t really recognized yet. It’s so fun because we watch each other’s stuff. They’re my peers, they’re my contemporaries, so it’s so cool. I’m so excited to see this uproar. It’s a renaissance. It’s a new age of music. I’m so excited for the world to get hip. They’re not hip right now. But they will be. Whenever I want new music, I go to SoundCloud. There’s no other site like that. Austere URL/IRL // 47
MUA TABBY CASTO / HAIR CHLOE FRIEDA MODELS PIPPA, PROFILE MODEL MANAGEMENT & GABRIELLA, NAMED MODELS LONDON
LAST NIGHT I DRANK TOO MUCH GLITTER
(PIPPA WEARS) DRESS ROBERTA EINER, FUR FLORENCE BRIDGE
PHOTOGRAPHER ANNA FEARON / PHOTO ASSISTANT GENIEVE VASCONCLES STYLIST FAYE HÉRAN / STYLIST ASSISTANT TOR MARIE
(GABRIELLA WEARS) TOP AURIA LONDON, SKIRT BASHARATYAN V, CLUTCH FLORENCE BRIDGE, SHOES ROBERTA EINER
(GABRIELLA WEARS) SWIMSUIT AURIA LONDON, SKIRT & SHOES ROBERTA EINER
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PHOTOGRAPHER ANNA FEARON
(PIPPA WEARS) DRESS ÉTHOLOGIE BY JASPER GARVIDA, NECK CUFF STYLIST’S OWN
(PIPPA WEARS) TOP & PANTS PHINEY PET, BRA AURIA LONDON, SHOES ROBERTA EINER, CHOKER STYLIST’S OWN (GABRIELLA WEARS) TOP PHINEY PET, PANTS AURIA LONDON, SHOES ROBERTA EINER, EARRINGS DOLCE & GABBANA, CUFFS STYLIST’S OWN
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PHOTOGRAPHER ANNA FEARON
(GABRIELLA WEARS) TOP & PANTS AURIA LONDON, JACKET & SHOES ROBERTA EINER
(PIPPA WEARS) DRESS & FUR FLORENCE BRIDGE / (GABRIELLA WEARS) DRESS THREE FLOOR, FUR FLORENCE BRIDGE, CUFF STYLIST’S OWN
Austere URL/IRL // 55
PHOTOGRAPHER MITCHELL TOMLINSON, LIFE WITHOUT ANDY / MODEL PEYOTE JAYE / HMUA JOANNA LUHRS
IS BREATHTAKING BY JACQUELINE CREECH
Australian BFF’s Jameen Zalfen and Rachel Motteram create clothing for mermaids and unicorns. Through their designs and social media, they strive to not only empower women but also form the ultimate girl squad.
I’VE BEEN SWOONING OVER YOUR CLOTHING DESIGNS EVER SINCE I CAME ACROSS THEM ON INSTAGRAM. THE PASTEL BLEND OF FLUFF, SPARKLE, SHEERNESS AND INTRICATE FABRICS IS EVERYTHING I COULD EVER ASK FOR IN LIFE! WHAT INSPIRES THESE WHIMSICAL DESIGNS? We love to hear our pieces are received so well; it makes us all fuzzy inside to see our followers/”Dyspets”/customers appreciate all our hard work. Rach and I start with a base fabric every collection and one extravagant design, and the whole collection flows from there on. THE WORD DYSPNEA MEANS “SHORTNESS OF BREATH.” I AM SO CURIOUS ABOUT HOW YOU CAME UP WITH THIS NAME FOR YOUR BRAND. To be honest, we discovered the term dyspnea via a Google search and we were like, “that’s it—that’s our brand wrapped up in one word.” We make sure when designing that our pieces radiate Dyspnea. SINCE YOU USE SUCH DELICATE MATERIALS TO CREATE YOUR DESIGNS, DO THE TWO OF YOU HAND MAKE EVERYTHING OR DO YOU HAVE OTHER TRUSTED RESOURCES? Having attended TAFE in Perth (where we both met—cute love story), we were shown how to pull a blazer apart and put it back together, pattern-make and grade. Our designs are so out of whack that we need to make everything ourselves. These then get handed down to our “trusted resources” who pull their hair out at our construction and rule breaking, haha. EMERGING FROM AUSTRALIA, HOW DOES DYSPNEA FIT INTO THE AUSTRALIAN FASHION SCENE? Our brand is a quite daring for Australia, however we find the girls are embracing it and ruling! There is a real “mermaid” scene out there at the moment. Who doesn’t want to feel like a unicorn?!
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO HAVE YOUR FIRST STANDALONE RUNWAY SHOW, DYSLEXICOLA S/S 15–16, AT MERCEDES BENZ FASHION WEEK IN SYDNEY LAST YEAR? THE STYLING IS INCREDIBLE AND WHAT I AM REALLY WONDERING IS IF THIS LINE WILL BE AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC? Thanks! Jana Bartolo was the Queen behind the styling. It was such an adrenaline pumping feeling—watching the girls come together as a squad in our creations. We would do it again in a heartbeat. Some of the pieces are now available online; our more heavily embellished pieces are “show only.” AS TWO FEMALE FASHION DESIGNERS IN 2016, HOW HAVE YOU UTILIZED THE DIGITAL WORLD AS A PLATFORM TO SPREAD TRENDS AND EXPRESS IDEAS? We take the social media world as a bit of a “power woman” vibe. We understand we have quite a young following and have girls that look up to the brand. There is a big “girl power” era out there and we are behind it 100%—this comes through via our social media, designs and ourselves. NOT ONLY DOES YOUR CLOTHING LOOK LIKE MAGIC, BUT IT SEEMS TO HAVE A MAGICAL EFFECT ON THE PERSON WEARING IT! EVERY GIRL I’VE SEEN SPORTING DYSPNEA LOOKS SO SOFT, YET POWERFUL. IS THERE AN INTENDED EMOTION THAT YOU HOPE TO EVOKE FROM A PERSON WEARING YOUR DESIGNS? We want our girls to feel empowered and independent. Our designs evoke a sense of badass, DGAFQ attitude. The smile our customers put on our face when we see a tagged photo on Instagram—we lose it! We hope the effect the girls have on us when we see them in Dyspnea is the same feeling they have wearing it. WHAT ABOUT FROM THOSE WHO SEE SOMEONE DRESSED IN A DYSPNEA OUTFIT? We want girls to turn their heads and be like, “damn girl, I want what she’s got!” Our “Dyspet” would be more than happy to hand over the designer secret; we all look after each other. It’s almost a love cult. Austere URL/IRL // 57
PHOTOGRAPHER RACHELA NARDELLA STYLIST GEMMA HARBEN MUA KAT MARGARITA, MAC COSMETICS MODEL SARAH MOYNIHAN
(LEFT) BRALETTE CHRISTIE NICOLE, SHIRT GEORGIA ALICE / (RIGHT) TOP SISTER STUDIOS, PANTS KATE SYLVESTER
(LEFT) BLOUSE TRELISE COOPER, PANTS DYSPNEA / (RIGHT) DRESS DYSPNEA, CROCHET TOP WORN AS SHAWL TLC THEA LINDA COLLAB
This editorial ties in the concept of the idolization of women online with posed reference to religious iconography. “Idle” meaning how much wasted time we spend, suspended, scrolling and double tapping online. The location is the ironic contrast, taking the usual bedroom scroll-sesh comforts to the outside world where there is more incentive to look up and around than down just to browse. Austere URL/IRL // 59
FASHION AS ART:
MARYMEJIMMYPAUL BY JACQUELINE CREECH
PHOTOGRAPHER SEMUEL SOUHUWAT ART DIRECTION MARYME-JIMMYPAUL HMUA DEWI VAN RINSUM MODELS VALENTIJN DE HINGH & GIA BAB
Meet Jimmy Paul Rinsum and Marie Burlot— the dynamic duo behind the flamboyant designs of MMJP. Primarily inspired by pop culture of the past and present, their work transcends fashion as sculptural works of art. 60
YOUR FASHION DESIGNS ARE TRUE WORKS OF ART! ARE YOU EVER INSPIRED BY ART IN CYBERSPACE? IS THERE A PARTICULAR GENRE OF DIGITAL ART OR SPECIFIC ARTISTS ONLINE THAT SERVE AS MAJOR INSPIRATION? We are mostly inspired by pop culture—past and present—so internet artists are definitely one of [our inspirations]. But it varies a lot. We get inspired by, for example, Instagram artists like @Michael_the_III, but also inspiration accounts like @Gabriel_Held and @80s_Renegade. But we also LOVE @TheArtofShade_. For now, it’s a lot of Instagram inspiration. FROM MARABOU FEATHERS TO PVC TO SYNTHETIC HAIR, YOU BOTH CERTAINLY KNOW HOW TO MIX INTERESTING TEXTILES. WHERE DO YOU FIND SUCH INTRIGUING MATERIALS AND ARE THEY CHALLENGING TO WORK WITH? They are very challenging to work with, but that’s the fun! We find them from everywhere and then we mix them. For example, the synthetic hair—that’s a collaboration with Balmain Hair. WHAT IS THE WORKING DYNAMIC LIKE BETWEEN THE TWO OF YOU? DO YOU APPROACH THE DESIGN PROCESS DIFFERENTLY SINCE YOUR WORK IS SO SCULPTURAL? We really are two designers merging into one. We think the same and have the same idea about fashion. Of course we always approach design differently, but we always come together and the core of the design or concept is always our “love child.” DESCRIBE THE FEELINGS YOU HOPE TO AWAKEN FROM THOSE WEARING MMJP. The wearer should feel like a cool chick or guy that is not afraid to show off and be different. They should feel like somebody that knows what’s going on in the world and feel confident.
Austere URL/IRL // 61
WE ARE INTERESTED IN HOW ARTISTS INTERPRET POPULAR CULTURE AND REPRESENT THIS IN THEIR ART. WHAT COMMENTARY ON POP CULTURE DOES YOUR WORK REFLECT? We never comment on pop culture. Pop culture is our biggest inspiration source. We enjoy it, love it, but we don’t have an opinion about it. That’s the beauty of pop culture—it always changes and it’s just there. It’s a constant inspiration pool. WHAT OTHER IDEAS DO YOU STRIVE TO CONVEY THROUGH SUCH A UNIQUE FASHION POINT-OF-VIEW? Fashion can be fun! It can look superficial but in its core have a deeper meaning. Also, it can be timeless but still very expressive and out there. Sometimes a little black dress is NOT the item every woman should have in their closet.
PHOTOGRAPHER SEMUEL SOUHUWAT
YOUR WORK IS SO ANIMATED THAT IT HAS BEEN COMPARED TO A CARTOON. ARE THERE ANY PARTICULAR CARTOONS OR ANIMATIONS THAT INFLUENCE YOUR DESIGNS? Pokémon, The Mysterious Cities of Gold, a lot of different anime and Cartoon Network.
HAVE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS SUCH AS INSTAGRAM AND TUMBLR HELPED YOU BUILD AN #AESTHETIC AND SPREAD TRENDS ONLINE? It never influenced our aesthetic. We always do what we want to do in our work and never think, “oh, this would be so good for Tumblr/Instagram/whatever.” It did however build our fan-base, and more and more people know us through Instagram. We could never have done these things without social media. So many things happened for us because of social media; we absolutely LOVE social media! It’s, for us, the perfect way to expand our network and show our work.
“SOMETIMES A LITTLE BLACK DRESS IS NOT THE ITEM EVERY WOMAN SHOULD HAVE IN THEIR CLOSET.” Austere URL/IRL // 63
PHOTOGRAPHER & ART DIRECTOR LEWIS VAUGHAN
MODELS NINA & AMBER, BOSS / ABIGAIL-LILY, JA’DORE
JADED LONDON / ADOLESCENT / NEVER FULLY DRESSED / LAZY OAF / THE RAGGED PRIEST X JOANNA KUCHTA
STYLIST STEPH WOODS / MUA RACQUELLA CASS
Austere URL/IRL // 65
TEXTILE FEDERATION FOR ASOS / FAUX LONDON / H&M / CLIO PEPPIATT / ANTI SOCIAL CLUB / KENDALL & KYLIE FOR TOPSHOP /
66 PHOTOGRAPHER LEWIS VAUGHAN
Austere URL/IRL // 67
Fashion designer (and mega cyber babe) Wendy Ma talks with us about her clothing/ accessories label PHT, how she rules the digital world and her passion to help protect independent designers against copycats.
WENDY MA #PHTFURR
FEATURED WENDY MA / (CENTER) PHOTOGRAPHER & ART DIRECTION ROSE NG / (RIGHT) PHOTOGRAPHER ROSE NG
BY JACQUELINE CREECH
FOR THIS ISSUE WE REALLY WANTED TO EXPLORE HOW WOMEN USE THE DIGITAL WORLD TO FABRICATE THEIR ONLINE IDENTITY. AS A MEGA INTERNET BABE, WHAT HAS YOUR PERSONAL JOURNEY TO CYBER STARDOM BEEN LIKE? I don’t know if I am a mega internet babe! I just like to use it to share little bits of my life and it feels good to connect with people who do the same. It’s interesting because you can get on a close, personal level with some of these people who you would never get to know IRL. I don’t think I have too much of an online persona that I’ve invented, although it allows me to express myself. WHEN YOU WERE A TEENAGER YOU STARTED YOUR BLOG PANACHE HALLOWEENTOWN. HOW HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE EXPRESSING YOURSELF VIA THE INTERNET CHANGED SINCE YOUR TEEN YEARS? HAS YOUR IDENTITY TRANSFORMED WITH THE INTRODUCTION OF CURRENT SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS? For me, it has become more visual. I find that more people want to consume content faster and more conveniently, so a lot of time words are overlooked. I’ve kind of accommodated that and Instagram is the perfect platform. My identity hasn’t changed too much apart from evolving as a person, getting older, my style has changed—it’s now more than just about showing off your outfit that day or posting about materialistic things that you want. I want to show my work, share what I believe in and use social media to support those who need to be heard. AS A CERAMIST AND THE CREATOR OF YOUR OWN KAWAII CLOTHING/ACCESSORIES LABEL PHT, WHAT FUELS YOUR CREATIVITY AND INSPIRES YOUR DESIGNS? I create out of boredom. Sometimes I find it really hard to just completely vege out in front of Netflix. I feel the need to be productive, otherwise I feel like I’m wasting time! YOU DESCRIBE “THE PHT GIRL” AS ONE WHO DRESSES TO “TELL A STORY.” WHAT NARRATIVES DO YOUR FURRY CREATIONS TELL? It’s your escape from the real world to a fluffy, furry heaven! It’s where you can float around on clouds all day with your best friends, play with unicorns and puppies, where all the trees are fairy floss, all the lakes are ice cream sundaes. The PHT girl dresses for herself and doesn’t need validation. She invests in quality and handmade for the long run and also supports the little guy rather than one that buys fast fashion and tosses after a few wears—she knows who she is.
ARE YOUR FASHION DESIGNS PERCEIVED DIFFERENTLY IN BRISBANE (AUSTRALIA) THAN IN HONG KONG? DO CUSTOMS OR IDEAS FROM EITHER CULTURE HAVE AN INFLUENCE ON YOUR WORK? Brisbane is still growing and coming around to more adventurous ideas about dressing; it’s exciting because most people find my clothing different and refreshing. Hong Kong is where I do most of my creative work and incubate my ideas. I also have a group of friends who are in fashion and take me fabric shopping and to fun parties, so I am
YOU’VE ALSO FILMED DIY TUTORIALS THAT ARE POSTED ON YOUR BLOG! TELL US
always inspired and we learn so much from each other! The most positive thing about
ABOUT YOUR MOTIVATIONS BEHIND SHOWING YOUR FOLLOWERS HOW TO MAKE
the internet and fashion is it allows you to draw inspiration and in turn express yourself
THEIR OWN OUTFITS AND BAGS.
in a global context.
I have been formally trained in Fashion Theory at university, but I’ve been solely self
DOES BEING FAMOUS ONLINE AFFECT YOU EVERYDAY IRL, SUCH AS AT WORK AS
vestigating— cutting up existing clothes, etc. I had never thought I’d have my own label
taught when it comes to sewing and garment construction. I used to spend hours inA FULL TIME BANKER?
so my DIY videos came before PHT. I thought it would be a fun new facet to my blog
I have only ever been approached in Japan where people recognize me from the inter-
but then Dolls Kill approached me (they found me on Instagram) and wanted to stock a
net and want a photo or just stop for a chat. It would be so rare for someone to come
huge order of bags, so had to take the vid down. Also because some girls started to make
into the bank and recognize me. I think I’ve kept my work and my hobbies so separate
the bags using my video and sell them before I did!
they seem like completely different worlds. SOMETHING ELSE YOU ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT IS PROTECTING THE DESIGNS OF IN WHAT WAYS HAS THE INTERNET HELPED YOU CONNECT WITH OTHER ARTISTS,
SELF-RELIANT ARTISTS FROM BEING STOLEN, INCLUDING YOUR OWN. HAVE YOU
DESIGNERS, AND SOCIAL MEDIA CELEBRITIES? HAS NETWORKING WITH OTHER
EVER RUN INTO TROUBLE WITH COPYCATS AND IS THIS A BIG CONCERN FOR UP-
FAMOUS PEOPLE ONLINE BOOSTED YOUR BUSINESS?
AND-COMING ARTISTS ONLINE?
It has definitely given me a leg up in the biz and I have met some great friends through
It used to happen a lot! I’d be so heartbroken and super anxious seeing pictures on Ins-
Instagram! I am a pretty shy person meeting new people so it really helps to connect
tagram. Most people I approached about the issue were really apologetic and ended up
with someone online first. I’ve connected with most photographers and other labels
taking things down. I would just get upset about how unfair it was that someone could
who I end up working with through it. I’ve also been able to connect to several online
take credit for your ideas. This industry is notorious for copycats—it can be completely
stores because they have found me through Instagram and end up stocking [my de-
money driven for some. Recently I dealt with a REALLY BIG online store that stocked a
signs] too. It’s such a great platform and really gets your things out there with minimal
popular label which had my exact furry bag design. I contacted them and they weren’t
very sympathetic so I had to post about it on my Instagram. I had so much support
I rarely give people free clothes; I do like swapping though! Most Instagram famous
from my Instagram girls, and with their voices the store and label took me seriously and
babes that you see wearing my stuff actually bought it, made some kind of investment
ended up making a positive change in the industry by taking it down. It doesn’t always
or supported me in some way or another. That’s why it would be unfair to just give free
work out this way though, especially if they are overseas and there are language barriers.
things to random girls who ask for them, as it deems it less valuable. I want my precious
Unfortunately patenting is not very effective globally, however I have the support within
handmade things to go to the right homes.
the amazing DIY community, and I’m sure any other up-and-comers will too.
Austere URL/IRL // 69
SHIRTS SARAH AND SORRENTINO
SISTA SISTA (II) 70
PHOTOGRAPHER, CREATIVE DIRECTOR & STYLIST SHINGI RICE MUA GRACE VICTORIA HAIR & STYLING ASSISTANT TANYA MAROWA MODELS JENN & VICTORIA
JUMPERS REIN LONDON, TROUSERS MAIME
Austere URL/IRL // 71
PHOTOGRAPHER MAXIMILIAN HETHERINGTON STYLIST & MODEL HANNAH GRUNDEN
SET DESIGNER AMY EXTON MUA TERRI-ANN AUBREY-SMITH
MORE IS MORE Shopfloorwhore proves that moderation isn’t always key. BY VICKY ANDRES
Siobhan Hogan started womenswear brand Shopfloorwhore in East London in 2012 with no big investors and no business plan. Thanks to the internet, hard work and a lot of pink, glitter and fluff, she’s still at it and reminding women how good it feels to be lavish. Hogan has mastered the art of appealing to Instagram babes because, well, she is one herself. Here she shares her journey to babedom and how using the word “whore” in her brand has both challenged and inspired her.
WHAT HAS YOUR PERSONAL JOURNEY ONLINE BEEN LIKE? Pretty mega tbh! I have built a brand I am proud of, met/worked with a ton of badass creative babes, learned a whole lot about building a business from scratch and my own ability to succeed at anything I put my mind to.
dressing up onto the streets. It’s less about the Shopfloorwhore “girl” and more about the person you are; I want to give people the opportunity to show how badass they are. Our whole ethos is a “more is more” approach. Whether that’s in how you dress, live or feel; it’s totally up to you.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST START USING THE INTERNET TO PROMOTE YOUR WORK? Back in the day I mooched around on MySpace, uploading cringe pics and chatting away on MSN messenger, with no real clue about just how much I would fall for the internet! After I decided to start my own business, I realized the true potential and reach I could get online, plus I was crap at IRL schmoozing/networking so this was a win-win approach. At first I used an online selling platform, teamed with a Facebook page and Twitter. Then I discovered Instagram and that became the biggest development platform for my brand by far.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THINGS THAT INFLUENCE YOU ONLINE AND HOW HAVE THEY INFLUENCED YOUR BRAND? I’m pretty obsessed with Japanese Kawaii culture and the whole evolution of “selfie styling” online. Both have been big influences in the design process of past and present collections. I am also fixated with Tumblr and I love the fact I can amass folders full of Pepto pink/glitter/fluff inspo pics in a flash; it’s easy access inspo porn!
WHAT NARRATIVES DO YOUR FURRY AND FUNKY CREATIONS TELL? WHO IS THE “SHOPFLOORWHORE” GIRL? Shopfloorwhore is a tongue-in-cheek reaction to an industry that tends to take itself too seriously at times and an outlet for anyone who wants to take
HOW DO YOU USE INSTAGRAM AS A TOOL TO PROMOTE YOUR BRAND? DO YOU FIND THAT IT INFLUENCES YOUR DESIGNS OR LOOKBOOKS? Instagram has that instant impact appeal—I can spotlight new pieces, tag other creatives I have worked with and make instant connections with people I think will love my brand. For a visual person like me, it’s fast, high impact promotion with the opportunity to create a body of work (feed) that tells a
story about my brand. Not only does it serve to explain what Shopfloorwhore is about, but it has had a big impact on the styling and themes of my lookbooks. IN WHAT WAYS HAS THE INTERNET HELPED YOU CONNECT WITH OTHER ARTISTS, DESIGNERS AND GENERAL CREATIVES? It’s played a huge part in nearly every link up I have made since starting Shopfloorwhore—from making international pop-up events happen, to setting up shoot teams and turning incredible creative babes from URL connections into IRL besties! WHAT DOES USING THE WORD “WHORE” IN YOUR BRAND NAME MEAN TO YOU? Tbh, I like to make things hard on myself! So choosing to establish a brand with the word “whore” in it is a perfect example of that! It’s funny because honestly, it was never meant as a political statement; it was a nickname that stuck and fit the feel of the brand I wanted to create. To me, “whore” is all about excess and the need to be lavish and have more of everything. It raises eyebrows and has even put obstacles up for me, but having to fight to be taken seriously has actually made me stronger and more confident in my Austere URL/IRL // 73
own work and ability. So I guess the “whore” has empowered me, and it still amazes me how one small word can piss people off so much! DO YOU EVER FIND THAT POP CULTURE INFLUENCES YOUR CREATIVITY? I think it would be pretty hard in this day and age to discredit the influence pop culture has on every designer—we have such easy access to a constant stream of images and information that shapes us day to day. For me, pop culture has a huge and positive influence on my work and design process and keeps my mind fresh and thirsty. ON A SCALE OF 1–10, WHAT ACTIVITY (ANY ACTIVITY) WOULD YOU RATE A PERFECT 10? I’m bringing Biggie back from the dead for a big ass pool party with all my ride or dies in Palm Springs. Plus you guys are all welcome! IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT YOUR WORK AND BRAND? I built Shopfloorwhore up from the ground, no big investment, no business plan. It’s been a trip so far and I would encourage anyone who wants to [starting something] to do so—stop talking about it and start making it happen. 74
MODEL LAURA MAY GASCOYNE
“TO ME, ‘WHORE’ IS ALL ABOUT EXCESS AND THE NEED TO BE LAVISH AND HAVE MORE OF EVERYTHING.”
PHOTOGRAPHER MAXIMILIAN HETHERINGTON
Austere URL/IRL // 75
PART OF UR WURLD PHOTOGRAPHER NATASHA BRITO, AUSTERE
ART DIRECTOR, STYLIST, HMUA & MODEL JACQUELINE CREECH, AUSTERE
Austere URL/IRL // 77
(LEFT) SKIRT DYSPNEA, SHOES Y.R.U., PURSE NASTY GAL / (RIGHT) TOP O MIGHTY, CHOKER & SHELL PHONE CASE VALFRÉ
You are now entering
ARTIST SIGNE PIERCE
With reality artist Signe Pierce.
BY VICKY ANDRES
YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS A “REALITY ARTIST.” WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU? HOW DID YOU DISCOVER IT AS AN AVENUE TO EXPRESS YOURSELF? I view my life as an ongoing art piece. My curated reality is my canvas, my body and camera are my tools, and the media that I create from my reality is the medium. Even though my life plays out on the internet, I don’t feel like “net artist” or “performance artist” are accurate representations of what I do. The concept of “reality art” is malleable, be it through performing as different personas on the streets (American Reflexxx; Make America Great Again), photographing real places (dead malls and suburban sprawl), or in creating more fantastical scenarios in my studio or my computer. I’m interested in exploring the paradoxes of “what is real?” in an increasingly digital world.
WATCHING YOUR PERFORMANCE AMERICAN REFLEXXX REMINDED US THAT SOCIETY IS NOT AS SOCIALLY ADVANCED AS WE THINK. WHAT DID YOU TAKE AWAY FROM IT? DO YOU THINK THE REACTION WOULD STILL BE SIMILAR IF YOU PERFORMED IT TODAY? I took away a lot of things, but one of the big ones that I found to be funny was that only one person in the entire film accuses it of being “pretentious high art.” Only one person allowed the thought to cross their mind that “maybe this is art?”, and even in doing so they said it in a demeaning, derogatory way. I personally believe in art’s power as a vessel to open and expand minds. It works to change perceptions. It’s important that art is not just exclusive to big cities and cultural capitals. Everyone could benefit from increased exposure to new ideas and to opening our minds up a bit more. I don’t think the reaction would be any different today, with Trump rallies as a living example that this type of hatred is considered to be normal in a large part of the country. America needs art and education and to wake up from perpetual ignorance.
WE ARE ALSO REALLY FASCINATED BY THE ORIGINAL CONCEPT FOR THE PIECE—YOU MENTIONED IT WAS INSPIRED BY HOW THE INTERNET HAS US FANTASIZING OVER A NAMELESS, FACELESS WOMAN. HOW DO YOU THINK THE CROWD WOULD HAVE INTERACTED WITH IF YOU HADN’T BEEN WEARING A MASK TO CONCEAL YOUR IDENTITY? The mask definitely played a huge role in spiking fear and anger. There is something really terrifying to people about not being able to see a person’s eyes. It implies that you’re hiding something, and people want to know what it is. I think people decided to latch onto the ambiguity of not being able to discern my gender as fuel for their hatred, allowing this disturbing, latent transphobia to come out of people. It was as though they felt more justified in hurting me if they convinced themselves that I was something “other.” The entire experience was incredibly dehumanizing and is an aspect of life that trans people in particular have to deal with every day. It’s not okay and I hope that the piece holds up a “mirror” to this huge issue.
YOU RECENTLY TWEETED: “WE NEED A TERM FOR THE MODERN PHENOMENA WHERE PEOPLE FALL IN LOVE WITH THE IDEALIZED VERSIONS OF OTHERS BASED ON THEIR SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE.” HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS ABILITY WE HAVE TO FABRICATE AN ONLINE IDENTITY? That tweet/idea actually has come to form the backbone of my new project Synthetic Lust, in which I’m exploring the relationships that we have with ourselves, our technology, and other people through the scope of a life primarily lived through the filter of screens. I think that there’s something both exciting and terrifying about our hyperreal selves/our curated identities online and the priority that they’re taking over our actual realities. It’s exciting to be able to create our own mythologies and personas and to let them live in media, however I’m also concerned with what happens to our flesh and blood selves. I think it’s important to be a real person outside of the gaze of my second life, and I hope we can manage to maintain a sense of that reality as we go deeper into the singularity
Austere URL/IRL // 83
YOU RECENTLY DID YOUR MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN PERFORMANCE WHERE YOU DOCUMENTED AN OUTING FROM MOMA TO THE STARBUCKS AT TRUMP TOWER. HOW DID THE IDEA FOR THAT COME ABOUT? I used to go sit in the Trump Towers when I would get off of work at the Met Museum in 2012, around the time of Occupy Wall Street. It always intrigued me because it’s this big ornate building representing the highest echelon of excess, a temple of the 1%. However, when you ascend the escalators in the main lobby to get to the second floor, you’re met to find a series of shuttered storefronts, and the only functioning business left is a Starbucks. For Make America Great Again, I wanted to infiltrate that space as a means of showcasing the transparency of this bloated, excessive capitalism. In the performance I ran from the MoMA (where I was performing as a part of India Salvor Menuez’s BOOKLUB series) to the Trump Tower, ran up the downward-moving escalators to get to the Starbucks, purchased a Frappuccino, and then proceeded to puke it all over myself in the Trump lobby. I ended up being escorted out by guards and staging a meltdown in front of the building. It just felt like something that needed to happen, y’know? 84
CAN YOU ELABORATE ON WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A “CYBERFEMINIST” AND HOW THIS TRANSLATES TO YOUR VISUAL AESTHETIC? DO YOU SEE A PARTICULAR “FEMINIST AESTHETIC?” Cyberfeminism to me is just an extended form of feminism for the digital era. The term has been around since the 80s, but I feel as though I, along with other artists, are using it as a way to assert our ideas, opinions, aesthetics and interests through our online personas and platforms. For me personally, it’s about employing the various colors, cliches and tropes that have been typically prescribed to ideals of “femininity.” I think that a lot of different artists are using different visual elements to represent what “femininity” means to them. There is not one particular aesthetic that can be applied to the whole of womanness, which is an aspect of intersectional cyberfeminism that I find to be important. There are so many ways that feminist ideologies can be represented—it isn’t just limited to the color pink. YOUR SET DESIGNS ARE ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE, ESPECIALLY THE WORLD YOU CREATED FOR DORIAN ELECTRA’S “CLITOPIA” VIDEO. WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO CONSTRUCT A SPACE THAT POSITIVELY
CELEBRATES FEMALE SEXUALITY? Dorian specifically reached out to me saying that she liked the work I had been making under the label “Neon Classical” and that she wanted to fuse it with the history of the clitoris. Being able to stylize the history (aka HERSTORY!) of this oft-neglected aspect of cis female sexuality by applying my color palette and conceptual flow was a dream job. It was an opportunity to reclaim women’s sexual representation by creating beautiful imagery that could educate AND stimulate. HOW DO YOU BALANCE BEING A REALITY ARTIST WITH USING THE INTERNET AS A PLATFORM TO SHOW YOUR WORK AND SPREAD YOUR PERSPECTIVE? I’m trying to be transparent about how much my reality is infused with my digital life. It’s a bit of a paradox to discuss actual reality (aka “IRL”) when a large chunk of my IRL is spent staring at my phone/computer (that’s what I’m doing as I write this!). The internet is my platform to showcase my reality, and together, the fusion of the two bends and blends to become the hyperreal. The gap between reality, fantasy and the internet is getting smaller by the day. I personally identify as part cyborg/part flesh and blood carnal animal.
ARE THERE ANY OTHER THEMES YOU ARE INTERESTED IN EXPLORING OR SOCIAL EXPERIMENTS WE CAN LOOK FOR IN THE NEAR FUTURE? Synthetic Lust is my current concentration, but I’m always exploring new ideas. If you follow me on social media (@SignePierce on Instagram, @SleazeBurger on Tumblr) you’ll be able to continue watching me live out my hyperreality on screen.
“I personally identify as part cyborg/part flesh and blood carnal animal.”
ARTIST SIGNE PIERCE
Signe Pierce at "Into You" at SXSW 2016. Austere URL/IRL // 85
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HEY I’VE BEEN THINKING ABOUT YOU...YEAH...MHM... CAN I CALL YOU LATER? WANNA CYBER ??
ARTIST NICOLE RUGGIERO
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# V A P O R W A
Suite for a very long time, since I was about 12. I taught Photoshop to myself around then. I went to school for graphic design and I recently became very interested in 3D art and the communities that surround it. All of my 3D knowledge is self-taught.
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YOU’VE ONLY BEEN DOING 3D ART FOR FOUR OR FIVE MONTHS? THAT’S INCREDIBLE. HOW DID YOU BUILD UP TO DOING THIS TYPE OF WORK? So, I’ve been working with the Adobe
# S E A P U N K
HOW DID POST VISION COME ABOUT? WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO DO IT ON INSTAGRAM? Well, I talk to a lot of artists just in general and I was thinking it would be a cool idea to start an artists’ collective on Instagram of all the people who are creating art inspired by the internet. I think that’s how a lot of us met in the first place, and I felt like there wasn’t really a home where artists could be heard alongside their art.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST GET ON THE INTERNET AND WHEN DID YOU START USING IT AS A CREATIVE MEDIUM? I had a really rough childhood that was very emotionally difficult for me because my parents weren’t really around that much due to some serious drug addictions. The internet was a place I felt comfortable being myself. Now, I feel a really strong connection to it because of that. I started frequenting art forums when I was about 12. HOW HAS THE INTERNET INFLUENCED YOUR EVERYDAY EXPERIENCE? I think that we’re really enabled to be connected since we have an internet connection almost anywhere because of our phones. There’s a negative stigma attached to this, but it’s more about choice. Just because you’re not interacting with a situation occurring directly in front of you doesn’t mean
# V A P O R W A V E
Nicole Ruggerio is a 3D visual artist influenced by 90s to modern-day internet culture. We talked about her new Instagram collective Post Vision and how hashtag trends have influenced her work.
HOW HAVE ONLINE COMMUNITIES PLAYED A ROLE IN YOUR DIGITAL EXPERIENCE? Online communities have played a major importance. I’m a moderator of a pretty popular group on Facebook called New Aesthetic, and a few other accounts on Instagram and Tumblr helped me out a lot when I first started.
you’re not affecting someone or something elsewhere. That’s the beauty of the internet. HOW HAVE HASHTAGS INFLUENCED YOUR WORK? WHAT THEMES HAVE THEY INSPIRED YOU TO EXPLORE? Hashtags are pretty important because they define what we create. Most of the hashtags I use fall under the umbrella term “postinternet,” which means existence after or because of the internet. It’s a very dynamic and expandable term. Hashtags that I sometimes use that fall under the term “postinternet” are #vaporwave, #seapunk and #witchhouse. Vaporwave specifically has influenced me because of its inherent themes. Although it lacks self-awareness, I think a lot can be learned by noticing trends that frequent the culture…mainly consumerism (meme culture) and historical internet references (Windows 98). As technology develops and artists
# P O S T I N T E R N E T
BY VICKY ANDRES
continue to create using these newer technologies, vaporwave will die and be replaced by a newer hashtag. Although these hashtags will be replaced, the umbrella term “postinternet” will remain until something is developed that has an even greater affect on society than the internet currently has. I don’t know what that will be. IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT YOUR WORK? I guess this isn’t so much about my work but more of advice for aspiring artists. One of my good friends once told me, “you just gotta be yourself.” It was probably one of the most important things anyone has ever said to me. Even though it’s scary sometimes, it’s true. If you like something, then post it. If you don’t, wait until you make something you do. Find yourself, find what inspires you. Don’t stop until you do; don’t stop until you’re happy.
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# W I T C H H O U S E
# P O S T I N T E R N E T
# V A P O R W A V E
# S E A P U N K
# W I T C H H O U S E
BY ELIZA TRONO
We met Aleia Murawski last fall after she modeled for a series shot by her best friend Lolo Bates. Ever since, Murawski’s imagination, still lifes, snails and amazing fingernails have been a constant presence in our online creeping routine. YOU HAVE SUCH A PARTICULAR AND UNIQUE STYLE. HOW DID YOU FORM YOUR AESTHETIC? I work really quickly and just try to get my ideas out. I collaborate often with two artists: Alex Wallbaum and Sam Copeland. I think a language or aesthetic is from just continuous making. YOU ALSO PRODUCE A LOT OF WORK. ABOUT HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO SET UP ONE OF YOUR PROJECTS? I went through a long dry spell of making things after college and then the thought of producing work was super overwhelming to me. I put so much pressure on myself to make something “good/finished” that I just became so immobilized by it. I tried to just tell myself to work at my own pace—to work even arbitrarily or unsophisticatedly. I just kept doing this and eventually started to find threads in what I was looking at and putting together. I work 88
during the day, so I try and put in as much time after work [as possible]. Sometimes I’m in the studio for hours with Alex, but sometimes it is just a quick iPhone still life on my living room floor. I’M REALLY INTERESTED IN HOW YOU USE VIDEO TO BRING YOUR STILL LIFES TO “LIFE.” HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT? I went to the beach with Sam one morning at like 6 a.m. to take photos with these mirrors. It was so foggy—I was frustrated because I thought it would be impossible to shoot anything. However, it was one of my favorite projects to date. Sam was holding up a mirror and the waves were so intensely reflected into it but tightly framed against the beach behind him. I took a video just to have—it was accidental, but I look at it all of the time and am so surprised by it. After this, I’ve become fascinated with how something can operate as both a photograph and video. WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION? Lots of places! The beach, Ikea, the way construction sites are disguised in nature scenes. I love images on trucks or posters in nail salons. I record a lot of things around me that I find confusing or amusing. After a while, I start to find patterns
and this informs my work. HOW DO YOU DERIVE MEANING IN YOUR WORK? My work is about the every day and every day objects: the power, comfort, anxieties and implications that come from materials around us. I think about the way we respond to our surroundings—how objects and imagery define us and dictate certain behaviors. Advertisements that are targeted towards us. And whether or not we like it, we inherent the messages, gestures and expectations. I want to find my own control in that. I am really interested right now in using compact mirrors, makeup and nails. I think it is because makeup is about fantasy, but one that is often prescribed. I indulge in it, but I want to distort it. Instead of blush, it’s mac and cheese...instead of a woman at the spa, it’s a snail. It’s lighthearted, but I’m looking for new relationships between objects or things. WHY IS INSTAGRAM YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA OF CHOICE? I use Instagram as both a sketchbook and portfolio. It has encouraged me to get a lot of ideas out (and consistently), and I have put all my energy there for the most part. However, there is pressure to participate often and I am not sure if that is just from me or more
structurally? I do realize my work is not going to grow the way I want it to unless I slow my process down and put more power in other places. I am definitely in a transitional space of making right now. DO YOU FEEL YOU USE DIGITAL SPACES TO CULTIVATE YOUR IDEAS AND RELATIONSHIPS? Yes, absolutely—the rewarding points are connecting with other artists and starting conversations and collaborations. Finding a community around your work is crucial, and the relationships I’ve made online have helped develop what I do and inspired lots of projects. But there has to be balance. I am starting to focus more on physical work and exhibition shows lately, as there seems to be something missing. Recently, participating in some group shows with Alex, we both have had some struggles because we are considering a different context for our work. I am thinking about how our work can or should exist offline more and more. IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT YOUR WORK? The snail that is often in my videos is named Noodle and he is an amazing actor!
BY VICKY ANDRES
ARTIST ALEIA MURAWSKI
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MADELYNE BECKLES IS MORE THAN YOUR AESTHETIC BY ELIZA TRONO & VICKY ANDRES
ARTIST MADELYNE BECKLES
It takes just a phone call with Montreal-based artist Madelyne Beckles to see she’s a lot like us. She loves the internet, pop culture, reality TV and sometimes gets into screaming arguments about Kanye West.
“I WANT TO BE SHAMELESS IN MY PRACTICE, SO I TRY TO EXPLORE THAT.”
ELIZA: So let’s take it back in time— when did you first get on the internet? MADELYNE: Basically, the way I started to get on the internet was with [photographer] Petra Collins. We went to high school together and we started a really embarrassing fashion blog.
that I didn’t think I could in person. So Rebelle Zine was the first time where I felt like I was taking some creative authority and presenting things other than myself. E: Your work has probably changed a lot since Rebelle Zine. How do you feel like it has evolved?
VICKY: What was it called? M: Oh my gosh, I don’t even want to say. It could still be online... E: I had a blog in middle school called Cobra Urban Child so there’s no way yours can be worse than that. [everyone laughs] M: Okay, it was called Rebelle Zine. That was my first venture to assert myself as a “creative.” But before that, I’d always been into making websites and stuff. I loved this website, Piczo, where we could make our own websites; I think it might have been a Canadian thing. But I was always so into making my own pages on Myspace and stuff. I’m kind of a shy person and I was very shy as a young person, so that was kind of my way of expressing myself and sharing my thoughts as a young person. It was my way of talking about or asserting my personality in ways
M: Yeah, it really has. At first I had an alter ego named “Miley Highrus.” I started with this persona because I thought it was more interesting than just presenting my real self. At school, I was a women’s studies student and I realized my work would be more impactful if I said the things I wanted to say and did the things I wanted to do as myself, rather than wrapped in a fake persona that was basically just me anyway. So I guess I’ve become more transparent than I was before. E: Does it feel different to use your own name? M: Well, that is one of the things that makes me a little nervous, because I like to explore sexuality and drugs and things you should typically feel ashamed of as a woman. Especially as a black woman who has crazy, fucked-up constructs to adhere to [in order to] be taken seriously.
So yeah, if I have a job interview or something, I wonder if I should change my name for professional reasons, but I’m starting to realize that I don’t even want to be involved with someone who can’t get with what I’m doing. So there is no protective shield; my grandparents can see what I’m doing. I want to be shameless in my practice, so I try to explore that. E: Yeah, I feel like I grew up in this environment where you were really encouraged to protect yourself online, but then I started encountering more and more people who really share themselves online. What is it like to go out into the world and interact with people who have seen this side of you? M: Well, I have to say I have very limited professional encounters. Nobody knows. I feel like people are super selfinvolved and don’t pay much attention to what you are doing. E: I think it’s really interesting. I want to show people that you can express yourself however you want online, but it is true that there are obstacles like that. M: I feel like I’ve kind of had to come to terms with the fact that this is what I want to do and what I like doing. So the way for it to not tarnish my future is for
me to accept the fact that I’m a creative. I will probably live my life making money at shitty jobs, but still get to do what I like and present myself the way that I want to. bell hooks actually has a really great quote—well, this is loose—but that if you are doing the work you want to do and you assert yourself politically, you are going to piss people off and you are not going to become a super wealthy person. And that’s fine with me. All those ideas about censoring yourself are totally embedded in capitalist shit which I don’t really have an interest in. V: I also like that you mentioned that people are too self-absorbed to always notice what other people are doing. I always get so nervous when some people I know follow me on Instagram, but then I realize that they never, ever notice anything. M: Yeah! None of my coworkers ever like anything I post. They never have an attachment to what I’m doing in this other world I operate in. E: I’m always afraid my mom is going to see my stuff. M: Oh, my grandma got Instagram this summer and I almost cried, but it turns out she never sees anything that I post. Austere URL/IRL // 91
E: So I’m curious about if you see yourself as a digital artist and what that idea means to you? M: I think the weird thing for me is that most of my work is digitally made with my phone or screenshots. But I think that so many of our peers are digital artists to us because that is the platform that they use to share their work. I don’t know, I feel like that term is somewhat arbitrary because we have to operate digitally as artists nowadays.
ARTIST MADELYNE BECKLES
E: Yeah I feel like as a “digital artist” now, that is what you are experiencing. It isn’t less, really, the medium just hasn’t existed before.
M: Yeah, totally. We have this crazy new territory where we can manipulate and use ready-made images. Yeah, it is a medium to work digitally, but I also think that the way things are now, you have to participate on the internet if you want to be noticed. You have to kind of promote your work to be able to create any kind of momentum. So does that mean that they are digital artists because they have to operate on this platform? I’m not really sure. It’s funny, though, I tend to shy away when people are seeking out digital artists, like I don’t feel like my work is “digital” enough. It just
seems so intrinsic to me to use screenshots and selfies. V: It really does seem more and more that digital isn’t a separate world anymore, it’s just a part of our lives. M: Yeah, totally, but it’s such a generational thing. I spoke on a panel about cyberfeminism and I was the youngest person on the panel by 15 or 20 years, even! That generation totally sees the internet and technology as a whole separate thing. The whole time I was trying to say, “no, I don’t think about posting things on Instagram.” It’s not like an action I’m making a decision to do, it’s just something that I have been socialized to do. I don’t separate that from what I do IRL, really. E: What are some ideas that are really important to you in your work? M: Well, I wrote an artist statement about a year ago and I’ve recently been grappling with if I still agree with it. I want to talk about things that are inherent in womanhood like shame, guilt and consumption, but also to deconstruct it by using my black body to problematize constructions of blackness, femininity and womanhood. I like to also mix forms of low culture with higher forms of class privilege. Essen-
“WE ARE GETTING THIS SINGULAR VIEW OF WHAT IT MEANS TO BE FEMINIST. IT IS VERY AESTHETIC...”
tially, I want to deconstruct womanhood. There are a lot of popular artists right now who are feminists and I think that is really cool and I never want to rain on anyone’s parade, but we are getting this singular view of what it means to be feminist. It is very aesthetic; it’s very markers and stickers and pink. And as much I like that stuff, there can be a little bit more mundane realness in the abject. Like things that are considered “other” and not supposed to be spoken about.
want and not feel weird about it. And not feel like they’re not fitting in with a certain standard of aesthetics. E: One of the other things I love about your work is how you shamelessly like pop culture. I’m just bored of hearing people talk about how I’m not supposed to care about Kanye West, because I can’t not care about it. M: I’ve gotten into screaming arguments with my family about him.
fucked-up, sexist dynamics; you can see racism, you can see classism. TV and celebrity culture to me is the most truthful about where we are as a Western society. E: Ok, I’ll talk about pop culture for like 45 minutes, but I also want to talk to you about building communities online. We’ve seen the work you and Petra [Collins] do, like the Fuck Boi Funeral [an art show where they said goodbye to fuckboys] in Miami. What was that like?
E: About what specifically? E: I love that, because as we’ve been making this, we are realizing that making the soft stuff does express something about feminism, but there are so many other ways to represent it. M: I think that is what art is about in general, but I think in my work I strive to be a little bit more conceptual. And maybe my aesthetics are little bit more... jank. [laughs] When I started to get on the internet, I never saw people like me and I’m not a fucking sob story. I have some class privilege. I was raised by a white family, pretty much, but I still didn’t see anything that was resonating with me or looked like me. So I also hope to make it okay for girls to just post whatever they
M: Well I got into this weird argument with my stepdad about how Kanye West is an asshole, egotistical and compared himself to Michelangelo. And I was like, “why does that infuriate you? Why does it make you mad that this man is comparing himself to Michelangelo? Because he’s not a white, traditional painter?” Kanye’s a huge cultural producer who has such a crazy effect on the shit we wear and the things we listen to. The way he’s kinda brought in the black bourgeoisie…I think that pop culture is a total mirror for what’s also happening in the world. I can find out more about the state of people’s ideology from watching reality TV than watching the news. You can see
M: For the Miami thing, I wasn’t even there. We did the whole curating process and printed everything online. Petra was there and helped guide them to set it up. But most people there I have only ever talked to online. It’s the only way that I’ve ever gotten any opportunity. It’s insanely difficult to make a connection IRL in the art world because it’s so male-dominated and money-based. I think it’s so important to form those communities online. It doesn’t even have to be striking up a conversation with them. You can just follow them and then one day you might think of them for a project and you ask them and they are usually down. You don’t even have to really know them on a personal basis. They’re
all real young people. We’re all just kinda broke and want to do stuff. You see their personas online and you kinda feel like you know them. V: Last question: Do you have a dream project you want to work on? M: Right now I’m working on something that’s kind of become like a dream because I’m really fixated on it. I’m working on a feature-length film (quote unquote, because it will not be feature-length at all). I’m taking sound bites and clips from existing shows to show black women policing each other’s behavior. I’m drawing from notions like the “rap shit” and the “diva” and how they kinda subvert ways of normalizing black women’s bodies within a discourse of white femininity and proper behavior. It will be a lot of clips from Bad Girls Club, Flavor of Love and The Real Housewives. I’m going to try to create my own narrative and drama. E: Hell yeah, that sounds really cool. M: So I’m getting started on watching a lot of fucking TV for the next couple months. It’s not the worst job in the world.
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@4LOCROW BY VICKY ANDRES
Lauren Crow is a fine art photographer currently in Portland, OR who is captivated by the “imperfect” body and questioning the idea of an ideal or accepted form. Crow is also inspired by radical softness, an idea coined by Lora Mathis that involves unapologetically sharing your emotions as a political move and combating the societal idea that feelings are a sign of weakness.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST GET ON THE INTERNET AND WHEN DID YOU FIRST USE THE INTERNET TO SHARE YOUR WORK AND IDEAS? I grew up with the internet and it’s humble dial-up beginnings and as it has grown, so has the way that I share my work. I first submitted images on DeviantArt, moved on to Flickr and now am using Tumblr and Instagram (as well as having an official website). I think around my DeviantArt phase I also had a pretty sweet online Xanga journal! 94
I’D LOVE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT YOUR NEW SERIES “INTIMATE.” IT SEEMS VERY SPECIAL TO YOU. This new series “Intimate” is certainly special to me. In short, I’m exploring all the different intimate relationships in my life, and the meaning of intimacy varies relationship to relationship. With one person it could be sexual intimacy and another could be platonic emotional intimacy. This project also is me taking a lot of new steps in the way I work and I think that makes it more exciting! Most of my work, I tend to use natural light and myself or other people as the model. In this series, I’m using more of my studio lighting techniques, as well as shooting myself with other people. Some people in the images are friends and/or sexual partners, and others are people who contacted me to be involved or I’ve found through various social media!
HAVE ONLINE COMMUNITIES INFLUENCED YOUR WORK? Oh, definitely! There’s inspiration everywhere! On one hand, I’ve been very influenced through the body positivity movement and how I photograph myself as well as other bodies. On another, through social media like Instagram, I get updates on my friends’ and peers’ work/process of making work, as well as getting to know the artist. It’s been so amazing seeing my peers’ work and watching it grow and change, as well as being able to find inspiration and support. I think being able to share online has probably made me a bit of an over-sharer, but a lot of people really seem to value that honesty and openness. I’m an open book and don’t feel ashamed of who I am.
“I’M AN OPEN BOOK AND DON’T FEEL ASHAMED OF WHO I AM.”
HOW DOES RADICAL SOFTNESS PLAY INTO YOUR WORK? I think softness and honesty has always been a part of my work, but Lora [Mathis] and I struck up a friendship when I moved to Portland in July. I think by their creation of this term, I found a way to describe the way I try and create work. I unapologetically show my body, emotions and those of my subjects. SELF-CARE IS SOMETHING YOU FREQUENTLY DISCUSS. HOW DO YOU PRACTICE IT? Different days, different care. Sometimes it means I need to lay in bed and watch VHS movies all day, put on a face mask and take a bath; and other days, I need to push myself, get dressed and go outside (even if it’s just for a walk around the block)
PHOTOGRAPHER LAUREN CROW
ON A SCALE OF 1–10, WHAT ACTIVITY (ANY ACTIVITY) WOULD YOU RATE A PERFECT 10? Oh man, this is so hard cause there are so many great scenarios. It would be sweet to have a sort of dress up/prom party with all the cool internet people I want to meet/all the people I love, where we just dance like dorks, eat the best foods and take lots of cool pictures. Lots of glitter, neon lights and puffy dresses! Also, the after party would include a swimming pool cause I’m a water baby who will take any chance to go swimming. Then again, I’m also just down to win the lottery and pay off some student loans and buy some cool shit.
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(ELLIE’S LOOK) CUSTOM SHIRT ELLY BECKFORD, TOP & TROUSERS PITCHOUGUINA
(PHINEY’S LOOK) CUSTOM JACKET PHINEY PET, DRESS KITTY JOSEPH
ART ON HER SLEEVE London creatives tell us what they do in their own handwriting. PHOTOGRAPHER KAMILA K STANLEY / PHOTOGRAPHER’S ASSISTANT MAXIME IMBERT STYLIST HANNAH GRUNDEN / STYLIST’S ASSISTANT PALESA DLAMINI HAIR CHLOE ALICE FRIEDA / MAKEUP ROBYN FITZSIMONS
(HOLLY’S LOOK) CUSTOM BAG HOLLY WESTWOOD, FUR STOLE BOMBE SURPRISE, MESH TOP NICCE, SKIRT MISS SIXTY (IBIYE’S LOOK) CUSTOM OVERALLS & EARRINGS IBIYE CAMP, MESH TOP NICCE
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98 (PENNY’S LOOK) CUSTOM BUNNY HEAD AND SKIRT PENNY MILLS / TOP BEEN TRILL
(MEG’S LOOK) CUSTOM BRA & KNIT HARNESS MEG NIXON, HEADBAND THE SEASON, TROUSERS PITCHOUGUINA
(HANNAH’S LOOK) CUSTOM DRESS HANNAH GRUNDEN
(AMY’S LOOK) CUSTOM CHOKER AMY EXTON, TOP SUPPLY & DEMAND, JEANS UNIF
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@VIVIAN ISVULGAR BY VICKY ANDRES
Vivian Fu is a photographer living in San Francisco whose work reflects her seemingly contradictory interests and everyday life.
PHOTOGRAPHER VIVIAN FU
Over the course of a month, we emailed back and forth about her work, starting with how she began using the handle @VivianIsVulgar.
HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR WORK HAS CHANGED OVER TIME? I’M INTERESTED HOW YOU STARTED USING THE WORD VULGAR AND HOW IT HAS IMPACTED YOUR WORK? If I had to define my photographs, I would say that they’re a personal long-form narrative and my interest in working this way is ultimately a desire to examine how I relate to things. How do I relate to these people, this space, this time in my life? To put it simply, I am documenting my life. Over time I’m experiencing new things, and how I see and relate to things shifts, reflecting in my work. It’s difficult to pinpoint how exactly my work has changed over time, because I’m interested in seemingly opposite things, which sometimes I mistakenly read as a “change.”
In the past year, I’ve learned that some of my work embodies these dichotomies—quick snapshots vs. slowly composed, amateur vs. fine art, earnest and heartfelt vs. silly and vulgar. This brings me to the second part of your question about the word “vulgar.” I like a dirty joke, which has been the case since I was a teen. I began using the handle “@VivianIsVulgar” because I liked both the alliteration and it’s an accurate descriptor. Vulgarity is peppered throughout my work, in both glaringly obvious and subtle ways; a photo of cum on my stomach, a photo of wilted flowers reminiscent of a flaccid penis. Many things are like a game of word association through the eyes of a second generation Taiwanese-American girl. Vulgarity translates into naughtiness and crassness which translates into American-ness. This idea then cycles back into what I was talking about earlier. About photography as a means of how things relate to me, and in this incidence, how does vulgar and crass American-ness fit on me? YOU MENTIONED AMATEUR VS. FINE ART. WHERE DO YOU DRAW THAT LINE, AND WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO PARTICIPATE IN BOTH? What was originally amateur has been placed in fine art contexts, influencing what is culturally accepted as art. For
me the line is blurry, especially given my interest in everyday images and its acceptance within art. At what point is a photograph of a lover elevated from sentimental memorabilia to something else, something “more” or “better?” How do we even define that? Although it may sound contradictory, participation in both is at most a way of denying that binary and at least a way to be defined by both; ultimately not being forced to be strictly either/or. DO YOU THINK EXPLORING THIS HAS HELPED YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR DUAL CULTURAL IDENTITY BETTER AS WELL? My dual work modes (and ways of thinking) and aversion to focusing on one is perhaps related to my dual cultural identity, something else that I dislike being either/or. Photography doesn’t explicitly help me understand my dual culture better, but my dual culture certainly influences the way I read and understand photography. HAS IT BEEN HARD TO SHARE SENTIMENTAL MEMORABILIA? WHAT DOES THE ABILITY TO SHOW THE INTIMATE MOMENTS OF YOUR LIFE ONLINE MEAN TO YOU? We collectively think of sharing “personal” images as opening ourselves up to vulnerability and something that
would be difficult to share.
FOR ME THERE’S A DISCONNECT BETWEEN HOW WE VISUALIZE VULNERABILITY AND ACTUALLY FEELING IT. My photography might relate to my life, but at the end of the day it’s my artwork. By creating a separation between “the intimate moments of [my] life” and my art practice makes it less difficult to share my photos with other people. I’m specifically very interested in photographs of the everyday, which includes moments that are personal. Like many other artists, particularly younger artists, I post my work online because it’s an effective way of sharing what you’re making with others. DO YOU THINK THESE IDEAS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN TRUE TO WHO YOU ARE OR DID YOU GROW INTO IT? There isn’t a cool origin story for where my outlook on these things comes from. I don’t have a story about unlearning shame regarding bodies or feelings.
A THOUGHT PROCESS YOU GO THROUGH WHEN YOU DECIDE WHAT TO HOLD BACK? It just goes back to objectively viewing the photos as work and maybe a bit of openness about what’s worthy of a photograph thrown in there. I make a lot of photos and post very few. I am increasingly more protective of my photos, even though I also really love sharing with people. Posting online has been replaced with e-mailing photos to my friends; I get to share but in a more controlled way. Deciding to not immediately post everything has been good for me. An image that excites me on a roll of freshly developed film might not hold up as well in a few weeks, and something that I hated a year ago suddenly becomes more interesting. It’s a hard balance to strike between holding too tight and sharing too much. In terms of what gets posted online and what doesn’t, it comes down to if I think it’s a good enough picture to share but not so good that I want to save it for something special like a book or a show. I also take into consideration how it flows and relates either visually or conceptually to the images that were posted before.
HOW MANY OF YOUR OWN PHOTOS DO YOU SHARE? IS THERE Austere URL/IRL // 101
102 PHOTOGRAPHER VIVIAN FU
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PHOTOGRAPHER IAN PHILLIPS-MCLAREN
WHEN WE WERE INTRODUCED TO YOUR WORK WE WERE REALLY STUCK—BUT YOU’RE WRITING ABOUT GLITCH FEMINISM. YOU’VE SAID THAT IT IS “FEMINISM FOR A DIGITAL AGE.” WHY IS GLITCH FEMINISM IMPORTANT TO THE WAY WE INTERACT? With Glitch Feminism rises an opportunity to reassess the structures of gender and sexuality as it relates to the social reproduction of womanhood and femininity across all spectrums of identity. Glitch Feminism disrupts the prison of the physical form, the hegemonic histories tied to these bodies each of us inhabit and the labor required to maintain traditionalist binaries within the corporeal. The metaphor of “glitch” is in its root an agent of error but when situated within a dialogue about feminism and body politic, it is the imaginative drive that allows us via the digital to reconfigure physicality and self-define these new bodies in a way that resonates not only within the collective consciousness of techno-fantasy, but away from the computer as well, out in the world. All life is “real life,” and we should have the right to decide how we are defined, how we are seen, how we are (re)produced and how we want to be. IT’S BEEN A MINUTE SINCE YOU COINED THE TERM GLITCH FEMINISM. HAS THE IDEA CHANGED
FOR YOU IN ANY WAY OVER TIME? I first theorised Glitch Feminism in 2013. The theory has not changed as much as it has been claimed and reclaimed, purposed and repurposed. All the discussion that is surfacing right now within the mainstream about the “authenticity” of bodies and the ongoing discourse surrounding the scrambling of binaries is something that is very relevant to the praxis of Glitch Feminism. What I theorised began in the realm of art, using the practice of artists as a looking glass to examine action within the world around us; every year that has passed I see more example of life imitating art. I believe that artists—E. Jane, Juliana Huxtable, Fanny Sosa, Niv Acosta, Sondra Perry, Jesse Darling, Hannah Black, to name a few—have via their practice created new understandings of the body and are doing essential work in calling into question the standardization and alienation of the physical form via archetypes reinforced by a normative socio-cultural regime. WHAT ARE SOME THEORETICAL IDEAS THAT YOU LIKE TO EXPLORE IN YOUR WORK AND HOW DO THOSE IDEAS POP UP ACROSS DIFFERENT MEDIUMS OF EXPRESSION? My background is in art history, studio art and gender studies. I like to explore the speculative fiction of limitations and the rules created to control our
bodies and how we define them. I am also interested in the notion of “digital commons,” as well as the constructs of “public space” and “safe space” as they relate to one another, and in particular as they manifest themselves on the internet. I explore performativity as it relates to digital selfdom and am on a journey to understand how what begins as play or performance online creates bridges to new and exciting departures offline. DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE OR MOST MEANINGFUL PROJECT THAT YOU HAVE WORKED ON? WHY WAS IT IMPORTANT TO YOU? I’ve loved every project I’ve ever produced—there is always an adventure and joy in a new challenge. However in my heart of hearts I am a writer and a researcher, and so my favorite part of every project is researching for it and, as part of that, building a defense as to why it should exist out in the world. WHAT ARE SOME WAYS IN WHICH YOU HAVE BEEN ABLE TO USE DIGITAL MEDIUMS TO EXPAND YOUR PERSPECTIVE AND DECONSTRUCT PRECONCEIVED IDEAS ABOUT SOCIETY? Very simply, the internet is an epic archive and an ongoing deconstruction of knowledge. It has rendered so much that once was invisible, visible. While it is not a space devoid of hierarchies
and therefore cannot be entertained as a truly democratic nor decentralised system, it strains its neck toward such ambitions and, in doing so, has many democracies and centres within it. Thus the internet is in many ways the ultimate peradam (to resituate the word of René Daumal). CAN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT SOME OF YOUR OTHER AREAS OF STUDY AND HOW THEY ARE AFFECTED BY ONLINE MEDIUMS? I work for Artsy.net which aims to “...make all of the world’s art accessible to anyone with an internet connection.” I therefore exist within a growing archive myself and the innovative community that drives it. I’M INTERESTED IN HOW YOU WORK TO BRING DIGITAL CONCEPTS INTO IRL GALLERIES? HOW DO YOU WORK TO ACTUALIZE THINGS THAT YOU SEE ONLINE IN PHYSICAL SPACES? I take issue with this idea of “IRL” because it seems to suggest that things happening online are not “real”—this idea of “real” is problematic. I prefer AFK (“Away From Keyboard”) which makes more clear the fact that things happening online and away from the keyboard are part of a continuous loop. With this in mind, I am not interested in actualising anything I see online within physical space—forcing that connection without a purpose
is inauthentic. Many things that are produced online are done so because that is where they are meant to be staged; bringing them into some form of “physical space” in some cases would be like saying, “I like this movie, why not stage a play of it?” Each medium does something for the narrative or idea it puts forward. The constant obsession with the “real” says more about the audience than it does about the maker; people are uncomfortable with things they cannot touch, with things they cannot coexist alongside of—it requires them to reconsider space and time and reality in ways most are unprepared to do. Bringing the digital into art galleries of course has a cultural purpose in
LEGACY RUSSELL: A GLITCH IN THE SYSTEM
some regard, but let’s not pretend it isn’t driven by the mechanics of capital. Much of the reason why artists who make work online end up showing these works within gallery spaces is because the commercial realm of a for-profit gallery allows the artist and the work produced to become part of commerce, and that commerce is all tangled up with the aspiration of creative sustainability and survival. Right now I am frustrated with this obsession with the “real” and how value is determined so much by how “real” an art object can become. Via the avenue of Glitch Feminism, I am much more interested in how the internet can help us realize new potential for that which
takes place away from the computer and how digital space is political space, providing us an opportunity to challenge the status quo. HOW DO YOU THINK THE IDEA THAT DIGITAL ART IS IRL ART CAN REACH MORE PEOPLE? All art exists “IRL” even when it doesn’t exist as a physical object at all. I think the thing to figure out here is not if digital art is part of that same narrative, but rather what the value of digital art is within a larger economy, how it is shifting our understanding of labor, and at what cost. I don’t have the answer yet, but I am glad to be one of many people who are part of this exploration. YOU ARE A WOMAN OF MANY TALENTS; WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO YOU TO USE YOUR CREATIVITY ACROSS SO MANY PLATFORMS? No individual is static, nor can be expressed through a single material or medium. ON A SCALE OF 1–10, WHAT ACTIVITY (ANY ACTIVITY) WOULD YOU RATE A PERFECT 10? Midsummer rooftop in early-aughts NYC with a stellar soundtrack, Daisy Duke cut-offs, my best friends, and a 40oz.
BY ELIZA TRONO
Austere URL/IRL // 105
FOUNDING EDITOR, ILY MAG / EDITOR, ROOKIE
PHOTO COURTESY OF ERIKA RAMIREZ
BY ANTENEH GEBRE
The internet is a strange place; we all know this. It’s the reason why many choose to keep their guards up, speaking very little about their personal lives and strictly using the internet to talk and learn about their interests. However some see opportunity in this weirdness. They see the internet as a chance to relate to people going through the same experiences as they are, to discuss personal issues and problems; so they put everything out there. Erika Ramirez falls somewhere in the middle, often giving her 25 thousand Twitter followers a quick peek into her heart, but nothing more. It’s very fitting that my first introduction to Ramirez as a writer was her Rolling Stone Artists To Watch feature on The Weeknd back in 2011; both of them sensitive and guarded simultaneously. Since then, she’s served as a senior editor at Billboard and has published works for MTV, The Fader and Vulture. In February, Ramirez launched ILY Mag, a digital magazine about love in every form. We talked to her about leaving Billboard, starting her own media outlet and relationship tweets.
YOUR ONLINE PERSONA COMES OFF AS VERY SWEET AND SENSITIVE. WHEN DID YOU STOP CARING ABOUT SEEMING VULNERABLE ONLINE, AND ARE YOU THE SAME WAY IRL? I don’t know how to be anyone but me. What you read is what you see. I’ve always been an emotional casserole, both IRL and online. I think that’s why I’m sensitive and try to be respectful of other people’s feelings. I was also raised—by seeing those around me—to be considerate of another person’s feelings, perhaps to a fault (putting others before me). I don’t know how to turn my emoness on or off for socials. I tend to tweet (or post) as if no one is watching, and I think I’ve always been that way. I’d rather be seen as too much by being myself, than being enough as someone else. I try to live by a “love me or leave me” mentality because it’s liberating. I also respect those who are who they are online and offline. If it was the other way around, I’d want them to show me their true colors: the good, bad and the ugly. No mind fucks, no games, no filter—no one has the time or energy for
that. Life is deeper than social media. Also, if I’m going to win I’d like to win by being who I inherently am, and by capitalizing on what makes me me: FEELS.
a soundboard or needing to get out of my own head. I’m looking for a lifesaver or floaties to then navigate through my feels. And, what always ends up happening, which I love, are online Oprah sessions. (I call conversations I have with people about feels Oprah sessions, where you just let it out.) We end up being soundboards for each other, and it’s a ripple effect.
BETWEEN YOUR MUSIC OPINIONS AND RETWEETS OF MEMES, YOUR RELATIONSHIP TWEETS GET A LOT OF ENGAGEMENT AND THE RESPONSES PILE UP IN YOUR MENTIONS. HAVE YOU LEARNED ANYTHING ABOUT YOURSELF VIA THESE TWITTER CONVERSATIONS? I’m always curious as to how others handle similar situations or feelings. Most of the times that I tweet about
YOU HAD A GREAT JOB AT BILLBOARD BUT DECIDED TO LEAVE TO START YOUR OWN ONLINE MAGAZINE; WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO DO THAT? Ah, there were many factors to me
relationships or love, it’s me looking for
leaving Billboard and starting ILY. I had
been at Billboard for almost 4.5 years when I quit. I felt like I reached a ceiling. I couldn’t grow, creatively. I also wasn’t fulfilled. I wanted more. I think if you aren’t happy, if you think you aren’t doing everything you can and want, than nothing else really matters, at least not for long. I had to fuck with happiness. I was also about to turn 30, and all of a sudden what I cared about I cared about more, and what I didn’t care about I lost all fucks for. Also, I needed to take a step back from the hustle of internet rap writing, or what it began feeling like: daily blogging. After writing about music for 10 years, the transition was a bit of a mind fuck. My life became about other people’s lives, and mostly about the part of their lives that I didn’t care about: gossip, beefs, arrests. I felt like I was assisting in people also caring about negativity. I get why media outlets touch on such topics; it feels as if majority of the e-generation is intrigued by it. It’s about clicks and conversation, but I‘d rather try to focus on the latter than the former and hope it all falls into place. I had been thinking of building a medium where me and others could talk about love since forever, but I got serious about it in December 2013. Ever since I was knee-high, the one thing that’s always intrigued me is love: What the fuck is it? When do you know it’s
love? How can I hate something I long for? etc. (Music was my comfort.) ILY became something I couldn’t stop thinking about. I wouldn’t sleep, just thinking about making it happen, and how I’d make it happen. I’d be excited to get home from work, in order to give my passion project some lovin.’ I couldn’t really ignore my inner ear any longer. It really came down to me asking myself, “if not now, when?” I should also say, I’m an insatiable person when it comes to creativity. I always want more. I run off passion. I mean, I moved from Tracy, California to New York to write, with only two bags. I knew no one in New York, and I made it. I feel like after that, I can’t really say I can’t do something or it’s bullshit. (And my family and close friends will call me out on it, as they should.) A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE STARTING ONLINE MAGAZINES AND MANY ARE MAKING OLD SCHOOL, SMALL PRINT ZINES. WHAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT ILYMAG? I hope ILY, or I through ILY, becomes a channel for people to freely express themselves about love. I don’t think there’s a place where we can just talk about love without shame or bias, or a place where you can see yourself in stories about love. I’d love for ILY to be that place. As I mentioned in my
editor’s note for February: ILY is for the non-believers and hopeless romantics. ILY is a safe haven where you can come to hate love, or love love. ILY is for the sour patch kids like myself who want to kick love in the chin one minute, and then sweeten up at the thought of its magic. (God that sounds cheesy huh?) ON A SCALE OF 1–10, WHAT ACTIVITY (ANY ACTIVITY) WOULD YOU RATE A PERFECT 10? Ah, let’s do day and night: I’d wake up early, at 7 a.m., go for a run. (A short one, because I haven’t run in a minute and I have a tiny heart condition). Make chai latte or a shake. Find the spot in my apartment with the most light, and work on ILY and freelance work. I’d take a mini break and have lunch with Clover Hope. I’d have my best friend, Steven Brown, come over and work from my apartment as well. I look to him for motivation and inspiration. I need pep talks now more than ever, because the entrepreneur life (which is new to me) can be scary as fuck, and he helps me with that. I cook a good ass dinner and FaceTime with my family in California. I’m excited though, to add someone special into the mix, because I end up making a meal for two (quality wise) and end up eating all of it.
“My life became about other people’s lives, and mostly about the part of their lives that I didn’t care about: gossip, beefs, arrests.” Austere URL/IRL // 107
JADE TAYLOR SENIOR BEAUTY EDITOR, NYLON
BY ELIZA TRONO
I spent about 20 minutes on NYLON
I’m not really sure what mine would
Magazine’s Senior Beauty Editor Jade
be. Sometimes I scroll through my own
Taylor's Instagram, and then proceeded
feed and I’m like, “what the fuck is this?”
to spend a stupid amount of money at
But I’m not too candid…like, I don’t post
photos of myself crying (because that
Growing up as a magazine geek, NYLON was the publication that made you want
happens) or videos of my landlord yelling at me because my rent is late (because that
to be the editor of something, somewhere,
also happens)—everything that you see is
but especially at NYLON. We talked to
purposely, almost strategically, put there. I
Taylor about sharing her life via Snapchat,
recently posted a photo of myself holding
coming up with new ways to write about
a glass of wine with gin in it with the
beauty and what it’s actually like to work
longest caption ever venting about what a
for a magazine that has people starstruck.
shitty day I had, and I talk about this topic
PHOTOGRAPHER BETH GARRABRANT, NYLON
of selective social media-ism there. I end-
A LOT OF PEOPLE FOLLOW YOU ON
ed up getting such positive feedback from
SOCIAL MEDIA AND ARE CONSTANTLY
people because I think they felt relieved
INTERACTING WITH THE IDEAS
to finally see something real for once vs.
THAT YOU SHARE THERE. IS THERE
something vapid or unrealistic.
A SPECIFIC WAY YOU CHOOSE TO PRESENT YOURSELF ONLINE?
WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO TAKE
I’m very raw on social media, especial-
AWAY FROM FOLLOWING YOU?
ly Snapchat. On Instagram I post a lot
That I’m a normal person. I’m not selling
of candid photos of my life mixed with
you tea or sponsored shit—I’ve never
“work” photos (i.e. pretty photos of mas-
posted a sponsored photo in my
cara and photo shoots)—a lot of people
life. I’ve had offers, of course, but I think
have their own Instagram aesthetic, but
“THEY FORGET ABOUT ALL THE (LITERAL) BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS THAT GOES INTO THINGS BEHIND THE SCENES.”
HOW HAS THE WAY THAT YOU’VE
to conceptualize and produce original
INTERACTED ON DIGITAL PLATFORMS
beauty ideas and throw traditional beauty
CHANGED OVER TIME?
standards (see: tall, Caucasian, skinny,
I don’t have a Tumblr or anything, and
blonde girls) down the drain. Years ago,
I really only use Twitter when I’m drunk or
one of the first beauty pages I ever did
feeling sassy, so Instagram (and recently)
at NYLON was this weird intergalactic
Snapchat have been the only two forms
beauty trend page (which was sooo not
of social media I interact on. Sometimes
a trend at the time) and then of course
major magazine before, especially in a red
really have no idea what working at a
I get Snapchats from girls with a selfie of
years later everyone had galaxy nails
lipstick story. I’m still really proud of that.
magazine is actually like. I feel like a lot Wears Prada or The September Issue or
of people think of movies like The Devil
themselves and the caption will be like, “I
and shit. I can’t even tell you how many
love you Jade!!!” which is so flattering. I
times I’ve featured relatively unknown
HOW DOES POP CULTURE AFFECT
also get really sweet DMs from people all
girls/celebrities and then they’ve blown
YOUR WORK? WHAT IS IT THAT DRAWS
something when they picture people
over the world on Instagram who love
up or other magazines feature them
YOU TO IT?
working at a magazine and it couldn’t be
the pages/features/interviews I’ve done
months later. A lot of my work gets poorly
I’ve done so many shoots based on things
more opposite. I’m the only person in
at NYLON. Obviously social media has
recreated/ripped off by other people, but
in pop culture, especially my beauty
the beauty department here at NYLON
changed drastically in the past few years,
that’s just a factor of life in this industry.
openers. I’ve done openers inspired by
(which means I don’t have an assistant,
going from the “MySpace generation”
But showing a different side of beauty is
films like Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?,
just awesome interns), so I literally do ev-
to the “Facebook generation” to the
something I will always do.
Grey Gardens, and The Virgin Sui-
erything as a one-woman show. I’ve had
cides—I’ve done shoots inspired by aliens,
up to 30 pages an issue before, so it’s a lot
“Instagram generation” or whatever—I'm excited to see what’s next, I’m sure it’ll be
IS THERE A STORY YOU’VE WORKED
skaters, goths, vintage mug shots, Patrick
of fucking hard work. And that’s just one
ON THAT HAS BEEN PARTICULARLY
Nagel, Bowie, aura photographs, Britney
part of my job! As a beauty editor, I attend
MEANINGFUL TO YOU?
Spears…I mean, there’s been a lot of differ-
beauty events/previews every week, have
ARE THERE ANY THEMES OR IDEAS
I did a red lipstick story over a year ago
ent references in my work. They’re all just
breakfast/lunch/dinners with PR brands,
THAT YOU FREQUENTLY TRY TO
and wanted it to be a completely different
extensions of my interests and of myself.
take desksides, go on press trips—it’s a lot.
ADDRESS IN YOUR WORK?
kind of red lipstick page—because
Empowering women is the number one
everyone has done a fucking red lipstick
ON A SCALE OF 1–10, WHAT
I’m busy!” I don’t think they really under-
thing I do each issue. When I first started
page. One of the girls I casted, Chloe
ACTIVITY (ANY ACTIVITY) WOULD YOU
stand. That part is something I feel like
in the beauty industry, I remember feeling
Mackey, had green hair and matching
RATE A PERFECT 10?
not a lot people actually understand about
Sometimes when I tell people, “I’m sorry,
so isolated from everyone: magazines,
green armpit hair at the time, and the
I would love to go bowling with Marilyn
my job—I get the feeling that people just
beauty editors, brand campaigns, etc.
photo of her that ran in the magazine was
assume my life is glamorous or whatever
Everything was like, “the top 10 best coral
a shot with her arm up so you could see
lip glosses to try!” and I was always like,
her armpit hair, and I remember feeling
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WISH
beauty products, but they forget about
“where’s the top 10 best black lipsticks
so happy that it ran because I couldn’t
PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT YOUR WORK?
all the (literal) blood, sweat and tears that
to try?” I knew I had an obligation to
remember ever seeing a photo of a girl
Unless you work or have worked in the
goes into things behind the scenes.
myself, and like-minded girls like myself,
with armpit hair in NYLON or any other
magazine/publishing world, then you
because I get to travel and I get sent free
Austere URL/IRL // 109
BY VICKY ANDRES
Last spring we published a story with a lighthearted headline: “It’s Molly Soda’s internet, we just live in it.” Since then, we’ve gained a new level of understanding and respect for Soda and her commitment to her work. This time we talked about how social media allows us to indulge in our fantasies and how to support digital artists. WHAT WAS THE FIRST ONLINE COMMUNITY YOU FELT CONNECTED TO? Neopets! I was all over that website when I was a tween—it’s how I first started interacting with strangers online, how I became acquainted with the idea of “fame” or “success” digitally and how I learned HTML. I ran a guild called “Faerie Fingers” that was quite popular, in my eyes at the time, and even created an offshoot website for it. WE’VE HEARD PEOPLE VOCALIZE FOR THIS ISSUE THAT THERE REALLY ISN’T AND SHOULDN’T BE A FEMINIST AESTHETIC. DO YOU SEE A FEMINIST AESTHETIC? There is no feminist aesthetic. There is however, a “feminist” aesthetic popularized and propagated by mainstream 110
media in order to sell copies or get more clicks. Feminism isn’t a trend, but it can often feel that way with how news sources choose to portray their subjects and give light to some artists while keeping others in the shadows. HOW HAS YOUR VISUAL STYLE CHANGED OR EVOLVED SINCE YOU FIRST STARTED? My visual aesthetic is always evolving, obviously there are themes present in all of my work—it all makes sense together, but it would get old if I was just doing the same thing over and over again. HOW HAS NEWHIVE INFLUENCED YOUR WORK? It’s made the turn around on getting new work out a lot faster. NewHive has made everything so much more fluid and more intuitive for me. As a digital artist, it provides a “canvas” for me that feels natural and allows me to work through a lot of ideas without necessarily feeling so binding. WE’RE SUPER EXCITED ABOUT YOUR KARAOKE PROJECT AND LOVED YOUR RECENT VALENTINE’S DAY PROJECT. THE LAST TIME WE TALKED TO YOU WE DISCUSSED YOUR VIEWS ON CELIBACY, ROMANCE AND SEX. HOW DO YOU SEE THESE THEMES IN
YOUR WORK LATELY? I’m always searching for intimacy and my work reflects that longing—something that we all tap into a little bit when we go online or use our devices. There’s a piece of a poem in my karaoke project that says, “I’m constantly thinking of ways to be closer to you, but all I have is my phone.” WE ARE ALSO TALKING TO SIGNE PIERCE IN THIS ISSUE AND LOVE THAT SHE TWEETED THIS RECENTLY: “WE NEED A TERM FOR THE MODERN PHENOMENA WHERE PEOPLE FALL IN LOVE WITH THE IDEALIZED VERSIONS OF OTHERS BASED ON THEIR SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE.” WHAT IS THAT LIKE FOR YOU? Social media allows us to indulge in our fantasies to new degrees. Having a crush on someone, to me, has always been a form of projection. You’re projecting these thoughts onto a person who perhaps shares some of the qualities you want in a partner, but you’re never getting the full story. The internet just intensifies this. I recognize that as “honest” as I am online, I’m still creating an image of myself that I want the world to see. We all are. It’s good to check in with yourself and make sure that we’re aware of it before we fall too hard. I just recently did a piece titled Mutual
Projection for Breezeway Gallery at Indiana University, in which I printed out a 900+ page text conversation between me and my romantic interest I had only met once at a bar. We carried on our budding “relationship” via text for a month and a half before seeing each other again in person, and boy did that really give me some insight into my own ability to really idealize and project onto someone I essentially barely knew. ARE THERE ANY IDEAS THAT YOU HAVE RECENTLY ENCOUNTERED THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO EXPLORE MORE IN THE FUTURE? I keep thinking about the internet as a bunch of tiny cities—how communities are formed and how people create spaces for themselves online that they perhaps can’t create in real life. There’s still a lot of fleshing out I need to do, but I’ve been very interested in translating these online cityscapes into a bigger body of work. HOW CAN MORE PEOPLE OR ORGANIZATIONS SUPPORT ARTISTS LIKE YOU? Buy art. Commission artists. Pay them an appropriate amount and in a timely manner. Just because something isn’t physical does not mean it doesn’t have value.
MOLLY SODA ARTIST MOLLY SODA
STILLS FROM MOLLY SODA'S KARAOKE PROJECT.
Austere URL/IRL // 111
!Hottie Alert! Aoife Dunne (@EfaDone) is keeping the internet weird. BY ELIZA TRONO
CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF IN YOUR OWN WORDS? I am a Visual Artist, Creative Director, Stylist and more importantly, an irresponsible 21-year-old kid who is the queen of bad decisions and glitter gif making pro from Dublin, Ireland.
ARTIST AOIFE DUNNE
YOU HAVE ONE OF THE MOST INSANE WEBSITES I’VE EVER SEEN! DO YOU CODE? Yesss, I am 99% nerd 1% cool!
HOW DID YOU LEARN HOW? I taught myself when I was thirteen through tutorials on YouTube and trial and error, really! I think once you’re curious and open to learning you can pretty much teach yourself anything.
I’M REALLY INTERESTED IN HOW PEOPLE USE CODE AS ART, DO YOU FEEL YOU DO THAT? Yes, for sure! I’ve always grown up using my computer as my main medium to create work. I had no prior “art training” before going to art college at all, so I guess I always saw technology as my paintbrush. WHEN DID YOU FIRST GET ON THE INTERNET AND WHEN DID YOU FIRST USE THE INTERNET TO SHARE YOUR ART? I was on the internet at a very early age, maybe as young as seven? My dad fixes computers for a living so I grew up in a household surrounded by PC’s. He ran a little home business for a while, so we always had customers dropping off and collecting their laptops. I remember having to keep a few of the machines under my bed, as our house is so small and there was nowhere to put them. I used to stay up at night secretly playing games on this old pink laptop with a broken screen that was handed in thinking I was so high tech, aha! I started my first online magazine when I was 12 which I illustrated and designed and spammed around online; I guess that was the first time I used the internet in a creative way.
HOW DO YOU BUILD YOUR STYLING LOOKS ? Textures/colors/patterns all come very naturally to me; I respond to material instantly and always style how I would usually dress myself. I actually only first started combining my illustrative work with my shoots when I was working on an editorial for Jump From Paper and they mentioned that they were in awe with my Instagram and would love me to combine my skills. Since then I’ve done a lot of digital work for my shoots, it’s a lot of fun! WHAT’S IT BEEN LIKE AS THE DIGITAL ART DIRECTOR FOR SUPERHERO MAG? Amazing! I love it so much and I am so grateful for being able to share my work and connect with the nicest, coolest chicks and dudes online. I get contacted by so many fun people doing fun things all over the world and get so excited about collaborating with creatives abroad. So many talented young people! WHAT ARE SOME OF THE IDEAS YOU LIKE TO EXPLORE IN YOUR WORK? The focus for my most recent installation works has been on fabricating identity. I am very interested in the relationship between costume and identity and find that working in the
fashion industry has influenced and shaped the concepts I explore within my fine art practice. I feel physical appearance serves as a channel through which personality is manifested; it’s liberating to have the possibility of constructing your own identity!
of my work. HOW HAS INSTAGRAM INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU EXPRESS YOURSELF? I owe a lot to Instagram and developing my online presence. It is hands down my favorite form of social media, as it’s purely visual (and so much fun!!). I see it as an open diary which has allowed me to express my personality in a way no other app has.
WHAT DO YOU DRAW FROM TO CREATE YOUR WORK? My work is based on personal experiences; I tend to create work on whatever I’m thinking or feeling at that moment in time. Everyone is subconsciously influenced by what they see and who they interact with in daily life, so for me engaging with new places or people helps me to stay inspired and excited about what I do. I live a very fast-paced lifestyle and lose interest very easily, so it’s important for me to put myself in new situations and meet new people in order to create interesting work.
TOP 5 FAVORITE EMOJIS? Worst question eevvver I have so many! Okok...
DO YOU THINK POP CULTURE INFLUENCES YOUR CREATIVITY? Yes, I would say pop culture has had a strong influence on my work. I grew up as a dancer and performer and then went on to work as a stylist, so I was always exposed to our mainstream views and ideals of beauty and women. It had a huge affect on me growing up and is the underlying concept in the majority
IS THERE ANYTHING ABOUT YOUR WORK YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW? IT IS HARD! Juggling between being an artist, creative director, stylist and trying to survive your early twenties takes a lot of time, effort, drive and dedication. It’s definitely a challenge, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A DIGITAL ARTIST? For me, a digital artist is someone who uses technology as an essential part of their creative or presentation process. I definitely consider myself a digital artist; I would be lost without my laptop—best mate.
Austere URL/IRL // 113
Our love letter to the internet and the badass babes who rule it.