BIG’S 10TH BIRTHDAY

Byline: Peter Braunstein

NEW YORK — When Big magazine made its debut a decade ago, it was oversized (17 by 22 inches) to the point of making Visionaire seem compact, printed in underground-newspaper smudgy type and looked like a cross between a style magazine and a French Foreign Legion recruitment poster.
Now, with its 10th anniversary issue, Big has grown smaller (9 by 12 inches) and bigger (it currently boasts newsstand sales of 35,000 and attracts advertisers like Gucci, Versace and DKNY). Yet it still flaunts its art-for-art’s-sake, guerrilla sensibility like a badge of honor. As founder and publisher Marcelo Junemann told WWD, “Our first rule is: No celebrities. I’m honestly not interested in celebrities, I’m sick of them, they do nothing. Talented people are the real celebrities, and they’re the ones we showcase.”
Big 37, the 10th anniversary issue, hit stands next week and centers on the theme of “celebrations,” which range from children’s birthdays to drunken lawn parties at Oxford University. Contributors include such hip photographers as Terry Richardson, Solve Sundsbo and Mario Sorrenti. Like every volume of Big, the anniversary issue is the product of an intense and protracted creative process.
“Each issue we produce takes up to two years; it’s like making a movie,” explained Junemann, who turns out 10 issues a year. “But the final product speaks for itself. We see Big as a creative tool for the fashion industry, a never-ending source of style, design, photography.”
In the absence of celebrities, Big has developed a unique way of distinguishing itself from the rest of the avant-garde pack: Each issue is devoted to a different country. Big’s “This England” issue focused on the U.K., while “Youth: American Style” went Stateside. Big’s biggest triumph was a Bjork-free Iceland issue — no small feat. As the magazine evolves, its geographic focus is becoming more precise. The first post-anniversary issue, due out in late October, celebrates Paris and has an interesting conceptual hook: each of Paris’s 20 arrondissements is treated by a different photographer or artist.
Big has a one-night-stand approach to creative directors: It moves on to a new one after each project. Sarah, co-owner of the Colette store in Paris (who goes only by her first name), oversaw the Paris issue.
“First, I was very surprised that Marcelo asked me to participate in this issue because this is not my job, but then I approached it as a hobby and did the list of contributors as if it was for an exhibition in our gallery space at Colette,” Sarah said.
“To represent Paris, so immense, I thought it was a good idea to extract something from the 20 arrondissements. There’s always a link between the story and the arrondissement, even if it’s not obvious. For example, [artist] Claude Closky lives and works in the second; The [photography mecca] Studio Harcourt is in the 17th, etc. The idea was to invite artists (like Claude Leveque), musicians (like Bertrand Burgalat), photographers (like Kate Barry), as well as designers (like Jeremy Scott) to mix the sources.”
Junemann is also excited about the upcoming New Jersey issue, scheduled for next May. “We chose a British art director for the issue, and when he sent me a list of contributors, I didn’t recognize any of the names,” said Junemann. “I thought that was fantastic.”

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