kevin amato's new crowdsourced magazine is for youth by youth
WOMB magazine, a new print publication by photographer and casting director Kevin Amato, nurtures young artists, photographers, models and musicians
"If you have 356k [followers], you have a better chance of getting noticed, but the work may be shit," says photographer and casting director Kevin Amato, who has mined undiscovered and unique faces on Instagram and aligned them with experimental labels such as Hood by Air, Joyrich and Bobby Abley. Now, Amato has teamed up with social media site (and street-fashion boutique) VFiles to create WOMB, a quarterly magazine "by and for the youth." Contributors to the print publication are crowd-sourced through the site, which Amato sifts through and makes his selections from. He looks for kids he sees himself in, who "have the drive and their own unique aesthetic, style and approach to art, design, fashion, music." He then provides disposable cameras to each of the selected creatives, but offers little to no direction. "The only instructions are to interpret a somewhat open-ended subject or quote," he says. This looseness is intended to encourage young people in their teens and twenties to create authentic work, which resonates with their generation—not 35-year-old Amato's. "We're not speaking," says Amato in the following interview with i-D, "just listening and nurturing young artists."
What is WOMB magazine about? Who is it for?
WOMB is by and for the youth. Creative kids I see myself in, that have the drive and their own unique aesthetic, style and approach to art, design, fashion, music—general elements of lifestyle and subculture. In today's art world, which I consider more a free-flowing stream of unconsciousness. Not to remove the importance or quality of work, but the Internet has sterilized and created a disposable approach to exhibiting work. It's curating and sourcing emerging known, and emerging new talent at equal calibers. All supporting each other as opposed to every man or women for themselves. I'm interested in what's new, like past creative endeavors with emerging folks like Hood by Air, Mykki Blanco, Travis Scott, Luka Sabbat, etc.
How is WOMB different from other magazines already out there? What makes it unique?
We're not speaking, just listening and nurturing young artists. We provide about 50 disposable cameras to young creatives worldwide, who then return them for processing. We edit them and return them to the artists—I encourage shooting with film and the tactile, often-unpredictable experimental process. Using the VFiles platform is so vital in that it allows me to scout talent to contribute. VFiles is a very unique concept, soon all users can sell their products and creations—we hope to integrate that in WOMB to give emerging talent a platform for exposure and a marketplace to showcase and sell their work, clothing, music, etc.
The first issue is titled "We've Got Issues." We love that play on words. How did you decide on the concept? What can we expect to see in that issue?
It's a play on the lack of empathy in the world. The absence of communication between generations—this is the voice and work of young people, who go unnoticed or I feel are underrepresented. [VFiles founder] Julie Anne Quay found the play on words as something of the present but moving forward toward a stronger creative future. And, we've all got issues. WOMB is an excuse for my curiosity and disruptive yet humble and empathetic mindset.
How do you select the content for the magazine? Did you find that your work as a casting director prepared you for selecting content as an editor?
Yes, as a cultural curator, I'm surrounded by so many talented and diverse young people. Being able to work with VFiles to make their work come to life is inspiration for me. We grow up being told to live a certain way, follow an institutionalized system of right and wrong, and the arts in the eyes of most are seen as a hobby or unrealistic to parents and family. I'm blessed to do what I do and have access and resources—why not share that and support those without that nonjudgmental acceptance.
Does the magazine maintain the real and personal feel of your photography? How so?
It's not about me other than an excuse to create a voice and encourage young people to be vocal—whether about personal issues, social consciousness or professional experiences or aspirations or just to talk shit… However, like in my personal work, I encourage narrative, and that the artist be present in their work.
Is youth wasted on the young?
Youth is wasted on the young—when the young are hesitant to rise up. The youth doesn't realize the power they have, the importance of their unique voice, in the market, commerce, politics, health care, agriculture, fashion, music, everything. But at the same time, they should be reckless and naive. Experience emotion, failure, loss, empathy and so on. Technology has taken away much of the youth—real life experiences, undocumented, and physical social interactions IRL. But at the end of the day, youth is a state of mind. We should all be disruptive, empathetic and jump in puddles.
Text Zio Baritaux
Lead photography Ghettoprimitives.Vfiles.com