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Sébastien Russo, founder of Trakt, outsider art magazine

Contemporary art is alive, of course, thanks to artists and creators, but also by art activists: gallery owners, curators, art critics – in other words, the professionals who publicize and promote artists’ work.  In this category, Bernadett Mary Gridelet and Sébastien Russo, founders of Trakt, the outsiders magazine, lead a very rock & roll collective and independent adventure.

Meet the Trakt-attitude.

Sébastien Russo's adventure: from satirical fanzine to glossy publishing

Originally, Sébastien Russo planned to make comics. After a year and a half at the School of Fine Arts in Lyon, food jobs and a degree in graphic design, he became a painter… and a publisher.

Humor, satire, art and literature as driving forces

In the 90s, in Dijon with a friend, he published “Le Jeté du matin”, a satirical fanzine in the spirit of Charlie Hebdo and Harakiri.

The title refers to young cyclists throwing newspapers at people’s doors before breakfast in Anglo-Saxon countries.

For 5 years, his partner wrote and he illustrated. The fanzine was laid out manually on A3 paper, photocopied, folded in half and distributed outside colleges and high schools.

Satire and caustic humor are the lifeblood of “Jeté du matin”, which sometimes offers a bonus gadget, such as “Serge Gainsbourg’s last cigarette”: the team smokes or lets smoke Gitanes bought for the occasion, carefully collecting the cigarette butts and putting them in individual bags to be included with the fanzine.

The “Fanzinothèque de Poitiers“, an association housed in the “Confort Moderne” artistic wasteland, archives publications from fringe cultures, a rich source of creativity.

Besides his publishing activity, Sébastien Russo draws and paints…

In 2017, there was a change of scale, with Sébastien and his wife Bernadett creating the glossy “Revue brute et singulière” devoted to outsider art and literature. But from number 2 onwards, the editorial proposition shifted towards 100% visual arts.

A voice outside official art and mainstream trends

Who better than artists themselves to promote and support artists outside institutional frameworks? Before Sébastien Russo, two examples are emblematic of these voices:

  • In 1982, painter Pierre Souchaud founded Artension magazine, a free medium in the wake of the free radios of the time, a counter-power to official art and now an essential reference for today’s art.
  • Today, artist François Jauvion, with his “Imagier singulier”, has become a promoter of singular artists.

Faced with the isolation of the artists he meets at art brut and outsider fairs, Sébastien Russo takes up the challenge of publishing a medium to talk about those forgotten by the institutional media: Trakt is born, an alternative medium to the big art magazines.

Trakt, outsiders' magazine: an adventure of artistic collaboration and solidarity

Trakt, an intimate collector's magazine

2017, Number One will be published thanks to pre-orders. Cérès Franco and her daughter Dominique Polad-Hardouin welcome the initiative: Since then, the Coopérative musée Franco Cérès has been selling the magazine in its bookshop.

From the beginning, the Fondation Collection Art Brut in Lausanne subscribed to enrich its library.

Since then, Trakt has been distributed via its website, as well as at Halle St Pierre, MANAS in Laval (musée d’art naïf et d’arts singuliers) and Dalbe Tours Nord in Tours.

The magazine was a success, more than quadrupling its print run, and number 20 sold out in 15 days. Issues are not reprinted and become collectors’ items. You won’t find the magazine on newsstands.

Trakt, a collaborative magazine

Pierre Souchaud has been a great help and encouragement to the Trakt editorial team.

Since issue two, art critic Jeanine Rivais has been a friendly contributor. Other names from the world of outsider art also collaborate, such as Didier Benesteau, an unusual curator, Bruno Montpied, writer, painter and art critic, and art activist Christine Magne.

Peer-reviewed articles are also part of the magazine’s DNA: artists such as Marcoleptique (read about Marcoleptique) and François Jauvion have provided invaluable assistance.

Collaboration enriches editorial content and increases pagination.

Sébastien Russo's Traktogalerie and Traktattitude

The discreet editorial team concentrates on its artistic choices, which are driven by intuition, human experience and figurative expression.

In addition to the three annual volumes, the editorial team has published special volumes: “Tinys”, “Totems qui totaiment”, “Détrakt.e.s”, “Figures de l’art brut et singulier contemporain”, and “Amadié” with Christine Magne.

With humanity and freshness, the editorial team puts outsider and modest arts in the spotlight: the editorial line is all about images, with simple words to make them accessible.

Artistes Actuels is very happy about the lively initiatives of art activists who keep the flame burning in the crucible of modest arts. Trakt, it slams.

For December 2023, Trakt is planning a big event. But hush! It’s a surprise…