Best of CH 2020: Interviews

Reflecting on the group of multi-talented, multi-disciplinary, inspirational creatives we spoke with this year

Year in and year out, perhaps even more so during this global pandemic, we desire conversations with creative people and the opportunity to understand their motivations and processes. Be they artists and designers or innovators and inventors, those driving us toward the future and beyond have valuable insight to share—and we at CH delight in conveying it to our readers. This year, while not in-person, we have spoken with inspirational individuals who work in diverse industries. And all of them continue to strive to create something momentous, memorable and perhaps a little bit magical. Below you will find a kaleidoscopic group of creators—and we look forward to even more diversity next year.

Courtesy of Jessica Lehrman

Interview: Recording Artist Ezra Furman

With the recently released Bandcamp-exclusive album To Them We’ll Always BeFreaks, literary rocker Ezra Furman shares rarities and “reject recordings” from behind the scenes of 2018’s urgent, erudite and experimental LP, Transangelic Exodus. A lot has happened between those releases: a catchy, substantive soundtrack for the hit Netflix series Sex Education, the boisterous brilliance of 2019’s Twelve Nudes, and the release of a book on Lou Reed’s iconic album Transformer, included… Read more.

Courtesy of Olimpia Zagnoli

Studio Visit: Illustrator Olimpia Zagnoli

Specializing in editorial illustration, Olimpia Zagnoli is one of the most important Italian artists of her generation. Her style is bold, playful and immediately recognizable—whether it’s on the cover of The New Yorker, within the pages of La Repubblica, on fabrics for Marella, or as part of a Prada campaign. We were delighted to visit Zagnoli at her Milan studio, ahead of the 25th edition of Design Indaba (in Cape Town later this month), where she will be speaking… Read more.

by Derrick Woods Morrow

TRNK’s “MIEN” Group Exhibition of Work by Queer Artists of Color

Last week, NYC-based design studio TRNK launched MIEN—an online exhibition that spotlights, celebrates and sells work by queer artists of color. The photography show consists of gloriously nuanced and tender portraits that explore identity beyond the oftentimes shallow or simple concept of visibility. Rather, TRNK’s statement reads, “these images take authorship over individual lived experience while acknowledging contributions to a representative body politic.” With work by Elliott Jerome Brown Jr, Naima Green, Texas Isaiah, Dorian Ulises López Macías, Nelson Morales, Simone Thompson, Derrick Woods-Morrow and Guanyu Xu, the collection of works traces queer identity, and the divine diversity within. Each print is also available for purchase, with all proceeds donated to New York City’s Ali Forney Center, an organization that supports LGBTQ+ homeless youth through services including drop-in centers, emergency housing, education and employment programs, and comprehensive healthcare… Read more.

Courtesy of Boy Smells

Boy Smells Founder Matthew Herman on Scent and Gender

Despite its name, LA-based Boy Smells—founded by David Kien and Matthew Herman—makes underwear and candles that aren’t intended for one gender; rather the brand is a purposeful amalgamation of masculinity and femininity and everything between. Conversation around personal care products typically being hyper-gendered led Kien and Herman to experiment within the space. They made candles in their kitchen with the mission to explore the dismissal of conventional beliefs surrounding this type of product. This fluid but all-encompassing approach is evident not just in their candle fragrances, or their underwear color palettes, but also in their language, design and packaging. We spoke with Herman about the brand’s mission, embracing our full spectrum, and scent being transportive… Read more.

Courtesy of Ethel’s Club

Ethel’s Club Offers Online “Healing and Grieving” Sessions

Naj Austin founded Ethel’s Club, a social and wellness club for Black individuals and POC exclusively, in Brooklyn in November 2019 after an exhaustive search for a Black mental health professional for her own therapy sessions. She was inspired to build a gathering place to collaborate, mingle, and tackle issues beyond the professional sphere. Today, two membership tiers offer various perks in Ethel’s Club’s physical space (which remains temporarily closed) and a $17 monthly digital membership aims to bring those same benefits home—including access to their retained therapists and meditation experts… Read more.

Courtesy of Clare Gillen / AWAL

Interview: Songwriter, DJ + Producer Jim-E Stack

Jim-E Stack (aka James Harmon Stack) feels fortunate to exist away from the music industry’s brightest spotlight despite the fact that he’s worked on music with Caroline Polachek, Bon Iver, Dominic Fike, Perfume Genius, Rostam, Charli XCX and others, all while achieving solo success. Rather, he’s driven by the feeling of a song. “I’m a music-maker,” Stack tells us, ahead of the release of his new album Ephemera—out 30 October. “I fit into the creation of music in a variety of different ways: one of which is making my solo music, one of which is producing music for other people and another is just helping people at songwriting stuff. I see myself honestly as a person who likes making music in any capacity in which I’m welcome, with other people”… Read more.

Courtesy of Miles McEnery Gallery

Interview: Artist Beverly Fishman

One glance at the sculptural work of artist Beverly Fishman will allow you to identify her mesmerizing creations forever. Several distinct signifiers plant the seed of her style. First, her high-gloss geometric forms tantalize. Each marries impactful, unexpected color and many often seem to glow—and even emote. Whether hung on a wall or rising from the floor, Fishman’s expressive pieces pull viewers forward for a closer look and a deeper think. On the surface, of course, these sleek urethane-paint-on-wood works are aesthetically pleasing, yet one cannot help but ponder the author’s other intention. For Fishman’s current solo exhibition, I Dream of Sleep at NYC’s Miles McEnery Gallery, we spoke with the artist about the nightmares behind her wonderland of color and form… Read more.

Courtesy of Mijenta

Interview: Mijenta’s Maestra Tequilera, Ana Maria Romero

Helmed by Ana Maria Romero, Mijenta—a new, small-batch tequila—delivers a perfectly balanced sipping experience: clean and fresh, with a peppery finish and velvety mouthfeel. For tequila enthusiasts, experts and rookies, there’s a uniqueness and vibrancy that comes with this spirit that extends beyond the liquid itself. The name Mijenta comes from “mi gente” meaning “my people,” and it’s a sentiment that permeates the brand’s ethos… Read more.

Courtesy of Den Sake and Umami Mart

Oakland’s Ever-Evolving Den Sake Brewery

While most of the sakes that line the shelves at Oakland’s Umami Mart are made in Japan, Den Sake Brewery produces just two miles away. Until recently, the company made just one small, numbered batch at a time, garnering attention from sake enthusiasts and experts (the brand has twice been a semi-finalist for the James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Producer). This year, as they plan to open a larger brewery, Den Sake debuts their newest creation: Den Blanc made with white koji… Read more.

Courtesy of Ford

The 2021 Ford Bronco Exists at The Intersection of Heritage + Insight

The iconic Ford Bronco is back after a 25-year hiatus. Available in 2021 as a two-door, four-door or a smaller Sport model, the Bronco badge now represents customization and innovation as much as capability. Design and engineering teams shook up their typical creative and development process and the results are stunning… Read more.

Hero image courtesy of Miles McEnery Gallery