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Angus MacPherson, Decisive Agents
At work with

Angus MacPherson, Decisive Agents

Art director Angus MacPherson designs Decisive Agents, a new magazine published by tech company InstaDeep. It takes an inclusive, human view of AI—the first issue focuses on health.

Angus has previously designed Little White Lies magazine, and has also developed projects for clients like Amazon and Adidas as well as creating video curation platform Curate.TV.

As he shares his work routine, we hear about the new magazine and his desire to ‘to tell a positive, empowering narrative.’


What are you up to this morning?
This morning is similar to every other morning over the last nine months, in that other than getting up around 7.30 and having breakfast there’s no fixed routine whatsoever.

Today I’m writing this from the spare bedroom at my Mum’s house in York, I have some work related admin and some life related admin to take care of. I’m starting full-time at InstaDeep on Decisive Agents in two weeks so there is some preparation for that. Me and my partner have been on the road for the last nine months, mostly in Central America. We’ve been back in the UK for the last two months and we’re planning to re-enter civilian life with a move to Glasgow in August.


Describe your desk and your work space.
Right now it’s ultra minimal, I have my laptop and a notebook and that’s it. I hate clutter but I actually find it hard to be creative with so little stimulus, I’m really excited about getting my library and magazine collection back from storage.


Which magazine do you first remember?
Ride BMX in the late 90s and early 2000s was massive for me. I’d go to WHSmith and get it on the day it came out and read it from cover to cover. It would then get pawed over by all my mates until it was held together with sellotape. Looking back at Ride BMX from that era now, it still looks great, I think partly because the early 2000s are very much back in fashion but also because all the photography was analogue and the cover designs were always super confident and minimal.

I wish I had my archive to photograph, you can see some nice examples here. Before the internet, if you were into a subculture like that, magazines were the only way to find out what was happening.


Which magazine matters to you the most this morning?
I love Monocle, I’ll always pick that up when I see it for sale.

Anything Alex Hunting has worked on is worth picking up in my opinion, I don’t have kids but I’ve got all the issues of Kindling because it looks so great. I really rate Riposte magazine, Shaz Madani did a wonderful job with that. Special mentions go to Huck, Little White Lies, Popeye and It’s Freezing in LA.


Describe Decisive Agents in three words.
Decoding AI Beautifully (I think I cheated!)

It’s refreshing to see AI portrayed using figurative illustration rather than hi-tech manipulation. Was it difficult to avoid the clichés?
InstaDeep, the publishers, have an inclusive, human view of AI, their belief is that it's vital that the power of AI and the expertise to build AI tools is given to people from as many backgrounds, demographics and geographical locations as possible.

I think when we saw it from that perspective we were less drawn to digital, dystopian cliches. We’re at this point where AI, in the collective public consciousness, isn’t well defined. I want Decisive Agents to tell a positive, empowering narrative.

Highlight one visual that sums up the magazine.
The cover was the best kind of collaboration. I had a lot of ideas about how I wanted it to feel and who I wanted to commission, D’Arcy Doran, the editor, understood the technology and what we needed to include and it was in a conversion with the printers that we came up with the idea for the die cut (above).

Once all the pieces were in place, illustrator Liam Cobb used his considerable skills to bring it to life.

What one piece of advice would you offer somebody wanting to launch their own publication?
Honestly I don’t have a clue! But best piece of advice I can give a designer/creative? Get a mentor, get a coach, stay tuned in to what thrills you creatively and remember, failure is never final.

What are you most looking forward to this coming week?
Well my sister is getting married next week so that’s a big one.

Editor D’Arcy Doran
Art director Angus MacPherson


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