Q&A: Culture Magazine Iconica Talks Upcoming Second Issue
By August Edwards
Albuquerque has a long, proud history of cutting-edge DIY culture. After a year on the scene, Iconica Magazine is preparing for the release of their second issue, providing a platform for multiple artforms through the lens of fashion and style.
The magazine is run by two savvy individuals, Cam Ward and Natassja Santistevan. Together they coordinate photo shoots, create their own content and collect content from contributors, manage artist correspondence, and are learning the trials and triumphs of printing.
Iconica emphasizes the stunning blend of the different facets of art entrenched in contemporary Albuquerque culture. Flipping through the pages of the magazine is not unlike attending a local show - another place where you'll witness the immersion of photography, music, fashion, and other forms of visual art.
Iconica's second issue will be released this April. Their first issue was largely dedicated to independent music, and I'm willing to bet that's a theme that will hold up. Check out their website here and follow them on Instagram (@iconica.magazine) for their latest news.
ABQGR: How did Iconica come to be?
Cam Ward: Originally, we were working in the same field, working with local artists - Natassja was working for Ancora Café where they were event coordinating. When I first met them, I was writing an article on their business. I was working with the Daily Lobo, and I was interviewing them and learning a little bit about Natassja and their style, and I liked that they had great style.
Natassja Santistevan: [At an event,] Cameron was like, “I love your style. Would you ever want to do a fashion magazine?” and I said, “Yeah, that would be cool!” Then the next time they came in and was like, “Do you actually wanna do a magazine?” And then we planned a meeting to start discussing everything.
Cam: All the little topics. We started with a vision board, and it took two months to push ourselves to thinking, we can do this.
What excites you about art and artists in New Mexico?
Natassja: I don’t know one single person that’s an artist here that only does one thing. I feel like every single person that we’ve met and we continue to meet is always doing five different things, and I think that’s such an amazing trait that we have here. You have to be a hustler if you’re living in Albuquerque. You gotta know a lot of different ways to make moves, and that’s how everyone is here. Anyone can do anything, and that works for community peace, collaboration, and the growth and development of everyone here.
Cam: I think ‘cause it’s always evolving, and it has so many topics to art. It could be painting one day, and collage the next day. Also the emotion that comes in with it from the artist—we may be struggling, but at least we’re putting our art out there.
Natassja: I feel like the level of artist here is so high. I saw this tweet the other day that said, your friend or someone you know is just as good or even better than your favorite artist. I think that that is very true for the people here, because it’s so small in Albuquerque that if you don’t have a hobby, you get bored. So I feel like people dive into their passions, and they get so good at their passions.
I love that you’re creating a space for every facet of art in your magazine. What my viewers may want to know is: what kind of music are you looking to feature in your magazine?
Cam: When we did our top ten artists in the first issue, we didn’t have any preference at all. We just, with our ears, were like, “This is good.” Really no expectations at all, we listen to everything.
Natassja: We definitely don’t want to turn anyone away. We will accept whatever it is that you’re willing to show us. Who are we to judge what is good and what is not? I don’t think we’re qualified for that. We’re just putting a platform for people. If someone sends us a song, we’re not going to go, “Oh, I don’t like it so I’m not going to write about it.” That’s not what we’re gonna do.
Are you looking for submissions or contacts from musicians right now?
Natassja: Absolutely. We want to expand a lot more and see what we can make of it.
What’s the most difficult part about putting together a whole magazine?
Cam: Well, we definitely got the photoshoots down.
Natassja: I think it’s more so chasing the clock. I think that especially with this second issue, time has not been a thing that I’ve been thinking about. It’s been more creating, creating, creating. Now is when I have to think about how much time we have left—that’s going to create a lot of pressure. I think we have the skillsets for everything we need to do now—now it’s just, will we have enough time to do all we want to do. And the printing. Printing is always a challenge. You never know what’s going to happen with that at all.
What are some of the most rewarding parts of this fantastic endeavor?
Cam: I think at the end of it, after finishing issue one, was telling people about it. Sharing what we’ve done and how we’re gonna continue to go with this process. It’s a big accomplishment even having it printed, and now we’re sharing the word.
Natassja: I’m very proud of us for doing it, but I also enjoy seeing people who are in it and been a part of it celebrate, and then seeing people who wanna be involved in it. I think what we do is great, but I like to see the other people’s reaction more. We’re doing it for them as much as we’re doing it for us. To see other people be excited about it makes me excited about it.
What’s something that you think people should know about your magazine?
Natassja: It’s just us. Behind the Instagram account, the website, the printing, the emailing, communications—it’s only two people doing it. And I feel like some people look at it and think it’s a whole crew of people. Two people are doing it. Another thing is we strive for all-inclusivity. I’m trying to get us to a place where we do not support people who have had any kind of allegations because I want us to have a lot of integrity. That can be hard to do with a business, but it’s definitely important to me.
Cam: We come from culture. Albuquerque has a lot of culture, and we have a lot of culture in ourselves. We have a lot of personalities of ourselves.
Natassja: We also pay for everything. Support us, help us.
What’s something that you learned from the first issue that helped you with the process of the second issue?
Natassja: It’s definitely easier the second time around because the first time it was a lot of, ooh, can we do this? Now we know we can, and we know the process, so it’s been a lot easier to get photoshoots done, find people, ask for help. I still hope we learned enough from the first time with printing. Formatting! Formatting and printing are the ones we will find out very shortly.
Cam: We definitely had our top priorities, and we accomplished that really fast. Writing down our priorities helps us eventually catch up with time.
What do you love most about Albuquerque music and musicians?
Cam: They’re able to express themselves with their fashion statements. Many will come out with a planned outfit that they’re gonna wear, and some of them will go out there and give no fucks. And that’s the best thing—not giving anything.
Natassja: The lyricism here is phenomenal. Khalisol is in a national contest for that [American Song Contest on NBC, premiered in March 2022; Khalisol is representing New Mexico] and I think that is very fitting. Also, I know a lot of people in bands that are in several bands. The music they play can be very different. The fact that one person can play five different genres is incredible. And it contributes to a lot of that idea of people being able to do more than one thing. It comes full circle for me. It’s good, it’s good to never be bored, and to be unexpected, and to bring something new to the table all the time.
I want to give a really big shoutout to Toy Barn. I think Toy Barn set the stage for all the music stuff that’s going on right now. Them and Fly Honey Warehouse were the first places [I saw] to be doing house shows like that, and I miss Toy Barn so much. That was one of the first places I went where I got in touch with the music scene. A lot of the artists that were a big part of that have left now, which was kind of sad. But they paved the way.
Cam: I love the passion that people have for their music, when they’re performing, and their performances that are about to happen. Going out there, reaching out to people, putting flyers everywhere, like Walmart - Lowmello and Jimmy Climbs just did that.
Natassja: I don’t feel like anyone here is half-assed at what they do. Either they don’t do it at all, or they go ball-to-the-wall, 150% into it.
Is there anything I missed that you want to talk about that?
Natassja: We’re looking for musicians to play at our release, so we’re looking for bands. Keep making art, man.
Cam: Break the boundaries for sure. Put your foot through the door and get out there.