Visionaire


OPPOSING FORCES: The delicate balancing act between creative freedom and working with large corporations perhaps doesn’t have to be as insurmountable a job as some might think.

The founders of art and fashion magazine Visionaire, Cecilia Dean and James Kaliardos, talked about how they balance the two during a conversation at NeueHouse in Los Angeles on Wednesday evening as they celebrate the publication’s 25th year.

“When we started, I was, like, ‘Are we going to make it to issue five,’” Kaliardos said to the crowd.

They did and have since amassed a vault of work that has counted collaborations with brands, artists, models, designers and other creatives that include Louis Vuitton, Gap, John Baldessari, Levi’s, Samsung, Tiffany & Co., Karl Lagerfeld and Comme des Garçons. Now the two are set to unveil later this month a virtual reality experience done with the artist Brian Donnelly, known as Kaws, and sponsored by M&M’s for its 75th birthday. While the art installation, to be shown at the New York Public Library, was originally supposed to be unveiled last year when M&M’s was celebrating its actual anniversary, contractual negotiations somewhat slowed the release. There’s also an art to the process when working with artists and brands, Dean and Kaliardos pointed out, where they act as the intermediary between the two.

“We really try to separate the artist from the brand,” Kaliardos said.

Dean added they viewed the project and their role in it as that of a patron of the arts, rather than producers of a commercial for M&M’s. Communications between the company and artist went through Visionaire as a means of ensuring Donnelly’s vision wasn’t at all impacted by the brand’s objectives.

That the installation is in virtual reality also represents how Visionaire has embraced different channels throughout its 25 years to distribute the art in its magazine, whether that be experimenting with different publishing techniques — such as metal embossed plates for its indestructible issue or paper with wildflower seeds embedded into it to pay tribute to Alexander McQueen — to weaving in new technologies, such as video and now VR.

“Now it’s a really interesting moment where all the categories are blurring a little bit,” Dean said.

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