At work with: Dan Crowe, Port
Port launched in 2011, offering its readers a forward-looking alternative to traditional – and very 20th century – men’s magazines by focusing in-depth on design, food, literary thought-pieces and interviews with men of style and distinction who have something interesting to say, not necessarily something to merely plug. It’s been a while since their last issue, so we start the week off with a welcome update from editor and co-founder Dan Crowe, who explains what Port have planned for this year as well as introducing some other projects in the pipeline.
Where are you today?
Hoxton Square, Shoreditch, London, at our newish office.
What can you see from the window?
Tall men with beards mostly – tailored beings wearing tweed and eye- wateringly tight trousers. Dogs running about in the square with similar facial hair and several restaurants that are a constant, terrible, temptation.
Are you a morning or evening person?
Ha ha. If I’m honest, a bit of both. The potential of mornings versus the celebration of the evening… It’s hard to choose.
Which magazine do you first remember?
My dad owned a few magazines in the 80s, a sports magazine named Grandstand and a music title called Tracks. I remember, very early on, Dad being excited about a new idea he had, where the magazine would only feature images. The prototype featured a startling portrait of a guy shouting on the front cover, with the title, Atom, at the bottom. No other text. Doubt you would get away with that now. (Although having said that, we did run a cover a little like that for Port, starring Michael Shannon, a while back. I guess nurture has a lot to answer for in terms of how I spend my time!)
I remember Look In, which was great. And I loved US-based weekend magazine supplements, as they always had great typefaces, beautifully arranged. And National Geographic, somehow, was always about, even though my parents didn’t subscribe.
What's your favourite magazine this morning?
My old friend, Matt Willey, who is a founder of Port, art directed the recent redesign of The New York Times Magazine, which is very strong indeed. I love the eclectic content and photography of Works That Work, a fairly new magazine. Choose a magazine? New Yorker. Every time.
We’ve not heard from Port for some time.
We decided that after four years we wanted Port to be biannual. We wanted to make it bigger, with more pages, and felt that four times a year was, basically, too much. So we didn’t have a winter issue and cut straight to the spring issue, which we are very excited about. We are also re-launching the website, which is cleaner, with more content and bigger images: we wanted it to be, simply, more enjoyable to read and look at – in that order.
Can we expect major design changes?
To be honest, each issue of Port is redesigned. We have an obsessive way of editing and designing, where every detail – from a caption to opening spreads, and the cover – needs to have a logic behind it. A by-product of this method is that it constantly changes how Port looks, in line with how we’re feeling about content/publishing/the world. At the moment, we’re feeling very relaxed and (quite) free, so there’s an almost bizarre combination of harsh design and editing, with very playful typography and storytelling. Probably not the most economical way of working, but it keeps us interested.
Port is generally referred to as a men’s magazine. What does this mean in 2015?
I don’t know; it’s a bit misleading. When you distribute on an international level you have to be ‘business’, ‘women’s fashion’, ‘design’ or ‘men’s magazine’ etc… regardless of whether the content diverges from its genre at all. Thus, by having to define it, you lose potential nuance with what the title is really about. We decided on ‘men’s’ but the feedback we get is that a lot of women like it and buy it. Port is for men and women.
Your cover stars are very varied - do you have criteria for choosing them?
Yes, we do: we only put people on the cover if they’ve accomplished a sizable body of work that we respect hugely. It’s not really to do with age, but usually to have reached that level takes time, so often our cover stars are at a different stage in their lives to those on other magazine covers.
What are you least looking forward to this week?
Saying goodbye to my amazing wife and baby son, when they go away for three days.
What will you be doing after this chat?
I’m launching a new magazine (because I have a peculiar illness and can’t stop launching them), named Avaunt – with Matt, whom I mentioned previously, and the renowned polar explorer Ben Saunders. It’s an adventure magazine, in the broadest possible sense. It’s looking, I feel, very fresh and, dare I say it, compelling. I can’t wait to share it with the world. So after this chat, I’ll be working on that.