The word “curator” gets bandied about liberally these days, employed and heard at a frequency that foreshadows inevitable meaninglessness. A skill set once reserved for the upper echelon of salaried tastemakers — proto-influencers, if you prefer — today, everyone with an opinion and an Instagram account can lay claim to the title. But as this Tumblr-fied field of aforementioned curation becomes ever the more crowded, we would be wise to respect the talents of the real pros, those for whom sussing out quality in all its forms is a drive and compulsion that permeates.
Which leads us to Jae Joseph.
Joseph cut his teeth in the art world while living in Los Angeles some years ago. There, he worked with art tycoon Jeffrey Deitch, MOCA, and other notable creative spaces. Since moving to New York City, he has blossomed as a communications advisor, art direction consultant, and the Special Projects Editor for Cultured Magazine, where he has overseen collaborations with artists like Mickalene Thomas. (He also, we must add, puts on one of the best summer pool parties in New York City: Sunday School at SIXTY LES.)
While fashion and art are obvious interests, politics is always at the forefront. Like all good curators, what Joseph presents to world extends beyond simply beautiful and on-trend objects. He is an avid supporter of black artists and the LGBTQ community, and his latest collaboration, a festival called ENVSN, aims at empowering future female leaders. In a surface world, those who dig deeper always stand out. Below, we head to Joseph’s Brooklyn home to talk end goals, Myspace entrepreneurship, and shameless consumption of “summer only” drinks.
Place of residence:
Currently, I work as Special Projects Editor of Cultured Magazine. Additionally, I have been a consultant for more than eight years for galleries, hotels, museums, and artists, providing creative marketing communications.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
My only desire is to be happy. Whatever I am doing and wherever I am, happiness is the end goal.
Quote to live by:
“Big energy!” When you learn to have this, you can harness anything you set out to do.
First job you ever had:
I was 11 years old and wanted to make my own money, so I started this mail order service as an affiliate marketing rep selling cool t-shirts, novelty items, and such. I would get a percentage of what was sold. I would take photos from the catalogue, upload the items on my Myspace page, and sell them this way. I made a killing one summer selling Bart Simpson t-shirts.
Least favorite part of your day:
Due to fact that I don’t sleep past 5 or 6 a.m., I naturally want to go to sleep between 9 and 10 p.m. My brain shuts down by then, so it’s sort the worst part because that’s when friends want to have a drink or ask me to attend an event, or I’m quite possibly working an event myself.
Windows down, the song you’re playing is:
Nina Simone’s “Sinnerman” for sure.
Three guilty pleasures:
Omg, now you’re diving into parts of me that I’m selfish with.
Okay, so I love to drink rosé all year-round, even though it’s the drink of summer.
Secondly, I would have to say watching Absolutely Fabulous, BAPS, or Hysterical Blindness. There is something so interesting to me about the chemistry of two women who sort of have a tragic sisterhood love for each other. It tickles me.
And lastly I love coffee table books. I can walk into Rizzoli or Taschen and walk out with three or four books. It’s a bit of an obsession to be surrounded at home with these objects of beauty and imagination.
If you had to watch one movie on repeat for eternity, what would it be?
I thrive off of fantasy, and there is something magical about the film The NeverEnding Story. There’s this very childlike state that I believe I feel comfortable letting my mind travel to–this place of whimsy and unknown. A continuous state of curiosity and intrigue.
You have a million dollars to spend on art, you buy…
Oh, this is a loaded question. Investing in artists of color, black art, African art, and Afro-Latino art is of high importance to me, as this is a part my own story. You recently interviewed and shot Nathaniel Mary Quinn whom I admire. Other artists–who are also peers and friends–that I feel are shaping the culture are Derrick Adams, Mickalene Thomas, Lucia Hierro, Nina Chanel, Debrah Roberts, Rashid Johnson, Kennedy Yanko, Hugo McCloud, Hank Willis Thomas, Genevieve Gaignard, David Shrobe, and many others.
Plane, train or automobile for a trip?
Well, I guess that depends on the distance. I would say plane, although I have this obsession with train cars–being able to sit, ride, and enjoy the different environments you pass through.
What IS your favorite trip?
Without question, traveling to Tokyo was by far my favorite trip. I have a keen love for architecture, and I love Tokyo’s mix of ultra-modern and traditional.
Personal travel ethos:
Live like a local.
Drink of choice:
Glass of wine.
Beach house or tree house:
Treehouse on the beach!
Where was the best meal you ever had and what was it?
My favorite meal would have to be at this mom-and-pop bistro in Rome. I believe it’s called Hostaria Romana. My friends and I ate there two days back-to-back. Marsala sauce was pouring out of my skin by the end of the trip.
What is the best news you ever received?
I love children, specifically my nieces and nephews, so each time any of my siblings would call and say they were expecting I was overjoyed.
Who or what is largely overrated? Explain.
Cronuts! I mean, is this even still a thing? Who invented this and why was a regular donut or croissant not enough?
Briefly describe the best concert you have ever gone to.
Chaka Khan. It was a benefit concert. I was on a date and nearly cried when she entered the stage to perform. She has always moved me.
Where do you go for inspiration, peace of mind?
Inspiration comes to me in the most quiet of times, such as near water. Meditation is also an outlet. It allows me to empty myself of any distractions, worries, or limiting beliefs to regain clarity on where I am in that current moment and affording me the freedom to be present!