Interview with Design is Kinky

This old school site is one of the first inspiration sites that brings the freshest links and inspiration from around the world, and at the same time also one of the last that is still survive until today. Started by Andrew Johnstone  in 1998, Design Is Kinky has been the ultimate source of inspirations for everyone of us at WADEZIG!, specially in our early years.

Considering his amazing years of dedication to arts & design, it’s an honor to have this opportunity to have this inspiring conversation with Andrew himself. Continue reading below.

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Please introduce yourself to our readers, and tell us the beginning of Design Is Kinky.

I’m Andrew, I created Design is Kinky, and am co-founder of the Semi-Permanent events. I also publish Empty Magazine. I started Design is Kinky in 1998 back when there was only a few sites that were doing design/art related news. Main reason I started it was just to get involved within the online design community and to be able to showcase work from artists who I admired.

To me, and most of my designers friends in local design scene, DIK was one of the biggest design resources since we were very young. And the best part is, it still is, up until today. Of all websites that served art/design news, DIK is the only one that survive. Big respect! Now the question is, how and why? How you guys survive, and why you keep doing this?

First of thanks, it’s great to know that Design is Kinky has been important to people. How have we survived? I guess for two reason. The main one is that we downsized the site around 4-5yrs ago to be more of a simple blog rather than the extensive site that it used to be. We just didn’t have the time to update all the sections and felt that it was better off being simplified, which made it easier to keep going. The other is that after working on the site for over 15yrs I really hate the idea of shutting it down for good. I know we are not as relevant as we used to be, as there are now so many blogs out there, but I still enjoy promoting other peoples work through the site.

Do you curate the news yourself? Where are those news from? 

We have several news editors who work on the site so it’s not all me. I find news from all over the place. Mainly just through my own web browsing or through direct links that people send to us.

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Please tell us about Semi-Permanent.

Semi-Permanent is a creative event that we have been running for 12 years. It’s about inspiring and enabling creatives through various projects, including presentations, exhibitions, workshops, etc. We’ve hosted events all over the world and are currently working on next years Sydney event, which is set to be our biggest yet.

Next year’s Semi-Permanent in Sydney is said to be the re-invention of Semi Permanent. Can you tell us a bit about it?

We are moving the event to a new venue here in Sydney called Carriageworks which is a different style of venue to the one we have used previously. So this is allowing us to change the event in a bunch of ways by having multiple rooms within the same venue. So we’ll be having the presentation room alongside a screening room, a gallery, an installation area and then putting on music performances and workshops as well. Really adding to the already popular presentation part of the event. We are all really excited about next year. You guys should all fly over!

Tell us your involvement with Empty magazine. Why was it started, and why was it closed down?

I started Empty in 2004 and have been publishing it, along with editing and designing it, ever since. The magazine was started because we didn’t feel that there were any magazines in Australia at the time that really showcased the kind of work and content that we wanted to see. I closed it down about 6mths ago because it wasn’t financially viable to keep it going, and I also wasn’t sure the support was still out there for the magazine.

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Empty magazine was finally brought back to life after closing several months ago, thanks to crowd-funding project. Why did you think bringing Empty back is a good idea? Anything new from this new editions of Empty magazine? Or is it still the same old awesome magazine as it was?

Well, as mentioned above, I only closed the mag because it wasn’t working financially, I didn’t really want to stop but just couldn’t keep losing money on each issue. So when I thought about how crowd-funding could help it made sense to try to fund it that way. The support was amazing and we got the funding quite easily and therefore are able to bring it back, for at least the Annual issue anyway. The new issue will be pretty similar to old ones really. I figured that’s what people loved about the magazine and so that’s what we’ll bring back.

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You’re also started a photography magazine called TAKE. You’re really into publishing, aren’t you?

Haha… yeah I like print and magazines. We’re online so much these days that I guess i wanted to keep a bit of that tradition alive in my own life and career, so i’ve been publishing mags for a while to keep some print in my life.

There’s also DIK Studio now. How do you manage between working for clients, maintaining the news feed, semi permanent, all the magazines, and all?

We don’t really do DiK Studio anymore. That was run by a friend of ours who has since moved on.

How is your average day like?

Pretty normal. Head to work pretty early after dropping off my girlfriend. Start the day checking emails and then make a start on whatever needs to be done. Talk to the rest of the team. Go to meetings. More emails. Head home and chill with my girl and my cat.

Most of us designers are now into streetwear. Just like me, for example. I started a design-based clothing brand called WADEZIG! (www.wadezig.com) here in Indonesia. What do you think about the connection between design and streetwear?

To be honest I don’t know much at all about streetwear so not sure I can answer this question.

Are you into streetwear, too? Do you have your favorite brand?

Nope. I’m too old for streetwear 🙂

Is it me, or these days designers are no longer superstars? I remember those days when i idolized Chuck Anderson, Thomas Schostock, Jemma Hostetler (Gura), etc. We treated them like heroes back then..

Yeah I think your right. I guess everyone is so accessible these days with Twitter, Instagram and Facebook that you have so much info on people and can get of get a sense of who they are, or that they are normal. so you don’t really feel the need to idolise them. Back when the ‘superstars’ only had a website, and usually didn’t put up that much info, there was a sense of mystery about them. But that happens way less these days.

Is art and design still fun?

For sure. Artists and designers are still out there exploring and producing great work, and enjoying creating it. It may be more accessible and you may see more these days, but it’s still just as inspiring. I still love the thrill I get when i see a new artists work that I like, or new work from an old favourite. That never gets old.

Do you have something to say for local art and design scene in indonesia?

Hmmm… I’ve been to Indonesia a few times (Bali, of course, Jakarta and Sumatra) but don’t know a lot about the local design scene there. I’m sure it’s just as vibrant as the rest of the world. So all i would say is, keep creating.

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This one is my personal question since a very long time ago : I remember DiK was using a flipped Indonesia map on its old website footer. I’m still curious, what’s the story behind it? Why indonesia, and why flipped?

The Indonesia map was used in a series of artworks that i was playing around with using world maps. I just liked the way the country shapes could create familiar but unusual graphics. I didn’t use Indonesia for any particular reason, I just liked it’s shape.

Any big plans for 2014?

Work wise our main focus is making the Sydney Semi-Permanent bigger and better. Personally i’m looking forward to heading to Brazil for my best mates wedding. First time there so can’t wait.

If there had to be soundtracks to your works/office, what would it be? please name at least 8 songs.

1. Eddie Veder – Without You

2. The Lumineers – Ho Hey

3. Kings Of Leon – Knocked Up

4. Nick Cave & The Bad Seed – We No Who U R

5. Dizzee Rascal – I Don’t Need A Reason

6. Shock One – Chaos Theory

7. Knife Party – Bonfire

8. Eddie Vedder – Society

thanks!

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Links :

– http://www.designiskinky.net

– http://www.semipermanent.com

– http://www.emptymag.com

– http://www.takephotomag.com


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