Chad Saville remembers leafing through National Geographic during his childhood in rural upstate New York, dreaming about the faraway places that came alive in its pages. It was then, as a little boy suffering from epileptic seizures that often landed him in the hospital, that he was first moved to create the same kind of captivating photojournalism.
“I’d be in my bed, reading every caption, every inset, every article … imagining what it was like to be in Tibet or somewhere else in the Himalayas,” recalls Saville, who now looks fondly on those experiences and sees them as especially formative. They deepened his appreciation for the power of storytelling, whether it is transmitted by way of the human voice, the printed page, or a pixilated screen. “This is the age of digital media, but that’s just a tool,” Saville says. “What I care about is telling great stories, and those take care of themselves.”
Saville began to tell his own stories a few decades later through photography, snapping shots of stylish New Yorkers on the street for the since-dismantled Egoti.st website. During the day he worked in the product division of MTV Networks Digital. It was around that time, in early 2012, that Saville had the idea to create what would become Beautiful Savage, a magazine brimming with images and articles that spotlight art, music, fashion, and hot-button social and political issues.
His next step was to find the people who could help make it a reality. To design the magazine’s layout and promote its brand, Saville hired Steffanie Gillstrap as creative director, and to organize and curate its launch party exhibition, he turned to former art gallery manager Daine Coppola. Meanwhile, Saville himself provided most of the editorial content. The team proved to be the right combination of business acumen and aesthetic finesse, and in about four months, Beautiful Savage hit the ground running. Subsequent issues have emerged biannually.
“The Youth Issue” hit bookstore shelves in November, and once again, it conjures Beautiful Savage’s stylistic theme of dark, almost whimsical beauty. Saville says that his contributing artists and writers have formed something of a creative critical mass, mostly because of their deep wells of talent and their ability to take risks without fear.
Those traits are evident in the best entries from the fall 2014 Young Photographers Contest, which appear in “The Youth Issue.” One of the winners was Vanessa Black, a 26-year-old filmmaker and photographer who spent a month in Kiev shooting the aftermath of the Ukraine crisis earlier this year. She came back with an array of black and white images that are unsparing in their depiction of a battlefield riddled with fallen political protestors. “It’s not often that a kid from Brooklyn spends a month on the ground in the Ukraine, unless she’s been sent by a news organization,” Saville points out. “The pictures she took were really stunning.”
Similarly striking images accompany the magazine’s feature articles, which offer comprehensive insights into current subjects and controversies people are buzzing about. In the recent editorial “Weed,” for instance, author Brandi Vicks explores the contentious history of marijuana use, considering the changes in its stigma over the past several years and delving into why the drug has not been declared universally legal in the United States.
With this caliber of journalism, Saville predicts that Vicks, Black, and other contributors will continue to make names for themselves over the next few years, as will the publication itself.
New York culture devotees will soon be able to enjoy Beautiful Savage online via Apple and Android apps; even so, Saville believes a renaissance of printed periodicals and other traditional forms of media is taking place right now in Brooklyn and Manhattan. “On the Lower East Side, stores selling vinyl records are popping up every day. It’s the same with magazines,” he observes. “There’s a thriving little community around niche publications that will always support and love them, and I’m in the center of that. It’s a good place to be.”