In the age of Instagram likes, retweets and reblogs, it's easy to get cynical about the motivation behind creating and sharing one's work online. If the internet has given us a platform for sharing, it's also given us a platform for ceaseless self-promotion. At the crux of Portland-based print project Various Creative is the intrinsic process and drive behind creativity—producing work for the sake of it, with something to say rather than something to gain, whether it's digital credibility or a paycheck. In the same style of their first release, Various: TWO provides its wide array of contributors with a single quote for inspiration.
"We want the concept to be open enough to allow for interpretation, but enough direction to get things going," says co-founder Robbie Veltman. "The resulting dichotomy between light and dark is always interesting." Calling on 28 contributors from across the world, Veltman (along with co-founder Austin Will) used a cryptic quote from Canadian legend Leonard Cohen to get the creative juices flowing. From hopeful sun-drenched shots to gritty, raw depictions down-and-out, there is an equal amount of interpretation for the reader as there is for the creative.
In addition to a wide ranging diverse body of content, Will and Veltman strive for an even wider range of backgrounds in their roster of contributors. For instance, snowboarder and artist Corey Smith of Neon Daze and Winter Waves explores light-healing (in perhaps a critical look at New Age beliefs) alongside commercial photographer Ray Gordon's more literal take on the concept. Will's greatest pleasure lies in finding and cultivating unknown talents, like Kid Richards who he found online; "His work is great and it needs a platform, that's what Various is about."
"One of the main goals of Various is creating a truly open-ended space," says Will, "A lot of these creatives are usually working for a client or within an existing structure." One of those featured is Mark Peckmezian, a photographer generally known for his portraits and work for magazines like Wired and The New Yorker. In Various: TWO, he provides a visceral, if not slightly unnerving almost voyeuristic shot. "We want this to be a free space for expression and we want it to grow."
Three cover options are available for Various: TWO. Pick up the limited edition print online for just $8. If you're in NYC, stop by the Poler store for a release party with the founders at 33 Grand Street in Brooklyn tonight, 14 March at 7PM.
Photos by Hans Aschim