Editor Ian Cole on the fine line between artful nudity and running a lads magazine
"This isn’t a lads mag,” says Ian Cole, creator of 62nd Floor, when we point out there’s a lot of semi-naked girls in his art zine, a collaborative project with April-Lea Hutchinson. “I believe the people who look at these images are more sensible and think ‘that’s beautiful’ or ‘she’s beautiful’ rather than ‘coorrrr, she’s fit!’ He also points out that we're just as likely to see a photo of a lampost or bike. Initially training as a graphic designer, Cole taught himself photography five years ago. Since then he has worked with Topman as well as modelling agencies, and produced images which have earned him millions of hits on the various publications he curates and shoots for. You’d think then he might be pretty forward thinking when it comes to the art of zine making, but actually the opposite is true. 62nd Floor only features analogue photographers for starters...
If I find a photographer who’s work is special, I can spend hours looking at it and that is how it should be. I find that really good photographers are generally really good people with integrity - and this is something I look for
Dazed Digital: Why do you think zines have made a come back in recent years?
Ian Cole: I think with the internet and on-demand printing, the market has been polluted with publications that call themselves 'magazines'. This has commercialised the ‘art’ somewhat and I feel it has pushed many real artists underground, where the 'zine' has flourished. Good zines are personal and limited edition. I think it’s much better for people to discover what you’re doing rather than ram it down their throats. If you get it right, you will be found.
DD: Quite a few of the images are of women, half dressed women, how do you explain that?
Ian Cole: Because sex sells and I find art-nudes are far more alluring than fashion nudes. In all fairness you’re just as likely to see a picture of an old lamp-post or a bike! In fact the first issue was dedicated to shooting everyday things, like cups, saucers and phone boxes. If the image is good, it can still be sexy and appeal to both men and women who appreciate the female form. Plus I am VERY selective about who shoots for us when it comes to models.
DD: What do you look for in a photographer?
Ian Cole: First of all, they have to be artists. I get emailed portfolios every day and it drains me of energy when I see technically correct images that have no soul. If I find a photographer who’s work is special, I can spend hours looking at it and that is how it should be. I find that really good photographers are generally really good people with integrity - and this is something I look for. A bad attitude puts me right off. Being talented, humble and like-minded is a winner for me. Real people just get on with it.
DD: Can you highlight some photographers you think we should watch out for in the future?
Ian Cole: Jeff Hahn from London is super-talented, as is Barbara Anastacio, Leonn Ward and one of my favourites is an infamous analogue photographer known as The Gentleman Amateur, who we have published a number of times.
The 4th issue is out now.