We caught up with Melbourne based creative Ben, founder of THSLFE magazine. Asking him a few questions about the magazines third issue, being a creative living in Footscray and how he goes about collaborating with artists.
Ben has been an important figure in unifying the creative scene and culture in Australia, the launch of issue 3 last night produced huge numbers with over 250 people attending the event. A huge success for Ben and all those involved with THSLFE and the artistic community.
If you couldn't make it down to the show, cop Issue 3 which will be available online soon.
More THSLFE here.
1/ Who are you and what do you do?
Hey, what's good? My name is Ben and i do whatever i want most of the time. I also run THSLFE.
2/ For people who arn't familiar with THSLFE magazine how would you describe the magazine to them?
Hmmm, i guess photographically it is a portal in to a world that a lot of people don't have access to, or a world that a lot of people choose to believe does not exist in their neighborhood, suburb or city. It is an honest reflection of the environment that myself and the rest of the THSLFE family find themselves in on a daily basis. Documenting and reflecting our environments in the most truthful manner is paramount to THSLFE and what we do.
On the art tip, a lot of the homies and crew are tattooers or artists of varying natures. It's a platform for them to get their work out there and be involved in an honest, no bullshit, no hipster trend factor independent print publication. If i can see that someone is doing their own thing, for the right reasons then they have a place in THSLFE.
3/ You are about to release your third issue, has the process of putting this together changed compared to your two previous issues?
Yes and no. The formula is very similar, but obviously the more things you make the more you learn over time and as a result the better you get at it which results in an end product with a higher standard and quality.
4/ I remember seeing THSLFE stickers all around the city, what motivated you to use stickers to get your brand noticed?
I don't recall the exact motivation, i originally printed 1000 stickers and put them up on my travels over a couple of weeks and suddenly i was getting emails and messages from people asking what it was and what it was all about. Between 2011 and 2014 we printed over 12 000 box logo stickers and being out on the streets shooting and doing whatever all the time they just ended up being every where. I guess people noticed, haha.
5/ You shoot in some pretty rugged locations and come across some pretty different characters. Do you have any kodak moments that you can share that have been to memorable to forget?
Hahaha, you could say that. I took a photo of a 72 year old mans penises (or is the plural of penis, Peni?) the other day. You'll have to wait until Issue 4 to be blessed with that one though. I've always been attracted to photographing and documenting the shadier side of life and/or society. I've got myself in to a lot of weird situations over the years, and they just keep getting weirder.
6/ Since the release of your first issue, how have you seen the city you document change?
I think the only constant is change and that is the beauty of living in a city. But it depends on how you look at it.
Sure, there are a lot more shitty apartments that have taken over the abandoned buildings and warehouses that once littered the inner city suburbs. There is a hipster coffee shop on every street now. I think in areas like North Richmond the Meth craze has really blown up. When i first lived down there and was shooting around there, Heroin reigned supreme. The West is slowly becoming more dominated by middle class white people, which sucks in a lot of ways. You could say that for most of the inner fringe suburbs though, the influx of wealthy whites and property developers has been the biggest change. It sucks - The reason those areas became "cool" was because they were industrial or working class areas which resulted in cheap rent, cheap rent attracted creatives, musicians, artists and lots of young people which leads to culture. After a few years the suburb gets a reputation as being a "cool" place, because the streets are covered in graffiti and art and there are live music venues and places to party, then that attracts the culture vultures who have the cash to capitalize on it, which then leads to property developers and rich white people coming in and buying up all the real estate and then they have the hide to complain about the graffiti or the music venues they built their shitty apartment blocks next to being too loud.
I fucking hate that. Don't come in to an area known for live music or being graffiti heavy and think you have the right to change it or complain because it doesn't fit with your perfect world view, fuck off to the suburbs or go live in Canberra or something. I'm all about anti gentrification. Go wreck shit, steal from franchises and big business, keep painting, keep pissing in the streets and turn the music right the fuck up. Don't lay down to it and make it easy for them.
7/ The artists you collaborate and feature in THSLFE all seem to have a similar style. Is this on purpose or pure coincidence?
It's not really a coincidence, the art that ends up in there is what i like and i have curated a collection of individuals whose work i respect and admire, which compliments what we are about and fits the vision for the mag.
8/ Graffiti is very prominent in the magazine, what is your connection to it?
I think it's interesting that you see it that way, i don't think there is a lot of graffiti in the mag. At least in comparison to how much there could be. I believe it would be wrong to label THSLFE as a "graff mag". It is one of many things that some of us involve our ourselves in some of the time, so naturally having a camera on you at all times you end up with content of that nature.