Interview Kate Simpson, Aesthetica Magazine

Bucharest’s Art Pavilion – Art Safari 2018
28 February 2018

Aesthetica Magazine is one of the most respected international art and culture magazine in the world. Founded in 2002, the British magazine covers contemporary art around the world, featuring photography, exhibitions, visual art, fashion, architecture, design, film, music and performance. Steve McQueen, Martin Creed, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Ernesto Neto are just a few names covered by Aestethica, which is also one of the international media partners for Art Safari Bucharest. In an interview for Arts Magazine, Kate Simpson, Assistant Editor, offers an overview of the magazine from the beginning till now and the way it influenced artistic and cultural landscape worldwide and other „hot” topics: how can art attract the Millenials, how the technology is changing the way we perceive art, how art will look in the next decade.

Art Safari: Aesthetica Magazine celebrates 12 years of existence and has reached its 80th Congrats! Tell us more about the history of the magazine. What’s its recipe for success?

Kate Simpson: Aesthetica is not just a magazine – it’s an experience. Whilst the rise of the smartphone and digital platforms threatened certain publications – and still does ­–  it’s been important to look at the quality of the magazine, and to ensure that it’s continuing to offer the best content possible, staying true to a unique and integral house style. Whilst Aesthetica’s digital presence is highly followed, and indeed there’s a certain necessity for these types of accessible journalistic platforms, there’s something incredibly special about print, and all the opportunities it creates for a personalised journey. This is something that the company wholly embraces, improving and streamlining content with editorial integrity, even in the rise of free, online content. Each issue is heavily curated, designed for our audiences with the utmost attention to detail, translating universal ideas about human existence through stunning visuals and relatable language.  Ultimately, every edition looks to inspire, constantly searching for methods of renewed creation, wider understanding and boundary pushing artwork.

Art Safari: How do you think Aesthetica Magazine influenced arts of the last 2 decades and how will impact arts of the next decade?

Kate Simpson: Aesthetica, as a magazine and reflector of contemporary society, provides unique perspectives on those shaping the arts world today. Each issue provides informative, intelligent and beautiful features that keep audiences up-to-date on established and emerging practitioners internationally, whilst widening perspectives on issues facing wider culture, including the impact of new technologies on the way artists work, and how the landscape informs the innovations of new designers. Whilst the magazine informs readers of major events and exhibitions, it also introduces audiences to emerging practitioners pushing the boundaries of contemporary visual art. Talent development is wholly important to us as a brand, and a company supporting new visionaries; recognising revolutionary contributions and new methods of seeing the world around us is of utmost important to us and our readership. Many of our featured artists have gone on to win awards, gallery representation and further publications. For example, Alinka Echeverría, an Aesthetica Art Prize shortlistee has been shortlisted for Foam Talent, and Juno Calypso, who was featured in Issue 60 as part of a Next Generation feature with London College of Communication, has gone on to receive international acclaim, judging a competition as part of Saatchi Gallery, London, last year. We recently worked with Apple with the launch of the new iPhone, which in turn created an undeterminable reach for the photographers that were featured. A decade is a long time to predict! But we will continue to grow as a brand, promoting fantastic practitioners, providing thought-provoking content and developing our associated, internationally attended events including the Future Now Symposium, the Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition and the BAFTA-Recognised Aesthetica Short Film Festival.

Art Safari: How can arts attract the young, the Millenials? How stringent is the need for arts education, in schools?  

Kate Simpson: Again, I’d find it hard to comment on how arts specifically attract one or two generations, but the need for arts education is completely undeniable. With consistent funding cuts and unsettling political landscapes, it’s becoming more and more difficult for younger individuals to pursue studies within these fields. But society would be in a much more precarious position if it did not have outlets for creative expression; these timeless, invaluable acts of innovation offer the chance for new connections, challenge prejudices, build relationships, defy expectations and ultimately, remind us of our humanity in an unprecedented age of instability.

Art Safari: How is the technology changing the way we perceive art?

Kate Simpson: Undoubtedly technology has changed the way that we live on a daily basis – extending into the arts and culture that we surround ourselves with. It would be difficult to pinpoint exactly how technology is affecting methods of working, or indeed how audiences view the pieces being made, as of course these are completely personal, but I do think that we’re seeing many practitioners addressing the social movements being made by the rise in digital worlds. For example, Tania Franco Klein – a photographer from Issue 80 – explores the emotions that grip the world where media is over-saturated and over-stimulating. As she notes: “we now experience the neuronal era characterised by depression, attention deficit and bipolar disorder. My characters find themselves melting into places – constantly looking for any possibility of escape.” Other individuals who are important to note – perhaps from a more positive stance – include those embracing new types of working, for example those pushing the boundaries of digital art, design and photography. Also from the current issue is a long-read feature on Digital Handmade: Craftsmanship and the New Industrial Revolution, an incredible book by Lucy Johnston who brings together a fascinating compendium of designers who combine organic influences with intricate craftsmanship, accelerated or made possible by ingenious advances such as biomimicry and 3D printing.



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