Nighted Life Presents: Michael J DeMeo, founder of No Thoughts Zine

When it comes to photozines, you’d be hard pressed to find a series bringing more raw talent and awesome themes, all in a ridiculously high-quality format. Simply put, No Thoughts is the shit! Read up:

For the newbies- What’s No Thoughts Zine about?
No Thoughts is a photography magazine. We aim to publish a mix of established and emerging photography talent from around the world. We’ve published 9 issues so far. We’re a photobook disguised as a magazine. No Thoughts began in Portland, Oregon but is now based in Boston.

What’s the history?
Personally, I had been publishing zines for years during the punk rock / perzine explosion in the late 90s and early 2000s. I love the idea of taking that sense of intimacy that perzines portrayed and transferring that into a more fine art context. No Thoughts itself came to light during 2009 about time that we began to see this other wave of self-published photozines and photobooks emerge. I was working as a photo curator at Sugar Gallery which was a contemporary arts space in Portland, Oregon. We showed some amazing photographers there like Peter Beste, Jimmy Fontaine, Mike Schreiber, Ray Lego, and Elizabeth Weinberg. When the recession happened here in the US around 2008, the gallery closed. For a year I thought of different ways to use my contacts that trusted me as a curator. I finally settled on the idea of the magazine.

Who else is involved, and what are your individual roles within No Thoughts?
No Thoughts core members are just myself and Alyssa Noches. Although we have a revolving cast of people who help in various other jobs. Samuel Quinn, a Boston photographer repped by Panopticon Gallery, does a lot of our video work. Cheyenne Sophia Ruth, a young photographer from Portland, Oregon, curates our tumblr. Michael Beon, photographer from Philly writes our hiphop blog content. My role consists of doing of the online work, webstore, email, etc; I also work with contributors and help curate the content that ends up in the magazine. Handle our printing, and shipping. Alyssa Noches handles editing most of our submissions. We usually get around 700 submissions for each issue. We do go through every email and look at every image someone sends. 700 emails that all include 4-10 photographers. It’s a lot of work sometimes, but we always try to respond to every email. Alyssa also helps with doing the actual layout and design of the magazine as well.

How do you choose the photographs/ people to be featured?
We take submissions and I also solicit work from photographers. I would say 75% of what we publish is work that we asked photographers for. 25% of published work is made up of submissions, but sometimes that percentage is far less. Most issues are based on a certain theme. Issue 9 was our music issue.

How would you describe a “good” photo?
A good photograph is striking at first glance. It is properly composed, and original. A good photo can be taken on any device - phone, disposable, digital, or film. A good photo resonates with the viewer.

Do you guys work day jobs, too? How much of your time is spent on the No Thoughts hustle?
Alyssa and I both work at luxury fashion boutiques here in Boston. Alyssa is also enrolled in art school. Every other waking moment is spent on No Thoughts or our own photography.

So the 9th issue just dropped (it’s tight!)… How’d you decide on the music theme?
Music is such a powerful force in our lives. We personally are absorbed in music from the moment we wake ‘til we sleep. I feel like No Thoughts has always been linked to the music scene. We release an original DJ mix with each issue. This issue licensed sea captain and photographer Rhys Balmer made us a hardstyle / goth rave mix. Music is a great inspiration in our lives. We got some great work in this issue. Our cover shot is Jim Jones shot by Gavin Thomas. We have a really great, intimate portrait of Grimes by Isolde Woudstra. Elizabeth Weinberg shot Ariel Pink and TV on the Radio. Brad Elterman’s photos of Joey Ramone and Phil Spector… Brandon Aighty is also in this issue, who was just published by Nighted. This whole issue is amazing.

Did you foresee the zine coming this far when you started it up?
Never, the thing has just spawned a life of its own and we are grateful to come along for the ride. We’re archived at MOMA NY, when that happened I was just blown away.

What’s next for you guys?
We’re working with publishing other people’s work including a new project by Jimmy Fontaine. Issue 10 will be out in early 2013. We’re toying with ideas of making No Thoughts into a bigger format magazine. Trying to get more people involved and working with higher and higher caliber photographers. We’ll also be throwing some parties and events around the NYC / Boston area. 

Pick up No Thoughts 9 if you haven’t already! Keep up with the No Thoughts website, blog, and catch 'em on Twitter and Facebook.