I’ve always been a collector of dope magazines (even if I had to drop $20+ on it) and KISS magazine is definitely on my list of dope magazines. Thanks to the brains behind this beautiful beacon of creativity… Publisher SEAN M. RUSH, who creates a new wave every issue. I love it, because it’s unpredictable and the amount of planning that goes into every single detail of pre/post production is inspiring! From the science behind delivering the mags, to the insanely anticipated fashionable Art show that brings the KISS magazine full circle is worth the wait.
And if you’ve never caught the wave of KISS magazine, no worries, the latest issue, CANVAS can be downloaded online featuring some of the industries dopest wardrobe stylists, makeup artists, photographers, models, and designers. “This issue is entitled “Canvas,” we put everything in this issue. It is a total of 18 editorials from some of the best creatives in the business,” explains Rush. “When I say best I am not saying the most popular, I am just saying best at what they do. We called this issue “Canvas” because it’s a visual work of Art.”
That said, check out this dope 1:1 interview with SEAN M. RUSH x Row A Seat 1… Have you reserved your seat? Don’t fret, just take a seat and check it out below along with images from the CANVAS issue.
Row A Seat 1: When did you fall in love with fashion?
Sean M. Rush: I fell in love with fashion the moment I fell in love with Hip-Hop. From the beginning of listening to Hip-Hop I wanted to dress like the artists. I had Adidas when I was younger because of RUN DMC. I had Lotto sneaks because of LL Cool J. I wore hammer pants because of MC Hammer. As Hip-Hop evolved in fashion I evolved with it. I am not ashamed to admit the influence of those I admire had on my fashion choices. Now me being a mature man, I don’t follow fashion like I used to, I would say I have developed my own sense of style.
Row A Seat 1: Tell us about the genesis of KISS magazine.
Sean M. Rush: KISS started as a modeling agency, about 10 years ago. It was called KISS Models and KISS MODELOS. Urban modeling was hot at the time, you had Melissa Ford and so many others being stars in videos. My partner and I took advantage and managed several models. As the magazine industry kept booming we decided to put our models in print form. My partner at the time, Treagen was a dope photographer so it was easy. If you look at the early issues of KISS they are very risque and you can see the urban modeling influence in them.
Row A Seat 1: As an independent publication what obstacles have you faced to stay afloat?
Sean M. Rush: Well we are doing what many are not, we are pushing a print publication in a digital world. The main obstacle is staying relevant and timeless in a world that is very fast and forgetful. Also the news stands, and magazine racks are really there for nostalgia at this point. I often walk into a Walgreens or CVS or even Wal-Mart and just see huge publications sitting there. So the entire industry is refocusing, and trying to deliver a product that gets the consumer to come out of their pockets or even get their attention.
Row A Seat 1: I admire the fresh appeal KISS magazine brings to its readership one issue after another. Where do you pull inspiration from?
Sean M. Rush: The original inspiration came from magazines from the UK. You have so many great international magazines: DANSK, Vogue Italia and HUNGER to name a few. When we first started, we bought at least 20 magazines and just studied layouts and photography for hours. We wanted to present our culture at the same level as the top tier mags, but not with their models but our models.
Today, I still do the same thing, myself and my creative director/partner Charles Thomas we will go to the speciality mag stores a few times a year, and spend hundreds on top tier mags. Some mags cost $20, but I haven’t bought one yet that I regretted. We are at the point now that we have so many creative people working on the mag that we are making our own identity. My dream is to have young people of color saying “I know I have made it in my career, when I get in KISS”.
Row A Seat 1: In your current issue, I see you worked with celebrity wardrobe stylist Olori Swank, can you share that experience?
Sean M. Rush: I have wanted to work with Olori for some time now. I have followed her career for many years so when we had the opportunity I was excited. Now BeBe, you know I am honest so I have to say at first it was very difficult. Anything you can think of went wrong for her shoot, our original photographer had cancelled the night before. She had so many demands, but not diva demands just very particular about her presentation and people she works with.
As I got around her more I came to respect the level of pressure to be the best at all times she puts on herself. We felt that working with her, but in all honesty she is one of the best people I have ever met. You learn a lot being around Olori from the way she approaches her brand and her career. I am extremely honored to have her as our cover for this issue.
Row A Seat 1: Sean, you have such an eclectic background in several mediums of communications. What are your thoughts on fashion bloggers and the rise of their success?
Sean M. Rush: I think the fashion blogger is on the way out. One thing about studying business and mediums is that they have eves and flows. The fashion blogger has been at a peak for a couple of years now, and they are having a great run. Eventually it has to change, no one saw the fashion blogger 10 years ago being as powerful as they are today. I would say they are more influential than magazines in some cases. However, it has to change into something else, what that change will be only time will tell.
Row A Seat 1: What can we expect to see from KISS magazine’s next issue?
Sean M. Rush: This issue is entitled “Canvas,” we put everything in this issue. It is a total of 18 editorials from some of the best creatives in the business. When I say best I am not saying the most popular, I am just saying best at what they do. We called this issue “Canvas” because it’s a visual work of Art.
The entire issue is shot in studio on backdrops. We are known for our on location photography, but this issue we challenged ourselves to create something that looked like a modeling portfolio. It is very simple, but it is very KISS. When you pick up our magazine you should get it, we don’t hide it at all. I am happy to say we are just adding to pushing our culture forward.
Photo Cred: All photos were done by Charles Andre Thomas – http://www.charlesandrethomas.