Hitting the shelves this week is issue nine of Parisian magazine Profane, recently nominated for two Stack awards: Art Direction of the Year and Subscribers’ Choice.
Profane might be a journal dedicated to amateurs, but its creators are anything but. The mag is impeccably put together, its design a halfway house between exhibition catalogue and scrapbook – perfectly suited to its content.
But how do the Profane writers find the amateur artists they feature, the older ones, without social media? I spoke to Mathilde Duraz, who contributed ‘The rose is what matters’, a piece about Bernard Hubault to the issue, about her research process.
‘Profane has now existed for four years, and since its first issue, the team keeps on discovering amateurs through coincidence, chance and word of mouth: that’s how Bernard got discovered a few years ago, and since we were only waiting for the right time and contributors to feature him in the magazine. Valentin’s (Vie-Binet, the photographer) aesthetic and universe suddenly seemed like the perfect match to Bernard’s work so we decided it was time to talk about what was happening in La Volière.’
Duraz went on to explain that ‘It was not easy to earn his trust, first he was quite careful, especially towards the term “artist” which he definitely dislikes and finds way too pretentious. I knew he would finally trust me from the moment he said: “I am glad you will write about what I do, because I absolutely do not know how to describe and express anything with words: you do, and that's important.”’
Crucially, Bernard never stopped making. ‘Bernard has spent his whole life working hard to earn a living but never, ever left his passion down. When his professional life sometimes appeared completely meaningless to his eyes, he kept on creating meaning elsewhere, in his spare time, no matter how small was his atelier or how much money he had at the time. He is definitely, totally, deeply Profane.’
Along with that story, ‘With all your love’ is one of my favourite features in the issue: it comes straight from the heart. Who doesn’t own random memorabilia from a friend or a trip, seemingly worthless when separated from its anecdote? These objects illustrate sentimentality, kitsch in the truest sense of the word. A wax hand, sculpted absent-mindedly from a wine bottle label during a catch-up with a guest. An unstable ceramic bird that must be leant against another object to be displayed. A piece of driftwood.
Profane is full of delights like this; it’s easily the Apartamento of art and design. One gets the feeling that the artists and designers featured in its pages will go on to excel professionally – Profane’s alternative approach offers the perfect antidote to any ‘explore page’, proving that for the many people, print is still the most important platform.
Founders: Charlotte Halpern & Bertrand Houdin
Editor-in-chief: Carine Soyer
Creative direction: Anamorphée
Design: Syndicat, Francois Havegeer & Sacha Léopold