Juxtapoz Psychedelic

Juxtapoz Psychedelic

Trippy Visual Art — The world's biggest art magazine goes back to its freaky roots for new book Juxtapoz Psychedelic, out now.

Juxtapoz was founded in 1994 by a group of artists and collectors – including Fausto Vitello (founder of Thrasher, Juxtapoz‘s skate-and-destroy-minded big brother) and legendary Dogtown photographer C.R. Stecyk III – with a mission statement to “help define and celebrate urban alternative and underground contemporary art”.

Twenty years since that colourful inception, the magazine – made from San Francisco with a focus on Southern Californian pop culture in antithesis to the high-brow New York art world – has grown to become one of the most influential platforms for non-institutional art on the planet (it actually has the largest circulation of any art magazine in the world too).

Visionaries like Barry McGee, ESPO, Geoff McFetridge, Raymond Pettibon and Ron English have all had covers and the magazine, now under the mindful guidance of Fausto’s widow Gwynn Vitello, uses its iconic status to make great things happen like getting Tom Waits and John Baldessari in conversation for their Halloween issue last year.

As well as monthly print issues, a dynamic website and a beautifully produced video channel, Juxtapoz also curate books on everything from handmade curios to game-changing tats. Their new book Juxtapoz Psychedelic, edited by the mag’s current editor and artist Hannah Stouffer, goes back to the hot rod roots of the publication to celebrate the niche and mind-bending genre of psychedelia. We caught up with Hannah to find out more.

What exactly is Juxtapoz Psychedelic?
Juxtapoz Psychedelic serves as both a story of the magazine’s origins and current state, with Psychedelic Art once again emerging as a fascinating and endlessly experimental genre. In the book, published by Gingko Press, I intentionally included both classic names such as Alex Grey and Keiichi Tanaami as well as a new generation of universe expanders like Killian Eng, Steven Harrington and Andy Gilmore. Juxtapoz Psychedelic is a gorgeous example of the new psychedelic generation for visionaries and enthusiasts alike.

How did the project come about?
The idea behind the book came about while realising the reemergence of psychedelic tendencies in contemporary society. While it has become more visible in the past five to ten years, for numerous reasons, it also never really left. It seemed like an interesting and relevant genre to explore in terms of contemporary visual art.

What is the narrative tying all the artists together?
Aesthetically, the narrative relates back to a common visual thread, that more often than not is based in our own preconceptions of what we know of psychedelic art, mainly stemming from the late 1960s. While every artist certainly has their own take on this, incorporating their own visual language, there was this connection back to classic psychedelia that bound the images together in one way or another.

Can you describe some of your favourite pieces from the book?
Honestly, the book is a collection of many of my favourite artists, friends and inspirations. It would be impossible to single any of it out, as the entire reason it came together was because of my attraction to every person’s work in some intense way or another. I’m enamoured by the work of many of my close friends and was also able to include the work of those that I’ve looked up to for years, though have yet to meet. It was an honour and a privilege to be able to work this close to many of them and bring the book to fruition.

As curator, what were the challenges in presenting these diverse artists’ work together? How did you overcome those challenges?
It’s always interesting between which works of an artist you’re most attracted to and which they feel are most suiting. Art is so subjective that it is almost guaranteed your taste will differ from somebody else’s, or how they want to be portrayed. Just because I’m drawn to a particular piece doesn’t necessarily mean the artist would want to use it as their most relevant work, direction or current progression. I like to be able to delegate and curate the work specifically, but it’s important for each artist to express their vision, and where they’re currently at.

What were the major inspirations for the book?
Psychedelics, apparently. I have seen a few great books with this as a common theme in the past couple years, but not with such a breadth or depth of contemporary artists. Initially, we had hoped to include more of the classic masters from the early movement of psychedelics, but it becomes rather tricky when trying to gain the rights and usage with those that are no longer with us.

How do you hope the book will have an impact with readers?
Truthfully, I just want to be able to share something that I find stimulating and interesting, and so far, the response has been very positive. It’s exciting.

Will you be working on a follow-up project?
The book launch and exhibition at The Well in LA was a sort of follow-up to the book, as I continued to bring in other visual artists that worked more in animation, sculpture and sound that weren’t as easily displayed in the book. I was fortunate to have an amazing space to work with, as The Well granted Juxtapoz usage of their building in downtown Los Angeles to have a proper book release event. It was incredible in every regard and I feel very fortunate to have brought the book to the public this way. The next publication I work on will be of a different subject, but you never know, the psychedelic theme could easily be revisited in the next couple years. I certainly didn’t cover everyone.

You can buy Juxtapoz Psychedelic from the Juxtapoz website and see the exhibition at The Well until May 13.