Friday, 07 November 2014 00:13

& Of Other Things

Written by Hoa Le

As the domestic arts scene gets more varied and specialised, Hoa Le talks to the founders of an online magazine that’s trying to keep pace. Photo by Nick Ross

 

Launched earlier this year, & Of Other Things — an online magazine
dedicated mainly to art and creativity
in Hanoi — has already developed
a following of art lovers in the city, both
expats and Vietnamese.
Pure, simple, but elegantly designed and
easy to navigate, the website demonstrates
a good range of quality photography, artist
interviews, videos and stories.

 

“We wanted to create a magazine where
we can look for ideas and inspirations
through local artists — rather than just
looking to the West,” says Rose Arnold, Word Hanoi’s former staff editor and one of
the two founders of the site.

 

Co-founder Fabiola Buchele, an Austrian resident of Hanoi with a journalistic background, agrees. “While we have loads of material in the
West documenting our artists and the art
scene, that really doesn’t exist here. And we
felt like it should.”

 

Since starting out, their team has now grown to 23 people with the addition of volunteer writers,
photographers and translators.

 

Out of the Box

 

Though the content of the website has
become more diverse, & Of Other Things has
stayed on top of the city’s art scene. Their
monthly In the Studio and Things about Me
columns have revealed many interesting
’behind the scenes’ stories from the
workshops of talented artists and creators
in town. The topics are diverse — from music, painting and photography to theatre,
dancing, films and even cartoons.

 

Among their favourite pieces, Fabiola’s
still amazed she had a chance to get to
know Ha Tri Hieu, a grandmaster of
Vietnamese modern art but super humble;
or to interview Le Giang and Le Hoang
Bich Phuong, two up-and-coming female
artists. Through these meetings, she has again
got the sense that she’s part of a growing
community.

 

When asked how they choose subjects to
feature, Fabiola says, “We wanted to feature
artists who are doing something different,
coming up with original styles, setting
trends rather than following established
styles.”
On some occasions, artists from other
Asian countries like Korea or Singapore are
featured in the magazine — their way of
reaching out and looking for inspiration in
the East. Although the site is currently art heavy, the team says they aim is to expand their
coverage to take on more aspects of life. The
fact that they chose the name & Of Other Things
also carries this intention — aside from the
visually appealing quality of the ampersand.

 

Back in the UK, Rose used to have a big
drawer packed with weird stuff from artists
that inspired her, which she collected over
time from torn-out articles, obituaries of
interesting people, snippets from plays and
cool scientific memorabilia.

 

“While I’m interested in art, I think that
most topics can be interesting. We want
to broaden the content somewhat, and
the name is a reminder to us to carry on
looking outside of art, at other things. It
doesn’t limit us, instead it inspires us to
look more widely,” says Rose. They wanted
a publication that could support fairly
weighty issues alongside playlists, fashion,
interviews, beautiful things and more.

 

The only topic they’re avoiding at the
moment is travel. Explains Rose, “There is so much travel
writing already and it’s often a tricky to
create a really good piece, with an informed,
involved angle, and without the element of
outsiders talking about their perspective on
a place they don’t really know about.”

 

Growing Despite Challenges

 

In this early stage, they’re not yet focused on
turning a profit — instead they’re running
on passion, and the generous voluntary
contributions of freelancers.

 

Sadie Christie, associate editor, has been a key member of the team since before the site went live: writing, editing and managing social media.

 

“The evolving contemporary art and culture scene here is what drew me to Hanoi. So when I got the opportunity to work hard with these wonderful women, monetary motivations had nothing to do with it. The value of this experience lies in the passion for connecting with the energy in this city and developing my skills.”

 

Adds Fabiola: “When we first started, we thought we
would have to try and make money from
the site. But actually we would
hate to compromise doing whatever we feel
needs doing for the sake of being popular
and getting advertisers.”

 

Being not able to pay staff, however,
means that the magazine relies on interns,
which also results in a quick turnover of
their key contributors. There is an urgent
need for important positions, such as a
sub-editor.

 

“It makes me cringe a bit, publishing
things I know will have errors,” says Rose, “but not so
much as to not do the project because of it.
But a sub-editor is definitely on the wish
list.”

 

To see what they’re heading towards, and
to get an inside view of local artists, visit
andofotherthings.com

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