Behind the scenes: Aint-Bad magazine

by Steve Watson in January 2015
Art & design

A photography magazine started by students studying together at university in Savannah, Georgia, Aint-Bad has just reached its eighth issue with a special focus on the American South.

I caught up with co-editors Carson Sanders and Taylor Curry to find out how the magazine has developed since those early days of extra-curricular activities, and as you’ll see from the interview below, they talked over each other and finished each other’s thoughts in the way that only close collaborators can.

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I really enjoyed the latest issue of Aint-Bad magazine. How did you start?
Carson: Aint-Bad started in 2011 when Taylor and I met, and we had this idea to create a sort of online community.

Taylor: Carson asked me to make a website for his personal photography, but we ended up becoming friends and the magazine was born out of the website. The website existed to showcase work by photographers we liked, but we realised that as photographers we appreciate the tactile quality of print, so we decided to make a printed catalogue of the members’ work. That first issue was funded by the five original members, with just 100 copies printed digitally.

Carson: We were all still in school at this point, so it was something we were doing as a project after class, critiquing our own work and finding other photographers as well.

Taylor: When issue one came out it was well received, and that made us realise we could keep going with it and do something more.

Carson: After issue two came out in fall 2011 we thought we needed to increase our quality and production size, so that’s when we had a Kickstarter campaign at the end of 2011 to fund issue three. That’s the first time we went to an offset press, and it was a big learning experience for all of us. It was the first time we’d spent that much money on making something…

Taylor: And it really took us to the next level and meant we could take the proceeds from that magazine and put it into the next issue.

Carson: And from the next issue we’re going biannual, which will allow us to make a bigger product – it will be 276 pages and a larger size, so it’s a really big step for us.

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It sounds like you fell into making this print magazine kind of by accident, but I’ve read your manifesto and your motivations are incredibly deliberate. Your last point in the manifesto really leapt out at me – the idea that you’re historians because the photos you take today will live forever. I definitely got a sense of that reading the magazine.

Carson: The original five members, and especially Taylor and myself, we are photographers at the end of the day. And we all lean towards this documentary style of photography, so both our photographs and this publication are a record of our time here.

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I loved getting that glimpse of life in the American South with the current issue. What drew you to the region as a subject?

Taylor: I graduated in 2012 and moved up to New York, and three years later Carson and I both ended up back here. We probably thought we’d have gone off all around the world, but we were back in the American South working for the college that produced us and made us who we are…

Carson: We’d talked a lot in earlier issues about honing in on one specific region or country, but we were thinking about maybe somewhere in Europe or Russia and we never really did anything with it. So we came back to the idea and decided to make an issue based around where we’re from, and really grow our name in the southeast of America and build from there. So we did a call for entry asking for work made in the 13 states we deemed the American South, and the response was overwhelming.

We got submissions from all over the world – we got an artist from France who happened to come to America and photograph Elvis’s hometown, and it gave this really great perspective on the American South. It’s definitely been our most successful issue – probably partly because we are from the south, but also because the content is beautiful.

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There’s a lot of beauty, but also a lot of decay as well. How would you characterise the picture you’ve created of the American South?

Carson: We try to have a wide representation of the South, picking artists that have shot in multiple states rather than just one or two. In Savannah, Georgia, where we’re from you do see a lot of that decay, and I personally have come to think of it as very beautiful.

In our industry you constantly hear that you have to move to New York, or you have to move to California, so it’s great to see work that’s being made by contemporary artists right here, and to see how they represent this really unique part of the country. We’re consistently fascinated by it.

Discover more beautiful magazines – take a look at the current Stack line up and read interviews with their creators





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