Letter from Tracy J. Forman, General Manager, Arkitip
I am writing to defend what I believe is a gross mischaracterisation of Arkitip magazine in your recent article on ‘Cool Stuff’ by Dan Nadel (Eye no. 47 vol. 12).
The author writes that ‘the mechanisms behind Arkitip exemplify some of the worst pandering to cool hunting impulses.’ He claims that simply because the magazine is printed in a limited edition and hand-numbered, that it is an ‘old scam applied to fresh art.’ While he was fully aware that the artists create site-specific work for the magazine (and don’t submit already existing work), he neglected to mention this fact in his article. If providing magazine consumers with twelve pages of new artwork created specifically for Arkitip by four different artists, packaged with an art item designed by the cover artist, printed with high-end papers and inks, hand-numbered and selling for only is a ‘scam’ you’d better tell me how, because I don’t see it. Nadel seemed to think it was better to print more copies and sell them for less money. That’s a fine concept but it’s just not Arkitip’s. That’s a totally different magazine, one that is advertising-driven. Arkitip is newsstand driven. Every issue sells out and consequently becomes collectable, re-affirming that we have answered a consumer need and delivered to the market’s satisfaction.
A big part of the WHY behind Arkitip is to provide affordable art collecting to individuals who may have never considered it. For many, buying Arkitip is a first step into this world of art that speaks directly to them. That is the reason for making it limited and for requiring artists to submit site-specific work. While it is called a magazine, we are really curating a group art show ‘in print’, six times a year. In that sense, what Arkitip is doing is totally ground-breaking for any magazine – not just a magazine that covers this art scene.
Arkitip is a magazine dedicated to uncensored expression, and in the process it allows new and unknown talents to have a shot at becoming known by this new, young group of art collectors. This is totally in concert with the purpose of the art we promote (as opposed to what Nadel claims in his article). Arkitip has rightly earnt the respect of its peers and the artists in this scene by not selling out, and giving new artists (as well as established ones) exposure and the opportunity to create something for a magazine without restrictions. This is another important point that Nadel somehow missed. I am sure it would have been boring for him to be enamoured of all the subjects he interviewed in his article, but I honestly think he either didn’t like Arkitip, or he just didn’t get it.
First published in Eye no. 48 vol. 12 2003
Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues and single copies of the latest issue. You can also browse visual samples of recent issues at Eye before You Buy.