Julia Sherman: You began your career as a visual artist. What kind of work did you make?
Kim Hastreiter: I was a conceptual artist. I made paintings, videos, and photography installations that were made using the imagery from my video works.
JS: And do you still consider yourself an artist?
KH: I think like an artist and I feel like an artist, but I am not an artist by vocation, as I do not have the devotion or rigor to make art in a vacuum that does not collaborate with or communicate to others. I also am not interested in joining the “art world.” I feel that this world is quite conservative and limited and rarified. I guess I am more a creative communicator.
JS: Do these titles even matter?
KH: Not to me.
JS: You have long been a champion of “outsider art,” both as a collector and as a supporter of the program at The Center for Creative Growth in SF. You even commissioned some of the artists from the center to illustrate their interpretations of the runway looks of a handful of major designers for Paper Mag. What compels you about the genre of “outsider art,” if you can call it that?
KH: The reason why I have been a champion of Creative Growth in Oakland is because this is actually a group that does not support or believe in the concept of “outsider art.” Creative growth artists are ARTISTS not, “OUTSIDER ARTISTS.” And as artists their abilities are equal to and sometimes even superior to what the world regards as “normal” artists.
The reason Creative Growth artists are sometimes better is that they have no agenda and their art is 100% pure. The artist signatures are a powerful and consistent as any artist anywhere. The only difference is the life experience the work is drawn from.
JS: Amen. Who are some of your favorite artists?
KH: I love a wide variety of art. I love the work of everyone from Rene Ricard to Alfred Jenson, from Tauba Auerbach to Cindy Sherman, from Kehinde Wiley to Dan Miller (from Creative Growth), from Margaret Kilgallen to Jean Michel Basquiat, I love the work of Geoff McFetridge to Jose Parla, I love Cy Twombly and I love John Waters, I love Seydou Keita and I love Weegie, I love William Scott (Creative Growth) and I love Chris Johanson.
I could go on…
JS: When you started Paper Mag, did you imagine it would become so much more than a publication?
KH: I always dreamt it could be big and amazing. When I started it, there was no internet, no computers no cell phones…only fax machines. Who could have imagined the digital revolution back then? But, we were always about word of mouth and spreading the word… We were always scrappy and poor, small and nimble, and we worked by the skin of our teeth. The internet was a gift from god to us because all of the sudden, we didn’t have to pay for printing to reach a ton of people. The digital age called for working in the way we’d always worked.
I think the internet has enabled us to reach for unimaginable heights. I call it, “the revenge of the indie.” Corporate culture is the dinosaur of the 20th century and it is no longer relevant. These huge companies are stumped; they don’t know what to do.
I’m an old radical and a punk, so I get pleasure in watching the old media companies sweat.
JS: What was the inspiration for the Break The Internet issue? Is that issue an impossibly tough act to follow?
KH: This was Drew Elliot’s idea. Drew has worked for us for many years and he is brilliant. He started as an intern and is now driving the Paper Mag ship. I love watching him flourish and it’s a pleasure to hand the keys to a young gun who gets the future and our past.
JS: As someone who is constantly ahead of the curve, where do you look for inspiration?
KH: I just keep an open door policy. You have to be out there and always welcome people in to show you what they do.
Right now LA is where much of my inspiration is coming from. New York is too expensive for creative kids to work out of.
I also adore instagram because I am a visual person and this is a visual medium. I find so much talent and amazingness on instagram. The best is when I find someone new to fall in love with, and I can just look at who that person is in love with, and so on. And more often than not, I find more amazingness the deeper I go.
JS: Have you ever been bored?
KH: NO!!!!!!!!! I have to live in cities like New York or Los Angeles though. I crave the blind ambition, the outrageous energy and creativity at all times.
JS: When did you start gardening? What compels you about that practice? Is it a counterpoint to your super social lifestyle?
KH: I began gardening twenty years ago when I moved into my apartment on Washington Square Park. I have such amazing sunlight and I love nurturing a garden bursting in color with flowers, herbs, aromas, night blooms, fruit and vegetables. I love the Spring and Summer. I leave my terrace door open all year round it’s like my second living room; It makes my apartment seem bigger.
JS: What are some of your favorite ways to use your bounty?
KH: Right now my figs are all ripening. I just bought some prosciutto, and that’s dinner! Imake some mean tomato dishes and I also love to make lemon verbena sun tea.