Friday, November 16, 2007

Art Space Talk: Amir Fallah

Artist and designer, Amir H. Fallah, lives and works in Los Angeles, California. At the age of sixteen, he founded Beautiful/Decay magazine, and has seen it evolve from a black & white xeroxed zine into an internationally distributed publication. As the Creative Director of Beautiful/Decay, Amir has molded the magazine into one of today's most well respected and reputable independent Publications.

Amir's aesthetic, knowledge and creative intuition is sought after internationally. His CV includes creating illustrations for numerous publications, speaking on panels at colleges and universities, and orchestrating and revitalizing entire brand identities and events.

After receiving a Bachelor Of Fine Arts from The Maryland Institute College of Art, Amir went on to complete his Masters Of Fine Art at UCLA in 2005. His past exhibits include shows at 4-F gallery, M.Y. Art Prospects, Laband Gallery,Cherrydelosreyes, Overtones gallery and the Scope Miami Art Fair. He is currently represented by the Third Line Gallery in Dubai, UAE.

Brian Sherwin: Amir, you are the founder of Beautiful/Decay magazine. Can you tell our readers how B/D came into being?

Amir Fallah: I started Beautiful/Decay with my best friend Jay when I was 16 years old .It was a small black and white zine that we made to pass time and to connect with other artists around the D.C. area. I stopped making the zine after a few issues and Jay and I went our separate ways to college. During my last year of college I restarted Beautiful/Decay as a full color magazine. After the first 2 issues I met my current business partners Ben Osher and Fubz. They both had a zine called Manifest in the Baltimore area. They first came on to help with advertising and marketing. After a few more issues I made them my partners and we have been running the magazine together ever since. The three of us oversee all the various aspects of the business.
BS: What was your original intention for B/D-- how has the publication matured since those early years?
AF: In the beginning it was just something for fun. Now it’s a real business with employees, bills, offices on both coasts and an international following. The magazine has matured in every aspect. It’s come a long way from being a black and white zine made on a copy machine. It’s been a rewarding process as I’ve learned a lifetimes worth of lessons from the various achievements and the occasional mistakes that we’ve made.

BS: B/D is one of the most well-respected independent publications. B/D has been involved with several events-- for example, last year B/D worked with Scope New York. Can you tell us about that association?
AF: We’re always looking for collaborative opportunities with new companies and artists. The event with Scope progressed very naturally. We had distributed magazines at their various fairs in the past and somewhere along the way we discussed doing an event together. Since we have an office in NYC and hold parties regularly in the city it was easy for us to come in and work with them on the official scope opening.
We have a whole list of upcoming events coming up for the rest of 2007 and all of 2008. We will be working with a wide range of partners to produce more in-depth events such as our Vis/Ed screening which will take place on November 20th at the Anthology Film Archives in NYC. For Vis/Ed we have invited Brand New School, The Happy Corp and to screen and discuss inspiring videos, films, and animations from their personal collection. We hope to expand Vis/Ed into a traveling screening that will be showing in various venues nationally.
BS: Can you explain a little bit about the creative forum, Vis/Ed, you're producing on Nov. 20th? How did it come about? Why did you select the three creative companies you did?
AF: In the last several years videos have become such a large staple in the creative community as video friendly computers and sites like have become popular. Vis/Ed came about as a reaction to the popularity of video. You no longer needed millions of dollars and a huge staff to produce quality videos. You could produce, create, and distribute video now with a click of a button on your Mac., Brand New School, and The Happy Corp are three companies that I’ve always admired. They all have amazing reputations in the creative community and have been working with moving images in a variety of ways. Vis/Ed is a unique opportunity to not only watch and discuss the work that they have made but also work by other artists and designers that they admire.

Example of B/D Apparel

BS: Your Fall Apparel Line will be hitting stores soon- what can we expect? What are some of your favorite pieces from the new collection?

AF: Our fall line of apparel is amazing. I’m very proud of how the apparel is shaping up. We started the Apparel division of B/D with only 4 shirts and within a year it has grown into a 40+ piece collection. My favorite pieces would have to be our exclusive Aya Kato line. We’ve been big fans of her work for ages and its great to put out the line with her.

BS: Amir, you participated in a panel discussion entitled "UNBOUND: How L.A.'s Art Magazines are Changing the Face of Popular Culture"-- In your opinion, how are publications like B/D influencing popular culture?

AF: Independent art and culture magazines are powerful in that they document and publicize a wide array of artists and designers without the restrictions and politics that most mainstream magazines run into. We don’t have to answer to a publisher so we can print what we want when we want. This gives us the freedom to put unknown artists on our cover and to give emerging talent a break that they wouldn’t get in larger, corporate publications.

Works 2, acrylic, ink, watercolor, pencil on paper mounted to canvas, 24 x 30 in., 2007

BS: Amir, you are an artist as well. Your work was displayed at The Third Line Gallery in Dubai for the first ever Gulf Art Fair. Can you tell our readers about that experience? What can you tell us about the Gulf Art Fair?

AF: I’ve been to Dubai twice now and it has always been a pleasure. It really is an amazing place with not just a rapidly growing economy but also a burgeoning art scene. I’m lucky in that The Third Line is one of the best galleries in the region and has been extremely supportive of my work. I didn’t get to attend the Gulf Art Fair last year. The Third Line took my work to it. However this year I will be flying out for the fair to build a site specific installation.

BS: Amir, can you tell our readers about your youth? I've read that you started out as a graffiti artist, is that so? Can you recall any youthful experiences that continue to drive you in the direction you are going today-- with the publication and your art?
AF: I was never interested in art until I began doing graffiti. I did tons of graffiti for over 12 years. Some of the best memories and experiences iv’e had have been a direct result of painting graffiti. Graffiti taught me to create for myself first. I was never thinking about galleries or an audience when I was painting. I was doing it for the pure joy of making something. I’ve carried this mentality over to my artwork as well as b/d. Its like the cheesy saying " you can’t love anyone until you love yourself. " I’d like to think that others won’t love your magazine if you don’t love it yourself.

Kissing the Suns, acrylic, ink, pencil, color pencil on paper mounted to canvas, 24 x 30 in., 2007

BS: With that said, can you tell us about your artistic practice? For example, your paintings and drawings-- can you tell us about the process that goes into creating them?

AF: I have 2 modes of practice when I make art. The first mode is research and development. I read a lot, conduct surveys and interviews, and make preparatory plans before each body of work. Once I feel comfortable about the content I’m dealing with I put the research aside and start to make things. I try not to over think the work too much. You can do all the research you’d like but once you start making art it usually takes on its own life. I let all the research filter through me to make the work. Most of the time the end result is good but every once in a while I’ll end up having to scrap a piece and start over.

Venice Beach- Gender Neutral, acrylic, ink, pencil, color pencil on paper mounted to canvas, 36 x 48 in., 2007

BS: You often use images of forts in your work-- can you tell us about the symbology behind the use of those structures? What other forms of symbolism do you utilize within the context of your art?

AF: When I was a kid I used to love to build forts and tree houses. They were places to get away and play pretend. I would hang out in them for hours and goof off, day dream of girls that I’ve had crushes on and look at the occasional nudie magazine. In a weird way the forts were like a gallery or performance space where anything and everything could happen. I’ve also started to paint my cacti collection into the paintings. The cacti function as placeholders for people in the work. Sometimes they are in the shelter of the forts and sometimes they are painted alone in a deserted landscape to fend for themselves.

(The Greater Velocity) The Greater Risk of Hurt, acrylic, ink, pencil on paper mounted to canvas, 36 x 48 in., 2007

BS: Amir, where else do you draw inspiration from?-- what artists or art movements have influenced you?

AF: I’m inspired by many artists across many genres. I collect books on many of the artists that I’m currently interested in. I just picked up the catalog for the Matthew Monahan show at the MOCA here in LA and the last Lari Pittman show at Regen projects was amazing! He continually blows me away with his work. It’s completely seamless.

BS: Finally, is it difficult finding balance between the work you do for B/D and the passion you have for your art? Or would you say that they feed off of each other? Has the work you've done with B/D made you a better artist, so to speak?
AF: It’s not easy juggling my art with the magazine but I can’t see doing one without the other. I’ve had to come up with creative scheduling so that I can give both areas equal time. Running the magazine also gives me access to artists that I admire. Over the years I’ve had the chance to interview and meet some of my favorites. This probably wouldn’t be possible if the magazine wasn’t around.
You can learn more about Amir Fallah and his art by visiting his website-- You can learn more about Beautiful/Decay magazine by visiting B/D's official website-- You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

1 comment:

Ajay Angre said...

Art Space Talk: Amir Fallah

Hi Brian,
Your interiview of Amir Fallah made indeed very interesting one with him. These kind of success stories driven by passion and vision really make you feel anything is possible in even adversities only if you are focused and you love what you are doing most. It is inspirational for all who have such creative tallents and who are persistent in following their ideas.

I must say, you too are doing a great job while interviewing to draw interesting aspects of success stories. Keep up the great job you are doing.
Ajay Angre
World Palette International