Friday, July 19, 2013

interview with Matthew Leifheit from MATTE

We found this new zine from New York a couple of weeks ago. It's such a nice print that we decided to ask editor Matthew Leifheit some questions.

Can you describe your magazine?
MATTE features one photographer per issue. It is printed in full color, there are no advertisements, and it retails for the cost of printing. I photograph the featured artist for each magazine’s cover, and resulting portrait is representative of the collaborative process that goes into each issue. I meet with the photographer, and we work together to define a different design and layout for each issue. The cover and masthead stay fairly constant, but the pages of each magazine are tailored to best suit the work. MATTE focused on emerging photographers, those who haven’t had a book or a major show yet, but every once in a while I work with a more established photographer to raise the profile of the magazine. In this way, MATTE is both a platform for new ideas from young talent, and a repository for lesser-seen projects of seasoned practitioners.

 Why did you start a magazine?

I am a photographer too. It is easier to promote other peoples’ work than your own, and it’s very important to me to be involved in a dialogue with my contemporaries. MATTE is an experiment in a new model of magazine publishing facilitated by print-on-demand technology. Retailers can order the magazine directly from the printer, at the cost of production. I edit and design the magazine, and that’s hypothetically where my involvement ends. The idea, eventually, is that the magazine will distribute itself, and I will only be responsible for generating the content.

 How do you find the photographers that publish in Matte?

I find each person a different way every time, the only constant being that I unreservedly endorse each photographer’s work I decide to do a magazine with. It often happens through friends. The photographer Mary Ellen Mark put Ilona Szwarc and I together. Elisabeth Biondi introduced me to Kipp Wettstein. I found Bridget Collins’ work in flickr, and when I reached out to her, it turned out we live near each other and know a lot of the same people. Lauren Poor has a reputation in New York for being brilliant, I heard about her work from many people before we actually met. I rarely take submissions, but my next issue, issue 16, which will be released August 30th, features Trey Wright, who sent me an email out of the blue that sparked a very fruitful collaboration.

Why did you choose the format of a magazine over a book?

There’s less overhead. The low cost of printing a magazine allows me to produce them in greater volume, because the initial investment is very low. I also want it to be affordable to people my age, to starving artists, who are often on a very limited budget like mine. I’m 25.

 What are your favourite magazines?

I don’t care about fashion, so that wipes out a large number of them. My friend Chris Nosenzo publishes something called “Packet Bi-Weekly” which is very good- it’s literally a collated and stapled packet of very raw images and text. As far as what I actually subscribe to, I get Aperture, The New Yorker, and TIME. I also love Butt Magazine- I shot a Christmas card for them last year.

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