Matthew Salacuse, Photographer

 
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Matthew Salacuse: The very first subscription I had was when I was 11 years old and it was to JET Magazine.  It may have looked a bit strange for a little white boy thumbing through Chaka Khan stories on his Brooklyn stoop in the 1980s, but to me it made the most sense.  This is what I was into and I wanted to know more about it on a weekly basis.  There was a list in the back called “JET’s Top 20 Singles” where I would get to see all the music that I heard on the radio but was being left off the Rolling Stone Top 40 chart and totally ignored by MTV video rotation.  (Do you remember seeing THIS on MTV? I don’t, but I learned about it in JET)  For the advertisers, I was a swing and a miss, but for finding out Lionel Richie’s tour was rewarding students with good grades, it was a home run.

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SPD: What year?
BO: 
1984-1987

SPD: What were you up to?
BO: 
Breakdancing in the lunch room. Homework. 

SPD: What magazine?
BO: 
JET

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SPD: What was it that so enthralled you?
BO: 
Growing up in Brooklyn, I was exposed to a lot of black culture in the streets and from friends but it was not well represented in the media.  JET literally had a page called TELEVISION that alerted you to which shows black actors would be appearing on.  

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SPD: Do you know now who the creatives were?
BO: 
I had to go buy an old issue to dig this up because back then I had no concept that people made magazines:

Art Director: Norman L. Hunter; Staff Photographers: Vandell Cobb, James Mitchell, Maurice Sorrell, Fred Watkins

SPD: How does that inform your creative now?
BO:
When I came out of college I immediately gravitated to photographing the underrepresented side of culture; whether it be small biker rallies in Iowa or rappers in the Queens Bridge Housing Projects. By the mid 2000s I had made quite a strong reputation in the hip hop world by shooting for XXL, Vibe, The FADER, Blaze, King Mag, Rides and others.  I am still waiting for that call JET.

www.salacuse.com/

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Abbey Kuster-Prokell, Creative Director at Martha Stewart Living

 
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SPD: What year?
Abbey Kuster-Prokell: April 2000

SPD: What magazine?
AKP: 
The launch of Real Simple Magazine

SPD: What were you up to?
AKP: Truth: I never set out to be an editorial designer. I moved to NYC in 1999, and I was a young designer working for Louise Fili LTD. I was spending my days (and some nights) drawing typefaces from scratch out of vintage type books where I might only have a few characters for the entire alphabet. I was printing everything on 8.5 x 11, because that is what we had and comping it together with a waxer. Oh, how I loved the smell of that waxer. I was part of 2-person team at her studio, which was more like an apprenticeship then a job. This job, which I loved dearly, could not have been further from the glossy, glitzy world of editorial. Hence, why I didn’t know much about it. All of this changed, however, when I picked up the first issue of Real Simple magazine in the spring of 2000 and I was awestruck.

SPD: What was it that so enthralled you?
AKP: 
I loved the tactile quality of the matte paper and square-ish format. To me, it was a complete departure from other magazines on the newsstand, it felt more like an art book than a magazine. I fell in love with the rich, sophisticated photography. Martyn Thompson shot the entire issue, and at the time, he was a new name to me. It was like dipping my toe into a world that I had no idea ever existed. I suddenly became aware of incredibly talented photographers and the magical role of prop and food stylists.  In addition to the stunning photography, I loved the gratuitous amount of white space, the wide margins and clean, modernist design. The typography, while I would want it to be more refined today, used a slab and a san-serif, which was also a departure from what I was used to seeing traditionally on the newsstand.

SPD: Do you know now who the creatives were?
AKP:
Robert Valentine from The Valentine Group designed the launch issue and Martyn Thompson was the sole photographer for the issue.

SPD: How does that inform your creative now?
AKP:
 Clean, graphic and modern have always been guiding principles in my work. I tend to gravitate towards things that have a refined sensibility to them and I’m a sucker for a strong grid. I always try to include negative space in my work, for it allows you to focus your attention on the actual design.

Brad Ogbonna, Photographer

 
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Brad Ogbonna: I remember buying my first NYLON Magazine at the Walgreens in River Falls, Wisconsin in 2007 — my sophomore year of college. River Falls was a fun little college town nestled in a rural area outside of the Twin Cities. I really liked it there, but at the same time I felt so detached from my surroundings and had my eyes set on things happening in bigger cities like NYC, London, Los Angeles, etc...Especially the pockets of counter-culture starting to emerge. 

In my free time I would check out blogs from people in bigger cities as an escape and for inspiration. There was this great one I particularly enjoyed called "The Skullset" by this photographer Jack Siegel. I was always drawn to the tangible, so every month I would run to Walgreens to peruse their magazine aisle, and flip through everything they had to offer. I remember coming across a magazine called NYLON that I hadn't noticed before. The artwork on the cover stood out and felt so much different than the magazines next to it like Elle, Glamour, Vogue, GQ, and I even recognized Cory Kennedy on the cover from the Skullset blog. I was so excited that I immediately spent $5 on it, which may not seem like a significant amount, but at the time I was so broke I was literally splitting $5 footlongs with my roommate. 

The articles were generally geared to young women, but I was really drawn to the aesthetic and the imagery. The photos looked like the ones I'd seen on my favorite blogs and they covered a lot of unique people from cities all around the world. I don't remember who shot the cover, but I still have this copy and almost each one thereafter up until 2009, stored at my mom's house in Minnesota. 

I feel like my own work isn't that much different than a lot of the stuff I loved back then. Similar aesthetic but hopefully with my own twist. I try to focus more on the people that shape my world and what it looks like today. 

www.bradogbonna.com

Anais Maroon, Photo Director at The Future of Everything

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SPD: What year?
Anais Maroon: 
As long as I can remember. But maybe around 1988 I started becoming aware and absorbing it, all through the time I left home. 

SPD: What were you up to?
AM: 
Being a little girl, fascinated by all my mother's things, turning into a precocious teen. 

SPD: What magazine?
AM:
Vanity Fair

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SPD: What was it that so enthralled you?
AM:
My mom had a subscription to Vanity Fair from before I can remember. Issues were a staple in the house. One or more was always either next to her bed, in the living room, or out on the deck. I was fascinated by the beautiful people, the glamour, the shocking pictures, and I was also introduced to timeless photography like Herb Ritts, Helmut Newton & Annie Leibovitz. I think I learned what being controversial meant from Vanity Fair. The exposure opened the door to an obsessive interest in wild, humorous, unrestrained beauty within all sorts of magazines. I pasted a rotating assortment of tear sheets all over my bedroom walls and discovered photography as an amazing and delicious way to push conversations and boundaries forward. I graduated to other magazines by high school, but the Vanity Fair's were always in the house, always on my mother's lap, always making an impact on my young, formidable, creative brain. 

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SPD: Do you know now who the creatives were?
AM: 
I do now from investigating later in life: Ruth Ansel, David Friend, Charles Churchward.

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SPD: How does that inform your creative now?
AM: 
Vanity Fair tried to push the boundaries, while combining timeless beauty and humor. This was something I was exposed to through so much of my young life, which occupies such a sentimental place in my memories. I'm always striving to create work that is beautiful, dynamic, thoughtful and timeless *which is the extremely difficult trick*.

www.anaismaroon.com

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