At work with: Andrew Townsend, creative director, The-Art-Form

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This morning we’re having a chat with the founder and creative director of The-Art-Form, a publication now onto its second issue that asks artists to contribute directly to the pages of the magazine. This means that interviewees hand-scrawl their answers to direct questions onto pieces of paper, making their own ‘forms’, which The-Art-Form then reproduces. We catch up with Andrew Townsend as he begins promoting the new release.

How was your weekend?
Good, thanks. I spent half the weekend packing magazines and sending emails to promote issue two, the other half with my wife, playing with our one year old daughter.

Tell us about your journey to work.
I drive through the countryside to my ‘day job’ at a design company in Melbourne, Derbyshire called The One Off. I’m a part-time magazine maker – in the evenings and weekends I work on The-Art-Form.

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Describe the state of your desk.
When working on the magazine, I work on the kitchen table or in the Nursery/Office. My desk is usually untidy (I tidied up for the photo).

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Which magazine do you first remember?
The first magazine that got me excited about graphic design was Blah Blah Blah designed by Chris Ashworth/Substance, I’ve still got every issue in the loft.

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Which magazine matters to you the most today?
I haven’t bought a magazine for a while, but the last magazine that I bought almost every issue (before it closed) was Art World.

Which artist matters most to you the most today?
I can’t pick just one artist – I’ve got a long ‘wish list’ of artists who I would love to feature in the magazine; Kaws, Tauba Auerbach, Wade Guyton, Damien Hirst, David Shrigley, Martin Creed, Tracey Emin, Peter Blake…

How do you select the artists that you feature in The-Art-Form?
I try to include a diverse mix of artists, working in different mediums and styles, from conceptual art, abstract art, urban art, sculpture and photography; all at different stages in their careers.

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At 78 years old, Daniel Buren is the oldest artist in issue two. For over 50 years Buren has created unforgettable interventions, controversial critical texts and thought provoking public art projects. He is internationally recognised for his contribution to Conceptual Art and is France’s most celebrated and influential living artist.

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The other artists featured in issue teo are Ryan Gander, who has recently been awarded an OBE for services to art; Rob Pruitt, who has a varied practice that includes ecopolitics and the panda bear, American youth, global consumerism and the narcissistic shallows of contemporary visual culture; Jordan Nickel, aka POSE, is a graffiti artist who now mainly makes work for a gallery environment, he talks about this transition from street to gallery; Evan Robarts is an artist who uses everyday materials and processes to create sculptures, installations and paintings; Paul Wackers is a painter and ceramicist who started his art career working for conceptual art pioneer Sol LeWitt.

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What are the benefits of direct questioning?
I want to get to the heart of an artists practice by asking direct, fundamental questions about art, such as ‘Why do you make art?’ and ‘What is the purpose of art?’.

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For issue two the artists have handwritten the answers to the general questions on the art form, or created sketches, drawings, paintings or collages in response to the questions. Then I have interviewed the artists in more depth, with specific questions about their work, in a more traditional Q&A.

In prising the artist’s perspective over everything else, do you worry you cut out the opportunity for critique?
Looking at an artwork is a personal experience between the viewer and the artist via the artwork. An artwork can be interpreted in many different ways and will have different meanings to different people. I’ve always found it more interesting to hear an artist talk about their work, rather than a writer or critic trying to interpret the work or second guess the artists intentions.

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Pick a spread from the new issue and tell us what it says about your magazine.
This is the opening spread for the Rob Pruitt feature, the artwork is titled ‘Exquisite self-portrait: The Artist’. The-Art-Form is purely about the artist and their work, not the ‘The Art World’ (galleries, collectors, curators and art critics).

What are you finding most frustrating about your work this week?
Trying to juggle being a dad, husband, having a full-time job and working on the magazine.

What’s going to be the highlight of this week for you?
Coming home after work and seeing my daughters happy face every night.

What will you be doing after this chat?
I’m going to the post office to post another batch of magazines.

the-art-form.com

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