Home Graphic designer Iconica Magazine features New Mexico lifestyle and artists

Iconica Magazine features New Mexico lifestyle and artists

Cameron Ward, standing, and Natassja Santistevan are the creators of Iconica Magazine, a new publication focused on New Mexico lifestyle and art. (Courtesy of ICONICA Magazine)

light pointThe culture of New Mexico is an iconic brand in itself, well exemplified by the struggles, perseverance and eclectic minds of the creatives.

Cameron Ward and Natassja Santistevan aim to promote the state’s cultural innovation through their new magazine, Iconica.

Ward said, “Our goal for the magazine is for it not just to be a platform for people to showcase their work, but also a platform to expand their relationships.”

The publication focuses on modern lifestyles, showcasing the imperceptible world of fashion, the perspective of artists and photographers, and the underground cadence of local musicians.

Even blacksmiths can share their poetry, and Ward and Santistevan are open to expanding the art forms that can be submitted.

Santistevan said, “We talk to spray painters, we talk to tattoo artists, we talk to DJs who’ve been here a long time, because that’s kind of what Albuquerque’s architecture is.”

They also explored cities beyond Albuquerque to discover more representations of the state’s niche lifestyle, including Native American influence.

Ward added, “We’ve traveled a lot in Santa Fe, and that’s where we get…a whole lot of culture.”

Create Iconica

Ward grew up in Isleta and she shared that her grandmother was a fashion designer in a more traditional sense. She discovered a deep admiration for arts and crafts, from her own creations to writing about other artists, which eventually brought her into the Albuquerque scene.

Thanks to her network, she met Santistevan, and the desire to launch a magazine was mutual and almost immediate. The two decided to start their journey in a competitive and unapologetic industry.

Cameron Ward, left, and Natassja Santistevan are open to most art submissions for their new publication, Iconica Magazine. (Courtesy of ICONICA Magazine)

Ward said, “We were like, no expectations, let’s go blind, and it was really good.”

They were both hardened and motivated by their past experiences. Santistevan received similar grandmother influence and was placed in sewing classes as a child. Still, Santistevan was pushed off the craft by his peers.

“I stopped sewing after being bullied,” Santistevan explained. “I wore what I did in school…so after that I kind of quit, but I continued to use fashion to express myself.”

Santistevan began organizing events while in college and networking, eventually colliding with Ward’s path.

Iconica formed, going from a brainstorm to a hot copy out of the printer, clutched by the hands of the creators. Each has their own unique strengths, helping to balance their partnership, and their correlative passion for culture and craftsmanship helps drive the publication.

Ward said: “We have to motivate each other… pushing each other is a huge part that you have to play.”

Santistevan added: “We are like our own bosses, but also each other’s bosses.”

The artistic community

The two bragged about the inspiration they receive from the artistic community, expressing their gratitude to the various sponsors they have partnered with and the mentors already established in the medium. From graphic designers and social media gurus to photographers, makeup artists and models.

Santistevan said, “Having these people that we can ask questions of and support us with is definitely something that for any artist is super important.”

Their willingness to learn showed in their coverage. Iconica features the local fashion scene highlighted with seasonal style, expressive photo and art galleries, profiles of musicians gracing venues across the state, and poetry meant to linger in the minds of readers.

Iconica offers a behind-the-scenes look at modern lifestyle and culture, influencing audiences while inspiring other creators at the same time.

The development of the magazine, however, remains a constant learning process. Ward and Santistevan admitted they struggled to grasp production variables, from navigating the software to formatting the layout to managing sponsors.

Still, Ward and Santistevan are growing more comfortable with all aspects of the operation.

Ward said of the process, “It’s like building the brand as you go. Like the people of Albuquerque, we are constantly changing and growing.

They have already seen development early in the life of the magazine. The release of each issue is complemented by an event, where they can not only build their brand, but connect artists with each other.

From the first launch party to the second, attendance nearly tripled, according to Ward and Santistevan. They are already preparing to reserve an even bigger room for the third version.

Highlight the brand

Iconica is a quarterly publication and its next issue will appear in November. Events and issues will deliberately deviate from the norm, providing a new experience, as there is a vast world of up-and-coming artists ready to be exhibited.

“We want to showcase these people because it takes a lot of commitment,” Santistevan said.

Cameron Ward, left on the ground, photographs a model wearing Avengers Vintage. (Courtesy of ICONICA Magazine)

Iconica not only displays the talents of local creators, but also encourages camaraderie in the artistic community.

“Really, we can’t just use ourselves as ladders and then move on,” Ward said. “We grow together.”

Developing Iconica is a goal for Ward and Santistevan. They plan to continue building the magazine, eventually bringing New Mexico’s attention to larger markets.

“What’s really important is that we want it to always be about New Mexico,” Santistevan said. “We’re just trying to get our eyes on this place.”

New Mexico is as unique as the artists who express the style and creativity of the culture, whether through fashion, photography, music or art. It’s a mark earned through hard work. It’s iconic.