Thursday, 12 April 2012

Hamid Sallali Interview

Hamid Salalli © Foam

Hamid Sallali has been a designer for Foam Magazine since 2007. In this interview for Foam Blog, he tells us about the process of art directing the Talent issue.

What is the most important thing to consider when putting together an issue of Foam Magazine?

That would be the flow. The central focus of the magazine are the 8 portfolios that are being selected according to a certain theme. In the research process we try to interpret the theme in the broadest way possible in order to come to a dynamic selection and order of portfolios. What comes first and what comes last? Everything in between dictates the flow of the magazine. It's like a book basically, kind of a visual storyline based on a theme.

How does the Talent issue differ from the 'regular' issues?

Regular issues are theme based, have 8 sixteen-page portfolios, no age limit and could contain historical work. Talent issue have 15 portfolios (8 and 16 pages) and are not theme based in that the subject of the actual work does not refer to 'talent' but to the quality of the work itself. The Talent issue is a once-a-year platform for exceptional photography within a particular age range.

Hamid Salalli © Foam

What is your role in the Foam Talent Call?

My role in the Talent Call is the same as every other Foam Magazine issue: directing the design of portfolios, theme typography and the layout of all the text parts, together as one solid product. The only difference with regular issues is the portfolio selection that has to be done before any of this starts. Last year there were about 800 submissions and the year before that over 900! You're free to go through all submissions, which most of us do since it's fun and this way you don't miss out on good work. I mostly do it in my spare time so I can focus. It's an honour.

When selecting portfolios for the Talent issues, what are the main things you are looking for?

Like with regular issues the flow of the magazine is important, so we look for a wide range of fresh and exceptional photography. Not only to create a strong and balanced issue but also to reflect what has been sent in. It's kind of funny to see certain 'trends' each year. For instance 2 years ago, I remember there was a lot of dark, gloomy photography. However, some things we keep in the back of our minds while selecting are the kind of photography (from documentary to fashion and experimental work), the origin (we try to select from each continent), the subject of the work and of course the aesthetic quality.

How does the judging process work?

It's a good thing each one of us editorial members (5) have a different taste in photography so we browse through the submissions differently, but nonetheless, taste does not stand in the way. Our common interest is in exceptional photography. It's interesting to see how we sometimes end up with the same works in our long list. We all start with a personal long list of 20 photographers and narrow that down to a joined long list of 50. Last year there were a lot of talents on our long list that didn't make it to the magazine since we already had a strong selection of 15. We mentioned some of them in the introduction text of the magazine. This year however, there are plans to exhibit a selection of the long list outside of the magazine which I think is great, an extra platform to present even more Talent.

Is there an issue of Foam Magazine that has been  your favourite to work on?

The Talent issues are great fun to work on, mainly because of the enormous amount of different work you get to browse through. Normally there's a lot of research being done to find exceptional work that fits a theme. With Talent that part is already done: it's the big pool of submissions. So it's a matter of selecting and arranging portfolios. a pretty intense but satisfying job.

My favourite Foam Magazine issue is #14, Meanwhile. It was my second issue as graphic designer, so I got the hang of it. Apart from that, I am really fascinated by the theme and the selected work. It has a lot of similarities with #19, Wonder, also one of my favourites. I love wondrous, timeless photography. It's like the opposite of journalistic work. I love being amazed by things you normally wouldn't pay attention to. That's what both issues are about.


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