A brooklyn artist puts out Kizu magazine

Interview: Yu Yamaguchi (PERISCOPE) / Photo: Alison Kizu-Blair

You’d have to be pretty crazy to put out a printed magazine independently these days, let alone do it by yourself. But what Alison Kizu-Blair, a Brooklyn based artist, did recently was exactly that.  With the first issue, printed mostly in black and white, she featured 11 female Brooklyn based painters in her community, asking them a set of questions, and shooting their portraits.  We wanted to salute her efforts by sitting down with her.

What motivated you to start your own magazine?
I wanted to make a printed magazine just through my interests in magazines and publishing. And I wanted to make something that I wanted to look at.  I also I wanted it to be more personal, by making it less about art, somewhere in between an art journal and lifestyle magazine, like how they found space to be artists in Brooklyn and how they make it work.
How did you pick the artists?
Just to narrow it down, I wanted it to be about painters because I know so many artists in different mediums.  Some of them I went to RISD with, but I included some whom I have met in the past few years, most of them are around my age, 25 to 29.
And each feature comes with a portrait and a Q&A.  What kind of questions did you ask each artists?
I like free association, so I asked questions like, if their work with food, if their work was with an animal, just to kind of see how people relate their work to something in the world. I thought that was really interesting. Also a silly question was about the “Ultimate Studio Outfit”, just more about fashion. And almost everybody said something white, white jump suit or white overall, everybody wanted a clean slate.  I think it has to do with the history of painting or even a house painter–they wear white.  It allows you to forget about other colors. So that was interesting.
Through the process of making your magazine, what did you come away with?
I talk to my friends about art and each other’s work all the time in a casual setting. But I don’t actually do more formal studio visits where we really look at the work and talk about their intentions, materials, and influences.  So I think doing it in a format like that allows you to talk about deeper things, I learned a lot more about work, and ideas of what they are reading.  I meant for the questionnaires to be an opportunity for the public to meet them.  The portraits were very interesting because people were a little bit self-conscious but also very confident. It was interesting because as I don’t have a zoom lens, I went very close.  And it was up to them how they wanted to project themselves, how they want people to see them as an artist.
In a time when a lot of people express themselves through digital media such as blogs, Tumblr or Instagram, why did you choose a printed format?
Personally I treasure magazines as something important to myself and my work. And I am still excited about graphic design and publishing even though I’m excited about blogs in a different way. I go back and revisit my publications that I own many times, all the time.  I revisit them and it’s new all the time.  For this, the fact that it was printed made it have more gravity. Because I’m doing all women, many of whom don’t have gallery representation. I wanted it to be something serious and real with gravity, and not just a passing moment.  I chose black and white because I love publications from the 70’s like Avalanche magazine and Sphere, a woman's cooking magazine which I recently discovered. So that aesthetic really appeals to me. It might not be the perfect showcase of their work but it inspires you to go to their websites or see their working color. It’s more an interpretation of their whole studio, and less about individual paintings.
Who is your target audience?
For one, I made it for the women who are featured in it to have something that they could keep forever and look back on and say like “When I was 27 this is what I looked like. This is my work.” But I made it also for peers in the art community, anybody in the art community. I think that it could be of interest to many different people, maybe older or younger, I think I did it just to show people one tiny little niche of an art community.
What's your next idea for Kizu magazine?
For the next one I still want it to be all women.  I think I’m going to travel to different cities and definitely go to Providence. And I think that then it’s not just going to be painters, it will be all different types of creative endeavors.  I also don’t want to exclude men. So eventually I would love to have men and women.  With the first one, I just want it to focus on these subjects because it’s nice to have it all together one place.

  • Sarah Faux
  • Anne Libby
  • Ashley Zangle
  • Ashley Zangle
  • Ashley Zangle
  • Tisch Abelow
  • Laura Hunt
  • Sophie Stone
  • Ashley Zangle
  • Katie Loselle
  • Annabeth Marks
  • Tisch Abelow
  • Sarah Faux
  • Anne Libby


Team Periscope is traveling in


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