The bi-coastal magazine explores the myriad meanings of "family" through fashion, art, photography, and design.

As a freelance photographer and the US fashion editor for Document, Ryan James Caruthers and Shawn Lakin count both count editing—in Caruthers’s case, images, and in Lakin’s, clothes—as one of their regular duties on the job. So they thought, Why not create our own magazine? “We both have always been collecting and curating in our own work—so this was naturally the next step,” said Caruthers. They named it Close Journal, launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the publication, and the magazine was born.

A photograph of a group of young Spanish boys at the beach on the verge of adulthood, shot by Fumi Homma, serves as one of the covers of the latest edition, while Caruthers and Lakin worked together on black-and-white image of an actor Judah Lang in a white ribbed tank top and ostrich-skin helmet. The editors-in-chiefs decided to select the theme “Family” for Close Journal’s second issue because, said Lakin, “like the name ‘Close’, ‘family’ means different things to different people and we wanted to explore that.” Caruthers added, “Even our first issue felt familial in certain ways. I believe our work usually has this kind of intimacy to it as well.”

The magazine, according to its founders, is “an interdisciplinary publication based in California and New York.” For the second issue, Lakin and Caruthers sought creatives they deemed a natural fit. “Originally, we reached out to people in fashion, art, and design that we admired and paired in unexpected ways—similar to the way me and Ryan work together in our practice. Then it kind of evolved from there to our contributors’ perspective of family and closeness,” Lakin explained. “I think intimacy again plays a large role in who we selected,” said Caruthers. “Each artist photographed using film, so I think this adds a layer of nostalgia, similar to looking back at your own childhood family photographs.”

The stories that capture the idea of family range from light and joyful to poignant to heartbreaking. In one story, where artists share photos of their family, curator Jessie Wender selects a Hank Willis Thomas photo of a close cousin who was tragically murdered in a hold up a few weeks later. “It almost feels too private to share here but I think it’s a special thing that only the people who look at the edition as an object will have privy to,” said Lakin. Then there’s James Tolich’s photographs of his son Taika. “The images are so full of emotion and beauty—and the story opens with Taika’s handwritten name,” said Caruthers.

The notion of family provides respite in a world where conflict is rampant. “In a time where everything seems so chaotic, it’s kind of nice to be able to focus in on something so universally loved,” said Caruthers.

Close Journal’s new issue will make you want to call your mom
Close Journal’s new issue will make you want to call your mom

Ann Binlot—Why did you start a magazine?

Ryan James Caruthers—I think we both have always been collecting and curating in our own work–so this was naturally the next step.

Ann—Why did you pick the theme family for the second issue?

Shawn Lakin—I think a lot like the name ‘Close’, family means different things to different people and we wanted to explore that.

Ryan—Even our first issue felt familial in certain ways, I believe our work usually has this kind of intimacy to it as well. In a time where everything seems so chaotic, it’s kind of nice to be able to focus in on something so universally loved.

Ann—How did you select the contributors?

Shawn—Originally, we reached out to people in fashion, art and design that we admired and paired in unexpected ways – similar to the way me and Ryan work together in our practice. Then it kind of evolved from there to our contributors perspective of family and closeness.

Ryan—I think intimacy again plays a large role in who we selected. Each artist photographed using film, so I think this adds a layer of nostalgia, similar to looking back at your own childhood family photographs.

Close Journal’s new issue will make you want to call your mom
Close Journal’s new issue will make you want to call your mom

Ann—What are the biggest highlights of the issue?

Shawn—The biggest highlight for me for sure is the image and story that Hank Willis Thomas shared with us and curator Jessie Wender. It almost feels too private to share here but I think it’s a special thing that only the people who look at the edition as an object will have privy to.

Ryan—I think for me, it’s photographer James Tolich’s photographs of his son Taika. The images are so full of emotion and beauty– and the story opens with Taika’s handwritten name.

Ann—Tell me about the photo on the cover.

Shawn—There are two covers. The first is an incredible image from photographer Fumi Homma that was shot on a vacation in Málaga of a group of boys that are on the cusp of adulthood but have an air of thinking they are grown. That entire series is such a jaw-dropping story that it was hard to pick out of the vibrant personalities and artifacts that Fummi found among the people and families he was documenting. The second cover was shot by Ryan and styled by Myself with Judah Lang in New York. I think that one was important to us as we grow the magazine and live on two coasts now, that we brought it back to the place that we met and brought us so much inspiration.

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