We’re thrilled to introduce Matthew James-Wilson, our newest issuu Trendspotter and the founding editor-in-chief of FORGE. Art Magazine. FORGE. is an art publication dedicated to highlighting the work of young artists in varying fields of creativity. Today, we had the opportunity to talk to Matthew about the start of FORGE. Art Magazine, his favorite publications in his issuu Trendspotters stack, the challenges of running a publication alone and his best advice for aspiring publishers. Read on to learn more about Matthew and his journey into the world of digital publishing.
Q: Hi Matthew! Thanks for talking to us here at issuu today. To start, can you share with us how FORGE. Art Magazine originally came to be?
MATTHEW JAMES-WILSON: FORGE. was sort of started by myself and two friends who shared a mutual boredom and a desire to make work that could have some value in other people’s lives. The three of us were going to high school for art and were nearing the end of it, and there was so much we still didn’t know about doing it for a living. I really wanted to have some excuse to ask a bunch of my favorite artists how they got started, while simultaneously creating a place where other amazing young artists who felt similarly stuck could showcase their work. more We started it in 2012 immediately after a different zine project I sent work into didn’t really pan out. I made up a list of my favorite people making work on the internet whose email addresses I could find, and after a lot of them started responding positively to my emails, we realized we actually had to commit to doing it. The magazine really came into its own when I moved to New York for college and started doing it all by myself. I had never been part of an IRL art community until I was going to DIY shows in New York, which had an immediate effect on who I was featuring and who I wanted it to be important to.
Q: As the sole editor of FORGE. Art Magazine, what are some of the challenges of being an independent publisher? What are some of your favorite parts of running FORGE.?
MJW: I think when you’re the lone creator in any project you can sometimes have tunnel vision with what you’re doing. It can be positive in the way that it lets you focus in on what it is you’re trying to accomplish or say with your project. But it can also be really negative in the way that it makes you oblivious to the other ways you could be trying to reach the same goal, or how it can give you a lot of anxiety about how other people are perceiving this thing that is really personal to you. It’s also just a lot of f*cking work making a whole magazine every three months by yourself.
I think my favorite part of running the magazine is just the opportunity to get to meet and work with so many artists whom I respect so much and whose work means so much to me. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a lot of my heroes and create a lot of long-term friendships out of the magazine. It’s weird, but it definitely feels like my life gets better every time the magazine gets better.
Q: You’re one of the newest additions to our issuu Trendspotters page. What are your three favorite publications in your issuu Trendspotters stack and why do you enjoy them?
MJW: I’ve been reading Huck for a really long time, and I’ve always looked at their approach to documenting an artist’s career and work. One of my absolute biggest inspirations when I started FORGE. was the documentary Beautiful Losers, and Huck focuses on that same sort of collective of artists and everyone in the era surrounding them. Spike Jonze has always been a big artistic monolith for me, so it was really amazing to see a whole issue constructed around him.
ANP Quarterly is a similar publication, but I initially started reading the print version of it. It’s really cool to see such a large format magazine that’s talking about such specific and niche artists across so many different eras. I’ve only been able to find a physical copy of Vol 2 / No 8, so it’s been really cool to go back through the other ones on issuu.
I had to search really hard to find my last favorite from the stack, Ryan Humphrey’s zine, noir. Ryan was one of the first artists I ever reached out to to be in the magazine, and I remember seeing this zine when he first uploaded it to issuu in 2014. It’s really cool to see all of his work as a contained publication, rather than a bunch of one-off drawings on his site. Looking back through it brings back so many memories of seeing artists’ work on Tumblr for the first time, and feeling really new to everything.
Q: What’s one tip or piece of advice you could give an aspiring publisher hoping to create an online magazine like FORGE.?
MJW: I think the best advice I could give would be to start by making something purely for yourself and don’t be afraid to make a second or third issue even if the first one didn’t pan out the way you hoped it would. I still feel like I’m making FORGE. for the high school version of myself that I was when I started it. It’s important to hone in on what it is you want to see in the world, and then eventually the other people who want to see that will gravitate to what you’re doing. It took almost a year to make the first issue of FORGE. and it wasn’t until the second issue that anyone who I didn’t already know started reading it. Sometimes it just takes a couple more sincere attempts for something to snowball, and you’ll be surprised what you learn and try differently after failing the first time around.