Junior Magazine is a new photography publication spearheaded by Ellius Grace and George Voronov. Junior’s main aim is to give a platform to young photographers in Ireland and to establish a community around them.
The theme of the first issue is appropriately ‘Youth’ and the various ways that term can be approached in 2016.
We caught up with George and Ellius to look deeper into their reasoning behind starting Junior, why they chose The Library Project to launch it and how they decided on the photographers they would feature.
Click here to view their Kickstarter and get the magazine off the ground.
Thanks for coming to meet me today. From what snippets I’ve seen, the magazine looks like an interesting take on adolescence and beyond. To begin I suppose, why did you start Junior Magazine and what was the ethos behind this?
Ellius: I guess it was George’s idea first. He felt that there didn’t seem to be enough of a community for young documentary photographers. So it kind of went from there. We decided we wanted to make this kind of new community and bring people together with the publication, to showcase these artists who do all of this work for themselves and generally don’t get any sort of spotlight or any sort of pedestal.
George: Yeah I think at the moment there seems to be a big thing about young people doing things like starting publications or running club nights or just kind of ‘doing things’ with other young people, but then at the same time there’s kind of like this lack of a community for younger photographers.
It’s kind of like isolated people are doing their own thing in that area.
So the theme of the publication, the common thread, is community.
George: One of the first things that we said was that we definitely don’t want the magazine to be like “Alright guys, throw in your 10 best photographs and we’ll take it from there”. We want it to have a big project focus, telling some sort of story. It will be cohesive but also have a mix of different styles and different ways of telling stories. The actual theme for the first issue is youth.
I saw the photo of bonfires in Dublin 8 and an interesting one of a man with tattoos on his back.
Ellius: That second one is Mark McGuinness. He’s living in Copenhagen right now, basically every time he comes back he’s been doing this long drawn out project about transition into adulthood. I think it’s good that, for this issue anyway, all the photographers doing the projects are taking an Irish approach, or at least a theme with an Irish thread.
Is there any influences or any sort of Irish publications that you both draw inspiration from?
George: Honestly, we didn’t follow a template. It’s not to say that there isn’t stuff that’s worth while though. We just wanted to do it kind of on its own merit.
I am a total nerd for photobooks and photo magazines though. There is an amazing french magazine called ‘Selector’ and what they do is slightly different because they have each issue of the magazine dedicated to one photographer. It’s a really high quality magazine. It’s the closest a magazine gets to a coffee table book basically.
What I really like about it is that it kind of introduces you to the artist. It shows you the work and gives you this understanding on why they’re so good. I guess something like that is what we try to incorporate into Junior.
You mentioned there that Selector explains the background of the photographer. Is there going to be editorial as well or will it be more of a photobook?
Ellius: I think it’s probably closer to a photobook. The way we have it set out is that the first couple of pages will be an introduction but we’re saying that there’s no features just the work. So each artist has a spread to show off a preview or a section of a project, it has to be an unpublished project or an unfinished one and then in between each sections there is just a text with the photographers explanation of the project.
If the photographs aid some sort of theme or words or a different experience then it’s valid, but because the photographs are our content means we have to try and do justice to them.
George: It kind of locks you into a way of doing things, because we’ve decided that it’s going to be a pure visual thing and then you’re like, “Ok fuck that means we have to get really good quality paper and it has to be printed really, really well!” It kind of bit us on the ass in another way because, well, we can’t really fucking have ads now can we (Laughs)!
So that’s exactly why we ended up wanting to to the Kickstarter because basically you want to make it right, without random ads.
You’re going to launch it in The Library Project. What made you have it there?
George: It’s not only one of my favorite places in Dublin but it’s also the perfect place for what we’re doing. Ellius went in and spoke to Angel who runs it. He was so supportive and is the biggest photo book nerd in the country (Laughs)! The Library Project is basically his own personal collection.
Ellius: Since it’s opened I’ve used it to research things, having all these resources is so important for me. Since we started planning the launch we thought The Library Project would be the most legitimising place for this launch. To have their support is almost like a blessing because I think the Library Project and Photo Ireland are huge advocates for the photography community in Dublin and even Ireland.
George: It’s funny, just to go back to the whole Irish magazines and publications inspiring Junior, now that I think about it, going into The Library Project and seeing Irish photographers and their books either self published or super small run and then just even seeing all the weird little zines that Angel has in the shop, not that any one of them significantly inspired us stylistically, but it kind of created a real subconscious kick up the ass to do something.
That’s really interesting. How did you decide on the photographers you were going to use?
George: Awh man (Laughs)… We had a few different ways. Ellius went to NCAD so he’s a lot more contact in the general creative scene.
Ellius: I guess in NCAD there’s no photography course so there’s not a lot of photographers there, but generally every year four photographers come to the college and about two will pursue it as a career.
I wrote down a large list of people in anyway viable to put in this magazine. Someone like Nicholas (Photos above and below), he’s the best example of the people we want. He does so much work every day but it’s just for himself. Every time I talk to him he goes, “I don’t really care where this goes I just really enjoy it”.
He’s going to go far and i hope we can help that happen. The trait in the photographer we were looking for was sort of somebody who has a unique vision and perspective but also is doing work that is not motivated by money.
George: Ellius kind of took the more personal approach to like, as for me, I didn’t go to art school, I went to Trinity and did an arts degree. I did the real dry way of looking for people. I opened up a database of every single photography grad show and scrolled through every single person’s website (Laughs).
But similarly, I was looking out for people who had an approach to photography where they had a story to tell or wanted to talk about something.
Mark McGuinness is good friends with the guys in Girl Band and Meltybrains? and he shot tour diaries for them. It was really good work. It wasn’t polished, it was more like “Holy fuck I’m on tour with these guys”. That sort of shit really sticks out to me anyway.
Is that sort of rawness prevalent in the magazine ?
George: I think one of the greatest strengths of it is that there is like a real mix of styles. Nicholas shoots it in black and white, he hand processes it, hand prints it like the real deal and then you have somebody like Cait Fahey who shoots like crisp color, sharp that’s clinical and it’s not raw in the punk rock kind of way but they both kind of provide different side in talking about being young.
Its really cool in that way. You have the raw side of it certainly but you have the intimate side of it also where you have Cait shooting her brother as he goes through puberty. It just seems like a really nice intimate document, because as someone who fucking loves punk and loves gritty black and white I still think there’s also so much more to being young.
Ellius: It’s less edgy, there’s more energy to it. I think the energy facilitates all the different styles. I think that’s what we have through all of the different photographers work is this real youthful energy.
Junior Magazine’s Kickstarter campaign needs support. Click here to get them closer to their target. Click here for information about their launch night.
Photos by Nicholas Harpur