Founder of OOF Magazine, Eddy Frankel, Talks Making A Success of His Sideline Project
OOF is a magazine which explores the relationship between art and football. The diverse set of artists and artworks featured in the magazine peel back the layers of meaning in this obsessive sport and help make sense of something bigger and more ungraspable in the process. Football and art have been intertwined for centuries, and this pocket-sized magazine attempts to delve into it all that little deeper. We had the pleasure of speaking with OOF's founder, Eddy Frankel, to discover what prompted him to start his publication, which contributors he's found most inspiring, and his plans for future issues of the magazine.
So Eddy, can you tell us a bit about yourself, what you do, and how OOF fits into your life?
I’m a real life, actual, full-time journalist. I’m Time Out London’s Art and Culture editor and main art critic, so my life is spent going to art galleries and having opinions, which is a pretty ridiculous job. OOF is my extracurricular project, which I started just over a year ago with my partners Justin and Jennie Hammond. It fits in by being the thing I think about when I’m not thinking about art reviews. So it occupies about 30-40% of my meagre brain space.
For those who aren’t familiar with OOF, describe its concept, the meaning behind the name, and the stories/writers involved?
OOF is a magazine that looks at the intersection of art and football. Art has used football to express various ideas for centuries, and we look at the artists who have used the sport to say things about beauty, community, passion, belief, violence, racism, and oppression. The writers are, for the most part, established art writers who love football, and have an interest in talking to (or about) the artists who share that passion. As for the name, the word 'OOF' is taken from an Ed Ruscha painting of the same title, which I love but has no relationship to football. When people give me the old side-eye when I tell them about OOF, I always refer to Philippe Parreno and Douglas Gordon’s ‘Zidane: a 21st Century Portrait’. That’s sort of the quintessential art/football piece - the one where people go 'ooooh I get it'. It's also just the sound of someone getting tackled really fucking hard!
"Art has used football to express various ideas for centuries, and we look at the artists who have used the sport to say things about beauty, community, passion, belief, violence, racism, and oppression."
How does OOF differ from other football culture mags on the shelf? Why do you think people have engaged with it?
Our focus is very, very narrow. We’re not interested in documentary photography, illustration, fashion, or anything that’s not fine art. By looking exclusively at one particular area, we get to go really deep, and have a lot of fun. I think the idea of art and football strikes people as so unusual that their interest gets piqued, and then we get to slap them ‘round the chops a bit by proving it’s not unusual at all, it’s just really good.
I loved reading in a recent interview that seeing many of your friends find success with starting a magazine is what made you believe that OOF was possible. What else inspires you and keeps you motivated to push forward with your ambitions, even on the toughest of days?
I think that if you have a passion project, you have it for a reason. Personally, I need to be making something, all the time. Even though I have an amazing job that I love, I really crave the sense of accomplishment that you get from building something completely from scratch. I can’t sit around and watch boxsets or any of that crap; when I’m not at work I want to be making shit. It’s just a drive I have and I like to surround myself with people who share that too.
"I reckon that if you’re thinking about the struggle, or the balance, or how to split the hours, you’re doomed. If it’s something you really want to do, you just do it, and it’s no hardship, right?"
What’s the most exciting feature, for you, that’s been published in your magazine?
Well, obviously, I’m going to pick something that I’ve written because I’m an arrogant prick, aren’t I! But in the very early days of the magazine I met a Polish artist called Marcin Dudek who’d spent his youth as a football hooligan in Krakow. He hadn’t been back to a game in twenty years, and we decided to go together. It was terrifying, violent and fascinating. I think the article that came out of it sort of exemplifies what OOF is really about, which is exploring big artistic societal themes through football. That first issue is now sold out though, so you’re screwed if you want to read my brilliance.
Who would you love to have write a feature for OOF? And is there a story/topic you've not yet touched upon but would love OOF to get its teeth into?
Ah, actually there’s this fantastic philosopher, Simon Critchley, who wrote Notes on Suicide and the incredible What We Think About When We Think About Football. I would love to have him in a future issue. In terms of topics, I think delving deeper into the aesthetic theory of football – the heavy academic aspects – is something I’m really keen to do in future issues of the magazine.
What’s the scale of your ambition? What are you hoping to achieve with OOF Magazine?
Pfff, I dunno. Really, I just want to make a magazine that I like and that looks good and reads even better. We’re doing a lot of curation and events too, which is really exciting, but I just keep reminding myself that making a magazine is the thing I really enjoy. Would it be nice to live off it? Sure, maybe, but I’m not stressing over it. I’m just having a good time. That's what I want now and that's all what I want for the future.
For anyone juggling full-time work with a sideline ‘passion project’ like yourself, what advice would you give / how do you balance the two yourself?
It’s a funny one, because I reckon that if you’re thinking about the struggle, or the balance, or how to split the hours, you’re doomed. If it’s something you really want to do, you just do it, and it’s no hardship, right? If it’s a stress and you’re finding it hard work, you’re doing something wrong. Over the three issues, we've put in alot of work - blood, sweat and tears - but to be honest I’ve never really thought about it. I just did it, you know?
Finally, what can people expect from Issue 3 of the magazine?
More of our usual brilliance, obviously.