MAI + t

 An Interview with Tumblr's Valentine Uhovski

June 1st, 2014 marked the launch of MAI + t, a unique collaboration between MAI and Tumblr. MAI + t selects one Tumblr blogger per month to take creative control over the MAI Tumblr. Each collaborator creates a unique visual think-tank, comprised of images and videos. Collaborators are also encouraged to curate submitted posts, forming their own communities along the way. Billy Zhao, who leads this collaboration from MAI, interviews Tumblr’s Valentine Uhovski about this newly-launched project and more. To visit the MAI + t Tumblr, click here.

BILLY ZHAO: Can you explain your title, “Fashion Evangelist” at Tumblr?


VALENTINE UHOVSKI: If Tumblr were congress, I’d be a Senator representing Fashion, one of our biggest states. I work with hundreds of brands, photographers, VIPs, magazines, and most importantly our unmatched creators on innovative projects, events, collaborations, launches, and other wonderful stuff.


BILLY ZHAO: And how do you personally use Tumblr?


VALENTINE UHOVSKI: The advantage of working at Tumblr is being able to be logged in nine to ten hours a day and not get in trouble for it. I follow more than 2,500 blogs and I get my vitamins on an hourly basis. I also update a lot on my personal blog, and Art Ruby, the site I co-run at the moment.


BILLY ZHAO: What do you see in the future for Tumblr?


VALENTINE UHOVSKI: Tumblr already drives a lot of culture if you pay attention to visual, fashion, and music trends. And I think that’s not going to stop. At the end of the day, Tumblr users log in to be their true selves and that propels a lot of creativity and positivity.


BILLY ZHAO: Have you collaborated with individuals wildly outside of your own field while working at Tumblr? What have you learned from these experiences?


VALENTINE UHOVSKI: While here, I got to meet an astronaut (Chris Hadfield), Olympic gold medalist (Louri Podladtchikov), hang out with a Grammy winner at Dior show (Frank Ocean) and that’s just the last 12 months. I’ve also learned to ask the coolest kids on the street for directions when I travel. They always have Tumblr pages.

BILLY ZHAO: That's amazing. And now why were you interested in collaborating with MAI?

VALENTINE UHOVSKI: Once in few generations, there comes an institution that elevates and drives the larger genre. MAI will be that magical place for performance art.

BILLY ZHAO:  Can you name a favorite immaterial work of art? What do you find compelling about this work?


VALENTINE UHOVSKI: Thanks to Tumblr gifs, I can probably send you a new favorite every morning. But the US version of Big Brother gets me hooked every summer and I’m not even slightly ashamed. I don’t even remember who won last season, but the editing and casting is so fascinating every year, no matter how many precious hours I waste.


BILLY ZHAO: Have you ever seen or participated in a performance of six hours or longer?


VALENTINE UHOVSKI: When I was 17, I spent my weekends sitting on the couch and staring at balloons as part of Independent Curators International Thin Skin show. Sometimes I wouldn't move for hours, sometimes I would sleep, and sometimes I would just stare at the adjacent Ernesto Neto, Olafur Eliasson, and Warhol works. It was awesome.

BILLY ZHAO: What advice do you have for our MAI + t collaborators?

VALENTINE UHOVSKI: Be yourself and go crazy.

To visit the MAI + t Tumblr, click here.


Forthcoming from IMMATERIAL:

A conversation with Scandebergs, June's MAI + t collaborators

Valentine Uhovski is Tumblr’s Fashion Evangelist, leading the platform's largest vertical on all fronts. Since joining the staff in early 2012, Valentine has worked with numerous brands including Calvin Klein, Dior, Tom Ford, Ralph Lauren, and Burberry and helped Carine Roitfeld launch her new digital magazine on Tumblr. Valentine was formerly an editor at IMG's The Daily Front Row, Interview Russia and Germany and contributed to The Wall Street Journal and W. He was named to Forbes 30 Under 30 list in Art & Style category for his work at Tumblr.