Photoworks: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Firstly, happy third birthday to Paper Journal! How did you come to founding Paper Journal? What’s your own background and connection to photography?
PK: Thank you! The idea for Paper Journal came about during my final year of studying photography at Westminster, whilst working as Picture Editor for a small online arts and culture magazine. I really enjoyed the research aspect of the role, as well as having many ideas in terms of content that didn’t quite fit where I was working at the time, so decided to start my own platform. It took some time getting the site together as well as content for the launch, and Paper Journal was launched mid-2013.
PW: You’re a photographer in your own right as well as working on Paper Journal. Do you find balancing personal work with the online magazine tricky? How do they inform each other?
PK: I think most artists get used to having to juggle multiple projects at the same time. Also, especially in a city like London where the cost of living is so high, it’s very common for people to have supplementary incomes alongside their artistic practice. This has always been my case; Paper Journal is a labour of love in the sense that I do not have any advertising or sponsorship in the magazine so any money made from the online shop, for example, goes back into the site.
Because of that, I’ve always worked between part-time and freelance work on top of managing the magazine; this year has been particularly challenging as I’m a new mother and that in itself is a full-time job, one that is rewarding beyond measure! I try to keep my freelance work separate to the Journal, it is difficult to focus my energy on many different things so I decided to take a step back recently with my personal work, however have been spending more of my time photographing my son, which I’ve really loved doing.
PW: What’s your aim with the online magazine?
PK: The aim of Paper Journal is to showcase the photography we value in an exciting, engaging way. The content is made up of photographers I’ve come across in my own research, as well as pitches from my writers and also submissions. It is unique in that we feature a lot of different types of photography from fashion, portraiture, still life, documentary and more, from unknown or new photographers alongside more established names. We have many different sections on the site which brings in a broad ranging audience; you can, for example, read a long form essay about a particular body of work in our features section, or you can scroll through images of a new project in the We Love section.
Our contributors range from established writers and journalists, photographers and people working within the industry. They’ve shared photobook reviews (such as Christian Patterson, Shane Lavalette, Asger Carlsen), studio visits (Lorenzo Vitturi, Stephen Gill, Michael Marcelle) and our ‘In Conversation’ series, where photographers interview each other (Alec Soth and Glen Erler, Thomas Albdorf and Maurice Van Es). It’s that element, of photographers and artists sharing their ideas or thoughts with us aside from a traditional interview, that is refreshing and has led to Paper Journal becoming a respected platform.
PW: This exhibition will be the first curated by Paper Journal, what were some of the differences you encountered between curating for digital content online and curating for an exhibition?
PK: The main difference was thinking about the physical space of the gallery and how the images work individually but also as a whole, compared with a digital platform where projects are seen individually and on single pages.
Because of the way the exhibition is curated, the artists involved are really different in terms of their practice. On show are portraits, still life and landscape prints which I feel are a really strong representation of what Paper Journal has to offer. Also, digital is really different, the turnaround time is quicker and it’s more about immediacy and relevance.
PW: How did the collaboration with Webber Represents come about? What’s the connection between the two?
PK: I first attended a launch at Webber Gallery Space in Dec 2014 for Daniel Shea’s Blisner project and was introduced to Chantal Webber, director of Webber Represents, through writer Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa. The roster at Webber is fantastic and we’ve previously featured quite a few of their artists on Paper Journal either through the magazine or via our Instagram.
Then last year I was introduced to Dominic Bell, Gallery Manager, through photographer Thomas Albdorf and it was then that I learnt they were opening up the gallery to other curators. I’d been thinking for some time to put together an exhibition and our upcoming birthday seemed like the right time to do it. I approached Dominic about potentially using their gallery space and both him and Chantal loved the concept for the exhibition.
PW: Can you talk us through how you chose the photographers included in the show? What process was involved?
PK: The idea for the show is to present and celebrate artists that have previously been featured within the magazine since it’s inception. Considering there’s been over 350+ artists already featured, I wanted to make the selection as democratic as possible. It’s ended up as a collaboratively curated show, I initially selected Marton Perlaki, he was then invited to select 2 artists who’ve been featured in the magazine (of which I chose 1), then they were invited to select 2 artists and so on. It was a really interesting and challenging experience; firstly to see the list of participating artists grow in such an organic way and also in the sense of not having total control as to which direction the show was going to take.
The process itself was quite long, there were a lot of emails back and forth between myself, Dominic and the artists, which went on for quite a few months! I’m really excited to have soo many artists involved (Elizabeth Bick (USA), Antone Dolezal (USA), David Brandon Geeting (USA), Heikki Kaski (FIN), Natalie Krick (USA), Jason Nocito (USA), Cole Don Kelley (USA), Hanne Lillee (NO), Marton Perlaki (HUN), Hanna Putz (AUT), Nathanael Turner (USA), Tereza Zelenkova (CZ) that are not only showing new work, but some who are also showing in the UK for the first time. Aside from the 12 prints on show, we will also have a rolling slideshow of every photo published (2000k+) on our Instagram (@paperjournalmag), our most popular social media platform.
PW: Do you have any personal favourites?
PK: I’m really happy with all the works included in the show and especially excited to have a print from Heikki Kaski and his series Tranquillity, one of my favourite photobooks from last year.