Interview: Tepsic Magazine
Tepsic Magazine is the large-format brainchild of Morgan Tepsic, who sends customized disposable cameras to artists and asks them to document their lives. The results are poster-sized spreads of a rarely seen perspective; a trip behind the scenes with musicians like recent cover subjects A$AP Rocky and Toro Y Moi. I spoke with Morgan about the simplicity of disposable cameras, making a DIY magazine and what's next for the mag. —Angelo
I don't think I ever realized that I wanted to make magazines, really. I just really wanted to share with people great pictures and art from artists that I really respected and liked. I guess magazines were really just the cheapest outlet for me to get stuff I liked out there. The first time I worked on a magazine was in 2009 when I contributed some weird art for a friend's zine. But I wanted to take a concept of a magazine and see how far I could take it.
What drew you to disposable cameras?
The most important thing to me was getting cameras out to as many artists as possible, and so that really left me with no other choice than disposable cameras. But then after I began decorating them for the artists, I really embraced the realness that disposable cameras capture. It can be spontaneously glamorous at times and capture the energy of the night really well, because people aren't afraid of being themselves with a dinky, funky looking camera around. The camera becomes a part of the party and knows that the next night everyone is gonna forget about the pics they took anyway. That's the beauty of it. A camera that's hidden in plain sight.
To me, the large format is nostalgic to when my room used to be plastered with posters and magazine covers. Is that a vibe you were going for?
Exactly. I remember my brother having a stack of Transworld mags that went up like 5 feet, and I would just spend all day picking out my favorite pics from different issues. I never understood why music magazines were heavily focused on the opinion-side of things. If I had the choice to pay good money to spend on nothing but dope pictures or pages filled with opinions I may not agree with and corny interviews, I'm gonna want the pics every time. I'm doing the magazine for those people who dig looking at pictures.
How do you typically approach an artist you want to feature? How has the response been from musicians?
The approach has always been from the standpoint of a fan. Once the artist realizes that there is a mutual understanding of art in its many forms and how their contribution would be dope, then it's cake. The response has definitely changed since the first issue. I got ignored by a lot of artists that I ended up printing in future issues because THEY contacted me. Just goes to show being persistent pays off.
People like A$AP Rocky, Toro Y Moi, even Anthony Bourdain — those are huge gets. Do you feel like now nobody is out of your reach? Who's somebody huge you would love to feature in Tepsic, or can you give a hint at who might show up in the next issue or two?
Nobody is out of my reach. I may not get an artist immediately when I want to, but I usually find a way to eventually explain to their crew what I'm doing is something they need to be a part of. I'm never going to give out hints of who's in the next issue, but I will say that I would print an entire issue shot by Kanye if I ever got the chance. I need to get that on the record just in case he's out there shopping on UO or something.
The mag is almost entirely image based. Is that a direct refusal of text-heavy publications? Do you plan to feature more writing in the future or is Tepsic inherently an image driven project?
I'm not going to say I'll never feature writing in the magazine, because at the end of the day it's a magazine created by the artists featured...so if an artist felt the need to express themselves using text, then I wouldn't be opposed to it. But as for now, I like to keep it with as many photos as possible without anything you don't need. I'm creating a personal commentary between the pictures the artists take and the readers of the magazine.
What advice would you give to kids who want to make magazines but think it might be too hard or expensive?
If you're strapped for cash use a Xerox machine and do what you can. Letting loose of your creative side is the best thing you can do for your mind. Even if the project you're working on kinda sucks, it's still one step closer to another great idea/project/whatever. The first magazines I ever made were used making a simple word-processing app that was free, and if you don't have a computer then I'm wondering how you can read this right now.
Who are 3 artists you're especially digging right now?
Kanye, Drake, DJ Shadow
Where do you see Tepsic in 3.66 years?
I'm not gonna stop evolving and changing how I deliver the message of Tepsic. Times change, people change what they like, technology changes how we see things and I change my mind pretty much every 30 minutes. But if you stick around for the ride, I guarantee the journey is exciting to watch.