At work with: Matthew Slotover, co-founder, Frieze

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Matthew Slotover co-founded Frieze with Amanda Sharp in 1991, the launch issue carrying the first press interview with a young Damien Hirst. The two co-edited the magazine until 2001, going on to launch the Frieze Art Fair in London in 2003. They still oversee the magazine and fairs – they added a New York Fair last year – as well as the non-profit Frieze Foundation. We join Matthew as the magazine celebrates its 25th anniversary with a set of three specially commissioned front covers.

Where are you today?
I’m at my desk, in our London office at Rochelle School in Shoreditch, London.

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What can you see from the window?
I look onto Arnold Circus, a circular park whose mound was made from the remnants of the cleared slums of the East End at the end of the 19th century. The circus is surrounded by the lovely red brick buildings of the Boundary Estate, which was arguable the world’s first council housing.

Are you a morning or evening person?
I’m not an early morning person or a late night person, though I seem to think better in the morning.

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Which magazine do you first remember?
If you really want to know the first magazine, it would have been the Beano. In my teens I loved the NME, and bought every copy and must have read every word from about 1982-86. It was the golden era of music writing. And I have to mention Blitz, my favourite of the 80s style magazines, art directed by magCulture’s very own Jeremy Leslie.

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What’s your favourite magazine this morning?
The New Yorker is very hard to beat. I’m really enjoying their coverage of Donald Trump.

Do you have a favourite piece of art?
It would have to be a toss-up between Gerhard Richter’s ‘Betty’ and Ed Ruscha’s ‘Los Angeles County Museum (on fire).

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Did you have any idea how successful Frieze would become?
It has been a 25-year overnight success. Frieze magazine started as a 32-page publication in 1991 (first issue, above), with three people camping in the corner of a friend’s office. It goes gradually for 10 years, adding a few pages and another staff member each year until around 2000. At that point we decided to start an art fair, which launched in 2003. The fair captured people’s imagination and in 2012 we launched Frieze New York and Frieze Masters.

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What has been your personal highlight of the first 25 years of Frieze?
The opening day of our first fair was something (poster, above). The cleaning didn’t get finished, there were massive queues because we didn’t have enough ticket-checkers, but there was an amazing buzz.

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The three anniversary covers (from left) by Chris Ofili, Rosemarie Trockel and Sara Cwynar

What advice would you offer someone launching their own magazine today?
Do it – but take advice and be prepared to admit when you are wrong. No idea comes fully formed and you need critical friends around you.

What are you most looking forward to this week?
I’m visiting the architecture Biennale in Venice on Saturday. I love Venice and the show is always interesting.

What are you least looking forward to this week?
An interview about the effects of Brexit … who knows?

What will you be doing after this chat?
Having a conversation about our secret next project!

frieze.com

Frieze London takes place 6–9 October

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