Jumping in headfirst. That’s how Haley Cardamon would describe her explosive entry into the magazine industry. Born and raised in East San Jose, Cardamon harbors a deep love for not only the city of San Jose as a whole, but more specifically, the creativity and diversity she sees all around her—creativity that she believes is often overshadowed by San Jose’s notoriety in the tech industry.
Cardamon has always been drawn to the creative world—particularly to the graffiti and underground art scene, which is featured prominently in her work. As she looks back on her journey, she laughs: “I’ve always been really into graffiti, but I kind of learned to keep that quiet. In middle school, I got suspended for it and had to do an anti-graffiti program and everything.” Today, Cardamon works to capture street art and more through her own artistic medium—photography. Gifted a camera while in high school, she began taking photos of the world around her, starting with architecture before moving into art. As her personal portfolio expanded, Cardamon knew that she wanted to compile and share her own work and initially set her sights on creating a lookbook. Upon further reflection, she realized that she could combine her lifelong propensity toward meeting new people with her love of art and could act as a conduit between artist and audience. In this way, the magazine Bay Area Creatives Klub, also referred to as BACK, was born.
The first issue of BACK features an in-depth interview with San Francisco rapper, Equipto. “That’s kind of how it started,” Cardamon explains. “I never even thought that he would answer my message. It took him awhile, but he did, and we did this super extensive interview. At that point, I just went with it and decided I was going to make a magazine.” Prior to the release of issue 1, Cardamon had no experience in magazine production, but she didn’t let that stop her. Looking back at the first and second issues of BACK, Cardamon notes the changes not just to the magazine itself, but also to her level of comfort and assurance. As she flips through the pages now, she points out the more streamlined look of issue 2. At just 20 years old, Cardamon often has to work hard to prove her drive and professionalism, but she doesn’t let that impede her goals.
For Cardamon, 2017 was a transformative year. Once she knew that she wanted to seriously pursue publication, she decided to take a year off from school and completely dedicate herself to becoming acquainted with San Jose’s art scene. “I’d take my camera and just walk around downtown and go to art shows. A lot of the time, I’d go alone so that I could meet new people and just hand out my business cards to everyone.” For Cardamon, creating BACK has not only changed her timeline and career trajectory, but also her daily life. “I feel really proud,” she says, “and I’m always on the hunt for that hidden talent.”She has learned that the magazine industry is difficult in terms of profit, but money is not her main focus. Rather, she wants to be a mouthpiece for San Jose’s up-and-coming talent. “I want to get jobs for artists and show that San Jose is an art hub. Not just a tech city.”
The positive feedback Cardamon receives is what is most important to her. “I want people to see me as someone who makes connections. You know, linking an artist with someone looking for a certain type of art. Or even just exposing audiences to artists that they don’t already know.” In addition to her magazine publication, Cardamon occasionally organizes giveaways and art shows, including her event, San Jose Day, which is held on April 8 and showcases local art. Currently, Haley is back in school at De Anza College and is on her way to finishing her degree in communications and media. She also works part-time at a custom display manufacturing company called Commercial Art Manufacturing and hopes to publish two issues of BACK per year. “Ideally, I do want this to open up to artists around the world, to travel for it, too, but right now I’m doing it for San Jose.”
personal instagram: haleyonthemoon
Interview by Marissa Ahmadkhani
Photography by Joey Pisacane
Article originally appeared in issue 10.1 ‘Sight and Sound”