At work with: Antonia Case, Womankind

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We start the new week with Antonia Case, editor of Womankind. This Australian women’s magazine is a leading example of the new women’s publications, aiming to challenge contemporary thought about what it is to be a woman. This ethos is reinforced by its no advertising policy. We join Antonia as issue 15 arrives in Europe.

Tell us about your typical Monday journey to work
My office is located three minutes from my home in Hobart, Tasmania – it’s literally down the road. The office is at the back of organic tea atelier, poet (above).

When we set up the business the last thing we wanted to do was to work from a lifeless corporate office, so we decided to also set up a tea atelier with a curated selection of books for sale. It means that tea is plentiful, ideas are flowing, and interesting people are always floating about.

Describe the state of your desk and what you can see in your office
I work from an antique desk that’s always toppling with books. My chair is quite rickety. Those workplace safety people would have a heart attack if they spotted my work setup but I wouldn’t feel right strapped into an ergonomic chair; I’d feel like I was permanently seated at the dentist.

From our tea atelier, we face the daily commuter traffic in Hobart. Customers come in and out of the store, taste tea, read books, and chat, while staff answer subscriber emails and pack boxes of magazines that are sent all over the world.

Which magazine do you first remember?
The first magazine I remember was Dolly. It was a magazine for young girls in Australia, but it ceased print publication just under two years ago. I bought it while staying at my grandparents’ house in the country.

An article I remember clearly was about decorating your bedroom, and it showcased a series of meticulously-designed bedrooms. The images made me instantly dissatisfied with the look of my bedroom and set me on a desperate quest to make it ‘fancy’ like the photographs in the story.

It was my first experience of ‘consumer dissatisfaction’ – the experience of a gap between my present environment, or reality, and some ‘fantasy land’ presented by the media. Suffice to say, the magazine did not leave me feeling happier for having read it.

Which magazine matters to you the most right now?
I always enjoy looking through French design magazine étapes, which is so beautifully designed and showcases some of the best examples of graphic design and typography. It’s a visual feast.

What led you to launch an alternative type of women’s magazine?
I’d been personally offended by women’s magazines for too many years, so I had to create a magazine for women and girls to read that reflected the fact that we are innately intelligent, creative beings, who are interested and are capable of reading material beyond diet tips, cooking recipes, and celebrities.

Why did you choose to be advertising-free?
I don’t have a problem with advertising per se, but I do have a problem when advertisements demean women in order to sell products.

How have your readers react to the lack of advertising?
Every image in Womankind magazine is empowering, and our readers regularly comment on this. Women are typically looking front on – they’re not pouting, or looking submissively down or away from the camera; they don’t have stilettos between their teeth or any of that ridiculous imagery you see in fashion advertising. I mean, if you made your pet dog behave like that for a photo shoot you’d call it ‘cruel’. But it’s OK for women?

Do you have any exciting prospects on the horizon for 2018 and beyond?
Each issue of Womankind is themed around a country and animal – which governs design, colour, and writers to a certain extent. So we’re always on an adventure to some new part of the world.

We don’t plan out future issues of the magazine too far in advance. I think if you plan too far out you lose spontaneity and creativity, and that’s not just limited to magazines either, but to all creative endeavours. There’s a nice quote that we included in the recent issue by American dancer Agnes de Mille, which reads: “Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what, next, or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.”

What are you worrying about at work this week?
This week I’ve been negotiating with the printer to change the paper stock of Womankind to matt from silk but the they’ve already ordered silk for this issue. I really wanted matt as the concept of this particular issue of the magazine especially suits matt paper, so I’m discussing further with the printer. The other issue I have to be conscious of is weight. If the magazine gets too heavy then postage costs increase. It’s annoying when business matters get in the way of design.

What’s going to be the highlight of the week for you?
Well, normally it’d be buying a new computer – my last one died and I’ve been working on a laptop ever since. But the fact that my new computer is still sitting in its box unpacked can’t count as a highlight of the week, can it? The computer store person emailed this week asking me how my new computer was faring. I was thinking of replying to her that it has been a little disappointing so far, but I’m patiently waiting. However, I must say that keeping it in the box has certainly has been less distracting.

What will you be doing after this chat?
I’m going to chat to staff about a strange incidence of book breeding in the store. From last count, we had fifteen copies of Tolstoy’s ‘Anna Karenina’. It’s a good book, but I doubt we need fifteen copies. It’s hardly on the top sellers’ list. Patrick White’s ‘Happy Valley’ is another concern. Last count we had at least ten copies of his book, which I don’t think anyone in the store has ever read.

Tea, on the other hand, continuously needs replenishing. Must be due to the hot summer weather.

womankindmag.com

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