AN INTERVIEW WITH PROTEUS MAG CREATOR + EDITOR DUSTIN PARKER.
Why did you create Proteus Mag?
The idea for Proteus Mag was planted inside my brain after I discovered PDF magazines like Bloodwars Magazine and Beast. In its infancy, Proteus Mag was going to be my own personal sketchbook or a random collection of experimental images that would be presented in PDF format. It would be throwaway images and experimentations and remixes of rejected images. The seed started growing and I started considering the possibility of inviting other artists to collaborate and that idea quickly evolved into a more traditional art magazine. Proteus Mag shifted away from being a personal sketchbook project and became a curatorial project. I wanted Proteus Mag to be an advertisement free and commentary free picture book featuring both nationally known and unknown artists from all parts of the world.
Proteus Mag Issue #1 placed a large emphasis on artists from Kansas, can you explain why?
In my experience, people are always surprised to learn that I am from Kansas because I don’t paint sunflowers and windmills on saw blades. I wanted Proteus Mag to be a jackhammer that chiseled away those stereotypes and show the world that Kansas can hang with Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, France or the moon. I wanted to put nationally known artists such as Dave Kinsey, Robert Hardgrave, Thinkmule, Rick Sealock, Bask and Ben Frost in the same room as my favorite Kansas artists and prove that artistic talent is not exclusive to one place or another. I am proud of my Kansas heritage and I wanted Proteus Mag to be a proud product of Kansas. All 7 issues featured Kansas artists.
How long have you been doing Proteus Mag?
The first issue of the PDF version of Proteus Mag dropped in April 2007 and the blog launched in October 2008. The last issue of Proteus Mag dropped in June 2009. I don’t see an end in sight.
Why did you abandon the PDF format?
Creating the PDF version of Proteus Mag was an extremely time consuming and laborious process. I spent countless hours hunting for potential artists, designing page layouts, harassing artists about limited use agreement contracts, promoting Proteus Mag on other art blogs and magazines, reviewing art submissions and apologizing to my web host about the enormous amounts of bandwidth that Proteus Mag was devouring whenever a new issue dropped. Proteus Mag was a 300 DPI publication with an average page count of 89 pages and it didn’t take very many downloads to make the bandwidth alarms scream in agony. I always wanted Proteus Mag to be a quarterly publication but I failed to maintain that schedule. After issue 7 I abandoned the PDF format and turned Proteus Mag into a blog. The blog features a different artist every day, except Saturday and Sunday. The blog allows Proteus Mag to have a constant presence rather than 100 pages of awesome followed by 4 or more months of nothing. The blog format also gives me the option to include multimedia such as videos and animated gifs.
How do you select artists for Proteus Mag?
I discover 98% of the artists on other art blogs, magazines and social networking sites. My favorites include Foalio, Juxtapoz, Hi-Fructose Magazine, Dribbble, Arrested Motion, Illustration Mundo, Etsy, Society 6, deviantART and GeekDraw.
Would you consider doing more PDF issues of Proteus Mag in the future?
I’m not against the idea of publishing another PDF issue of Proteus Mag or publishing a printed version of Proteus Mag. It is highly unlikely that either of those two things will occur but that door is always open.
Would you consider featuring artist interviews on Proteus Mag?
When I killed the PDF magazine and launched the blog it was always my intention to feature a weekly artist interview but laziness prevailed and It never happened. I see artist interviews in Proteus Mag’s not so distant future. I love watching other artists work. I love reading and listening to interviews with artists. Once I have a backlog of interviews I will start unleashing them into the blogosphere.
Who was the first Artist of the Day?
When I was working on issue #6, the political issue, I invited Zina Saunders to participate but she didn’t feel comfortable with her work being available in a high resolution digital format, which was a legitimate concern. She was doing these amazing political illustrations of Sarah Palin and John McCain and it absolutely killed me that I couldn’t get them in the magazine. She ended up being the first featured artist on the blog because I had to show my love for her work. Proteus Mag exists because I want people to discover these artists and love these artists as much as I do.
Fun Fact #1
The cover for issue #3 was created by overlapping artwork created by all of the contributing artists. The cover was an experiment that ended up producing some really interesting results. Issue #3 is my favorite cover.
Fun Fact #2
The top 10 most popular artists on Proteus Mag (based on page views).
1. Geof Darrow
2. Ralph Steadman
3. Jean-Michel Basquiat
4. Joe Madureira
5. Greg Capullo
6. Simon Bisley
7. Lucian Freud
8. Bill Sienkiewicz
9. Keith P Rein
10. Frank Miller