Carnival speaks to DOMINO. ‘the ultimate’ creative, mixed media artist and founder of UmnO Magazine.
DOMINO. is ‘The Shaper’. This can be understood as the ultimate Creative and Mixed Media Artist. The craft of ‘The Shaper’ is nothing but give form to the matter. Every single kind of matter. Concepts, objects, spaces, people, arts, culture and beyond.
Since childhood, DOMINO. manifested a creative mind. A mind that would not fit in any box. DOMINO. graduated on Advertising & PRs but is self-taught in Photography, Design, Illustration, Film-making, Creative Directing and Couching. There are no boundaries to his craft. At the age of nineteen DOMINO. created UmnO International, fashion and pop culture magazine, distributed in London and NYC. UmnO is The Number One title offering handy content in an ironic and honest way. DOMINO. lives between New York, Paris and Spain and continues both consulting and freelancing whilst producing UmnO International.
Tell us about ‘DOMINO. The Ultimate Shaper’.
Sounds like a very bad movie with too much budget! As pretentious as it could sound, I wanted to come up with a label that could define better what creatives do. The craft of ‘The Shaper’ is nothing but to give form to the matter. This is what they do, this is what we are. We shape.
Concepts are crucial to you and your work. How do you ensure to put your initial ideas into action?
When I have an idea, I normally dissect it into 3 or 4 concepts that can be used and understood separately. For me, a great piece of art loses all its purpose if the message is unintelligible. All that: “it has many interpretations”, just means it’s empty of any significance. It means that the piece is just cool-looking bullshit. I hate that.
You have a beautiful photography portfolio, a collection of which is featuring in Carnival Magazine. Tell us about this work. What is your favourite series and why?
Thanks! A mix of Art Direction, Photography and Artwork can be found in this short selection. Whether they come from different photographers or publications, I like to keep a signature look in all projects. This signature is always “The Idea”. I want viewers to be able to spot my concepts. Some artists try to do so using a filter. But they don’t understand there is only one Camilla Åkrans...
You are extremely passionate about your work. How has your outlook on life changed from the beginning of your career to now? What have you learnt along the way?
You learn a lot about how an industry works. A major breakthrough is realising that you should only release work once it’s (under your eyes) finished. I’ve not yet learned when to stop pushing, though I hope not to do so to be honest.
You haven’t learned when to stop pushing, for success?
For people. I keep pushing for artist and model agents mostly, to get their time and support for the projects I believe in. It can be annoying for some, but at the end they all bail and collaborate. It’s worth it!
Which photographers or creatives inspire you most?
At the beginning I was all about Steven Klein and Patrick Demarchelier. Those impossible productions! As I moved along I obsessed over Inez & Vinoodh and David Sims. It’s all about attitude! But, I’m devoted to “The Idea”, so I can’t get Txema Yeste and Steven Meisel out of my mind...
You are the founder of UmnO International; tell us how this came about. When did you first decide to launch, create and produce the magazine?
I had all these ideas about different style guides that I’d like to see in magazines. So I created a publication for them. These sections were supposed to be quite revolutionary so the name of the magazine had to be very arrogant. “U My Number One” Magazine. It was decided!
We love UmnO Magazine’s honest, brutal and arrogant attitude and we’re sure its readers do too. How did you work to develop the magazine’s powerful personality?
It was very organic. No business strategy behind it really. Forgetting boundaries and treating the magazine like a person were the best tools to develop a strong identity.
When you began UmnO Magazine, what was your vision for the publication? What did you want to achieve?
I wanted to create “The REAL Bible of Fashion”. Not because I wanted it to be better than Vogue, but because it was going to be REAL, useful, practical. Yes, UmnO is crazy, but you still can make use of the ideas and trends we showcase.
What makes UmnO Magazine different?
We go where the rest of the magazines don’t dare to. How’s that for a field trip?
Tell us more about the ‘ironic and honest way’ in which you bring your readers ‘original and handy’ content.
First of all, the popular magazines have a very hypocrite way of making business out of fashion. 50% of the advertising is not even on the campaign pages or advertorials. People do not know this fact. Advertisers control a lot of what goes into the content of a fashion publication. In UmnO there is NO advertising. There will be in the future. But in no way will we let that get in the way of our editorial voice. Secondly, the ideas and trends we showcase may look crazy in our pages, but our reader can see how to apply this to real life.
Who do you find is your main audience?
It was initially conceived for a massive and young audience. The kids that listen to Rihanna and shop at H&M basically. When the fashion professionals started to pay attention to it we reshaped the format but maintained the content. Today, our readers are a mix of fashion industry members and young creatives in different fields.
UmnO Magazine prides itself on ‘being the real bible of fashion’. Tell us about the ‘Commandments’.
If you look at the most remarkable fashion houses, they represent almost a cult. Take Rick Owens as an example. In 2014, we took that a step further enunciating 10 imposed rules to our way of doing fashion. That makes ‘the cult’ easier to get and follow!
Do you have a large team on board at UmnO? Do you art direct and photograph the UmnO shoots yourself?
The art direction is always under my wing. A fashion editor needs to be present on every step of the editorial process. Otherwise, the concept gets diluted. I try to stay away from photographing for my own title. That narrows the vision of it. I rather work with different teams, so we take the initial idea where I had never imagined. Last issue counted with the support and collaboration of a team above 200 people. Next one will be sure bigger and keep growing. I’m the one centralizing all productions and content.
Wow! How does it feel knowing such a big team of people are working to turn your visions into a reality?
It doesn’t feel that big day-to-day, as you work in small teams. When the issue is finished and it’s time to put the credits together you are like, “the hell..?” It is when you reach to more ambitious projects when it gets very exciting. A few weeks ago we finished a film with 37 models in one day.
UmnO magazine is distributed in London and New York. Has it received an equally positive reception?
Both cities sold out of the past issue but London faster.
When is Issue 03 due to launch? Where will our readers be able to find it?
Issue 03 will be out in 2014. To make the wait more pleasant, we launched an online video platform. Here you can find Fashion films, Pop Culture parodies, and our very own Reality: the UmnO Diary. London and NY will always be our main focus. For next issue I’m looking into LA too. I’m very selective with the newsstands, it’s only sold at the cutting edge stockists of both cities.
What is the long-term dream, for both you as a creative and for the future of UmnO?
For UmnO to be monthly and much more immediate. For both myself and UmnO Magazine, I’ll tell you I have a list of artists I want to collaborate with. But that’s never the last dream of course...
Thank you, DOMINO. We wish both yourself and UmnO Magazine all the best and look forward to launch of Issue 03 later in the year.
Take a look at the work of both DOMINO. and UmnO Magazine online, via the following links.
© DOMINO. / UMNO MAGAZINE
SEE FULL IMAGE CREDITS IN ISSUE 01