A local artist and entrepreneur seeks to make the unconventional accessible.
Written by Tanya Monaghan | Photographed by Anton Watts
The South Bay is well-known for its picture-perfect beaches, volleyball and California surf culture. You might immediately think of the South Bay as an incubator of artists, yet one of its own is trying to change that.
Justin Cooper is the founder of Another Fine Mess (AFM)—a Los Angeles–based publisher and producer of limited edition works by contemporary artists and designers. His mission is to make great art easily accessible to all.
AFM collaborates with established and emerging artists who push the boundaries, adhering to their own aesthetic influences and meticulous production standards. They provide access to a distinct range of fine art prints and artist multiples.
You might ask what gives him the street cred to curate these capsules? Justin previously co-founded Society6—a global community of more than 250,000 artists and more than $60 million in annual artwork sales. The goal of S6 was to empower the world’s artists to profit from the sale of their artwork without giving up control of their rights.
Justin is himself a multidisciplinary artist and art publisher. Much of his work is motivated by the celebration of imperfection and references both postmodern abstraction and minimalism. His mostly improvisatory method and utilization of unconventional materials—such as paint, tape, polyethylene, newsprint and carbon powder—promote a process of discovery and restart to generate aesthetic forms.
Justin has been a resident of the South Bay for the past 16 years, where he lives with his wife, Becky, and their daughters, Mckenna and Sidney. He was raised in a working class family in Kansas City. His mother was a graphic designer/typesetter, and his father had a lifelong career with the local railroad.
Justin’s creative pursuits started at a young age. He attributes much of that creativity to his undying passion for skateboarding, punk music (namely Hermosa Beach’s very own Black Flag) and everything we have come to love about Southern California counterculture. AFM brings together so many of these passions and influences.
“AFM is everything that I always wanted to do that I couldn’t do with Society6,” says Justin. “It’s a celebration of the most relevant artists of our time, where the notion of limited editions and multiples is a valued principle over mass-produced, ubiquitous art. We have profound respect for uncompromising honesty and sincerity.”
Since AFM’s launch in October, that philosophy forms the basis for how it operates. It is an ongoing process of discourse and refinement, with the goal of providing direct access to a distinct range of high-quality, editioned artworks.
Justin exudes passion with his approach. “From the products to the people, the ideas and inspiration, down to the raw materials and the packaging, we have worked tirelessly and collaboratively across continents to create a distinguished artwork publishing platform that is authentically our own,” he shares. “As we weighed past experience against present expectations, we learned a great deal. What we learned and came to believe is that our collective point of view (all of the artists, art directors, designers, photographers, artisans, printers and fabricators involved with AFM)—highly considered and meticulously executed—is our truth.”
In a very short period of time, Justin and his team have already worked with some international heavies, including Eike König, Michael C Place, Michael Cina, Jesse Draxler and many others. They are also currently collaborating with some of the most respected artists today, like Jordy van den Nieuwendijk and Brian Roettinger, to release upcoming limited editions.
AFM is a curated (by invitation only) publishing platform for artists where quality and scarcity reign supreme. You will never find any mass-produced, ubiquitous art on AFM.
Justin is going above and beyond AFM by also starting a movement to make the South Bay a more creative environment. Along with a few friends and notable creative people from the community, Justin has been actively exploring ways to bring things full-circle and merge his love for the visual arts with the community he lives in—in the form of a physical space … a place, he thinks, that “will become the creative hub of the South Bay, a working-studio meets gallery and concept retail experience.”
We can’t wait.
You can visit AFM online at anotherfinemess.com, or follow along on all social platforms @anotherfnmess.
As LAX and local residents dispute proposed runway expansions, another neighborhood on the fringe of the airport comes to mind—one that, sadly, no longer exists. Beginning in the 1960s, LAX growth slowly eclipsed an enclave of beautiful homes overlooking Dockweiler Beach in El Segundo, leaving behind the ghostly remains of a forgotten community. We revisit the Surfridge neighborhood more than 30 years after its demise with this cautionary tale of progress, heartbreak and
a faint a glimmer of hope.