Browsing in a second hand bookshop the other day, I was struck by a wall decorated with the entirety of n+1’s issues. The covers of the New York-based literary magazine are beautiful and abstract, designed since the second issue by graphic designer Dan O. Williams. The covers are tantalising works of art, just as deserving of being framed and hung on the wall of a bookshop as being read. The art director of the magazine is artist Margaux Williamson from Canada, known for her dense and vibrant paintings, and so it is no surprise to hear that Dan takes more of a painterly approach to his graphic covers.
One of the toughest conundrums for the editorial designer is dealing with multiple languages in the same publication. Mainstream titles avoid this problem as they tend to be focussed on a single country; and while indies are more likely to be international in reach, they increasingly default to English as a get around. But most designers have at some point faced the bilingual challenge – how to present the same text twice on a page, when no two languages use the same number of words to tell identical stories. Swiss magazine zweikommasieben has the best answer I’ve seen for some time: let the difference in length between two languages (in this case English and German) become a design feature.
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.
New York interviews Jop van Bennekom of Fantastic Man,‘We decided to have more fun and loosen up the magazine.’
i-D name-checks some zines you need to know.
The Smithsonian announces Journeys, a new travel quarterly.
Condé Nast announce a new fashion school in Shanghai.
Also in China, Rosa Books is the place to buy indie mags (thanks Nelson).
Ex-New York art director Tom Bentkowski remembers his time there…
…and Loaded founder James Brown looks back at that magazine.
Frank Ocean is launching a magazine alongside his new album this July.
A new niche: Art Handler covers the world of… transporting art works (thanks Grashina).
Design magazines tend to be designed in one of two ways, following either the minimalist’s golden rule of ‘less is more’ or ruling by the eye-grabbing dictum of ‘less is bore’. Brussel-based Kwintessens has published quarterly since 1992 by Flemish design promoters Design Flanders, and it emphatically falls into the latter category, opting for an aesthetic of mix-match typographic collages and bold Bauhaus colours.
There is so much interest in independent magazines and the people behind them here in London today that barely a week goes by without another panel discussion or presentation. This is part of a broader trend – the ease of connecting online has encouraged a desire to connect in person with like-minded people across most creative disciplines – and long may it last.
Hanna Hanra edits Beat, the quarterly music magazine distributed free in records shops, music venues, clothing stores and restaurants around the world. The publication began showing up in the likes of Rough Trade and Sister Ray in 2010, noticeable for its colourful covers and emphasis on contemporary style and photography over pop nostalgia. As well as making the magazine, Hanna writes for the likes of The Guardian, Vogue, GQ Style and The Sunday Times, and has spent many evenings DJing in various clubs worldwide. We start the week off speaking with Hanna after the release of issue 14 of Beat.
At 11 x 7 cm, PIM (Public Illumination Magazine) is the smallest magazine of its kind, an artist periodical that has been distributed in the dusty nooks of downtown New York’s independent bookshops and magazine stalls since 1979. Contributors like Keith Haring and Kathy Acker have graced the tiny pages – although this isn’t for certain, because ‘All content has always been strictly pseudonymous,’ as editor Prof. Dr. Dr. Zagreus Bowery tells me. ‘Often I don’t know their identity,’ he continues, emphatically adding, ‘Less ego and more liberty.’
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.