Buffalo Zine Makes Fancy Print Mags Funny Again
it's a magazine that goes through a complete redesign for every issue, and puts the humour back into the world of fashion publications.
If you really sat down and tried, you could turn a lot of pages in the span of 30 days. While we provide you with about 120 of those pages every month, it turns out VICE isn't the only magazine in the world. This series, Ink Spots, is a helpful guide to which of those zines, pamphlets, and publications you should be reading when you're not reading ours.
Considering Ink Spots has its two-year birthday this month, it feels strange that we haven't talked about Buffalo Zine yet. Intelligent without conceit, funny without focusing on funny people, and with an ever-changing aesthetic identity, it really is a magazine at the vanguard of print culture.
Buffalo was founded in 2011 by creative director Adrián González-Cohen and art director and graphic designer David Uzquiza, two exceptionally talented Spanish creatives who met one another back in 1999 while they were students. The long-term friendship, they say, makes the process of making Buffalo a semi-harmonious one. And we can see how it would get stressful—for each issue, the pair totally overhaul the magazine's design, starting from scratch. Issue one took three and a half years to put together, issues two and three took two years each.
Issue four, the most recent, came quicker, since Adrián and David both moved to London in early 2016 to focus on the magazine. And the result is a delight, featuring seven different covers (each a piss-take/throwback that sends up fashion mags of yesteryear), a focus on the concept of desire, as well as an interview in which the iconic artist Jeff Koons goes shopping in Berlin with the luxurious Gloria, Princess of Thurn and Taxis. Its masthead reads like a who's who of European photographers and stylists, and the content is thought-provoking and humorous, wavering from sardonic style guides to conversations between modern philosophers. In order to give Buffalo Zine the treatment it deserves, we emailed David and Adrián a few questions about their amazing print "baby."
VICE: Describe Buffalo in a sentence.
Adrián González-Cohen: Like the radio station we've been listening to lately at the office: Jazzy Funky Kool.
David Uzquiza: Like a stampede of horny buffalos.
Has that changed at all since it's inception?
David: For every new issue, everything changes—from the logo, to the format, layout, themes... We think aesthetics are in constant evolution, so Buffalo needs to be too. It's not about reflecting current aesthetic trends, but doing what we feel at the moment. So far, we've come up with the idea of making an issue about a concept, and the aesthetic has followed. And also the other way around, coming up with the idea of making an issue focused on a determined aesthetic, and then the themes and ideas for the content follow. It's liberating not to be constrained to a specific structure, look, or design.
When you first started the publication, what were some of your biggest challenges?
Adrián: Pretty much the same as now: advertising. TBH, we didn't think about advertising at the beginning, as we did the first issue just as a hobby, for the joy of doing it together. We wanted a newspaper format, and it was very cheap to print, but the minimum run was 3000 copies. We kept them all in our friend's garage and it was a spooky amount. So then we decided to distribute it. Basically, our first baby wasn't an expected one.
David: Also living in two different countries and dealing with shitty Skype connections [was difficult].
How did you build the right team?
Adrián: Basically, we haven't. It's been pretty much David and me. Some friends joined us for the first issue, and in this last one we had the tremendous help of Liam Hess, who has joined us as Deputy Editor. And also our friend Andrea Lazarov who helps us with special projects, merch, digital... modern things.
David: We need to expand the team: interns, dealers, all that stuff... but we are too busy to get help.
Do you ever argue with one another creatively?
Adrián: OMG, every freaking day. When there is violence involved, nobody wins.
You've just dropped issue four—talk me through the many covers.
Adrián: Philippe Jarrigeon shot two of the seven covers with the amazing model Lea Rostain. In one of them, Lea is wearing this Perspex bodysuit by Alyx that we love and also pretend is a sauna suit to lose weight! Charlotte Wales shot that Americana cover with upcoming beauty Skylar Tartz. We love Charlotte because she has a unique tension between extremely perfect and "something went wrong."
David: Oliver Hadlee Pearch shot model Kiera Rose Gormley and her son on top of a Henry Hoover. The Henry Hoover is one of the most eccentric objects British people have ever popularized. We are always perplexed by Henry [the vacuum], and he definitely deserved a cover. Then, we have three limited edition covers by Reto Schmid, featuring icons Isabelle Huppert, Juliette Binoche, and Emmanuelle Seigner playing society renegades. We couldn't think of better cover girls for this issue.
The first thing I noticed in the issue was that, alongside real ads, you've got spreads of Kalen Hollomon's work—collages masquerading as Céline and Chanel ads. Why did you want to feature him?
David: Kalen's remixes of advertising campaigns have been making us laugh for some time. In addition to his good taste, we appreciate the sense of humor—something we value big time. Sometimes [his work is] a bit hardcore and incorrect, like when he plays with delicate issues like mixing poverty and high fashion. Others are simply aesthetically pleasant and beautiful.
Why did it feel like the right time to do an issue on desire?
David: Like Yann Dall'Aglio says, humans are obsessed with being liked, being valued, being accepted, and being loved: "Am I desirable? How desirable? How many people are going to love me? And how do we respond to this anxiety? By hysterically collecting symbols of desirability: Luxury."
I cant believe you got a story where Gloria, Princess of Thorn and Taxis goes shopping with Jeff Koons...
Adrián: Our deputy editor, Liam Hess, wrote Gloria using an email address he found online. Gloria herself replied and she started proposing and organizing everything. She came up with the idea of two interviews, one with [former American Vogue Editor-at-Large] André Leon Talley and another one with Jeff Koons in this store in Berlin. She organized a photoshoot at her castle. She's a smart, grounded, hardworking princess and made a great guest editor. Oh, and she has real sense of humor as well.
What are some of the other highlights of issue four?
David: I would have never thought that we had the slightest chance of Emmanuelle Seigner saying yes to the story in the issue. She didn't only say yes, but actually was up for being shot drinking cans of beer sitting on a park bench in daylight. Or that Isabelle Huppert would be up for it. I mean, she's supposed to be really intense and hard to get, but actually she was really light and easy!
Adrián: She never wants to do anything for any magazine, apparently she keeps saying no to Vogue.
How important is humor to Buffalo?
Adrián: For me, right now, humor is the most important thing in general in life.
David: I heard that serious mags are over...
A last thought on desire: Yann Dall'Aglio's excellent essay at the beginning of the issue explains how "we only accumulate objects in order to communicate with other minds." The idea being that all purchases are signifiers, with which we're trying to put out desirable signals. After making this issue, do you really believe that?
David: That essay actually comes from a lecture on TED Talks. When we first saw it, we were really moved and thought there was something really special in there. I had never seen anyone talking about materialism in a positive light before, actually the very opposite. It made me feel sympathy and tenderness for myself and everyone else. I think we really have no clue on how to be desirable, so we turn to acquiring things that will make us look more special to others. We thought that was something worth talking about.
Adrian: I think every single body gesture we do is to ultimately communicate with others and be loved. The way you hold a [cigarette]. I think humans are very cute, like little squirrels. Also very stupid.
Issue four of 'Buffalo Zine' is out now. Visit the magazine's website for more from the amazing publication.
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