Interview with CULTURAL TRAFFIC founder Toby Mott

CULTURAL TRAFFIC, the roving global arts and publishing fair, will hold its fourth London edition at Old Spitalfields Market on Saturday 5th October, 2019. Its new talks programme, which like the fair is free of charge, will take place throughout the day and includes Philip Sallon, the style innovator, designer and club impresario and Pandemonia, the human artwork. Annie Carpenter caught up with the fair’s founder, punk historian Toby Mott.

Toby Mott

Annie Carpenter: Why did you start the fair?

Toby Mott: I started Cultural Traffic back in 2016, having been inspired by my visits to the NY Art Book Fair and feeling a need for a celebration of independent and zine publishing in London outside of the existing book fairs with their Harry Potter inspired view. I also wanted a fair that went beyond publications so we include other areas of creativity from ceramics, printmaking and we even have tarot readings!

AC: What does it set out to achieve?

TM: Our aim is to provide a platform for creativity in its many forms from publishing, print making and fashion. We are driven by the ethics of self-publishing and DIY practice, creating an exciting, dynamic marketplace. We are committed to championing diversity whilst establishing a platform which showcases an inclusive global community.


AC: You stage it all over the U.S. is it a different audience there?

TM: The states have embraced D.I.Y zine culture and are a much bigger country than us and therefor the scene is that much bigger, also unlike the UK which is centralised in London each big U.S. city has its own zine scene and even with the prevalence of social media the need to create something tangible is very much alive in the States which is encouraging and also something reflected here in Europe amongst those engaged in counter culture.

AC: Tell me about some of the speakers and why they interest you?

TM: I’ve aimed to put together speakers not only reflecting London today but the roots of what makes London such a creative centre. We have Philip Sallon and Scarlett Cannon from the post punk Blitz club a pre-internet inventive 1980’s scene that gave us the New Romantics and their gender playing characters such as Boy George, Steve Stange and of course Philip and Scarlet themselves who will talk about how the past informs the present and where we go from here.

Today’s larger than life creation at 7ft tall is Pandemonia, who certainly comes from this legacy and has become a living Post Pop inflatable blond bombshell in today’s London art world and beyond.

Our Publishing Now panel is made up of three London women who have created their own publications so that their voices can be heard outside the vacuous fashion publishing that dominates women ‘interests’, they are also part of the new print regeneration which is a surprise to many in this digital age.

AC: Where do you see the fair in five years time?

TM: I see Cultural Traffic growing and connecting people, spreading to more cities across the globe as a festival of creativity outside the mainstream, offering a platform to those in the shadows and margins who’s primary aim is not mercenary as much of todays art making practice is purely motivated by greed and those dealers and galleries that prosper from this exclusive activity. Cultural Traffic’s offering is the genesis of creativity without pecuniary motive for the many not the few.


AC: When did you first start collecting cultural ephemera?

TM: As a young Punk in the 1970’s I surrounded my environment which was then my bedroom in Pimlico, London with posters, zines and whatever else I could get my hands on from my local record shop, gigs I attended and my wanderings down the Kings Road. This is the material that forms the basis of The Mott Collection which I have lent to institutions across the world as British Punk In Print.


Founded by Toby Mott in 2016, the fair is committed to championing diversity while establishing a platform that showcases an inclusive global community. Described as ‘a market for the culturally inquisitive’, it focusses on counter culture’s pre-internet roots while embracing new innovators who operate outside of the mainstream. It has been staged in New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago and Miami.

To attend the fair, which is free of charge, please register with Eventbrite:

Cultural Traffic
Arts Fair
Free entry 11am — 8pm

Old Spitalfields Market
Central Mezzanine Terrace
8 Horner Square
London E1 6EW

Freelance journalist covering fine art, photography, film and tech. UK based

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