What's your attitude towards creative direction and content that intersects with or centers, or stems from fandom?
I've always felt like a fan. I have always felt like the act of magazine making and writing, and taking pictures of subjects is a secondary art form. The people who do the primary form—making things from scratch, from their imaginations—I've always put them on a pedestal. Rightly or wrongly, that's me. Journalism, and especially the kind of magazine journalism that we do, should be egoless. And criticism, generally speaking, is not egoless. It can be when it's done really well—that's a whole rabbit hole, actually. But I come from a place of looking to celebrate people who are doing things that I believe in, whether that's a small shop owner in L.A. or Antwerp, or Atlanta, or it's a famous Hollywood actor, or it's Puffy on the cover of GQ.
A tendency towards celebrating those who make the primary form, but guided by whatever instincts you return to…
Right. Thinking someone is worthy of being celebrated and going in to celebrate them, doesn't mean that you do it dumbly or blindly. It's really interesting to explore all the fault lines in a personality. Getting to know what's dark, complicated, or misaligned.
There's a spectrum of fandom that moves from totally sincere and nostalgic to fandom that lacks a critical eye—that is recklessly, tediously devotional. But at GQ Style, it seems like the fandom that you're celebrating exists somewhere in between.
There's a story that I think kind of nicely articulates it. It's the piece I did with Andre 3000. I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and Outkast was—when I was 16—what I did. With all of my time, all of my angst, and with all of my desire to escape and go smoke cigarettes. I would drive around listening to Outkast. That's a huge part of my youth.