Most design magazines are about design as a very closed specific endeavour. Works that Work not only seeks to break this world open, relating design to everyday experience and placing it in the real world, it has sets out to redesign the magazine business model. From its crowd-sourced start to its experiments with international distribution, editor/publisher has sought to change the ways magazines work. This applies to the editorial content too; his editor}s letter skillfully links seemingly disparate stories into one chain of events. Starting with the toilet system at Schipol Airport, via the Jumbo Jet (originally designed to carry cargo) and on to the standard global container box (below), it’s a clever way of linking content.
First things first: yes, this is not a magazine. But anyone who loved Butt magazine will want to hear about their 2014 calendar, featuring a different image for every day, now that the mag is no more. Wednesday 1 January opens with ‘gay geek Rob’, who unlike most of the models is fully clothed. My birthday features a couple coupling, while other days star bananas, cucumbers and other subtle symbols. Other days feature interviews or ‘Homonumerology’ factoids to do with the date. And it’s all printed on the familiar Butt pink paper. May 19 stars homosexual cat Tymon (below).
A huge thank you to Jessica and Mark of the fabulous Do You Read Me? shop for inviting me to launch ‘The Modern Magazine’ in Berlin last week. They stock one of the best ranges of independent magazines I’ve seen (why doesn’t London have this?), so I picked up a bag full from the shop – that’s me above with Jessica (see panorama shot at end of post for a better idea of the amount of titles they hold) – before heading off to their other shop to do the talk.
Currently in the process of making issue 6, Davey Spens of the nomadic biannual magazine Boat, makes it clear that running a mobile studio is anything but a holiday. 50% of the stories come from local contributors and the other 50% from writers who come with them on their adventures, so far to Sarajevo, Detroit, London …
‘We don’t sugar-coat cities’, said Spens, but Boat is undoubtedly a celebration of place. ‘The people who decided to stay in Detroit had the most fire of anyone we’d ever encountered’. The Sarajevo issue embodied the horrors of war, and the London issue offered an alternative look at Spen’s city at the time of the Royal wedding from the top of double-decker buses, rooftops and through the eyes of Olympians.
Each city is left unresolved like the end of an indie film and is treated like a new launch. ‘We were never going to be able to retire at 35 … Boat began and remains a passion project’.
Simon Esterson, art director of Eye magazine, the quarterly graphic design journal, took the stage to speak about running a ‘little independent magazine that keeps chugging along’. International in scope and circulation, Eye’s art director spoke modestly about it’s contribution to graphic design history and in turn, to publishing. The magazine’s story extends beyond twenty years and was, for a time, seen as a ‘a strange trinket’ in the industry that won awards.
For Eye, making magazines is about conversation, not meetings. It is ‘like a critical mass; with enough materials you can see the pattern … We mix papers and bind things in funny ways… and it sort of comes together’. The publication has an authoritative tone and is always beautifully printed and designed, never sacrificing quality. This is a feature of independence, ‘The beauty of owning a magazine, is you can just decide to have a gatefold.’ Simon showed slides from the Monotype special issue (with a silver page and gatefold) that featured numerous Eric Gill drawings discovered in the Monotype archive.
Last month’s Printout focused on the business of publishing your own magazine, and turned out to be one of our most popular nights yet. So it’s a pleasure to be able to post this video of the entire discussion. Will Hudson and Bruce Sandell share invaluable insights based on their experiences with It’s Nice That and Rouleur.
Note: video lasts 55 minutes.