At work with: Nick Haramis, Interview

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This week we are back across the pond with Nick Haramis, Brooklyn-based editor-in-chief of the newly re-launched Interview. Nick shares his working week and discusses the magazine’s return to its roots as it turns 50.

Tell us about your Monday journey to work
It’s pretty typical. I live in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, which is about an hour’s subway ride from our Soho offices. I get my first coffee of the day from the same cafe with the same grumpy barista every morning, and then I begin my commute.

I guess a weird thing about me is that I only ever listen to one song per trip on a loop. This morning it was “Johnny and Mary” by Robert Palmer, over and over and over again, so I showed up to work a little woebegone.

Describe the state of your desk and what you can see in your office
I’m currently looking up at a framed Roy Lichtenstein print of a cup of steaming tea, which seems somehow appropriate. Normally my office is quite sparse, but right now most surfaces are littered with photos from our next cover story. Outside my window there’s usually a Zoolander-lite photo shoot happening, the sight of which always tickles me.

Which magazine do you first remember?
Highlights, but I don’t suppose that’s what you’re after. The first magazine—the first issue, in fact—that made me want to become an editor was Vanity Fair’s Hollywood issue (above). I was a kid and my parents thought that the publication was a little mature for me at that age, so I remember hiding it under my mattress like it was porn.

Which magazine matters to you the most right now?
I’m biased because she’s a former colleague and friend, but I think Hanya Yanagihara is doing such weird, interesting work at T, The New York Times Style Magazine.

Our editorial director, Richard Turley, has a project called Civilization that is exhilarating and predictably genius. New York is consistently great, as is Zeit and The Gentlewoman and Fantastic Man. I suppose I like them all.

Can you describe your magazine in three words?
Not really, no.

I guess between the last issue and this latest one there was a long stretch of planning and development?
Yes, we spent much of the summer simultaneously building a team and an issue. My first hire was Mel Ottenberg, our creative director. He was the only person I wanted for that role, and I was so thrilled when he accepted the job.

Finding Richard Turley, our editorial director, was more difficult. I met with many great designers, but all of them came from the world of fashion in a way that didn’t quite sync up with my vision for the future of the magazine.

Then we found Richard, whose work for Bloomberg Businessweek was like a visual sucker punch. I like to say that if he could make me interested in a weekly business magazine, then just imagine what he can do with Interview—but I’ve stopped saying that because it makes me sound a little stupid.

The shift in design and art direction is quite significant. Which part/ feature sums up the new approach to the magazine
The magazine has been around for what’s coming up to 50 years. In that time, it’s gone through significant changes and distinct iterations. Most recently, for about the past ten years, it has been a fashion magazine—and a truly great one.

But my interest in Interview has always been about the cacophony of personalities who crash and converge in its pages, so my main goal was to make it feel and look more irreverent and joyful and, in some ways, scrappy.

As a metonym for the new tone of the magazine, our cover star, the incredible 90-year-old French filmmaker Agnès Varda, hopefully suggests the direction we’re going.

But then you flip the page and there’s a pinup of this sweet beefcake guy from Instagram (above). And then you flip the page and there’s a thoughtful story on the author Joyce Carol Oates. And then you flip it again and there’s Yodel Kid getting a piggyback through Times Square.

What else can we look forward to from you and the new team as the magazine develops?
Something we’d all like to avoid is templatizing the magazine, although I’m not entirely sure that’s even a word.

In general, our goal is that each issue has its own visual language and identity while also feeling in dialog with the others. I want to make sure that the pages of this publication are entertaining and surprising, that there is something in there for both the high-minded thinker and the devourer of pop culture. That’s sort of the macro answer.

A specific response is that we just shot a YouTube fitness personality on the streets of New York in a thong and pleather cap with the word “Daddy” on it.

What’s going to be the highlight of the week for you?
I can’t wait to use this new shampoo I just bought, and sadly there is not an ounce of sarcasm in that statement.

What will you be doing after this chat?
I’m so hungry I could cry.

@nickharamis

@InterviewMag

interviewmagazine.com

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