An Interview with Tim Clark, Founding Editor of 1000 Words Magazine

tim clark - tom medwell - genesis imaging

Originally posted on March 21st 2014

1000 Words is an online magazine dedicated to contemporary art photography in the UK and beyond. Founded by Tim Clark in 2008, 1000 Words Magazine commissions and publishes in-depth exhibition and photobook reviews, essays and interviews.

Tim’s writing on photography and visual culture has featured in publications including The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph, Foam, Time Lightbox, The British Journal of Photography and Next Level, among other publications and exhibitions catalogues.

Outside of the conventional outlets of galleries, books or print magazines, the online world allows anyone to be an author. What defines 1000 Words magazine as an invaluable resource in the photographic community is the continuous pairing of innovative photography with carefully considered content.

Published quarterly, and now on its 17th issue, 1000 Words magazine attracts approximately 140,000 unique visitors from more than 120 countries every month. Some 5 years after it began, 1000 Words magazine remains dedicated to showcasing lesser-known photographic artists alongside more established practitioners.

Tim told us about the challenges of online publishing, the future of photography in an online world, the 1000 words Award and much more…

Genesisimaging: Hi Tim! Are you ready to talk about photography, exhibitions & online publishing?

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): Hello to the good people at GENESIS and to all our followers! Ready when you are…

Genesisimaging: Great! Let’s start by talking about 1000 Words mag, how do you choose who is featured in each issue?

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): I’m generally looking for work that it is rich and timely, but not necessarily time-limited.

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): So, it’s the result of keeping an ear to the ground on forthcoming shows and photo books…

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): As well as rigorous discussion with the associate Editors and contributors, rummaging through our submissions inbox…

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): Referring back to my notes from portfolio reviews events and seeing what chimes in that moment.

Genesisimaging: And how about how you select the magazine’s written contributors?

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): We usually look to pair features with certain writers/curators depending on their specialist subject areas.

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): Some features are pitched to us from our existing pool of writers while others are commissioned out…

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): For example, Lisa Sutcliffe was perfect to cover Christian Patterson’s new work for issue 17, our cover artist…

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): Since she has mentored him/followed the development of his practice and demonstrated a sensitive understanding of the work.

Genesisimaging: That’s really interesting, sounds like a great pairing.

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): Yes, I was thrilled with the text. I’m all for writing that is incisive yet accessible.

Genesisimaging: How do you think that the critical writing that accompanies each body of work alters the way we perceive it?

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): First of all, photographs are never loose of words – there is always some contextualisation…

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): Strong critical writing should allow us to get inside the photograph/provide extra insight etc. but I fear much of it props up otherwise weak or opaque imagery.

Genesisimaging: Interesting answer! What have been the biggest changes to the magazine since you founded it in 2008?

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): A lot has changed since we first started publishing in 2008 – that’s light years in Internet time…

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): The size of the audience, the diversification of our activities above and beyond publishing, increased collaboration…

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): Namely, how it has become more than a mag – this is true to the digital phase of culture in which we are operating now.

Genesisimaging: This brings us nicely on to a question from Michael:

Genesisimaging: What do you think is the future of photography is on the internet?

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): More blogs and ‘online magazines’ will come and go, with varying boundaries and ambitions etc…

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): I do hope to see more photography institutions and museums harnessing its creative potential!

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): People’s interests and habits change too – the Internet will offer more and more uber niche titles.

Genesisimaging: Tell us about the challenges of online publishing, how do you make sure you stand out amongst other blogs and online magazines?

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): Strong editorial vision (quality writing + coverage of cutting edge work) presented in a clean, uncluttered format…

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): Becoming a reliable, trusted source where people can make discoveries, steer the debate etc.

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): The biggest challenge is creating a sustainable business model which supports free content…

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): While allowing the organisation to find a balance between developing a programme and developing an audience.

Genesisimaging: It must be a tough balance to achieve at times.

Genesisimaging: Continuing the online theme… how important do you think social media is to the photographic industry?

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): Social media is more important for photographers primarily as a marketing tool.

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): Although it is changing patterns in societal behaviour and providing countless image-making opportunities.

Genesisimaging: Very interesting point…

Genesisimaging: Alan asks, what advice you would give to anyone attempting to enter the world of contemporary art photography?

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): As evidenced in my report on the First Person Plural conference at Media Space for A-N News.

(Read Tim’s report from this one-day event at London’s Media Space)

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): Show your work to as many people as possible. It’s virtually impossible for strong work not to bubble up.

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): It’s half vision, half business – all heart. Believe in the 10,000 hours theory. Hard work pays off!

Genesisimaging: Great advice! What does 2014 hold for 1000 Words magazine? Tell us about the upcoming exhibition at Flowers Gallery…

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): The forthcoming show Flowers Gallery this May is the culmination of a two year project, the 1000 Words Award.

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): Featuring newly commissioned work from Tereza Zelenkova, Virgilio Ferreira, Lucy Levene and Henrik Malmstrom…

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): And inspired by John Berger’s book: A Seventh Man, chartering the migrant experience through a map of contemporary stories:

“It is not men who migrate but machine minders, sweepers, diggers, cement mixers, cleaners, drillers, etc. This is the significance of temporary migration. To rebecome a man (husband, father, citizen, patriot) a migrant has to return home. The home he left because it held no future for him.” John Berger, A Seventh Man, 1975.

The exhibition brings together newly commissioned work from the four winners of the 1000 Words Award. Tim comments, ‘Taking John Berger’s text as its point of departure, this exhibition offers surrogates for his theory by way of chartering the migrant experience through a map of contemporary stories, the lives and environments of a selection of European citizens and their families who left their countries of birth to start a new life in new lands, largely due to economic reasons.’ The exhibition focuses on migration journeys of the latter part of the 20th Century and will be shown at Flowers Gallery, London.

Genesisimaging: One more Q before we go! When can we read issue 18 of 1000 Words?

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): Issue 18 is due to go live at the end of April. Drop me a line and we’ll add you to the mailing list.

Genesisimaging: Thanks! Unfortunately that’s all we’ve got time for… Thank you Tim for some thought-provoking answers.

Genesisimaging: And for answering ours & our followers Q’s… it’s been great! Look forward to issue 18 & the show at Flowers Gallery.

1000wordsmag (Tim Clark): Thanks for hosting me. It’s been fun, and hopefully we didn’t clog up people’s Twitter feeds.

Read the current issue of 1000 Words magazine at 1000wordsmag.com

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