Talking to Sandy Kim about her Latest, Sex-Filled Zine
Even before photographer Sandy Kim released her new zine Sex, Drugs, & Kodak Gold, a Japanese bookstore swooped in and bought the first 100 copies. “The guy who works there, Kiko, emails me once in a while and asks, ‘Do you have any zines out?’ He’s always on top of it so he got it even before I released it,” she said. But not to worry, there’s still more to go around—200 deluxe editions, to be more precise, which are currently for sale through Family Books Los Angeles. “It’s slightly different,” she said of the deluxe edition (compared to the non-deluxe one). “There’s vellum. There’s a mixture of paper. There’s a back cover. It’s nicer. It’s cool, but it’s pretty similar.”
It doesn’t exactly come as a surprise that Kim is capturing the attention of Japanese zine collectors. A favorite of photographer Ryan McGinley and an ardent zine collector herself (The Wormholes’ Lindzine is her favorite), Kim has been in the game for a while and Sex, Drugs, & Kodak Gold is by no means her first zine. In fact, thanks to a bookbinding course she took in college, it’s her eighth. After making a couple low-budget ones for fun, which she handed out to friends, Kim published her first official self-titled zine through Unpiano in 2009. But as Kim notes, her past zines were “all small editions, so they’re all sold out”—and as someone who loves and respects art book culture, she plans to keep it that way.
Kim’s work isn’t all niche, however; in addition to shooting countless celebrities and bands, she’s photographed Young Thug‘s Carter 6 album cover (on which he appeared naked) and will be shooting model Kiko Mizuhara for Numéro Magazine. And yet throughout, her work has remained raw and beautiful—a reflection of her own life that continues to push boundaries. As she told us, she sees photography as a wordless journal. “If I’m super psyched, I’ll take a photo,” she said. “If I’m depressed, I’ll take a photo just to remember how depressed I was.”
Because her work is an expression of herself, her environment invariably plays an important role in her photos. After living in New York in a “shitty” apartment, without a studio to work in and ensconced in unhealthy distractions, she moved to the Bay Area, where she “hated on LA because that’s just how people are.” Then she relocated to Southern California and, as she told me, she “fucking loves LA.” So much so that she released LA XXX, the zine that preceded Sex, Drugs, & Kodak Gold and was an ode to her new home.
According to Kim, Sex, Drugs, & Kodak Gold started off as a tribute to her friend $ha Money, who passed away a few years ago. The photos of him included in the zine were taken on the last day she ever saw him, which Kim remembers as “so dark, but beautiful.” Soon, however, the zine morphed into a collection of images that fall under one of three themes: sex, drugs, or Kodak gold, the film she most often uses. “I curated and edited photos from my life that fit into that description and the lifestyle of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, too,” she said.
As for what’s next, Kim already has five projects lined up for this year alone. Though she couldn’t disclose any details, she mentioned she has two projects with Sky Ferreira that will be released in September and an art show in December. And we cannot wait.
Purchase your own copy of Sex, Drugs, and Kodak Gold here.
Photos courtesy of Sandy Kim and via i-D.
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