YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Worth a Look (twice)

October 12, 2003|Nancy Rommelmann | Special to The Times

When most young people want to start a 'zine, they scrimp and scribble and run it off after hours on the school copier. Not so the 14- to 30-year-old writers and artists at Look-Look magazine, whose launch party at American Apparel's downtown L.A. warehouse was awash in luminary supporters and corporate sponsors. As the DJ scratched Beastie Boys and Kraftwerk, young contributors in fatigues and crocheted halters, fake raccoon caps and Ugg boots hobnobbed with their similarly attired elders and watched as teenage boys spray-painted tags, six-pointed stars and skulls over a "Deesbiscuit" poster, careful not to get paint on the wall.

Pressed behind a counter selling Look-Look T-shirts, co-founder Sharon Lee said the magazine's birth was organic. "Look-Look is a youth culture marketing company based in Hollywood. We use young people to do research and take photos for us," which Look-Look then turns into marketing data for clients such as Coca-Cola, Nike, Dreamworks, Apple and Virgin Records. "We had so many kids, like 20,000 all over the world, say to us, 'Creativity is really important, but we have no venue,' so we decided to make a publication that celebrated their work and gave them credit."

The magazine is slick, a graphics- and photo-heavy omnibus of low-rider bicycles, partying, hair (blue, pink, mullet, buzzcut) and junk food. Advertisers allowed the contributors to create the ads too. Perhaps because Look-Look's researchers inform the advertisers, the magazine's ads look a lot like ads they already put out. And although contributing artists are not paid for their work, profits from the magazine will support grants for young artists. Lee is optimistic. "Our research shows there's a huge market for this," she said.

Aaron Rose, a skater who for 10 years ran the New York art gallery Alleged, curated the Oct. 4 event. "I wanted to make it that, if I were a kid, it would be the coolest thing I'd ever seen," he said of the poster-size photos, all taken by Look-Look contributors, of boys with Mohawks, "I ? Jesus" shirts and skateboards, and girls in bras, dork-chic and blue toenail polish. The evening was publicized by L.A. uber-promoters Audrey and Apple and attended by editors from Vogue and Variety's V-Life.

Writer-director Jonathan Craven, who came to support his friend Rose, laughed when asked if he thought it was all a bit commodified. "Break dancing and hip-hop and underground fashion, the whole culture has been commodified," he said, "but at least here it's being done by kids."

The cover art for the premiere issue, a pen-and-ink drawing of a John Lennon- esque face, is by Louie Eisner, son of the magazine's creative director, fashion and art photographer Lisa Eisner. A slight 15-year-old in a green hooded sweatshirt, he stood by the graffiti wall surrounded by girls who simultaneously fawned over him and talked into their cellphones. What was his inspiration for the drawing? "It was 'Revolver,' by the Beatles," he said.

Eisner's friend Eli Teller added that he has an illustration in the next issue. "Louie and I are taking figure painting at UCLA Extension, so we can get better at, like, technique," said the 15-year-old, who resembles a young Joey Ramone. "But our influences are Jean-Michel Basquiat and other street artists like Barry McGee."

Do he and Eisner, who attend Harvard-Westlake and Crossroads, respectively, consider themselves street artists? "Yeah, sort of," Teller said. "We get furniture that's been left on the side of the road and spray paint it pink. It's not technically illegal, because if the cops come, we can take it away. Tagging is fun too, but if you want to get known you have to do original things."

Los Angeles Times Articles