Ariane Spanier, Fukt

Berlin-based graphic designer Ariane Spanier is creative director of Fukt, the annual magazine of contemporary drawing.Recent issues have seen Fukt establish an increasingly enthusiastic audience for its unique collections of themed artworks that sit somewhere between pure art and commercial illustration. We meet Ariane as issue 19, themed Storytelling, is published.

Tell us about your typical Monday journey to work.
Fukt has two studios. My design studio is usually where the magazine making happens. It’s next to our home apartment, so there is no Monday morning journey. Björn, founder and editor of Fukt, goes to his studio a few blocks away, its also very close.

Our kids go to a nearby school and walk alone. A typical Monday starts with coffee and emails. Usually an assistant would come in at 9:30 or 10am, but since March we’ve work remotely. It is a temporary situation however.

We only met with our editorial team for the latest Fukt issue in the studio, but during that time infection numbers went up again. But for myself nothing changed much in the sense that my studio was here for the last ten years, so everything is in place. I didn’t have to install my work situation new at home.

Describe the state of your desk and what you can see from where you sit.
Usually my desk is a little chaotic because most of the time I work on several projects simultaneously, each of them often requiring reference materials or samples. While I eventually clean and tidy, three hours later I would pull out color books from the shelf again, tape, pencils, notebooks, coffee cups adds to the picture. Yesterday we were shooting a little promotional Fukt video, so the studio changes from one day to another at times.

My studio is on a (normally) very busy street in Berlin Kreuzberg, where people use to go out to bars, to eat, to clubs or where a street party could happen at any time in late summer midnights with a band playing until the police comes, where every Saturday would be demonstrations (against or for whatever) and honking cars passing through from Turkish or Arabic wedding celebrations.

It’s eerily silent these days in the nights. But in normal times, when all is open, there is noise and crowds on that street. The studio windows, however, face the back. Our space reaches through two connecting buildings, it is very calm back here, I see trees in front of the windows, with birds that chirp in spring and summer.

I look into neighboring lofts as the distance isn’t very far to the next buildings (that are again the back buildings of another street). This is a former workers area in Berlin where in most of the courtyards you’d find old industrial buildings, because production happened inside the cities. Our space was a button factory once.

Sum up your 2020 – highs and lows.
The year started hopeful, looking forward to some far away travels and some lovely projects. We managed a short vacation trip to Prague by train in February. We were so proud we didn’t fly. By now it has been a year since I last stepped on a plane (which is good of course).

The lowest definitely was the Berlin lockdown in spring – although it was kind of moderate compared to other places in the world. It was exhausting to combine work and homeschooling our kids in the same time, they were home for two or three months.

In the beginning we had this ‘dystopian excitement spike’, we biked through empty Berlin, visited sites that usually are crowded by tourists, but after a while, no one was up for anything anymore, every day was the same and our sense of time went completely missing. I worked through many nights because during the days I hardly could concentrate. It felt like we were imprisoned not only in our home and our city but also in our minds, certain ideas or plans were simply not there to make.

We were about to start with the next issue of Fukt when it all happened in March and had to delay the issue, because there was no time. The days were filled with (trying to) homeschool (which was completely left to the parents, no online meets for the kids with teachers), making breakfast, lunch, take a walk and work on the design jobs that had more urgent deadlines, then dinner. When I write it like that it doesn’t sound so bad at all, but basically we had gotten another job on top of our regular ones. At some point we didn’t think we would do one issue at all this year.

Highs? First of all, we made it until now! And we did manage to put together a new Fukt issue that we are really happy with and we even got it out before Christmas!

The few trips we took nearby we really enjoyed. We even made it to Sweden in summer, a short break into an almost normal.
While some work was cancelled, other jobs emerged, so there was never that existential crisis regarding work. School started again regularly, finally the kids were in a social context again that was so much needed for them, learning and being with friends. And for us our only chance to put this new issue No. 19 together.

But I also think it is fine to say that this is just not the greatest of all years.

We will certainly remember 2020 though, I am sometimes wondering what we’ll think about it in five years! And we manage. So the highs may not be super highs really, but they are above the lows. Which is fine I think because demanding from ourselves to be having the best of times during a global pandemic with loads of restrictions to our lives, is just unfair.

Which magazine do you first remember?
FRÖSI (short for German ‘Fröhlich sein und Singen’ – ‘be happy and sing’) printed on incredibly bad paper, would be the first, being an east German ‘Pioneer magazine for girls and boys’, pioneers being the obligatory youth organization kids had to join. It was a bit boring, having state conform editors behind it – politically in line with east German socialist ideology. But since it was the only mag I remember existed for kids (except some comics) I enjoyed it anyway.

Later the teen magazine Bravo followed shortly after the wall fell. Though in my group of friends we tried to down-talk this one, also a little in opposition to that new stuff that was flowing in from the west. But secretly everybody read it anyway because of Dr. Sommer’s sex tips, answering ‘questions’ by teenagers, who I am sure were all written by the editors.

Which magazine do you value more than any other right now?
Let me be brutally honest (the German way): I don’t really read magazines. Fully aware that’s a terrible thing to say here! But to my excuse, I feel I am on the other side: I make one. It’s certainly not that I am not interested, rather overwhelmed by all what’s out there (and yes there is so much good!)

Alright here’s one though, because Björn loves it: Arts of the Working Class, which is a really good street journal for poverty, wealth & art sold by homeless people in Berlin (Not made by them).

Describe Fukt in three words.

The new issue is here! What’s the theme, what’s special about this 19th issue?
The theme this year is storyline – we look at narrative drawings – including fine arts, comics and illustration. It’s a broad theme, and that reflects in the diversity of expressions and origin of the contributors, from Europe, Asia, Africa and North America.

In some way this issue is the most intimate until now, telling very private and personal stories through images and interviews. We feature 24 artists, and everyone has a unique story to tell, as we all do if we start to inquire. We talked to big names like comic legend Chris Ware on subjects like ‘home’ and ‘sadness’ or illustrator Brian Rea about his book on Death taking a sabbatical, but we also feature contributions that reached us through an open call, artists and drawings we might have never encountered otherwise.

There is Adela Marie Jirku who tells us the story of a lady that her parents ‘inherited’ together with a farm they’ve purchased and how that deaf and mute woman influenced her when she was a child and how they were drawing together.

Somehow this issue is the most emotional one so far, and also there is a lot of honesty in it, because it touches on personal stories much more than usually.

What do we learn about storytelling – is there a common message from the contributors?
The subjects vary, with personal topics like childhood, death and family history or how to survive a pandemic, and for sure just pure imagination as well. I think a common message is the power of the story, be it in drawings, written or told. Our whole existence is based on stories, our human history is made of them. Our memories often are constructed stories, yet they define us, our identity as individuals and as societies.

But as humans we also not only use stories for making up and defining ourselves: we do share, if we are aware of it or not, a history of drawing. Drawings were used way before writing existed as a form of expression, but also for communication and story-preserving, which started on the cave walls, and I think it’s part of our ongoing fascination with that basic and immediate art form.

It feels so natural and pure, that’s also why all kids draw as soon as they can hold a pencil, later most people unlearn it or loose the joy in it because they feel they never mastered it. But it is, as our verbal and written languages are – a tool for personal expression and telling the stories you want to tell.

What’s your favourite part of the issue?
From my designer perspective obviously the cover is very important as it is the first thing people see in a store, if they don’t know the mag from before it really has to kick ass to catch their attention. So many, including myself just picking up books or magazines because of their covers.

The issue’s cover (above) is folded together into flaps and it reads the title and theme of the magazine. But once you pull it out to its full format, it literally unfolds into something else. Words change into new words, making different sense, revealing hidden messages that weren’t there before. In a story there is always an evolving element, and this is something I tried to catch this time.

But it is as a concept not entirely new to Fukt. The last issue, ‘System’ had disks that were breaking the word system apart when you turned them (above). And once I used little chains on a cover to change the linear shapes of the title letters. To me this type of design – playful, revealing or surprising – is in a sense a demonstration of care.

For my work, for design, for ideas, for the audience, only if I take what I do very seriously I can add something to the world of design and in this case magazines. I cannot really influence how people will perceive it in the end, but this is what I have to give, always hopeful it’ll bring a little moment of joy to someone.

I do enjoy looking at drawings through the lens of a theme. Since we are a small team, we mostly decide for the content together, we edit around in each others texts, some texts are written by three or four people, and while doing that we discuss lots about drawing in general. With this issue we talked what storytelling means, because it is such an over used term in advertising and social media.

And regarding drawings: which drawings are not telling a story? Do they have to be sequential or is one image enough? With every issue we broaden our knowledge and explore the world of drawing little more, which is an ever evolving field as long as there are people on earth I believe.

What’s going to be the highlight of the coming week for you?
Nothing special, days are still very same same right now (again), but cooking up some new merch for fukt, finishing some other projects i am working on since a while, continuing others. I enjoy my work, so the outlook of a steady flow isn’t a highlight per se but something i always look forward to.

Maybe a coffee walk out side with a friend or a drink at a backyard campfire.

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magCulture Live 2020 • Day two

With 100+ international attendees logged in for a second helping of magCulture Live, Day Two: Analogue soon proved to be similarly upbeat to the first – opening with a lively presentation from Theseus Chan, creative director at Singapore-based Werk.

Theseus, through Werk, is pushing the confines of magazine-making to its outermost limits. In moving away from the ‘polished’ aesthetic of many contemporary magazines, he succeeded in demonstrating that ‘something very special can be achieved using ordinary materials.’ Throughout the presentation, he held up different issues of Werk to his camera for everyone to examine (via whichever corner of the world they happened to be tuned in from).

‘I wanted to focus purely on creation, so I made myself a space where I could perform in that manner.’ Theseus’s talk itself something of a performance – and one that kicked the day off with a healthy serving of experimental creativity, widening the very boundaries of what makes a magazine.

Following Werk, came two art directors based in New York.

First, Chloe Scheffe, art director of Here magazine, who’s ‘not-so-secret’ secret, is that it’s a brand magazine for luggage company, Away. Despite not sounding like the most intriguing magazine of the event, Here is a quality magazine which has allowed Scheffe her own space for creation, particularly in terms of original typography – ‘I went crazy with a brush on paper!’ – and is an exemplary case of a brand publication capable of standing on its own two feet.

Sadly the current, 14th, edition is the final one, the project a victim of the Coronavirus travel downturn.

Following Chloe, Kurt Woerpel, art director at Interview magazine, brought an equal dose of enthusiasm to the Zoom room, allowing attendees to adventure behind-the-scenes of the latest iteration of the ever-emblematic magazine – famously launched by Andy Warhol – while he shared the different processes he used while redesigning the magazine’s titular logo.

He also gave a nod to the day’s theme, Analogue, explaining notably, the magazine’s cut and paste aesthetic – ‘We try to embrace that a lot’ – and spoke about the advantages of Interview’s large format, newspaper-texture pages; particularly in being able to reproduce artefacts from the magazine’s historical archive at true-to-life scale, or even bigger (notably, a feature on the many mobile phones of Paris Hilton).

Throughout the rest of the evening, we were greeted by speakers from London, Paris and New York once more.

The all-women team behind Parisian publication The Skirt Chronicles – Sarah de Mavaleix, Sofia Nebiolo and Haydée Touitou – presented their publication ensemble, reminding us that no magazine (or at least, not many) is the result of a ‘one-man band’ but instead that of like-minded people coming together to create something concrete and meaningful. In Skirt Chronicles’ case, that being ‘a chronicle of our time’ which the team hoped readers would continue to revisit over and over.

From there Rose Nordin, co-founder and graphic designer at OOMK & Rabbits Road Press, echoed a similar sentiment, bringing to the fore the importance of community and ‘coming together’ the zine-making workshops for non-publishers that Nordin and her colleagues facilitate.

She told how, though lockdown had ‘put everything on hold’, the connection herself and her team have felt with the communities they work alongside have continued to endure and, crucially that, as humans: ‘We’re still looking to printed matter, the analogue, to connect us’, perfectly capturing the mood of the day.

Bringing magCulture Live 2020 to a close, were Jack Self, editor-in-chief at Real Review, and Oliver Munday, creative director at The Atlantic.

Jack began by giving an artfully succinct, crystal-clear introduction to Real Review, explaining the thinking behind the magazine’s instantly recognisable ‘front cover faces’ as a means of ‘capturing the mood of the time.’

Issue two for example, themed ‘historal déjà vu’, featured a Janus face, the Roman god usually depicted with two faces – one looking forward and one looking back – which Jack employed as a representation of the political mood at the time (Trump, the so-called ‘return of the right-wing’, and a lack of historical precedent, etc).

After quickly walking attendees through all ten issues of Real Review so far, Jack then went on to encapsulate the essence of the magazine as ‘timeless and timely’. The brief in the beginning, he remembered, was to effectively create a publication with the ‘aesthetic of the Google doc’, one with a rigid structure which was eventually broken up by the softer edges of the hand-drawn faces found on each cover (faces based on drawings cover artist Nishant Choksi had been sketching for fun, ‘for his kid’).

Jack ended with an additional series of faces Choksi prepared retrospectively, each one representing a year of the last decade.

Where Jack left off, Oliver Munday came in to close the conference under the masthead of one of the US’s best known magazines, The Atlantic. Delivering a thorough and fascinating look at the process of the magazine’s most recent redesign, Oliver shared how he and his team took a deep dive into the magazine’s archives when looking to rejuvenate the masthead; now the recognisable ‘A’ logo: ‘What would it look like if we created this very sturdy, classic yet modern mark?’

The team then began exploring the publication’s core type and, ‘how to make it more bespoke; classical.’ In the end, they actually rebuilt an old typeface found in the archive. Bringing us up to the current day, we were shown some of the magazine’s most recent – and widely celebrated – covers, giving a sense of where The Atlantic is today, and where it is, seems to be exactly where it should be, as it’s recent readership has grown by a whopping 400,000 subscriptions, a phenomenon which Oliver put down to this being ‘a really unique moment’ in history and the magazine being ‘an object that people want.’

And on that note, magCulture Live ended. After tuning into this, magCulture’s first fully-remote conference, it seems evident that, yes, print’s still got it. With England about to exit its second national lockdown, marking the (soon-to-be) close of what’s been an exhausting year, over two afternoons, attendees spanning the globe came together digitally and, if our feelings are anything to go by, were left feeling excited, reinvigorated and hopeful for future of independent magazines.

After all, to quote Rose Nordin once more, us humans, “are still looking to printed matter; the analogue, to connect us.”

Liked this article? Read about Day one: Activism. @wordsbydanielle

All ticket-holders should now have received a link to the Zoom recording of the event.

Thank you to all the speakers and our audience for making this first full-sized virtual version of magCulture Live so successful.

Thanks too, to our partners for their support in bringing the event to life digitally:

And thanks to our media partners:

New York Times Magazine: Democracy by Mail

The 15 November 2020 edition of the New York Times Magazine was a special issue about Democracy by Mail, pulling together two of the big stories of 2020 and highlighting again the role of magazines in recording history.

For the issue, three photographers followed the process of voting by mail in the recent US election. This quite normal, democratic, activity was made extraordinary by the increased number of votes cast by mail due to the Coronavirus pandemic. 60 million people, twice the usual number, chose this way to vote over joining the queue on election day.

The magazine follows the system from start to finish, an amazing story of machinery and people power. Using a postmark graphic throughout – it’s vast on the opener (above) but also features across the logo magazine masthead on the cover at a more realistic scale  – the photography is accompanied by brief texts but is otherwise left to tell the story.

After Emily Bazelon’s written introduction alongside Philip Montgomery’s black and white scene-setting shots of vote counting (above), we shift back in time to the printing of the ballot papers.

Photography director Kathy Ryan explains the origins of the story; ‘It was becoming very clear that there would be more mail-in ballots then ever in history and that Donald Trump would challenge the election results if he lost.’

‘Editor-in-chief Jake Silverstein felt it looked highly likely that the mail-in ballot itself would be at the center of the story and shooting Election Day would not be the way to go. So Jake decided to make the issue about the mail-in ballot. It was very prescient of him.’ The shoots started back in September.

Christopher Payne’s rich colour imagery traces how the huge volume of ballot forms were produced. Who can resist the sight of printing presses and finishing machines? But it’s not just the machinery, the photography reveals the scale of the human effort involved, summed up in a staff poster proclaiming ‘Election heroes work here’.

Next, Philip Montgomery tells the story of the postal workers charged with delivering the ballot papers for voting, one seemingly abstract image (below) resolving itself as the pattern made by trolley wheels as they scrape a tiled floor. Shot in Florida, Arizona and Pennsylvania, the images emphasise the scale of the undertaking.

The final section sees photographer Dina Litovsky record the voting and counting, her colour images capturing the human end points of the process – people in masks posting their ballots (above) and rows of people checking the ballot papers after they’ve been collected.

The story told in these pages would be powerful at any time, but given the questions being asked of the voting system and the people responsible for it, it takes on a whole other weight of meaning.

Despite Trump’s attempts to challenge the result, he has failed to establish a serious fault in the system.

This issue of the Times Magazine depicts the people the people he was challenging, people young and old, black and white, junior and senior, from different states and with various roles in the massive machine that measures the vote. The cover image sums up the story, and perhaps this extraordinary year: a woman of colour wearing mask and gloves, studiously checking absentee ballot forms in Michigan.

Editor-in-chief: Jake Silverstein
Creative director: Gail Bichler
Director of photography: Kathy Ryan
Deputy director of photography: Jessica Dimson
Designer: Caleb Bennett
Photo editor: Kristen Geisler
Art director: Ben Grandgenett

See the digital version of this story.

magCulture Live 2020 • Day one

Last week magCulture Live 2020 took place on Zoom; here we reflect on the first of the two sessions.

Since the beginning of this year, the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc the world over. The Black Lives Matter movement has gained incredible momentum (alas, the aftershock of multiple cases of police brutality); and the recent US election saw not just America, but much of the world hold their breath. Still, for the two days that we came together for magCulture Live, a small corner of silver linings were gratefully found.

For those publications who’ve weathered the storms, the repercussions of such society-shaking events have equally shaken up the world of independent and mainstream magazines. It’s pushed writers, editors and designers alike to take a step back and identify what it is that their publications are about at their most stripped back and essential: What do these magazines represent at their core? And what, if anything, do they stand for?

DAY ONE • Analogue
Split across two days, Day One: Analogue and Day Two: Activism, magCulture Live 2020 saw speakers from the international industry address the world events of the last 11 months to how magazines have responded and will, evidently, continue to respond.

Opening the first day, critic and author Steven Heller ( presented a fascinating history of ‘provocazines’ from around the world.

‘I wanted to be a part of this world of paper, of ink,’ Heller told the 190 viewers who’d tuned in. Spanning the last century and invoking mainly US titles such as The Other, Rolling Stone, Mother Earth, Rat and The Black Panther newspaper, to more recent publications including Dope, Good Trouble, The Funambulist and The New York Times who, in Heller’s words – ‘became much more of an advocate for truth, democracy, and anti-Trumpism this last year’ – he ended his century-spanning presentation ‘360 degrees from where [he] got into the biz.’

Instead of creating alternative activist media from the ground up, today it’s ‘the mainstream who are taking a stand [and] becoming the guardians of democracy.’

From there on out, the themes of Analogue and Activism ran parallel to one another with Alice Grandoit, editor of first-issue design publication Deem Journal, explaining Deem’s core goal as ‘the act of democratising design’, standing for a repackaging of design ‘as social practice’, and a ‘shifting of power towards communities’, the human and the organic. At Deem’s core then, ‘an invitation for others to come and participate.’

Following a similar thread, Sachini Imbuldeniya, introduced Studio Pi, her newly launched agency for photographers and illustrators creating ‘a space for fresh new talent’ where, ‘candidates are assessed solely on their work’ though the use of blind panels, addressing directly the lack of diversity at the heart of the UK’s creative industries.

Based on her own experiences of prejudice in the creative industry, Studio Pi’s artists are exclusively people of colour, women, those living with disabilities or from working class backgrounds. After only two months, the new agency is already busy – Sachini shared a series of published images from her artists.

And Karl Henkell, founder of Record Culture magazine, gave an overview of the magazine’s lifespan thus far, inviting us to revisit issue-launch parties through his own photographic archive, before harking back to a need to reevaluate Record’s core values: ‘As Record has grown, we’ve felt a growing responsibility to respond to world-wide events,’ describing this responsibility as a ‘natural progression’ for platform-holding publications.

Enmeshing the two themes further, Maya Moumne, co-founder of the Beirut-based Journal Safar, gave a full-hearted introduction to the bilingual visual culture and graphic design magazine.

She told how, with the publication of their Nostalgia Issue, more people began to ‘take notice’, following a shift from a more experimental design approach, then went on to explain how Studio Safar was all but destroyed in the devastating Beirut Explosion on 4 August 2020.

‘For us, design and politics go hand-in-hand,’ she told her audience. ‘Publishing on social media is a form of publishing,’ detailing how, following the explosion, Studio Safar turned to their social media accounts both to urge people to join protests and to call out BLOM Bank Lebanon for charging the small business ‘unreasonable amounts’ in bank fees amidst the crises. This form of publishing saw the bank apologise and agree to reimburse some of those payments.

Bringing Day One to a close, came two equally rich presentations from critic and author Rick Poyner and Empire’s longstanding editor-in-chief, Terri White. Poyner, who recently published the book David King: Designer, Activist and Visual Historian, gave a wonderful introduction to King’s ‘unmissable’ work.

‘It’s designed to grab your attention.’ From his political posters, to the covers he created for the now-defunct London listings mag City Limits, Poyner told how, ‘In retrospect, we can see [King’s] was pretty extraordinary work. …He defined the look of left-wing design.’ (see more on the books’s dedicated site).

Where Poyner’s enthusiasm brought a renewed energy to the penultimate talk of the day, Terri White’s reinvigorated everyone with a sense of hope and purpose.

‘Film culture is a living, breathing force,’ she began, explaining how during the course of the coronavirus outbreak, and as cinemas began closing their doors, she had had to ask herself: ‘What is the DNA of Empire? Through that questioning, the Empire team found the crisis ‘freeing’ them to ‘return to that DNA.’

‘[We’d] always had very strict rules on what could be on the cover… the detail we would get into was really deep. When that [went] out of the window, we were freed up to be creative.’ The situation effectively reinvigorated the ‘wonderful world of film that we’d taken for granted’ for so long. ‘As has our audience,’ she summarised, wholeheartedly. Worth noting, perhaps, that Empire ends this difficult year with its sales figures increasing.

‘We have massive ideas for 2021. I have never been more convinced of the power of magazines.’

Liked this post? Read our report from day two: Analogue. @wordsbydanielle

All ticket-holders should now have received a link to the Zoom recording of the event.

Thank you to all the speakers and our audience for making this first full-sized virtual version of magCulture Live so successful

Thanks too, to our partners for their support in bringing the event to life digitally:

And thanks to our media partners:

Luca A. Caizzi , C41

Italian photography magazine C41 has just been relaunched in a larger, more sustainable format. We spoke to its founder Luca A. Caizzi, a photographer and creative director based in Milan. Alongside C41, he works with design and fashion brands and magazines from across the world. 

How do you start your week?
It can’t be an accident, but Monday is always a sunny day. I always wake up at 7am. and drink an espresso. I believe that preparing coffee in our Italian coffee maker is the real secret of my awakening. These weeks are different, the routine is broken by this new condition of freedom.

Our studio is open, but having to respect a series of rules on spacing, we alternate our physical presence. I try to work out of the house every other day in order to go on living a little bit of normality. I prefer to walk or cycle to the editorial office. I love the aesthetics of sport and technical fabrics, I like useful solutions and minimal Nordic design.

Describe the state of your desk and what you can see in your studio/office.
Our studio is inside an Art Nouveau building from the early 1920s. We are inside a former doctor’s office, divided into several rooms where the creative, production and editorial teams are divided. My office is in the kitchen. When you enter you feel at home, in fact our clients during meetings or presentations sit on comfortable designer armchairs, drinking a good Italian coffee, of course.

I am a very rational person. I love order and in fact I empty my desk every day when I leave. It is perfectly balanced and everything is positioned straight compared to my sight.

Which magazine do you first remember?
Il venerdì di Repubblica (a newspaper supplement).

Which magazine matters to you the most right now?
Alla Carta

Describe C41 in three words.
Visual, Lifestyle, Story

You cover such a wide range of subjects: ‘lifestyle, fashion, design, outdoors, and creative communities’. What is the common thread that holds the magazine together?
‘An ordinary life makes an extraordinary story’.

C41 has always reflected the contemporary since when it was used to only publish photography. Time has forced us to deepen the content proposed because our reader has grown up with us while asking for more. Today we keep on listening to the voices from the markets that are more related to us, which reflect the aesthetics and lifestyle in an apparently ordinary way.

You publish a lot of material online – explain the relationship between digital and print.
C41 was born online. I was a photography student and back then the online was simply an useful and pragmatic way to keep elements of research neat and easy to question. In a short time we were almost forced by the many requests for publication and reviews and the desire of our initial readers (who were mostly content creators), to give space and an institutional place in which to present themselves/ourselves.

Today C41 continues its daily work of publication by alternating content of simple entertainment and light inspiration with in-depth content. The desire to deepen some topics led us to turn to a more calm and mature reader and in 2015 we printed the first paper issue.

You’ve relaunched the magazine for the new issue 10; which are the thoughts behind the change, and what will be different for the reader?
In the last five years, C41 has observed and told the stories of the characters who have contributed to reformulate the visual language of the contemporary world. The tenth issue of C41 opens a new chapter in our editorial research, to be considered as a growth step, rewriting our paradigms while narrating the world looking at it through new eyes.

In the last year we have been working in order to make our product and our production process as sustainable as possible: a new size, 210x280mm, allows us to maximize paper savings in the printing process and the use of not-harmful paper and inks makes our environmental impact even lower. Moreover, in our editorial research, we have decided to get rid of all the superfluous, focusing on what we do best: telling extraordinary stories of people who are apparently ordinary.

Share one piece of publishing or business advice that helped you.
Nobody taught us how to deal with publishing. C41 is the result of choices, tests and attempts. I do not have any advice which works 100% but the only thing I feel like saying is that you must always give yourself the right time, avoiding giving up to the first NO.

Looking ahead, what are you excited about this week?
My first reaction to any event is optimistic. Then, afterwards I reassess my position. In relation to that, I can’t wait to show you and show the readers the new contents of C41 number 11, it will be awesome.

Roni Monhait, Middle Plane

This week we meet Roni Monhait, founder and editor-in-chief of Middle Plane, as the third issue of the magazine hits shops. Each issue explores fashion in close collaboration with a single artist, and the final printed publication changes format to suit the work. The latest issue is titled ‘Maggi’s Mag’ and was made with artist Maggi Hambling.

How do you start your week?
At the moment I’m holed up in a Suffolk cabin, so I’m working from here. My weeks are always varied,  now more so than ever. The pandemic has created challenges but we keep moving forward – weekly team meetings via zoom have become the norm.  

Describe the state of your desk and what you can see in your studio/office
Right now, the view from my Suffolk window is serene and peaceful but I’m normally based in London, and my workspace there can be pretty messy. My Egon Eiermann desk is usually strewn with papers, as I prefer to handwrite my notes rather than use a computer.

The rest of our office is actually quite neat. There few sculptural installations in the form of piles of boxes with issues of the magazine and a big plant masquerading as a monolith, along with some Félix González-Torres posters on the walls 

Which magazine do you first remember?
The first magazine I remember is a cult magazine from the sixties, Aspen, the first magazine that came boxed.

It left such a significant impact on the publishing world and on me. It felt organic and really pushed the boundaries of what a magazine could be. I love that the magazine’s content wasn’t restricted to certain categories but could include all sorts of objects and things.

In Middle Plane’s first issue zero (above), we published an article which looked at a raft of unique magazines from 1850s through to the 1970s. I think it’s essential to know about these publications before you think about creating your own magazine

Which magazine matters to you the most right now
Self-service. Their latest issue was made into a new video magazine format alongside their print edition. They always find new ways to engage with their readers as their digital audience increases. They are expanding the definition of a magazine, moving away from the traditional methods, which I find fascinating. I’ve also always loved their approach to fashion.

Issue one was a collaboration with the conceptual artist Vadim Zakharov

Describe Middle Plane in three words
A must-have.

Issue two was a series of fashion stories created in repsonse to the work of artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres.

Every issue of Middle Plane is very different in form and content; what is the defining theme that holds the series together?
With each issue of the magazine you can become immersed in the process of an artist asking questions and exploring the fashion world in a print format. Each time the result is entirely different, yet we are dealing with the same dialogue – looking at fashion from an art perspective. Each issue tells the artist’s story of how he/she perceives fashion.

What’s the starting point for a new issue?
To find an artist that has something to say about fashion. An artist with a substantial body of work that enables us to understand if this dialogue is something that can work as a fashion magazine. The process involves a lot of studying and researching, which we love doing.

Can you see Middle Plane moving even further from the regular print format, and becoming, for instance, a live show, or movie?
Middle Plane could be many different things; I’d never say never. We are open-minded to everything that comes in our way.

Share one piece of publishing/business advice that has helped you.
Choose to work with kind people.

Looking ahead, what are you excited about this week?
We’re excited about starting work on the next issue. We’re facing challenging times but the fact that we have such a loyal readership keeps us on mission when it comes to creating innovative and engaging content.

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