Azia Javier’s freshly launched publication A3 Magazine was born out of her desire to create a platform that could educate, empower and celebrate Black and brown communities through the lens of creativity.
The inaugural publication, The Dreamers Issue, launched on Martin Luther King Day, with its theme drawing inspiration from his landmark speech. Fronted by Brooklyn-based photographer Andre D Wagner, the issue includes features on filmmaker Jared Malik Royal, graphic artist Elise Swopes, interdisciplinary artist Malanda Jean-Claude and plenty more, all of which are also available online.
Known for his stirring black and white portraits, Wagner was chosen for the cover based on his “ability to capture candid moments and direct our attention to the subtleties we often miss in our daily lives,” Javier explained. “His story and perspective speak to what A3 Mag stands for, building community over clout.”
The magazine brings together a vast range of disciplines, as part of Javier’s vision to relax the boundaries around creativity. “The aim is to take a more fluid perspective on creativity because I generally feel most beings are creative whether they claim that or not. The pressure of claiming creativity makes it feel as if you need to live up to something, instead of just using your imagination and being happy with the outcome,” she tells us.
“There are so many institutions and barriers to entry in the art world. I want this magazine to break down that to build a common place for Black and brown artists to be celebrated in all forms. There is so much talent in this world, so much we haven’t even seen yet, and I’m excited for the magazine to shed light on that.”
Between the creative work being showcased and the photographs taken to accompany each interview (mostly taken by the interviewees’ friends), the magazine is filled with striking imagery. It’s all brought to life on the printed page by designer Lewi Yonas, who Javier reached out to after discovering his profile online.
Yonas recognised the ambitiousness of Javier’s vision, yet the project has been personally ambitious for him too, with each stage a valuable learning curve. “I had some experience designing magazines for personal projects and have always loved collecting and experiencing print, but have never had any ‘real’ experience when it came to designing print-ready spreads. It would be a monumental understatement to say I learned a lot through each phase of this project,” Yonas explains.
“Azia sincerely knew what she wanted and has a talent for providing clear direction and knowing what’s dope and what’s not making the cut, in terms of culture and content,” Yonas adds. In terms of the design, it was key to find a balance between unique and approachable – “a magazine that was easily accessible and not too high-brow, and one that had the freedom to step away from norms and completely ‘be itself’, for lack of better terms.”
The process of launching a magazine during the pandemic has, understandably, been challenging for Javier, who is also a creative at Roc Nation/Tidal. However, she adapted to the circumstances and, remarkably, managed to build the magazine from the ground up in a matter of months.
“I’ve accepted this as a new normal and embraced the connections you can make virtually. Everyone I’ve worked with to create this work of art I’ve met virtually or cold-emailed. Although some went unanswered, all who are a part of the first issue are now a part of the A3 family,” she says. “The pandemic just showed me what’s possible as a creative. If I can create an entire magazine in five months virtually, imagine what I can do in a year, or once the pandemic is over. The possibilities are infinite.”
The Dreamers Issue is out now; a3mag.com