Work Magazine and Gloria Noto are national treasures. As art, fashion, design and music become increasingly co-opted by the world of corporate marketing, we need tastemakers and champions of the underground ever more with each passing season. Gloria — like the best of the best who have come before her — follows her instinct when curating exhilarating content for Work; she knows it when she sees it because she feels it. Work Magazine can now be found in rooms at Ace Hotel & Swim Club — leaving your room with one in the morning and reading it by the pool with a Bloody Mary and French Toast breakfast is highly recommended.
We wanted to ask Gloria about her background, her work and her daydreams. She obliged.
You grew up in Detroit. Being from the archetypical blue-collar American city must have something to do with the magazine’s proletarian name.
That is a very interesting angle. It very well could have been a part of the many ingredients that make up the basis of the title and concept of The Work Magazine. Growing up in Detroit gave me a fierce work ethic and follow through with the things I set out to accomplish. To be from Detroit means to be a fighter and a hard worker. It’s tough out there, so you have to be tough with it.
What does the magazine as a blank canvas mean to you as people, artists, citizens?
Each time I launch an Issue, the very next day, I am faced with another blank canvas and all the hopes and dreams I would like to set to accomplish with the following issue. Having the magazine be such a great platform for myself to express and connect my feelings and interests to the world is such a great feeling for me…to connect…that’s all we really want to do itsn’t it? And then there is the greater purpose of The Work Magazine, to be a blank canvas for those involved. To help them push the limits to submit something of the issues concept, but submit something that forces them to think outside the box, or get out side of their comfort zone. And now take that one step higher, and reach the reader…having them hold that once blank canvas in their hands and shown something they haven’t seen in other magazines, or in general, and to teach them something new, to give them something new to store in a crinkle of their brain. Like before mentioned, to connect. That’s what a blank canvas means to me.
Does it feel like work?
A lot of people say that if you love what you do, it will never feel like work…I disagree! Yes it feels like work, because it is work. It takes a lot of time, a lot of back and forth and searching, a lot of bumps, etc. And when you are a very small family that mainly does this as a labor of love, it takes even more work. But with that said, the work is so gratifying, and such a learning experience with every individual I meet, or bump that I encounter, that it makes the work enjoyable at even it’s harder points. I am lucky to have a strong team that keeps things together for me when I feel like I am at my last, and a team that is constantly bringing new and interesting point of views to the table. Without them, there would be a really sad magazine. So yes, it feels like work, but who says a work feeling can’t be a good feeling!?
What has inspired you in the last 24 hours or so?
My girlfriend Ally and the little pow-wow conversations we have while taking a very long walk around the SilverLake Reservoir. We get on topics of work often and have such a great banter on back and forth ideas on what we want to accomplish and how we can do these things. And then there was the neighborhood I was walking in while having this conversation, Silverlake is such an inspiring little town full of beautiful homes, nature, artistic people, and amazing food… Every time I walk in my neighborhood I feel a dueling sense of peace and excitement. I can feel the creative energy all around me and that makes me feel creative in return.
If you were packing your bags and leaving LA today, where would you be moving to?
Are we talking realistically here? Because I would have to take into account where I could continue to work, if that was the case. But since I have a feeling that you don’t mean a realistic answer, I would say Berlin. I haven’t been yet, but I think it would work out.
Why did The Work need to be?
The Work Magazine needed to be because I needed an outlet to be. I am a makeup artist as well, and am constantly surrounded by these amazing individuals whom I thought deserved recognition, rather than the same bull shit that I would see over and over again in magazines, used only because the client would be paying them for product placement rather than because the item or the concept had soul. I felt that a lot of soul was missing from publications and that I also wanted to leave a mark on the transitioning magazine world. I wanted to show the world what I thought was interesting and to hopefully have them share the same view, and in doing so, share these amazing artists with the world.
Do you have a favorite magazine on airplanes?
I don’t have a specific one, but I did grab the most recent issues of BUST, LOVE, GentleWoman, and Dosier, and a new favorite Kinfolk on my last flight to NYC. They helped me through the whole flight.
If a fictional character was curating an issue of The Work, who would it be?
Someone with a severe case of schizophrenia, ADD, and great taste. Maybe Andy Warhol.
Mike Mills is an artist, filmmaker, photographer, musician, handsome gentleman and multi-disciplinary imagination vessel. His recent film Beginners arrives on the heels of decades of nimble, idiosyncratic and hella special work like his other films Thumbsucker and Paperboys (among others) and his music videos for Yoko Ono and Air, as well as album covers for Sonic Youth, Beastie Boys and Ol’ Dirty Bastard. If you saw him in that seminal documentary of outsider art, Beautiful Losers, you probably remember what an eloquent voice he has on behalf of his craft, and on behalf of being human. That voice, carried over into his film, print and other work, is what moves us so deeply.
Mike has created a pair of limited edition printed posters for Commune — the group of people who helped design Ace Hotel & Swim Club, and old friends of Ace; you can see some behind-the-scene shots of Mike working on the posters on their blog here. The prints are centered on civil disobedience, and we had a chance to ask the man in question about what counts as disobedience and why color is a power tool.
You are civilly disobedient in much of your work — both via civil disobedience and by being civil while being disobedient. Is art a friendly way to disobey? Does being friendly make change more possible in the world?
Who was it that said if you’re going to break some laws you should dress nicely as to not be detected. I think that’s a powerful metaphor. I think the art world is actually too open for disobedience to be very impactful, that’s partly why I prefer to work in the design context or the entertainment world — while there is less room for subversion, I feel that what you can get away with in that context just has more traction in terms of making the world a bit more open. And lastly, yes, I love courtesy, friendliness, empathy and manners and I think all those qualities can be lethally subversive.
You’ve designed books, scarves, advertisements, music videos, fabrics and probably a bunch of stuff no one but you has ever seen. How do all the mediums you’ve used inform one another? When you’re designing or imagining, do you have a specific medium in mind? How does this change when you’re working on a commission or for a specific brand or project?
I very often just have ‘interests’ or maybe they’re obsessions and things on my heart and mind that are churning, churning, churning, and they come out in whatever opportunity is in front of me (a shirt, part of a script, a record cover, etc.). And yes, something I do in an art show can totally help me figure out a problem I’m having with a script, or something I learn doing a record cover can teach me about how I want to film something. I think I took my Bauhaus book I got in high school way too seriously and I thought this was how it was going to be in the future, everyone was gonna have multidiscplinary artistic lives, and that most of those ‘discplines’ were little lies made up by cultural institutions and schools anyways.
Color and you seem to have a great relationship. You have a way with gold foil. And Beginners has some beautiful full-screen color blocks. Is it California-born blood that brings out all this color? What does it mean to you? Can bright colors be sad? Can gold be depressing?
To be honest, I don’t totally know where all that came from. My father was, in addition to an art historian, a flag designer and did really amazing work that was always around the house. My mother loved minimalist art and color-field paintings, and I do carry that with me. I often feel a simple field of color says so much, is gorgeously open-ended and inviting, and, like music, works on a much more interesting and powerful subconscious level. And let’s face it, color is cheap — you get a lot of bang for your buck with a field of color and I really admire and respect that simple power.
What’s it like to make a movie about relationships when you’re in a relationship with someone who makes movies about relationships? Do you find yourselves in there sometimes, or is it a kind of therapeutic fiction (knowing that fiction is a great form of truth-telling)?
"24 Hours at Ace" — a gallery show of instant analog photography on Ace Hotel x Impossible Project film — migrates from Ace Hotel New York to The Impossible Project Space Tokyo, June 22-July 8, 2012. The exhibit features works by friends of Ace Hotel and The Impossible Project including Andie Acosta, Chloe Aftel, Elijah Wood, Adam Goldberg, Nicole Held, Araks Yeramyan, Jeremy Kost, Anne Bowerman, Michael Nevin, Steve Olson, Dave Ortiz, Devon Turnbull, Pat Sansone and work captured by influencers in Japan curated by The Impossible Project Space Tokyo. If you’re in the neighborhood, come see us.
We’ll present a follow-up gallery show at Ace Hotel New York in fall 2012 featuring photos submitted by fans of Ace and Impossible to our online gallery. Stay tuned.