The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Art zine turns glossy but maintains graffiti ethos

After six years, Beautiful/Decay, an art magazine founded by Amir H. Fallah as a Kinko’s generated after-school activity, is now a profitable business.

Fallah, creative editor of Beautiful/Decay, an artist and former UCLA fine-arts student founded the magazine to create a venue for emerging artist whose work, might not fit the mold of traditionally defined artists.

“Sometimes, I come across art and I feel like I need a dictionary and a thesaurus to find out what it means,” Fallah said. “Good art should have layers and depth. But it should also be visually appealing right off the bat.”

The quarterly magazine covers anything from digital illustrations to conceptual art, Fallah said. When it comes to selecting the individual pieces, there is no formula. The magazine will feature anything Fallah gets a sensation from. Like the name of the magazine, a lot of what Fallah loves about art isn’t conventional.

In terms of selection, “(Beautiful/Decay) is really all over the place,” Fallah said. Only a quarter of the artists that submit to the magazine are accepted, and Fallah finds most artists on the Internet after extensive research.

“I just see it and think it will fit in with an issue we are working on.”

In a recent issue, one finds naked, hairless wax sculptures by artist Richard Stipls, photographs of Los Angeles fire-fighters inside dark burning fire training facilities by Becky Brister and animated colorful images painted on quilts by Ai Kijima.

“A lot of the art we feature is not huge yet,” Fallah said. “It is kind of either on the verge or (artists that) no one has ever heard of.

“We do not want to be like every other magazine where we cover everything for an ad or quick buck.”

Fallah does not mind exposing his readers to something they are not used to. He says similar art magazines often “dumb down” their contents to keep readers comfy, but (Beautiful/Decay) utilizes emerging artists to throw something entirely new the reader’s way.

For example, in the May issue entitled “Thy Darkness,” artist Banks Violette deals with subject matters like heavy metal and Devil worshiping and has done a series of work on Norwegian church burnings by black metal bands.

Even though Violette’s work is not really flashy and in your face like readers are used to, tossing in something like that along with routine articles makes the magazine a much more interesting read, Fallah said.

“I want (the readers) to walk away learning about something they had no idea existed,” Fallah said.

When researching new art, Fallah evaluates each work while taking the genre into consideration.

“A mistake a lot of people make is they mistake graffiti art for fine art and vice versa,” said Fallah, who tries to appreciate each genre for what it is. “By the end of the day, they’re different practicum.”

Fallah received his Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art followed by his M.F.A from UCLA. Fallah, 27, exhibits his own paintings internationally. His work is semi-abstract, and his current collection references Persian miniature paintings.

Fallah started the first color issue of Beautiful/Decay in 2001 with money he earned from selling five paintings in a show in New York. After a couple issues he met with business partners Ben Osher and Fubz, people he says brought business and marketing know-how to the magazine. Osher and Fubz together established a hip-hop record label and brought a creative marketing energy to the magazine, Fallah said.

Fallah first dabbled in publishing while in high school in Fairfax, Virginia.

Fallah’s quest for a creative outlet led him to print the first black and white issues of Beautiful/Decay, then a small noncommercial art zine.

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