Ones to Watch 2018: publisher Same Paper
It’s Nice That’s Ones to Watch shines a light on 12 emerging talents who we think will conquer the creative world in 2018. From a global pool of creative talent, we have chosen our 2018 Ones To Watch for their ability to consistently produce inspiring and engaging work across a diverse range of disciplines. Each of our selections continually pushes the boundaries of what is possible with their creative output. Ones to Watch 2018 is supported by Uniqlo.
Comprising Xiaopeng Yuan, Yijun Wang and Jiawei Liu, Same Paper is a Shanghai-based publisher whose distinctive aesthetic and creatively exciting photography has gained the trio a reputation for surprising and challenging publications. Initially starting as a group chat between friends, Same Paper has since garnered an impressive list of collaborators from across the globe including Ren Hang, David Brandon Geeting and Maxime Guyon. With a bookshop, multiple publications and a series of exhibitions under its belt, Same Paper is now channelling its focus towards improving the accessibility of art in China, while promoting the country’s young creative talent.
Same Paper was established in 2013 by Xiaopeng and Yijun who, although from different areas in Southern China, were sharing their favourite books with each other via the Chinese social media platform Weibo. “The circle of creative people in China is surprisingly quite small and it’s fairly easy to meet people in different cities,” Yijun tells It’s Nice That. At the time, their exposure to artistic and photographic books was fairly limited, however, they were committed to increasing the circulation of such material. After a couple of years, they realised they possessed the skills – Xiaopeng being a photographer and Yijun a graphic designer – to start producing their own content.
Same Paper’s debut publication, Same Paper 1: Free Park – presenting Xiaopeng’s composed and, at times, darkly humorous photography – played a major role in shaping who they are as publishers today. Designed in the format of a large newspaper, Free Park experimented with layouts, inviting readers to reorganise its content by folding or shuffling the unbound pages. Having already decided on the moniker, “Same”, as a subtle nod to an inside joke that “everyone is making the same work,” the duo added “Paper” to solidify its identity and reflect its new material output.
Same Paper: Free Park
Same Paper: Free Park
Since Jiawei joined in 2017, Same Paper has established a naturally collaborative working relationship. Its projects are usually born from a raw concept or idea developed from Xiaopeng’s daily routines and interactions. “Xiaopeng, having worked as an editor and photographer for years, tends to notice things other people don’t – things that relate to his daily life,” Jiawei tells It’s Nice That. From here, Xiaopeng and Yijun will work to pin down the concept before passing the project on to Jiawei who focuses on its production – something the trio places a lot of importance on: “We’re not necessarily interested in making perfect publications,” Jiawei explains, “instead, we aim to convey a message through the use of paper or with different materials – as if the book itself is an exhibition.”
This focus on material and product is evident in Same Paper’s collaboration with Maxime Guyon, Toothbrushes. Designed by Jinkui Zhou, the 72-page publication features Maxime’s signature slick, macro photography concentrating on the humble toothbrush, depicting it as almost industrial or machine-like in its vigour. In order to embody the publication’s strong visuality and stretch this as far as possible, the project comes “wrapped” in a plastic and cardboard box emulating the packaging of an actual toothbrush.
“We try to be quite open-minded in terms of what the photography, design or outcome of our publications are,” Same Paper explains. With every project, it approaches the work in an idiosyncratic manner in order to find the most coherent materials or pronounced aesthetic. Its publications place the imagery and concept at the forefront in order to dictate how a reader digests the work: “Our design is usually simple and minimal so that people overlook it. It’s something that feels familiar but has been very carefully arranged so that you don’t notice it.”
Same Paper: Maxime Guyon, Toothbrushes
Same Paper: Maxime Guyon, Toothbrushes
It was with the release of Closing Ceremony Magazine in the autumn of 2017 however, that Same Paper undoubtedly made its intentions of creating a dialogue around contemporary photography clear. Featuring the work of 14 photographers including Corey Olsen, Daniel Everett and KangHee Kim, Closing Ceremony explores the notion of street photography and its adoption by a generation of photographers exhibiting their work via social media. In turn, the publication brings this work to the printed page. By drawing visual similarities between the style of these photographers, it highlights how they relocate borders and share their “urban realities” with a global audience. Following the first issue’s success, Xiaopeng, Yijun and Wei are already making plans for issue two which will be launching later this year.
Alongside Closing Ceremony the trio plans to continue publishing the work of innovative artists and photographers which “is fairly routine,” they explain. Despite the apparent regularity, the work that goes into producing a book means the process can be fairly slow. “We can provide a space and a platform for young creatives,” Same Paper explains, “in order to make photography more accessible for young people in and around Shanghai and to enable them to buy the work they love. We are also going to start producing high-quality prints at affordable prices from the photographers we work with.” In turn, enabling them to work with and champion a higher volume of people.
As a publisher that was creating work unlike anyone else in China at the time, Same Paper has noticed huge advancements in the attitudes towards art as well as the work being created by young Chinese artists. “Customers come to our bookshop and actually read the books,” Yijun describes, “at the start, this surprised us but now not so much. We know that interest is growing in Shanghai and the rest of China.” Having established a platform that people are taking notice of, Same Paper is in the position to continue inviting photographers from around the world and introduce them to the people of China. However, it is also in the position to do the opposite – “we want to discover young photographers in and around Shanghai,” Same Paper explains. “Now that there is exciting work being made, we want to take everything we’re noticing in China and show it to the world.”
Same Paper: Ren Hang, Food Issue
Same Paper: A Tour in Vertical
Same Paper: Daddy and Son
Same Paper: KangHee Kim, Magic
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.