If Four & Sons is the golden retriever of pet magazines, and Puss Puss the elegant Siamese cat, then Agapornis is the boisterous Dalmatian pup sprinkled with polka dots, jumping head first into a mucky pond.
I find that animal-themed independent magazines are usually outlets for art directors and designers to show-off their prowess in the form of still-lifes and clever shoots – they’re publications predominantly for visual reads rather than word-based ones, and Agarpornis is no different. Yet their aesthetic is much more messy and playful than what I’ve come across in the pet-mag market: it’s both lolloping and breathlessly energetic, perhaps more in tune with the actual experience of owning a pet. Like the cover, spreads are off-kilter and tumble in different directions (above), with page numbers chopped off at the bottom like paws sinking into mud (below).
Art director Laura explains that the idea for Agapornis came about simply: ‘We were sitting on a terrace looking at people walking around when we realised that having pets used to be a family thing, but nowadays it’s very common for young people to own animals.’ They decided on an energetic, slanting layout to reflect playing with pets, and it’s a look that they’ll take into their next issues: ‘We feel that it gives gives rhythm to the publication. Even if the magazine looks elegant or meticulous, we hope that the slanting adds a messy freshness.’
You can spot the scrappy aesthetic of Agapornis in their illustration commissions as well as the layout: a short essay on animals in art sits alongside scribbled, felt-tip pen drawings by Susana López (above), and a surreal comic documents a pet fish’s escape in splodgy water-colour (also above). Playfulness also shines through in a shoot of shadow puppets made from fruit, veg and hands (below), and later we see a wilder side of the magazine when reading through a piece on feral pets in the home (below).
The visuals are strong: there’s hazy cacti photography for an article on a dog adoption centre in Spain (above), and thoughtful documentary photography for a piece on how cats help children with Asperger’s (below).
A small, recurring feature peppers throughout the pages and cleverly breaks up the pace of the entire issue. Like the ‘Best Pet of the Week’ boxes you find in the likes of The Evening Standard, these spreads feature a single pet or animal-themed photograph – a chance for readers to submit their own creative take on their pets. Pictures range from a lo-fi image of a dog named Droopy (above) to carefully conceived photographs of a pet duckling and a melancholic parrot (also below). These recurring features are always printed on a black background – they’re the dots speckling the excitable, though also elegant, Dalmatian that is Agapornis.
Editor-in-chief: Toni Chaquet
Art direction and design: Laura Mata, Iván Jiménez