Josh Jones, Pavement Licker
British writer Josh Jones has been involved in an impressive range of magazines, including music mag ’Sup, Nike’s 1948 and Special Request. Alongside these, he and graphic artist James-Lee Duffy have published art ’zine Pavement Licker.
Launched in 2003, Pavement Licker documents underground art via its pages and curated art shows. The 11 issues to date have featured work by Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Jamie Hewlett, Kate Moross, Emily Malice, David Shrigley, A.CE London, Mr Bingo, Irvine Welsh and more. Issue 12 is published this week.
Josh is also Executive editor of Marvin, the recent music launch from Raygun founder Marvin Scott Jarrett.
Tell us about your typical Monday morning.
I’ve been freelance forever so I can’t really remember the last time I had to travel to an office. I’m not one for going to sit in a hotel lobby with my laptop or rent a desk in one of those places. So I’ve always pottered about my house.
I chat to Pavement Licker co-founder and art director, James-Lee Duffy, usually before 9am and then we call each other continuously throughout the day. We’ve got quite a few projects going on at the moment. I drink tea, then another tea. I’m very freelance so then get on with whatever other jobs I’ve got going on.
I’m also Executive Editor of Marvin magazine a high-end music and style magazine based out of LA, and we’re just finishing up issue two so I’ve been setting up shoots, commissioning, editing, writing my own features, generally chasing writers/ photographers/ stylists.
At around 4pm, I get to have another Monday morning, because that’s when the LA guys wake up. As we’re very close to going to print with that, I’ll catch up with the editor-in-chief, Marvin Scott Jarrett about where we’re at with all the stuff I just listed above. That Monday morning can last till 2am Tuesday for me.
Describe your desk and what you can see in your office.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a desk. I sit and lie about in various places in the house doing stuff. I don’t think I’d pass any kind of HSE ergonomic sitting standards. My wife is an author and she has a desk so let’s pretend these pics are of my very tidy work area.
If there wasn’t a pandemic I’d be bopping about town having meetings in various cafes and pubs, using their wifi, teabags, hot water and glorious pints. Things I mainly see are my wife and through the window, either a bush or some bins.
Are you feeling optimistic about 2021?
Why not? Maybe the world catching fire will burn off Covid?
Which magazine do you first remember?
My brother had a subscription to Smash Hits, which I was allowed to read when he was done. What I took from that was you could do whatever you wanted really. I thought for a long time there was just this guy called Ed who left notes throughout.
Which magazine matters to you the most this morning?
I guess ’Sup has a very special place in my heart. Coming out of New York in the early part of this century, I started writing for them and eventually became UK editor. The design was epic from Brendan Dugan and Eric Wrenn, photography was incredible, and the intimate interviews were so good.
We (Marisa Brickman, Cameron Cook, and Abbey Braden especially) really caught a moment on both sides of the Atlantic with that magazine.
Describe Pavement Licker in three words.
King. of. ’zines. (i-D gave us that title in a feature they did on us)
So, that name… explain!
Well, this really stems from James. When we started the ’zine he said he wanted to call it Pavement Licker and the name had come to him while he was walking down the road, looking at the pavement while whistling ‘Window Licker’ by Aphex Twin. It’s such a weird song to whistle along to.
You’ve been publishing the zine since 2003, and retained a defiantly independent approach. Has it been hard to avoid the zine becoming bigger and glossier, perhaps with colour?
The black and white thing has always been set in stone. It makes things much easier. There was a period where a bunch of brands wanted to get involved and we just didn’t want them. We never have.
I guess as we’ve always done this because we wanted to and for no other reason it seemed like an easy decision just walk off when those brands tried to muscle in. We do work with brands in that we often make coffee table books, magazines and zines for them, and we also curate art shows for them too, but they’re not allowed to touch the Pavement Licker.
Can you share a single image that sums up the zine?
Here’s a picture of superstar skater Chad Muska giving us a big lick.
How do you collect the art for each issue – do you commission people or is there an open submission process?
There’s always been an open commission process for Pavement Licker — we do shout outs on our social media and before that, places like Wooster Collective used to post when we were looking for new work. That actually helped get our name out internationally from quite an early point because Wooster was the number one online resource for underground art for the 2000s.
The only real rule we have is that James and I both have to like a piece for it to go in. We purposely don’t have a theme or brief for submissions. We find that narrows down what we get and we’ve also noticed that each issue takes on its own life. Sometimes we realise it’s gone punky, or psychedelic or whatever. It’s all very organic.
We do also contact people to see if they’re up for being involved. We’ve been very lucky to have repeat contributions from people like Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Jamie Hewlett, David Shrigley, Pure Evil and load of other names.
The latest issue has Irvine Welsh, Emily Malice, Anthony Micallef, Shepard Fairey, Lucy Pass, Lucie Flynn, A.CE London, Alex May Hughes, Santanu Hazarika, Barry Reigate, Thomas J Price and more.
We often get asked about zines; where can people go to browse and buy a really good selection of what's available today?
I’m not entirely sure — Pavement Licker’s never been involved in the whole ’zine fair scene. This list is pretty good for cool magazine and zine places though.
What’s going to be the highlight of this coming week for you?
Well, I’m glad you asked. This is a pretty good week to be honest.
On Wednesday we’re going to be announcing a massive art show that was conceived and curated by Pavement Licker. It involves some of the most exciting names in art and some of the biggest names in music.
We’re also collaborating with Shepard Fairey and his clothing label Obey on a range of clothes, hats and also a zine where Pavement Licker interviews Shepard. We should be seeing the final designs of the clothes this week.
Also, Pavement Licker is out for sale so that’s pretty highlighty for us. We have a little tradition where James and I open the box from the printers together even though he moved out of London ages ago. This will be the first one that we’ve been alone when it’s come back from the printers. We opened the boxes over Zoom — which is just the saddest thing you’d ever seen. This issue is also the first one we haven’t gone straight to the pub to celebrate.
Oh and away from that, all the editory side of things for Marvin issue two will be done and dusted so it will be over to Gary Koepke, the Art director to make it look amazing.
So, yeah, this is actually a really good week to ask me for highlights.