Vorn magazine’s most recent issue has just hit the newsstands. We not only had a glance at the exciting new edition but also took the chance to have a look back and ask founder Joachim Baldauf a few questions about his unusual magazine experiment.
Incredibly fascinating at first glance but also maddeningly difficult to pin down, Vorn magazine is one of these rare publications that has consistently continued to ignore current trends and conventions since its beginning. Launched in 2004 by one of Germany’s biggest photography stars, Joachim Baldauf, Vorn brings together numerous creatives in each issue from art directors and illustrators to typographers, photographers and visual artists giving them carte blanche on a set number of pages: an unorthodox concept more reminiscent of a gallery space than an actual magazine.
Vorn’s seventh edition (editors: Joachim Baldauf and Uta Grosenick) has just hit newsstands this March with another fresh, eclectic and captivating hard copy playground. The 240 pages showcase artistic expression of all kinds, once again offering an exciting mixture of new talents as well as more established artists that can admittedly feel quite random at times. According to founder Joachim Baldauf, who is almost more curator than editor, each issue does indeed have a pre-chosen leitmotif, however this is communicated neither to the contributors nor the readers. The editorial comes across as refreshingly cryptic, playing with the binary number system instead of text. Vorn’s most recent edition features the genre-crossing creations of about thirty different artists including Munich design agency Milch+Honig, Romanian-born artist Anca Munteanu Rimnic and Zurich-based Fabian Marti. Especially fascinating: Fette Sans’ personal and provocative black-and-white photo series showing people at their most intimate and Sebastian Pranz’s intriguing exploration of a local funfair…
For those who want to find out more, you can order Vorn Magazine here.
I have to admit it took me a while to understand the concept when I held the magazine in my hands for the first time. Is that intentional?
Joachim Baldauf: When we launched the magazine in 2004 we had the idea of making a magazine that is a bit like a blog. Magazines have become more and more consumer-friendly while blogs have actually been getting more complicated. It’s quite subjective and not easy to understand but makes you go and research stuff. I think that makes it much more interesting. We want to ignite communication. Just take the slogan on the cover: »Face of Morality«. It’s basically Dada. It’s provocation – there is no moral magazine. In a way it’s more a collage than a magazine. We mention only the name of the contributors without giving an explanation. If people are interested in more, they can go on Google.
How free are the contributors you choose? Do you really publish absolutely anything?
Joachim Baldauf: We usually know the people we choose and their work pretty well and we publish whatever we get. It’s only happened once in 10 years that we didn’t publish a spread. It included paparazzi photos of Claudia Schiffer and invaded her private life too much, so we decided not to use it.
You’ve been in the business for quite a while now – what has changed the most?
Joachim Baldauf: Fear. Everyone is scared. The advertising people, the ones who publish… contributors do not dare to work freely anymore.
Do you think there is a way out?
Joachim Baldauf: We have to stop constantly comparing one another. The Internet makes it possible to see anything you want, all over the world. When you don’t focus on your own things anymore and constantly compare yourself to others, then you will feel fear.
Many magazines are struggling to survive nowadays. Vorn is still alive and kicking after 10 years and all past issues are sold out. What’s the secret to success?
Joachim Baldauf: A magazine has to be authentic, independent and shouldn’t try to please anyone. You cannot be scared - something which is also very important for photographers. Nowadays people pay too much attention to the exterior, what the market wants etc. That’s the wrong approach. Advertising has also become too important. When you use Marco Polo in a fashion shoot, you’ll never get Gucci to participate as well. When we started in 2004 we decided to make an ad-free magazine financed by the industry and cultural sponsoring.
What’s your reaction to the often-used slogan »Print is dead«?
Joachim Baldauf: I don’t agree with it. What’s dead are lifestyle stories. When Kate Moss shows up at a party, it will be on the Internet immediately – why would anyone be interested in reading about that two weeks later in a magazine?
Are there other magazines you feel connected to? Do you feel part of a movement?
Joachim Baldauf: We collaborate a lot with other magazines. For example the art directors of Dazed & Confused or SZ Magazin have contributed to Vorn. Once both Vorn and SZ Magazin even had the same cover picture. We’re a meta-magazine in a way, a hybrid of book and magazine.
By Sarah Schug
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