At work with: James Cartwright, Printed Pages
You may have noticed the images of sprawling sunbathers on colourful towels that have been circulating on Instagram and Twitter recently: the bright, tongue-and-cheek cover images for the new issue of Printed Pages. James Cartwright has been editor of the It’s Nice That magazine since Winter 2013, writing daily articles for the website whilst simultaneously organising and curating the content for the art and design publication. Recently, Printed Pages announced that they’re going larger and bi-annual, and so we caught up with James the week of issue nine’s launch.
Where are you today?
I’m sat in our studio in Haggerston spinning on my swivel chair and getting ready to launch the latest issue of Printed Pages. People have only seen the cover so far so I’m excited to find out how all the features in this issue are received. I think they’re great, but I’m obviously biased.
What can you see from the window?
A couple of Canada geese harassing a duck and a huge flotilla of canal boats. Looks like there’s someone kayaking out there too. Not a bad view really. I can’t complain. (This picture was taken months ago, so just imagine that view without the snow).
Are you a morning or evening person?
Both and neither. I’m definitely more efficient in the morning but I really hate getting out of bed before 10am. It just feels like a really uncivilised time of day to be conscious. But I love working late into the night. Once everyone else is asleep I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything so can concentrate properly. The rest of the time I always feel like there might be a really good conversation going on around me that I’m not part of.
Which magazine do you first remember?
My mum used to buy Hello! sporadically when I was a kid so I always thought that was what all magazines were like; just a load of glossy old tat (sorry if anyone from Hello! is reading this, although I’m sure you don’t give a monkey’s what I think). Then when I was about 13 I picked up a copy of Wire and realised that there were interesting titles out there covering all sorts of subjects. After that I just started hoarding as many mags as I could. That was probably my first brush with ‘design’ too. Up until that point I had no clue that design or illustration existed as a discipline that you could study. It kind of got in the way of my pre-teen dreams of being a plumber.
What’s your favourite magazine this morning?
I’ve got piles of them on my desk so this is a tricky question. I’m going to say Lost because it’s the newest and one of the most interesting indies I’ve seen in a while – also the man who made it came to visit last week. It’s run by a guy called Nelson Ng who works at Wieden + Kennedy in Shanghai and has started this up in his spare time. He’s put together a travel magazine that’s unlike any other I’ve read; it deals with the human side of travelling, the personal struggles, relationships formed, language barriers encountered etc. It’s essentially 14 stories about totally different journeys put together like a scrapbook and there’s not a single shot of a skyscraper infinity pool in sight.
What’s your favourite creative project today?
Radiooooo. Select a country, a decade, a mood and find out about loads of incredible music you never knew existed. It’s so good. The interface is pretty rudimentary but that only adds to the charm.
Printed Pages covers have always been very graphic and geometric, with a single colour framing an object or illustration. The upcoming Spring issue diverts from this template dramatically – why the shift?
It’s something we’ve been planning to evolve for a while now. For the first eight issues we were very conscious of wanting to maintain a really clear visual identity for Printed Pages so that it would stand out on the newsstands and also clearly relate to all the other issues we’d published. Now we’re two years into it I think people are aware of who we are and the kind of features we publish which means we can be a little more experimental with our cover choices.
We’ve also just gone from quarterly to biannual so we needed to update the look of the mag to reflect that change too. The upcoming issue has two different covers from Tadao Cern’s ‘Comfort Zone’ series featuring two gloriously relaxed sunbathers on a beach in eastern Europe (above). They’re very cheeky photos which hopefully reflects the tone of the magazine as best a photograph can. We don’t take ourselves too seriously!
The magazine has a very broad take on creativity; how do you find the stories?
We get them from all over the place; browsing the web, chatting to people in the industry, going after rumours we’ve heard and sometimes just hassling someone whose work we’ve featured online because we think they might have something interesting to say. It’s a strange balance because sometimes you’ll have a very specific story idea and your interviewee won’t want to give anything away and other times you’ll be asking about someone’s creative practice and an hour later all you’ve ended up discussing is their interest in extreme sports or their thoughts on depression. Creativity is a pretty broad subject so the context has to reflect that. I guess that summarises our attitude towards publishing quite nicely; we start off with some loose ideas of stories we want to tell and then let ourselves be guided by the people we speak to. You end up with some really interesting features that way.
Did you expect to be editing a print magazine at this time in publishing, rather than something digital?
Good question, but I don’t have a good answer. I don’t think anyone knows what’s going on with publishing online or offline. Why’s there been a resurgence in indie mags? I couldn’t tell you. Will it last? I hope so. Do I prefer it to digital? Absolutely. But in the end if people lose interest in owning a physical magazine we’ll all just have to come to terms with that and look at ways to make the digital experience more exciting and engaging. Until that happens I’ll always want to put ink on paper – it’s a medium that people seem to respect more than the internet.
What are you most looking forward to this week?
Our launch parties (that’s right, we’re having two) on Thursday night. One’s in London at KK Outlet and the other’s in Leeds at Village Bookstore. We’ll be selling the magazine, giving everyone free beer and there’s some exclusive screen prints up for grabs too. Come and join us!
What are you least looking forward to this week?
The hangover I’ll have on Friday.
What will you be doing after this chat?
Probably reading these answers back to myself and cringing.