Meet Albert Riera Galceran and Reuben Beren James, the visionary founders of émergent magazine. In this interview, we delve into the inspiring journey of how their passion for art, graphic design, and printed matter led to the creation of this remarkable publication. Join us as we explore their commitment to showcasing emerging artists and their unwavering dedication to providing a space for meaningful artistic expression.
Hello! Congratulations on the latest issue of émergent — it’s beautiful. Can you tell me a bit about your magazine and how it started?
Hi! Thank you! The magazine started in 2017 while Reuben and I were still at Central Saint Martins. We were both living together and also painting in our free time and through lots of conversations we decided to merge both our passions of graphic design and painting as well as our appreciation for printed matter and decided to start émergent. The rest is all history.
You’ve recently shifted away from calling yourselves a contemporary “painting magazine”, to “an artists’ magazine”, what has inspired this change of direction?
When we set up the magazine both of our artistic practices at the time were primarily concerned with painting, it was something we both shared a love for and wanted to provide a space for. Though from the beginning we found it difficult to limit ourselves to just painting - we had a series of Jonathan Meese sculptures in issue 03 I believe. We are both very drawn to the hybrid or in-between spaces of material definitions like painting/painter. Angela de la Cruz, who was in Issue 07, comes to mind - in some respects, the work is rooted firmly in painting yet her works are these beautiful sculptural objects that seem to question that obvious definition. We have discussed changing it regularly since the magazine's infancy and the magazine has been going through a lot of changes recently, it is growing massively and so it felt like the right moment. I think it almost took us this long to realise what it is... It's a magazine for artists... and we don't mean it's just to be viewed by artists but that the magazine exists to explore, encourage and expose artists - it's for the people in the pages.
émergent has a strong emphasis on showcasing emerging artists. How do you discover and select these artists, and what criteria do you use to determine if their work aligns with the magazine's vision?
I think both Reuben and I have always been very curious and we’ve liked to share references and find new artists that we relate towards. Since the very beginning, émergent was conceived as an exhibition in print
and the idea to mix different generations of artists who are at different stages in their careers was always intended. When it comes to selecting the artists for every issue, Reuben and I go through it together and we slowly build up on a list of artists that we want to feature and we luckily agree most of the time.
The art market can be highly competitive and profit-driven. How does émergent navigate the balance between showcasing commercially successful artists and promoting more unconventional or experimental forms of artistic expression?
We consciously disregard those categories and sort of accidentally merge the relationship between the "known" and the "unknown".
Terms like blue chip make our skin crawl... Commercial success is not only an inaccurate metric for artistic validity or success, but it's also pretty short-sighted from an art historical perspective, there is an inherent intergenerational relationship between younger, more emerging artists, and their "commercially successful" predecessors, and that discourse should be explored, it's important to engage with the influence and evolution of ideas between all these artists regardless of stature. So we don't really consider it, we sit down and try and curate the perfect selection of artists and artworks that speak to each other, and they seem to balance themselves out on their own I guess.
What kind of experiences do you hope the reader has with émergent? Are you trying to elicit certain kinds of responses?
We want to offer the reader a different approach to art magazines and give more attention to the artist rather than art criticism or academicism. We like one-to-one conversations as we feel that’s what brings us closer to their work and context. We don’t try to elect something specific, it’s more about providing a space for the works to talk to people differently, generate new connections and show artists that might not be as known.
It is obvious that consistent design is of the most importance to your publication and I know both you and Reuben come from a Graphic Design background, can you tell me what informs your design choices?
A big thing for us was trying to create a design language that was non-hierarchical, and that prioritised the voice of the artist. For example, in the interviews, the answers of the artists are always in bold while the questions sit in a lighter type. The amount of work shown for an interview vs a smaller feature is always the same, we don't view one kind of feature as more significant than the other. It's important to us that the artist's voice comes through in their features, even if subtly or slightly subconsciously - the colours for each section for example are taken directly from an artwork of the artist that the feature is on.
Can you talk a little bit about what has been most challenging in producing a publication?
The most challenging was getting to know the functioning of a magazine from within. Financing a good quality printed publication isn’t easy and navigating your way to make it possible has been an interesting journey. I think we’ve learned to have a business approach apart from having an artistic drive to making a magazine. That is what has kept us alive!
What other magazines do you look up to, enjoy reading, or must own every issue of?
Buffalo Zine is the principle of printed periodicals at the moment, it's so cleverly considered and expertly executed, Macguffin is amazing and I guess Mousse Magazine has to go onto the list.
The latest issue of émergent was launched at Liste Art Fair. What have been some of your highlights at the Fair?
We really enjoy Liste. We’ve had the magazine for 2 years selling there now and we sold out both years within hours of the fair being open, which makes us really happy. Apart from that, the fair itself is really interesting and this year specifically we’ve really enjoyed the booths of Tabula Rasa, Hot Wheels Athens, Franz Kaka and others.
What are you most proud of when you think of émergent?
The community for sure: people we have been able to work with, talk with and provide a platform for a collection of amazing artists, writers, curators and photographers. The world is a pretty scary place... And the art world is a sanctuary for a lot of the people who might not quite fit into an established mould, us being two of those people. So we are immensely lucky that we get to not only appreciate but also engage with and help provide a platform to a collection of pretty amazing like-minded people.
Social media has become a powerful tool for artists to showcase their work. How does émergent leverage digital platforms to extend its reach and connect with a broader audience beyond the printed publication?
Giving people access.
Do you have any advice for emerging artists?
You've heard it before and it sounds cliché but just always focus on the work.. Developing and pushing your work further is all it's all about.
As co-founders of émergent, what are your aspirations and hopes for the future of the magazine? Are there any specific goals or visions that you aim to achieve in the coming years?