Autodidact is a new magazine showcasing the personal side of creativity

by Grace Wang in January 2018
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Art & design

We hear a lot of stories from independent publishers about hacking together their first magazine — learning InDesign from online tutorials, doing a photoshoot in their living room, taking on the role of a customer service personnel. Launched this month, Autodidact magazine takes its name from this notion of learn-it-yourself.

The biannual exhibits personal stories around a common theme, and for their first take, designers, illustrators, writers and photographers were invited to give thought on duality: “The idea that everything in the world consist of two, often contradicting qualities.” We asked founder Bardia Koushan to tell us more about how the artists in this issue have creatively interpreted this theme.


Cromwell Twins

An autodidact is an audacious self-taught person who is driven by their sense of curiosity. Their journey of discovery is often eclectic and takes unprecedented turns. We wanted to reflect this characteristic throughout the magazine as well as the cover. James Perolls who shot our cover photo is himself an autodidact, and together with his image of the mysterious twins standing in their own reflections, he creates a curious front page that invites the readers to explore and to discover.

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Living or just existing 
“Are you living, or just existing, sweetheart? Do you count down the long days of the week as if they were hard granite rocks you had to chip away from a broken cliff face; do you cast them off as if they were trials and not just your life?” It took little convincing for us to include Jane Flett in our first issue. She is an award-winning writer with a daring approach to creation — her writing challenges the reader with an accomplished sense of clarity. Her moving ‘flash fiction’ makes us question the choices we make to rethink the personalities we have become.

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Dressing and dancing
In an overwhelmingly eclectic, interconnected and impatient digital world, the process of creation is often overlooked. By bringing this eclecticism to print we aim to bring the experience of creation closer, to make it more tangible. Paloma Wool is an exciting project about getting dressed; about how spaces and/or ideas are created around the act of getting dressed. We talked to Paloma Lanna about her collaboration with her friends and how they constantly challenge and re-interpret concepts into many wonderful forms.


Ambiguous yet familiar, physically present yet floating away

Jocelyn is a young and promising illustrator whose drawings take you to ambiguous yet somehow familiar scenarios. In our short but rewarding conversation she reflects on the connection between the tangible and the intangible. Her work skilfully highlights the tension between physical presence and emotional transience.  



In a highly critical written piece, Martyn Reed expresses his personal experiences through a creative narrative to touch on topics like domestic violence, racism, critical theory, class-war and feminism. His story is a rollercoaster ride that deals with difficult questions and tackles duality head on, from the perspective of a man who has had such a transformative effect on the world around him. We have followed his often controversial opinions and cultural activism for almost a decade now and are truly excited to have him in our inaugural issue.


Things that never really worked out — Most things

Our creatives are the heart and soul of the magazine. It is their honest and personal reflection on their journeys that inject life into our conceptual themes. Richie Culver seemed like a perfect candidate for our first issue, as his goal for creation is not chasing any particular result, but out of pure self-expression. In addition to his reputation as a brilliant artist, what we discovered was a highly personable and trusting character who did not shy away from difficult topics such as mental health, life as an outsider artist and “three crazy years in Berlin”.

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