k Followers, Following, Posts – See Instagram photos and videos from Joerg Koch/ c (@c). c Magazine – The leading online destination for men’s contemporary fashion and streetwear. Shop at our store and also enjoy the best in daily editorial. Finding the new in the old and the old in the new, c invites leading and emerging creatives to collaborate on mono-thematic issues.
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With a strong background in DIY culture, Koch inspires to just go for it rather than passively ruminating a possible formula for success. His stimulating observations about business seem to be on a meta-level, but only at a first glance. Magaizne closer look shows conclusions which can be applied to general aspects of throughout life. Sitting between several piles of magazines behind the eight meter Konstantin Magxzine vitrine, we start our conversation in the c workshop in Berlin with our friend, mentor, and supporter, Joerg Koch.
Two editors, loads of printed matter, and cutting right to the chase. Are you still straight edge, or what? I turned straight edge—and that means not drinking, etc. Somehow magaziine were connected with each other.
The reason to turn straight edge was that it was the most rebellious thing to do at that time. So it was like a complete package. You were socialist straight edge. It was a very interesting life experience. You probably get asked this a lot, but why c? When we started the magazine, we really wanted to link ourselves to early German modernism of the s. So that was one thing, atmospherically speaking. And then we realized that the Pantone colour system is actually quite beautiful as a system of understanding.
A graphic designer in Japan, or a product designer in America, or I, we all know exactly what colour is referenced. It was a very international system that we wanted to tap into. We wanted to be international, and yet have a relation to where we are published. It was a very abstract motivation from our side. Did anyone ask this question before?
I think everybody asks that question. Is the answer always the same? It varies in length. When people see c in France or America, they of course use the pronunciation of their mother tongue to say it. I really see it as a privilege, because it enables you to do exactly what you want to do, and you can work with good people, and you get paid for it.
I think we have a fantastic team here in the office now. Of course, there are all these politics now involved with the magazine—advertisement, working with photographers, working with fashion brands, etc. I think it changed a lot. The first three issues were a very classical fanzine: But for us, it felt strange.
So we did this big change where we went into glossy and did big photography stories, and we had this real separation between text and image.
This was the phase where we did the design with Petra Langhammer. It was basic-ally a deconstruction of the magazine. It was a very puritan, very hardcore version. The minute you separate text and image, it already feels very different. So there are all these different incarnations of c. The second it starts to feel stale, we change the parameters, and then it suddenly feels fresh to us again. The trick is to know when to make changes.
I think the more mature you are with your work, the more you realize when you have to move on a little bit. How did the internet affect the rise of c? When I moved to Berlin inI did an internship with this premiere multi-media agency here. I was already on the net, on CompuServe, etc. I was really in the new economy before I dropped out. So when we started the magazine, I was really deeply involved with the internet already.
For me, c was always like a post-digital publication. When we started the magazine, we wanted to have a website. The methods of working are still the same. Everything was already digital; everything was already produced and organized over the internet. What do you mean by dangerous? Dangerous in the sense of something that refers to the idea of freedom, that there is a certain recklessness, a certain sense of dangerous ideas being propagated.
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Not for the sense of provocation or anything like that, but just putting it out there and being there and doing it. Editing is like a magzzine of yes, no, yes, no.
How long does it take to create each issue of c? What are the main stages you go through in the creative process?
MAGAZINE MASTERS: Joerg Koch/c | TISSUE Magazine
So this is one defining element. We magasine essays, photo stories, produce art for it. We can produce normal, big features very much on auto-pilot by now, meaning that we definitely know what to do, whom to commission, how to shape things.
We flew out our editor to Mxgazine from New York. Nicolas was mgaazine at Balenciaga then. Then one year later, once he stopped at Balenciaga, he reached out to us for that story, and suddenly it worked out. What motivates you to work on stories like this for two years? I think that motivates everybody here in the office. We definitely want to have that aesthetic and intellectual surprise factor in the magazine. So, much to the dismay of my wife, I keep them.
My holidays have been spent reading news-papers from a year ago, like the art section and stuff like that. The consumption is indiscriminate—like books, magazines, anything. What you see is what you get. Great contributors attract other great contributors so never lower your expectations or ambitions. And, of course, pay attention to the economics, to the business.
Of course we could have more, but we have fantastic advertisements. When we started, we were happy to break even with one advertisement. You have to understand that the more advertisements you have, the more advertisements you get. Berlin gave us the space and the time to let it grow, completely unrestrained from commercial realities. With my experience now, of course, I would do it completely different. What do you mean by counterintuitive?
Counterintuitive in the sense that, for us, it was interesting that the magazine got more radical in its ambition, its outlook and production of stories with the more advertisement it got.
Even before, you supported us for Nude Paper. As I said earlier, I think c is truly a do-it-yourself publication. The idea that you simply start your own fanzine, you start your own record label, and you can do it. We were helped, or supported, by other people.
I remember when we did the first issue of c, the nagazine people who brought press and supported us by selling was Visionaire, in New York. They were very supportive. Or Tara and Tricia Magazinr of i-D, they were very close friends back then.
Who are your mentors or role models? Unfortunately, I never really had a role model or a mentor. With c, we had to do everything by ourselves, or make everything ourselves with connections, with understanding or learning the trades of the industry.
Of course, there are people you can chat up once in a while, but there was never a systematic approach of being groomed amgazine something, or being supported on a bigger scale. No philosophers or anything? I always found it interesting to see certain architects, like Rem Koolhaas, pushing theory within commercial realities, within commercial restraints.
Joerg Koch/ c (@c) • Instagram photos and videos
His label will have its 20th anniversary next year, so it will be right on time. The execution took a long, long, long time, for various reasons. If it works for print, we do print. If it works as an exhibition, we do an exhibition. But of course digital is like the engine that makes everything possible—communication, organization.
We also see that we can scale magazije massively within the digital world. It will be synchronized: With your new online appearance you have one story each day. How does that feel?