ONE OF NEW YORK’S NOTABLE CREATIVES, ALEC FRIEDMAN HAS WHAT THE NEW YORK TIMES REFERS TO AS “THE HUSTER MENTALITY OF THE NATIVE NEW YORKER THAT HE IS.” THE CONSULTANT, MODEL, PRODUCER AND PERHAPS MOST IMPORTANT, ASSOCIATE CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF DOSSIER JOURNAL, STOPPED BY FOR A DIRTY CHAT. WE TALKED A BIT ABOUT PAST / PRESENT / FUTURE, AND I LEARNED THAT FRIEDMAN IS NOT ONLY A HIP HOP ENTHUSIAST, BUT WHILE FREQUENTLY SEEN (AND PHOTOGRAPHED), HE IS SOMEWHAT OF AN INTROVERT.
TEXT Paul Bruno
PHOTOGRAPHY Jason Rodgers
DIRTY: WHERE IN NYC DID YOU GROW UP? HOW DID THAT ENVIRONMENT SHAPE WHO YOU ARE?
ALEC FRIEDMAN: I was born in Brooklyn, New York and I have lived there ever since. I think the thing I’m most aware of now, is how living in one place my whole life has limited the scope of what I do, and how I think; sadly, very New York-centric. Oddly, I am just discovering how I have been handicapped by this — what I used to believe was luck (being born in a place every talented person migrates to), I now see as an obstacle. I am beginning the process of reshaping my relationship to everything. Attempting to become an outsider in a place that I am uniquely an insider in.
D: WHERE DID YOU GO TO HIGH SCHOOL? COLLEGE? WERE YOU ONE OF THE ‘ART KIDS’?
AF: (LAUGHS) Well I don’t know that I was ever an “art kid”, I was certainly quiet, but I wasn’t thinking about art, I don’t think. I went to Berkeley Carroll, a private high school in Brooklyn, and I think I spent most of my time there trying to fit in. It was hard to find the right balance of cool and dork, so that took up most of my time. I was playing music then, but knew it wouldn’t be the thing I did with my life.
College was a result of mere inertia. I attended SUNY purchase, but only for like a year and only because of how effective the prep school environment (and all that surrounded it) was in instilling in me this notion of continuing your education. I had no idea what I wanted to be doing and hit a wall traveling at the most indolent and slothful off-speeds. It resulted in me dropping out. It wasn’t until getting a job at a shoe store in the L.E.S. shortly thereafter that I met with what could be described as the art scene, and by way of Nightlife and Djing etc., I received what I credit as my education. My girlfriend at the time, Justine D, was my professor and I was hot for teacher. Over this time I met and became friends with a lot of the creative types I work with now, or look to for inspiration.
D: WHAT’S THE FIRST THING YOU CAN REMEMBER SEEING THAT MOVED / INSPIRED YOU? HOW OLD WERE YOU?
AF: The 1992 retrospective of Jean-Michel Basquiat at the Whitney Museum. I was 13. I had seen art in galleries and museums before but this was the first time I recall the work staying with me and resonating on a personal level. I remember taking the brochure for the exhibition and placing it on a shelf with other printed materials that represented my life at that age; Books I was assigned to in school but wasn’t reading, comics I didn’t care about but owned because it connected me socially to kids who were enthusiastic about something. It stood out in a threatening and questioning way. I’m not entirely comfortable or confident with words, and had always gravitated towards visual ways of expressing what I’m thinking. This might have been the moment at which I understood that this was okay.
D: TELL ME ABOUT WHAT YOU WERE UPTO LEADING TO THE LAUNCH OF DOSSIER IN 2008. WHEN DID YOU JOIN THE DOSSIER TEAM?
AF: I had been working at a photo lab, high-end retouching, etc… I was managing there for five-plus years when I met Skye, whom is a founder and the creative director of Dossier. She and I attended the same high school in Brooklyn, but our paths didn’t properly cross until she turned up there inquiring about photo services upon recommendation of what turned out to be a mutual friend. We launched into a conversation that chaotically flipped back and forth from, what have you been up to since school to what kind of turnaround do you have for developing and contacting. She had just moved back from Paris after living there working as photographer, the managing editor of Self Service and a studio manager for Nan Goldin. We started dating and subsequently decided that with the help of her oldest friend Katherine Krause we could draw from the pool of amazingly gifted friends we had; a place to bring together all the facets of our lives, to create a file of ideas, beautiful things, inspiring words, etc… The team was assembled humbly with this one goal.
D: IS THERE ANY ONE DOSSIER STORY THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
AF: Anything I get to be a part of on any level I am proud of, I couldn’t play favorites. One highlight has been curating a portfolio where we asked photographers to share a secret with us. This appeared in issue 6. We received some amazing and personal images. Making a connection to the contributors and the readers is key for me so the whole process start to finish was stimulating. It went on to become a show in LA at space 15 Twenty.
D: WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE NEXT ISSUE?
AF: We have only just begun to plan, you will have to wait.
D: ASIDE FROM YOUR MAG, WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
AF: I am a total omnivore, I will want to do just about anything that is put in front of me if it is with honest, inspired people, and I have time. If been doing some consulting, some casting, some production with a good friend Bobby Kopp, some modeling, a little prop styling, etc… there could always be more. I used to think it was all about creating a concise wake, something people could look at and say “oh that guy does so-and-so.” It must be something I absorbed at home, and in prep school, but now, to go with the analogy, I’m realizing that wake boarding is much more fun when the boat zigs and zags and chops up the water. It gives you something to navigate, a challenges and provides you more opportunity to try moves/tricks. It should be noted I have never wake boarded.
D: NAME A DREAM PROJECT YOU’D LIKE TO LAND.
AF: Anything that takes me out of the city into unfamiliar geographies and communities. This goes beyond a general desire to travel, but is more closely related to buffering my NY thought process and that whole wake boarding / boat thing.
D: WHO’S WORK ARE YOU FEELING RIGHT NOW?
AF: Can I just list here? I’m going to list:
D: IN ANOTHER LIFE, YOU WERE A __________________.
AF: I’ve been told a few times that I could be a character in a Wes Anderson Movie. That’s not really an answer to the question, but I’ve always liked comparison.
D: IF WE WERE TO BREAK INTO YOUR ITUNES, WHAT’D BE PLAYING ON HEAVY ROTATION?
AF: Rap, Rap and more Rap
D: TELL US SOMETHING DIRTY ABOUT YOURSELF THAT NO ONE KNOWS.
AF: A girlfriend of mine in high school kept a shoebox under her bed with our used condoms in it. I think it was because she was afraid to throw them out and have her parents find them. I found out from a friend she dated after me who found the box when looking for a lost sock.