Magazine of the Week: Boat #7

Boat has long been a favourite project here at magCulture, for its ambition in setting out a brave new nomadic idea of magazine publishing. But this new issue, created in Lima, Peru, takes a huge step forward with a redesign that shifts the magazine into mainstream territory.

The growth in the global independent magazine scene has led to a certain aesthetic becoming the norm; there are more and more magazines being launched and inevitably certain themes and visual trends emerge. What was once different becomes copied, in a manner quite contrary to the reason for being independent. Centred lower serifed case logo – tick; uncoated paper – tick; title including the word ‘Journal’, ‘Quarterly’ or ‘Review’ – tick. You know the new clichés.

This is not to knock the many good titles out there that do feature these elements, and I’m not suggesting the previous iteration of Boat was an example. But I propose that from now on as many new indie mags as possible should avoid these common traits.

The new Boat slices through all this with a crisp new design (from She Was Only), varied papers and a clearer editorial intent – the cover explains so much more. The result is a more confident version of the old magazine which will stand out better and, I believe, appeal to more people. I love the colourful hand-painted headlines opposite clean white spaces and elegant typography. Great contrast, and a perfect context for the magazine’s photography and journalism about its host city.

The previous issues of Boat felt like a series of one-offs; the city was the lead. This new design puts the magazine itself to the fore.


Comment on May 8, 2014 by Luke Tonge says:

J – great write-up of the redesign, the She Was Only team have done a lovely job of creating a sharp new look that helps it sit much more confidently alongside peers such as Cereal or PORT.

Having been responsible for the look & feel of the first few issues I can confirm that a ‘one-off’ was exactly what we were going for, each issue intended to be a visual response to the city it covered (not just its content – but in tone, palette, fonts etc) and was quite unique in its sector I believe.

We certainly tried to avoid clichés and made our decisions based on the vision/purpose of the magazine, not trends or styles. The hand-painted lettering in the new boat feels really fresh, yet that was identified as a ‘trend’ back in 2012 by creative review ( It’s all about selecting what is appropriate for the content and the audience, and remixing it. The new look just feels right.

I’m looking forward to the next issue already (Los Angeles!) – and seeing boat on the shelves for many years to come.

Comment on May 8, 2014 by jeremy says:

Thanks Luke. As you know I’ve always liked Boat and my enthusiasm for the new issue doesn’t dim my enjoyment of the previous editions.

But it’s really important that magazines are able to redefine themselves and this redesign is a great example of just that. Whether gradual evolution or complete revolution, magazines have to keep moving. Some get stuck, which is always disappointing.

Comment on May 8, 2014 by Nikola Mileta says:

Great redesign. Would love to see more pages. I hope next issue will come to Croatia, if not, will have to order online.

But I would like to refer what Luke said: “It’s all about selecting what is appropriate for the content and the audience, and remixing it.”
I think this is the rule by which every editorial design should live and work. To have your own style is nice, but I agree, it is more important to create a design that is appropriate for the audience and content.

And I love Jeremie’s view on todays indie mag design. Some are truly great, but more and more of them look alike.

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