Romka is a photography magazine with a lovely, simple concept: contributors send in their favourite photographs along with a piece of text that accompanies it, and the two are printed alongside each other on a page. The publication has been around for a while now – it’s nine issues old – and while it’s taken a variety of formats in the past, this latest design is its best. It’s a shame that there are only going to be ten issues though: Romka is an example of a magazine that has taken time to find its feet aesthetically, but which has now definitely found its format. Editor Joscha Bruckert tells us that there will be only ten issues because ‘I enjoy the pressure of working within boundaries, unlimited possibilities are a huge turn off’.
There is no contemporary shortage of websites, blogs or YouTube videos dedicated to cats. Unlike internet memes, London-based Puss Puss doesn’t just rely on the kittens-are-cute or cats-are-funny formula, instead, the magazine is a gold and glossy appreciation of cats in all their many secretive and surprising dimensions. Considering felines from the perspective of culture, fashion, history and photography, the pages are filled with cleverly conceived shoots and models with fierce cat-eyes. Like cats –which can be adorably hilarious – the magazine is slightly tongue-and-cheek, but also like cats, Puss Puss is deadly serious – and it would hate to think that you were laughing at it. With its gold and its glamour, the pages practically worship kittens as if they were ancient goddesses, putting them on magnificent pedestals for the colourful and playful pages.
Conveyor has been around for a few years, a magazine produced by print studio Conveyor Arts, whose aim is to re-imagine the possibilities of contemporary photography publications. As a press that makes zines and beautiful books, the magazine team naturally have a fine eye for print and the materiality of an object, and Conveyor is crafted by hand. For this issue – the Alchemy issue – art directors Elana Schlenker (the mind behind Gratuitous Type) and Christina Labey decided to print, bind, foil-stamp and smyth-sew the publication themselves, and when you hold the magazine, you can tell it’s something special.
Desillusion is the magnum opus of skateboarding and surf culture. The hefty 260 pages are dedicated to a generation raised on beaches and in skate parks, and it’s a magazine that tackles its subject with serious, almost biblical, zeal. For the last three issues, the quarterly publication has gone hardback, dubbing its new resurrected self as the ‘Tome’ series. The name implies that Desillusion is self-fashioning itself as a kind of scholarly book, and throughout its thick pages, sun and surf are glamorised and mythologised with edgy content and stark design.
This literary magazine from Columbia University undergraduate Benjamin Moe has a simple but special concept. Each issue has a philosophical theme that relates in some way to human existence – Table Talk then rolls with this theme for a while, seeing to what strange and curious lengths the idea can go. The stories diverge and bounce off each other like a conversation after a long evening of dinner and wine with friends, and they brim with anecdotes and ideas. The format reminds me of the American literary establishment and podcast, The Moth, which takes its inspiration from conversations around a fire pit late at night. Last month, we got an insight into the workings of Table Talk in our At Work With with Benjamin, and issue two proves that the young editor’s mind is still aglow with philosophical intrigue and curatorial delights.
MC1R is a magazine for red-heads, and its huge scope of content and imagery makes it hard to believe that no one has ever thought of the concept before. The Hamburg-based publication celebrates red hair and fair skin with all the devotion of a pre-Raphaelite painting, and this is the first issue to be published in English so it can reach redheads worldwide.
In the past, If You Leave has taken the format of mini-booklets published by Arthur-Frank Editions. These small art books contained contemporary photography, still images set simply against a blank white page with name and author written underneath. The new If You Leave biannual photography magazine has embraced a different format and design whilst still disguising itself as a book: opening up the cotton bound hardback cover reveals a saddle stitched magazine. Surprises like this make volume one of IYL an intriguingly ambivalent publication; glossy art catalogue and magazine and blog all wrapped into one. This format coupled with a redesigned logo and name abbreviation marks a new dawn for the photography collective, and it therefore seems fitting that IYL have loosely themed their first issue ‘AM’.
I’ve always been a fan of the Mood logo. The mash of the words ‘food’ and ‘music’ that is visually represented by the two O’s, the first being a record and the other a burger, is a perfect representation of the publication’s content. And their covers are also always so striking, especially when placed on a shelf surrounded by other independent magazines. Issue seven has a cover as eye-catchingly colourful as ever, and it’s themed ‘World Music’, a term Editors Emma Hovel and Mario Villar Sangurjo rightly questions in their letter, as it’s a genre that music aside from conventional Anglo rock/pop is often unfairly categorised into.
February 19, 2015
Sometimes a magazine story comes along that really engages magCulture readers, and news that the New York Times Magazine was relaunching under new editor Jake Silverstein, with Gail Bichler promoted to creative director and Matt Willey imported as art director certainly did that. An 119-year old magazine most would rate as one of world’s great examples of editorial design was investing in being better? This weekend US readers will see the first edition of the new magazine; meanwhile, here’s a preview courtesy of Bichler, who talks us through the pages.