At Work With: Chris Harrison, Wrap
For our ninth ‘At Work With’ interview we look at the week ahead of Chris Harrison, co-founder with Polly Glass of Wrap magazine. A long-time favourite here at magCulture, Wrap combines publication and product, making the most of print as it shares the work of illustrators from around the world. The seventh issue has just been published.
Where are you today?
After a non sophisticated bowl of cereal (Shreddies with too much sugar) and a strong black coffee, I’m up in the Wrap studio situated in a small village called Boars Hill just outside Oxford. I’m looking through emails and catching up on stuff that accumulated over the weekend, as well as planning the week ahead. I get distracted far too easily and keep looking at the pin board that covers the whole wall to my right. We've just tacked up a woodblock poster Anthony Burrill produced for issue seven - it's big and bold.
What can you see from the window?
The Oxfordshire countryside mainly, broken up by a mix of different types of trees - some are blossoming, some are evergreen and some are still a bit twiggy with not very many leaves. There's also a red kite in the sky riding the currents. Kites around here are like taxis in London. I always see them overhead but I've never witnessed one flying off with rodent style food.
How many emails are waiting in your inbox?
Not too many (I think). We try to keep it down to around 90 emails in the Wrap inbox. I'm not very good at filing things away once they're done with and Polly is definitely more on top of it than I am. We’ve got another inbox though for other stuff that needs some attention... it’s a bit like an overgrown garden that needs cutting back.
What’s your favourite magazine this morning?
I recently subscribed to Colors magazine and the first issue (No.85) arrived at the weekend so I can't wait to look through it and have a read. I love the juxtaposition of Colors - on one hand there's a very real and raw approach to what they write about and cover, and on the other hand it's a beautiful to look at and brilliantly designed magazine. Good to read and good to look at equals happy me. I love magazines and we keep a big stack of them in the studio but Colors is the only one I read like a book - starting at the beginning and finishing at the end.
What encouraged you to make your magazine more than just a magazine?
100% our subject. Every time we make an edition of Wrap, we’re sharing the work of some of the best illustrators from around the world. We wanted to reproduce their work as big as possible to best show off what they do. The idea was that, by printing the work big scale, the reader would be able to fully engage with each illustration and then go on to share them with others in the form of wrapping paper.
Wrap’s format has developed issue by issue. Talk us through the changes.
Yeah the format has changed twice since we started, and it's been mostly based on feedback we've had from shops and readers. When we first made Wrap the pages were collated and the whole thing was folded in half, it also had a big cardboard band running around the middle.
At the time we thought it looked good but the problem was that people couldn't open it easily to have a look inside. So, with issue two, we turned Wrap into an oversize publication (roughly A3 size) with a nice card cover and elastic band binding. The idea was that every double page could be pulled out and used as wrapping paper making the whole magazine re-usable. This format worked really well but we were developing and increasing the written content with every edition we made.
So after issue four we had to think up a new format that gave Wrap the opportunity to grow but to also preserve the things that make it special - which is where we're at today. We're happy with how Wrap’s evolved over the course of it's life and I'm sure we're done with format changes for a while.
How long does an issue of Wrap take to create?
A long time, and it seems to take longer and longer every time we make a new issue. I think it's because we want each new issue to be better than the last but we've got pretty much the same amount of people working on it. With issue seven (our latest) we increased the page count from 68 to 80 which was great in some ways because it's made what we write about more insightful, but in other ways it was heaps more work for us all and added about 2 weeks to getting everything put together.
What was the last thing your editor said to you?
“What about pull quotes?”
What are you most looking forward to this week?
I'm most looking forward to getting stuck in to issue eight and working with illustrators on some new products for Wrap. This is the first week of planning the new edition so there's loads to do including figuring out and researching the theme, writing briefs and inviting artists. I also do a lot of the wholesale selling, so I'm looking forward to approaching new shops and chatting with old ones.
What are you least looking forward to this week?
Friday, I love and hate Fridays but I mainly don't like them because there’s always more stuff to do than the week allows.
What will you be doing after this chat?
I need to contact 7 or 8 artists for a project we're working on, so I'll get on to this straight away. But we're also hoping to curate our first ever exhibition at the end of the year in the Netherlands so need to get some ideas and visuals put together for that. It would be cool to get working on some sketches this afternoon. If all goes well the exhibition should be a goodie.
Find out more about Wrap on their website.