guest curator

Julien Beaupré Ste-Marie

Photography editor extraordinaire and Managing Editor of Books and Exhibitions for the Magenta Foundation, Canada’s pioneering non-profit charitable arts publishing house.

Our ongoing Guest Curator series continues with another exclusive collection of photography and an interview with Julien Beaupré Ste-Marie, Photography editor extraordinaire and Managing Editor of Books and Exhibitions for the Magenta Foundation, Canada’s pioneering non-profit charitable arts publishing house.

Julien is a Montreal based Photography editor, art buyer and creative producer. It was during a formative trip to London, in his early 20s, that he found his life calling and developed a keen interest in the visual arts, particularly photography. Upon his return to Montreal he completed a bachelor’s degree in Art History and Communications and also started a photography, arts and fashion blog. And so started his foray into the world of publishing. It was during his tenure as Photo Editor of the reputable publication enRoute, Air Canada’s inflight travel magazine, that he began to collaborate with the Magenta Foundation as a Juror on its Flash Forward competition and then as a Curator on the annual group show.

Read on to discover the role art plays in his life, expert tips on collecting works of art by emerging artists and what is to come at the Foundation.

How did you come to be the Magenta Foundation’s Managing Editor? What initially drew you to art, and how did you acquire expertise in the field over the years

When I was 19 years old I left Montreal for London in search of what I would do with my life. The people I had the chance to meet and hangout with were artists or connected to the visual arts. They introduced me to the art scene and I immediately loved going to galleries, discovering new work and getting to know the people evolving in the milieu. Before that time, I had no clue that I would be so attracted to photography and art in general. I went on to study Art History and Communications in university and started a blog about photography, art and fashion. That’s when I really got into publishing and it became clear that this is what I would do with my life. I worked with magazines as a Photography Editor and started to collaborate with Magenta as a Juror on its Flash Forward competition and then as a Curator on the annual group show. I got to know MaryAnn Camilleri, the founder of Magenta, and we loved collaborating together on different projects. It recently led to my role as Managing Editor / Books & Exhibitons. All of it just happened naturally.

Collectors, novice and experienced, may be interested in emerging artists for a variety of reasons. What advice can you give on how to evaluate the work of an emerging artist without having much outside opinion to work with?

I think that when collecting emerging work, it really comes down to your personal taste and what your instinct tells you about the work. I would ask myself one simple question : do I love this? Some of the greatest collections have been created by people who love art and didn’t overthink it. Of course, your general knowledge of the art world and the place where you see the work you want to buy will give some context to your decision, but I truly think that trusting your gut feeling is the way to go when collecting emerging artists.

What are you especially excited for this year at the foundation?

Where launching a series of smaller and more democratic publications showcasing specific series or projects by different photographers. They will be faster to put out there which will allow us to be more responsive to projects we really feel should be published in a timely manner and don’t necessarily need to be a coffee table book. And of course we’re working on important monographs for established artists. It will be a very busy year.

Where are you finding ideas for your work these days?

I stay in touch with my network of photographers. They email me with new work all the time and if they have been quiet for sometime, I reach out to see what they are working on. I’m also looking at different photography festivals (like Flash Forward) and specialized publications, but it’s often through direct contact with the artists that I stumble upon ideas for publications, exhibitions or projects.

What’s your favorite place to see art?

I love seeing art in person, especially when I first saw it in books or online. It’s always such a reveal to be able to see the piece and to react to it with your whole self. Don’t get me wrong, I’m addicted to books and i strongly believe in the web as a way to democratize art, especially since access to it is often harder if you don’t live in one of the big art cities. But the effect of seeing art in person goes beyond your eyes and your mind : it truly is an holistic experience.

Do you collect art yourself? What do you look for in the art that you collect?

Yes, but most of the art I own was given to me by friends or artists I had the chance to collaborate with. It makes for a very eclectic collection but a truly personal one. Each piece reminds me of a person or a moment of my life.

What work of art do you wish you owned?

This is such a difficult question! There are many art pieces I would love to live with, but if I had to name one right now I would say a photograph from a series of self-portraits by Jorge Molder I had the chance to see at Galerie Bernard Bouche during Paris Photo two years ago. To this day, I still think about those photographs quite often.

What would you do to get it?

Work hard!

How would you describe yourself if you did not have art in your life?

Sad. Art is what motivates me to always work harder and thrive.