This morning we’re sipping our morning coffee with editor-in-chief Andrea Kurland of Huck. The bi-monthly title dedicated to radical culture is celebrating its 10th anniversary this week with the release of its new ‘Independence’ themed issue. We catch up with Andrea to hear more.
Where are you today?
Sat at my desk in our office and gallery in Shoreditch, about to go into our morning meet.
What can you see from the window?
Scaffolding. And people darting between the poles with their morning coffee.
Are you a morning or evening person?
Evening. I’m working on changing that, but am realising it may be a fruitless battle.
Which magazine do you first remember?
The only magazine that left a real impression on me was Adrenalin. I picked up a tattered old copy, the last one on the shelf, in about 2004 and was totally blown away. It was brave, radical and full of multi-layered characters I had never heard of before. It opened up the world to me and – if I’m honest – changed my life. I knew from that moment I wanted to be a storyteller of some kind.
What’s your favourite magazine this morning?
Boat magazine’s Havana issue. My friend Erin Spens, the founder and editor, sends me every issue from her new home in LA and I’m always excited when it arrives. It’s the most beautiful, original travel mag out there and it just keeps getting better and better. The photography and design is a real treat.
What is your favourite DIY movement of the moment?
There are many. But right now I’m so impressed with the creative and tireless activism work being done by Sisters Uncut, here in the UK. Their direct actions, like their latest occupation in East London to highlight the lack of support for victims of domestic abuse, are proof that solidarity and sisterhood are a force to be reckoned with.
What does it mean to be independent – and radical – in 2016?
To me, it means reclaiming your sense of agency and creating something – anything – that acts as a statement of intent. Whether that’s starting a magazine of your own to give your community a voice, or simply making a work of art that expresses your principles and beliefs. Sharing that statement with the world is in itself a radical act.
Many of the figures first championed by Huck 10 years ago are no longer part of the underground. What was once subversive quickly becomes integrated into mainstream consumer culture. How do you negotiate this contradiction?
There’s a great quote/tip I heard recently from a writer called Mark Stevenson who writes at length about projects that are working to improve our future and it’s this: Suspend your cynicism. When you hear about something that seems too good to be true, try not to default to your most cynical take. And I believe that’s true when making distinctions between ‘the mainstream’ and ‘the underground’. All too often, I see great projects and great people dismissed or cast off for ‘selling out’. But I don’t buy into that. Because many of the people we’ve championed over the years are still producing amazing work that challenges the perceived way of doing things. And sometimes, doing that from within ‘the system’ is a countercultural act in itself.
What changes in the industry have you noticed in the last 10 years?
Well, we’ve lived through the proclamation that ‘print is dead’ – which just so happened to coincide with a surge in independent publishing. Now we’re battling with an online media model that’s been hailed as broken, but many of us are still here, chugging along and making stuff we could never have imagined. So if there’s anything to be learned from all the challenges we face in publishing it’s this: if you produce stories you believe in, people will believe in you.
What are you most looking forward to this week?
Kickstarting a new collaboration with a friend that’s an experiment in audio storytelling. And finalising the commissions of Huck’s annual Documentary Photography Special, my favourite issue of the year. I have some fun interviews penned in as well.
What are you least looking forward to this week?
Admin. And that feeling on Thursday when you realise how fast time slips away.
What will you be doing after this chat?
Going into our morning meeting to talk through the news and plan the week’s online content. Then grabbing a coffee.