July Featured People: Sohrab Golsorkhi
Interview & Translation / Cozi GE
This month at Xindanwei People, we proudly present Sohrab Golsorkhi from Tank Magazine. Sohrab has been working at Xindanwei co-working space for months. Let’s see what he’s coping with!
1. Welcome to Xindanwei.com, Please introduce yourself. Could you tell us where you’re from and how you got started in the field?
My name is Sohrab Golsorkhi, I am originally from London. I work as an art director for Tank. I have worked at Tank for four years. I actually studied architecture at Cambridge University but it was never my intention to become an architect, so when I graduated I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. I started out interning in the art department, working on Tank Magazine, as well as our other titles O: and O:Man, and on projects for Tank Form. Somehow I never left.
2. Can you explain a little about Tank Magazine? What it is? Who it is for? What do you do for it?
Tank Magazine is an idependent quarterly magazine which positions itself at the apex between fashion, art, politics, and music whilst maintaining the highest production values. For this reason it has been able to feature some of the leading photographers, artists, and journalists in its 13 years of existence even without the backing of a major publishing house. It was founded by my father, Masoud Golsorkhi, and Andreas Laeufer in 1998. They had both been working in the fashion industry for a number of years. Masoud as a fashion photographer for magazines such as The Face, iD, and Italian Vogue, and Andreas as an art director for various brands and magazines. Tank formed out of their frustration with the increasingly commercial nature of the magazines such as iD and the Face, which they had read and later worked within through the late eighties and nineties.
Gradually as the magazine started to build a following, it started to attract the attentions of brands such as Levi’s and Prada who commissioned us to design and publish magazines for them. Both of which were highly successful. Four issues of Mined were produced for Levi’s and won design awards. And? was a one-off newspaper created for Prada which was sold on newsstands all over the world featuring writing by the likes of Noam Chomsky and Theodore Zeldin. More commercial work followed leading to the creation of our sister company Tank Form. Tank Form is our boutique creative agency, it works alongside Tank Magazine, the two sides of the business supporting and complementing each other. Tank Form works mainly with luxury brands such as Armani, Swarovski, Lane Crawford, and Vivienne Westwood, on a diverse range of projects from publishing and e-commerce, to strategic planning and product design.
3. What were the circumstances that lead you to coming to Shanghai?
We have worked with companies in China for a number of years on projects for Tank Form, and since its inception in 1998, Tank Magazine has featured works by China artists and filmmakers. We found that the largest source of traffic to our website (tankmagazine.com) was from China, this despite the fact we don’t have any official distribution channels in mainland China. We are in the process of redesigning tankmagazine.com, it is due to launch in late September. Our plan is to make it a bilingual English and Mandarin website. So we decided to set up a small office here in Shanghai so that we could pursue new opportunities for Tank Form and to search for and meet potential future contributors to our new website when it launches.
4. What are some of the biggest challenges you faced in developing the project?
I decided to come here with as open a mind as possible. I really did not know what to expect, I spent a month in Beijing five years ago, but I knew the city, like the rest of the country has changed immensely since then, so I have been pleasantly surprised with how I have been able to deal with things as they arise. The big thing for me at the moment is trying to find bright, creative people who share the Tank ethos that I can hopefully work with in the near future.
5. What inspire you in life?
Its a bit of a cliche, but the truth is that inspiration is everywhere, and that even in China with its so-called Great Firewall, you can get access to more or less anything online. The problem these days is one of knowing where to look (and also maybe having the will to do it), because sometimes there is just too much stuff. I am really into tumblr for the past year or more. I have about ten blogs at the moment I think. The thing I love about it is the simplicity. That you can have an idea and just do it. I don’t know how to code, but by cutting and pasting bits and pieces from other blogs I see I can sometimes make things look how I would like. I tend to use tumblr as a kind of filtering device. I have an idea, or am inspired by something and just start pulling things together that fit the usually quite simple and narrow brief of each individual blog. It doesn’t have to last forever, you can add things and then stop, but it will always be there online for my own future reference. I guess I am a bit of a digital hoarder in this way. Anyway you should check out sohrabgolsorkhi.tumblr.com it has links to all my different blogs.
I also love love love football. I always say that this is the truest statement I can think of. I tend to be quite up and down about the things I’m into but football is the only constant. Even when it is bad, whether I am watching or playing, I can still find one little beautiful moment that makes it all worthwhile. I was so sad when Paul Scholes retired last month that I stayed up all night watching and ripping videos from youtube. Another thing for me to hoard away on my computer hard disk!
6. What got you interested in fashion?
Not only fashion, because I think that what made Tank standout from the start was a real sincere engagement with other aspects of our culture too, the idea that you can be into fashion and be bright and engaged with the world. In any case I think it was really just a natural process having grown up around it. When Tank first started they were working out of my family home in north London, so coming home every day after school it was hard to avoid, then as I got a bit older I would also assist my father on photo shoots for the magazine. It was never a case of my father insisting that me or any of my siblings had to join the family business as it were, but being immersed in something like that for over a decade kind of made it inevitable I think.
7. Thanks again for providing Xindanwei.com this opportunity to interview you. Any final thoughts for our readers?
If anybody reading this is a writer, photographer, graphic designer, or anything else really, they should definitely get in touch! My email address is: email@example.com Or you can also visit me on the 4th floor of Xindanwei.