New York-based Topical Cream is founded on a harmonious marriage of aesthetic and agenda, focusing on women working in FAT (that’s fashion, art and technology) and high-end, ‘Ms Magazine meets V Magazine’ visuals. Made up of a variety contributors, including r-u-ins’ Kari Altmann, resident art director Julia Kim, and of course, in-house poodle, Confetta, at the center of all things Topical Cream is artist Lyndsy Welgos (dis magazine, Vogue, Paper Magazine).
We spoke with Lyndsy over email to find out more about the community that driving Topical Cream forward, their message, and the cultural factors that brought them all together. As their mantra recommends: ‘apply liberally, reblog as neccessary’!
Viewing things remotely I was curious as to whether a sense of community has grown around the site since its inception, or if it pre-dated the the beginnings of Topical Cream?
When I first started Topical Cream, some of my my friends weren’t too sure and half were rabidly excited and one eight seemed to be a little threatened. I think maybe they weren’t sure how our intended focus would translate and how our presence would fit into the broader power structure at the time. Especially because it felt in 2013-2014 like there was such a one-dimensional moment happening online. Now we have strong global presence. Our community is who we are. Topical Cream is community publication nothing more nothing less.
Also curious does the site have a base (NY/LA) and do you feel this informs the output at all/ how inspired right now you are by your environment?
Topical Cream is based in New York. We are definitely influenced by the city and the people in it, but we think of ourselves as global citizens.
One point I found particularly resonant in your interview with Kari Altman was her ‘need to author my own context’ and the ‘fact you can create your own (product) no matter how big or aggressive the pre-existing things seem’, is this how you felt putting Topical Cream together?
Agreed. That is one the interviews where the issues we spoke about seemed really pressing. The need to own ones context and/or work is a struggle as old as time. This is actually on of the reasons why Topical Cream was founded.
Topical Cream feels like a magazine with an open agenda (‘a magazine focusing on women working in FAT: fashion, art and technology’) but a specific aesthetic. I was curious does one element (agenda/aesthetic) lead the editorial, or act as a catalyst for the other, or do they work in tandem, with the visual cohesion being essentially a (happy) by-product of regularly sharing ideas together?
When I first started Topical Cream, I wanted it to be a mixture of Ms Magazine and Visionaire. I loved the focus of Ms Magazine and the aesthetic and high production value of Visionaire. A lot of times I feel like magazines with a social message don’t focus on the visual or aesthetic elements as much because the message is so strong. However, I feel like a deft way to bring people into your message is to make it aesthetic pleasing. We aren’t there yet but we are getting better, watch out Cecilia Dean! JK! Love you!
FAT as an acronym feels very modern in terms of summarising how we consume images online, and symbolic of a wider evolution towards creatives increasingly incorporating elements of each of these within a singular practice. IRL establishments/institutions are still struggling to adapt to this way of thinking, is this true in your experience and do you ever feel pressure to compartmentalise your work?
At the end of the day everything is social. If you’re an artist and your best friend is a shoe designer, you’re most likely going to be helping them design a shoe at some point. To the extent that the internet is a place where girls working in F. A. T. can feel comfortable and seamlessly navigate then it’s probably making such cross pollination more likely.
I was curious as to Topical Cream’s relationship/engagements with industry entities, in particular model agencies/fashion prs – do you ever have issues accessing models/clothing for use in shoots which have a strong art element (as opposed to straightforward fashion ‘editorial’ work)? Are the models ever confused/challenged or do you generally cast people you know who have an understanding of the work?
We work with both nodels and regular models. The models usually “get it” as models are generally pretty smart / savvy girls and boys. The agencies like us because we are always very professional and treat everyone fairly. We usually shoot on the weekends and the biggest challenge is getting our hung over friends up and to the shoot on time, which is understandable.
Topical Cream family
Topical Cream family: (clockwise from the back) Yulu Serao, Whitney Mallett, Jeanne Graff, Marie Karlberg, Confetta Welgos-Anjargolian, Julia Kim, Lyndsy Welgos, Lena Henke, Anthony Thornton, Kari Altmann, Melissa Burns, Ana Cecilia Alvarez, David Riley.
Interview: William Wright.
3. Home Carry X Truth in Aging X Collaboration shot by Ben Talyor
4. “Her breath circulates through bent metal #staysafe” – Topical Cream/Safety Corp collaboration.
6. Lyndsy Welgos
7. Topical Cream ‘Family Shot’ by Lyndsy Welgos.