Art

9.8.2015

Exclusive: First Look at Blac Chyna for Richardson Mag [NSFW]

Somewhere in New York, Andrew Richardson answers my phone call. “Let me go to another room,” he says, “I’m actually printing the magazine right now.” He’s of course referring to Richardson Magazine – a sporadically printed compilation of collaborations (including Mario Sorrenti, Terry Richardson, and Jenna Jameson) that has become polemic for its graphic content. But aside from stirring up notoriety, the Richardson world has opened a new space for a different aesthetic, one that’s based on the honesty and simplicity of creativity. This is echoed in the brand’s clothes, which take inspiration from classic American workwear – like hardware uniforms and sweatshirts – that are then spun into staples for any streetwear aficionado.

With the new issue of Richardson Magazine just released (A8, featuring Blac Chyna on the cover), and the clothing brand gaining some heavyweight supporters like fashion killer Rihanna, Andrew Richardson is ready to take over the world. Milk’s Ana Velasco talked to the British powerhouse to discuss the difference between art and pornography, the first magazine that ever made an impact on him, and why Blac Chyna represents modern America.

Blac Chyna covering issue A8 of Richardson Mag

The release of the magazine is very sporadic. Why does it take it so long?

It takes a long time because the magazine is quite specific – we’re not like a fashion magazine where you just kind of fill space between the adverts. We try to present a point of view and it’s about feeling. We’re not just making more wood for the fire. So it takes time to get the contributions right. This one took a year and a half to get the girl on the cover, to track her down and to get her to agree to do it. And you know, there’s this artist Gaetano Liberatore – it took me five years to find him, and then it took me a year to persuade him to do it because the guy hadn’t done a drawing for like 30 years. I’m quite specific about what I want, and once you’ve decided what you want you can’t really stop until you’ve got what it is you want.

I read a quote where you say Instagram photos are “dead the minute [we] post them.” It’s interesting because when you tangibly print a photo you hold on to it for longer. Do you think that by continuing to publish printed editorials we retain the ability to be in the present?

I’ve kept photographic diaries since I moved to New York, which was in 1989. What I like about that is that the same photograph looks different and you see different things in the photograph. As your consciousness expands, the way you perceive photographs changes, so that’s what I like about the permanence of actually printing a magazine and it not being an online thing. Online you’re consuming things at a much higher rate, so you’re not really sitting down with the image and enjoying it, you’re just kind of like ‘consume, consume, consume.’ Both are really good, but they’re just different. When it’s printed to me it’s more personal because you own it and keep it and can go back and look at it, and it’s almost like spending time with an old friend. When you’re on Instagram you’re just throwing it out and looking at stuff.

“We put Blac Chyna on the cover because she’s sort of the embodiment of the modern American body – the kind of body that’s augmented and is the kind of body people get surgery for, like getting their butts to be bigger.”

Will Boone, William Pope, and Cogy Esparza for A8

What do you think is the biggest difference from Richardson clothes and other street-wear brands in the market?
What I do is a reflection of what I’m interested in, and there’s a group of people around the brand – friends of mine, friends of the brand – that have ideas bouncing around. What we’re trying to do, I guess, is present different layers. The graphics look a certain way but then there’s some hidden meaning or some kind of other language, so it’s not just simple, it’s a little bit more sophisticated maybe, but we try to do that on a very basic platform. I’m not trying to design a sweatshirt with six arms, I’m just trying to do really basic things that are very well made with very specific materials and cuts. Something you can wear that is normal but well-fitting and thoughtfully made. I make things that are like a kind of uniform.

You base a lot of your designs on classic Americana designs. What do you think it is about this aesthetic that endures throughout the ages – making Richardson clothes so coveted?

I like the idea of American work wear because I like this kind of masculine stereotype. I like the American aesthetic, they’re like anti-hero heroes, in a way. Or you can subvert the idea of American classic by being really into it, by appropriating it, and then attaching it to a bunch of transgressive or provocative graphics. It’s sort of like a blank canvas and you can then do whatever you want with them. I think the European stuff is boring and old-fashioned, whereas the American stuff is effortlessly cool.

Gary Simmons for A8

With graphic nudity, how do you respect the line between pornography and art?

If you want to make pornographic images you can get two people with their clothes on and they end up with some kind of fluid all over the place. We’re not trying to show that escalation. Pornography is kind of like an escalation to climax, and I’m not interested in showing that escalation to climax at all. I’m more interested in being a bit more analytical or aesthetic around the idea of sex and sexuality, and maybe make it a bit more political, a bit more social, a bit more thoughtful. And provocative, but not provocative in a gratuitous way, provocative in a thoughtful way. I think it’s about intention; you can photograph the same person and if your intention is to exploit their sexuality and communicate their sexuality then you can do that. But if you’re trying to make a different point about gender or about aesthetics, then you would do it in a different way and you’d end up with a very different feeling about a photograph.

What is sexy to you and how do you think you portray that through Richardson?

The goal of Richardson is not to be sexy, but sexy is being confident. If you’re smart and you’re confident then that’s sexy. Sexy is about being connected to a person, so I think Richardson tries to communicate and be open and be confident about what we’re doing. We’re confident that what we’re doing in the magazine is good.

William Crawford for A8

What was the first magazine that ever made an impact on you?

I think it was some wet pornographic magazine that my friends and I found under a bush in the woods behind my school.

Was it raunchy or more aesthetically pleasing?

I can’t remember, I just remember it had been left out in the rain and it was pretty wet and kind of a mess. We found it in the back of the school where all the bad kids used to go and smoke cigarettes, and I think that the magazine had been left there by one of the older boys at school. That’s probably my first memory of interacting with a magazine. I was like 11, probably.

Magic City for A8

When choosing a cover for the magazine, what is a general image that you have in mind? What is it that you want to portray off the bat?

Well I think in the past we did real porn stars that were famous and had something interesting to say, but then we changed it and went for a girl that wasn’t a porn star and had never done porn before. This issue is about America so we put Blac Chyna on the cover because she’s sort of the embodiment of the modern American body – the kind of body that’s augmented and is the kind of body people get surgery for, like getting their butts to be bigger. She had been a stripper before and so I was interested in stripping as opposed to pornography. She has the ultimate American body, in a way, like the type of body that Nicki Minaj has, but she was the underground low-key influencer. I think she had an influence on the Kardashians, on Nicki Minaj, and you know she’s very sweet and very cool and it was really great to get Steven Klein to shoot her for us.

You worked with Steven Meisel on Madonna’s Sex book. What is the most valuable thing you learned from the iconic photographer?

The thing I learned was what it feels like when things are going well. I learned about the process of making images. I got to watch the most important fashion photographer of the last 35 years work. He wanted to make images that were really good, and his bar was set so much higher than everybody else’s. It was amazing to be a small part of that process, and to learn what it looks like when an image is really working.

In three words, what can we expect from the newest issue of the mag?

Lots more fun.

 

Blac Chyna photographed by Steven Klein for Richardson Mag Issue A8

Richardson A8 will launch September 17th, 2015 at the Comme des Garçons Black Shop in Berlin during ABC art fair, at the New York Art Book Fair on September 18th, and in Tokyo with Bonjour Records on October 9th.

Jeanette Hayes and Gaetano Liberatore for A8

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