Artbeat: Joe Perry, co-creator of Fellow Resident, an online magazine for gay men

By March 22, 2016


ev.owa-16I’ve been admiring Fellow Resident (a beautifully presented online magazine for gay men) for a while now. It’s aesthetically pleasing and intellectually nourishing whilst providing an alternative perspective and voice for today’s gay community, so when I had the chance to speak with co-founder Joe Perry I jumped at the chance! Originally from Gloucester and now in London via Australia, Fellow Resident is a labour of love and exists alongside his day job (which is also very cool covering design and experiences). So we shared some tea and a biscuit, nattered about life and I was able to get to know him a bit better. Kind, curious and open, hear more from Joe below…

Describe London in three words

A beautiful nightmare.

What/ who inspired you to do what you do

My boyfriend Theo and I started working on Fellow Resident around this time last year. At that point though it was still very much a pipedream. We were both becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of gay content online, which we felt was relevant to us and our interests. Although there’s obviously no shortage of blogs and websites targeting a gay audience these days, many of them were, and still are, focussed on aspects of gay life that didn’t resonate with our everyday experiences.

We were keen to explore gay life through a slightly different lens and set out to create a platform that celebrated culture and creativity over sex and six-packs.

Anyway, getting back to your original question…! During the development phase of Fellow Resident, we were really influenced by other online publishing platforms such as Freunde von Freunden and The Great Discontent. Both of these sites (and the printed publications that have followed) do a fantastic job at exposing the thoughts, ideas and opinions of some incredible individuals.

Over the past 12 months, we’ve also witnessed a real increase in the variety and diversity of gay content both online and in print – which is great! Another big influence of ours was Hello Mr, whose editor Ryan Fitzgibbon has really been at the forefront of this shift.

What was the song of your youth

I was (and possibly still am) an unashamed child of the 90’s pop era. So probably something horrendous like Geri Halliwell’s Mi Chico Latino or a Steps song circa 1999.

I wish this was a joke, but unfortunately this was my youth…

What do you love about what you do?

The world of online publishing is one that I’ve only recently been involved with, so every day is proving to be a learning curve. The best thing so far has been meeting guys who are doing awesome things with their lives, often whilst holding down a social life, a relationship and a 9-5.

Although the site is still super young, the response we’ve received so far has blown us away. We’ve had people from LA, New York, Berlin and most recently Tel Aviv, not only wanting to offer their praise but their time and contributions also.

On this topic, we actually had an amazing – if slightly bizarre – experience a few weeks ago. Whist en route to brunch (as all good stories start) we happened to bump into our buddies Paul Firmin and Niko Dafkos, our first ever interviewees and creative couple behind the Earl of East London brand. They were out for coffee with some friends, which after some initial confusion, turned out to be Fran Mart and his partner Dave Pascoe, also past interviewees of ours. Each couple had seen each other on Fellow Resident and connected via email. It was a real “oh, cool” moment for us, to see this predominantly digital community meet in the physical world…over a flat white, of course.

It’s also really great to be able to peek into the homes and studios of all the guys we meet. Honestly, every time we leave an interview, we’re always brimming with home envy.

And hate?

Nothing, as yet. I just wish I had more time to focus on the site. Keeping on top of the social media is a full-time job in itself!

What makes London’s arts and culture scene unique to you?

The sheer diversity. One of the best things I love about living in London is waking up on a Saturday or Sunday morning and not knowing where the day will take you. We’ll quite often check Time Out or Dojo to see what’s happening and what exhibitions we can can catch on a weekend. We’re constantly playing tourist in our own home, something that I’m not sure you could do in many other UK cities.

Who should we be keeping an eye out for?

Hmm, that’s tough. We’ve interviewed so many great creatives in London in the past few months I’m not sure I could pick one. We’re big fans of artist Andrew Salgado and his large-scale portraits. Jeff Hahn, a fashion photographer based in Hackney is also nailing it right now.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?

Probably taking the leap and moving to London. I’m originally from the UK but had been living over in Australia for 4 years before leaving my family and my life there to head back to the Motherland. I’d bagged an internship with Condé Nast straight out of Uni in Oz. In true publishing-tyle, it was all confirmed very last minute – I basically packed my suitcase and jumped on a plane. I arrived to an outside temperature of –3 and checked into in the cheapest youth hostel in Holborn until I found somewhere more permanent. I remember leaving Heathrow thinking ”what the hell am I doing?” But after that initial week, I was hooked on London. That was just over 6 years ago!

Share something about you that would surprise us!

Ha, I hate this question. It’s the one thing that’s guaranteed to be asked in an ice-breaker situation at new jobs or schmoozy meetings. I never have an answer for it then and I’m not sure I can think of one now. Going back to my earlier answer, I do possess a strange, unrivalled knowledge of 90’s pop music. Smash Hits was my bible as a kid and for some unknown reason, all of that useless content has remained lodged in my brain. It’s seen me through a lot of pub quizzes, if nothing else.

What’s your favourite spot in London?

Potentially a bit cliched but I’d have to say The Barbican. We actually did an architecture tour around the estate a few weeks ago (see, I told you we were total tourists!) It was one of the most fascinating tours we’ve ever done in London…and believe me, we’ve done a lot. The Barbican is so full of mystery and surprise. Did you know the uneven texture on its concrete walls were achieved by hand? Literally people chipped away with jack hammers and pick axes to roughen every single surface. Crazy!

Who do you love to follow on Twitter/ Instagram?

Ha, too many people. Theo is often complaining he’s my Instragram husband. I spend way too much time on there! Symmetry Breakfast is still one of my all time faves. Also Gabriel Cabrera (aka The Artful Desperado). He’s a food stylist and photographer from Vancouver that can literally make any ingredient look amazing. I also love fellow East Londoner Joe Pickard’s snaps aswell.

What’s the last country you visited?

Italy, last October. We did a road trip from Genoa down the Ligurian coast through the colourful Cinque Terre, followed by trips through rural Tuscany, Siena, Florence and Rome. It was an amazing whirlwind of a trip, mainly consisting of a high-carb intake, too much red wine and a few near-misses behind the wheel (never together I hasten to add!)

Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life?

Hmm, tricky. Maybe the man of the moment, Mr DiCaprio?

What are you doing after this interview?

Eating roast lamb, as cooked by my housemate. We currently live with two of our dearest friends. During the week we’re often all busy doing our own thing, so most Sunday evenings we’ll gather for wine and a debrief, usually over some form of Jamie Oliver creation.

Check out Fellow Resident here and follow them on twitter @fellowres.