Andrew G Hobbs: Creating Centrefold Magazine

The Notebook | 16th April 2019

The Editor-in-Chief and founder of the insider fashion-industry title on digital overload and his hopes for the next generation of image-makers

The fashion photographer and Editor-in-Chief Andrew Hobbs has been at the helm of the celebrated bi-annual, art and fashion journal Centrefold for the best part of 17 years, showcasing high-quality imagery from innovative, boundary-pushing creatives to fashion and design industry insiders. Centrefold is a truly unique proposition in publishing, employing a large folding poster format to create truly engaging content that intends to give the reader a tactile and multi-layered viewing experience. Based in London, but working closely with his core team in New York, which includes Fashion Director Katie Burnett, and Art Director Ted Lovett, Hobbs packs every single issue with figures at the absolute bleeding edge of arts and style culture. Here, the Mortimer House member shares with Maslow’s Notebook his thoughts on the shifting line between art and fashion, fears about digital overload, and passion for the the vibrant energy of the next generation of image-makers.

Tell us about Centrefold. What first inspired you to create the magazine?
I came to London from Sydney way back in 92, looking to advance my photographic career, and during that time I worked with some amazing brands and publications, including i-D, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. In 2001, I asked Creative Director Warren Beeby to help me start a print publication. He had just done an amazing set of posters for Christies, which folded down like a roadmap, but with more unique and intricate folds. At the time Warren worked for Spin, a design agency based in Oval. Spin would often get prominent guest designers to pop in to talk to the agency and talk through their work to inspire the creative team. One of these guests was Wim Crouwel, who was showing us his screen printing posters, and this started my passion for poster art and typography, so, when I saw what Warren was doing with Christies, I just had to have something like that for me. Warren looked through my work and came up with the idea of a centre-folding poster that would build up over time as a collection to form a coffee table book. Centrefold magazine was born, and since then we've shot some real icons. I refer to Centrefold as a trade magazine, in that its main purpose is to encourage, introduce, and inspire the creative industry. We are unique in that sense.

What would you say first turned you on to photography and fashion?
In Sydney, we would get magazines months late, due to the time it took then for shipping from Europe. I would eagerly await every copy of Italian Vogue, Interview and The Face. At that time, fashion photographers were superstars, shooting supermodels. I’m talking, of course, about people like Herb Ritts, Peter Lindbergh, Patrick Demachelier, Steven Meisel, Bruce Weber. I spent time trying to emulate their styles thinking it would teach me how to be a fashion photographer. At the time, I felt these photographers were creating images that could hold their own, individually, say in an exhibition, or as a series in a magazine continuing the story. They were never selling clothes–they were selling a dream. It took me ten years to break the spell of their influence and start shooting my own style, but I’ll always appreciate what these photographers along with Richard Avedon and Irving Penn did to inspire me.

Where is the line between fashion photography and art, and how does Centrefold seek to bridge that divide?
Centrefold often commissions art photographers to shoot fashion related stories, some of my favourites include, Isabelle Wenzel, Paul Kooiker, and Viviane Sassen. But I think, in general, there are a lot of new generation photographers who cross or blur the line. I’m not sure anyone told them there was a line. The digital generation broke free of labels and technical training and jumped in headfirst. While I’ll always respect Irving Penn, I feel, after decades of photographers copying his work, it's nice to be experiencing something new, and it's definitely helped progress with my own photography.

How do you think digital media is changing style culture?
The rise of the influencer in my opinion has probably had the greatest negative affect on society. While in theory it opens opportunities to people who otherwise would not been seen, it also over saturates media with very poor quality work, which in my opinion can cause great harm. The dishonesty in the imagery, whether it be an individual promoting a product they would never use, or showing images of themselves on a private jet that never left the ground, or poorly photo-shopped ‘body perfection’. The crime of it all is not so much that some individuals are creating a name for themselves, it’s more that the brands have taken it on-board to such a degree. It’s all they can see. Gone are the days where you would eagerly await a campaign–remember Calvin Klein, Tom Ford? You would be excited to see what they would do that season, now brands largely ignore print media for a bunch of talentless insta 'stars' with fake followers, it’s weird.

Interview by John-Paul Pryor
Image: Kate Moss for Centrefold Magazine, shot by Venetia Scott, Guest Fashion Director Bay Garnett