Giant urban centers used to be the only place to find thriving and dynamic artist communities. In the Cyber Age, however, creatives have fled the big cities. Outpost Journal was born out of this phenomenon. The brand new non-profit publication centers on art, design and community action in "traditionally underexposed" locations, each issue exploring one of these cities from end to end. I chatted with Creative Director/Co-Editor, Pete Oyler, to find out what makes
Greg Luna: What do you think is precipitating the movement of artists from larger American cities to smaller urban areas?
Pete Oyler: Two things, the Internet and cash. At this point, technology has allowed for people anywhere to be connected and plugged into of-the-moment thoughts, movements, and creative happenings. The fantasy of ‘making it’ in a city like New York seems to be dissipating––more and more artists are choosing smaller cities. The reality of needing to work 40+ hours a week in a NYC restaurant to pay rent doesn’t necessarily allow for peace of mind or quality studio time. The question of how artists living outside of the mainstream art market get the notice they deserve––in their own region as well as in the main centers of art and commerce––is a big part of what fuels Outpost.
GL: What does Outpost Journal look for in an urban landscape? What makes each outpost an "outpost?"
PO: Good question. An outpost in the context of our magazine is a city that exists and thrives outside the pillars of mainstream art and design markets (NY, LA, London, Paris, Milan). We’re looking for vibrant creative communities. We’re looking for activist culture. We’re looking for cities with a unique artistic voice. In terms of a literal urban landscape, we’re completely open.
GL: Why did you choose Pittsburgh for your inaugural issue?
PO: Manya (our Co-Editor) and I both had a gut instinct about it. Given that Outpost
’s focus is on smaller urban areas that are underexposed beyond their local context, Pittsburgh made good sense. It's home to the Warhol Museum, the awesome installation-focused Mattress Factory, and lots of really talented artists and innovative non-profits. Unless you’re a huge football fan, Pittsburgh can easily be off of the cultural radar.
GL: What surprised you most about Pittsburgh?
PO: I’d always heralded Chicago as the city that took serious pride in their public art, but I was floored by the fact that nearly every street in Pittsburgh showcased a mural by a local artist. Art is so central to the culture, energy, and feel of place. Art has this very awesome potential to make people feel better, think differently, and use their imagination. Pittsburgh really gets that.
GL: Outpost Journal 's design is really unique. It's super graphic but not stuffy or self-serious. What was your aesthetic aim for the publication?
PO: Creatively, we wanted the publication to be critical with a sense of levity, exploration and playfulness. Aesthetically, we wanted the magazine to be edgy, imaginative, and thoughtful. Our Design Director Jay did a stellar job in bringing the creative zeitgeist of the magazine to life.
GL: Your team is New York-based but has roots in Providence, Rhode Island. I've spent a lot of time in PVD and think it's one of the most exciting artist communities around. How did Providence inspire Outpost Journal?
PO: Our core team consists of myself, Manya Rubinstein, and Jay Peter Salvas. Manya and I met in Providence, and Jay and I both went to RISD. I think Providence has been a real inspiration for all of us—the artists living and working there are producing some really interesting, top-notch work, and the sense of community is really incredible. That said, for people unfamiliar with Providence, there is often this sense of “Providence? What’s even there?” We’ll definitely be doing a Providence issue at some point down the line...
GL: AS220 is an awesome Providence-based artist organization. What kind of impact does an organization like theirs have on artist communities in smaller urban areas?
PO: AS220 IS awesome. They are actually our fiscal sponsor. So, in a very direct sense they are helping enable projects like Outpost
. They also act as one of the real epicenters in town, drawing the artist community together and providing programs that help those artists reach new audiences. Part of AS220s mission is to provide unjuried, uncensored space to show work for artists of all levels.
GL: What other "outpost" cities should be on our radar?
PO: There really are so many: Savannah, GA; Portland, ME; Baltimore, MD; Houston, TX; Louisville, KY; Tuscon, AZ; Grand Rapids, MI; Kansas City, MO…. And those are just in the US. I really could go on and on. Artists, innovators, and cultural activists are thriving in smaller urban areas and we’re looking forward to meeting as many of them as we can. If any of you reading this want to throw us a bone, post some “outpost” city suggestions on our FB page
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