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Dan Crowe, Inque
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Dan Crowe, Inque

Inque magazine is an ambitious arts and literary magazine that last year won BSME Launch of the Year. It is the latest in a series of innovative magazines launched by editor Dan Crowe and designer Matt Willey.

The pair first worked together on Zembla, a lit mag that described itself as ‘Fun with words’, in the early noughties. They went on to launch Port magazine in 2011 and Avaunt in 2015.

Inque has a unique format: it’s published annually and will cease after 10 issues. As issue two—with contributors including Nicholson Baker, Will Self, Stephen Fry and Annie Ernaux—goes to print, Dan tells us about his influences, the delays to the new issue, and his working relationship with Willey, as they prepare to speak at next weekend’s magCulture Live New York.


What are you up to this Monday morning?
I have kids spanning 15 years at home so there is general morning chaos, then coffee (then more coffee), look at the news to make sure we’re still a semi-functioning civilisation. I live in Kent outside of London but go in every week. If I am at home, like today, and after the kids are at school, I go to the basement office, listen to the radio and read for an hour, then make a list for the day. Then start trying to cross it off. I’m also getting ready for the magCulture event in New York, which is going to be a blast.



What can you see from your desk?
From my desk I see all the books I need to finish and issues of The New York Review of Books and Paris Review waiting for my attention. I can see a line of oak trees through the window which for me is the ideal view to look at when I’m trying to think.


I can also see, next to the desk, the printing plate for the cover of issue two of Port, which featured New Yorker editor David Remnick. It is reassuringly heavy and real.


This is a picture by Magnum photographer Leonard Freed (Wall Street, New York, 1956) which I love looking at. Cartier-Bresson chose it as one of his 100 most important or interesting images.




Which magazine do you first remember?
My dad published magazines—music and sport titles—which had great photography and writing, so they were a big part of my magazine upbringing; It’s predictable, but National Geographic: the yellow slab of the spines, the way you could pick one up and immediately be transported to another part of the planet.


Interview magazine front cover featuring an illustration of singer Grace Jones by Richard Bernstein

The captions were the way in for me: the chattiness and detail, so accessible. I guess the captions will be shorter now they’ve let all the staff writers go. Then later, as a young teenager, Interview, which was lightening in a bottle, just too cool: New York, Warhol, Grace Jones, the design splashed around like champagne. It was magical and something I always return to.

The Sunday Times Magazine too was around and often had such great cover art that it pulled you in. And occasionally The New York Times Magazine: if Dad had been to the States he would bring that back for me. I loved the different fonts, paper, design, everything was sharper, cleaner, like they were all on something different. Which they were!



Which magazine matters to you the most this morning?
I’ve recently started a subscription to MIT, very informative. And The Atlantic is stunning after its recent-ish redesign: proper art and photography, in depth essays on diverse subjects, great reviews.


Describe Inque in three words.
Collectable. Innovative. Demanding.


 Front cover of Inque issue two, a diagram/map design by Paula Scher.

The launch of Inque was a bold move; as the second issue arrives, how do you reflect on the project to date
Choosing to make a magazine with a built-in shelf life is exciting. There will only ever be 10 issues of Inque, one issue a year.

But the first year was tough. Paper costs went through the roof, postage became incredibly expensive. So issue two has been delayed. The writing in the issue is really strong though, I love it, it hits the notes I wanted it to, and visually, from never-seen-before images from The New York Times archive, to the illustration and art, it’s not really like anything I’ve worked on before. I’m looking forward to getting it out there and how it will progress through the final eight issues!


 Zembla magaazine, issue one cover featuring Tilda Swinton

What is the foundation of your long-lasting working relationship with art director Matt Willey?
Having worked together on Zembla and Port we sort of understand how each other works, what we like to do, what is boring to us—which of course helps—but I think the real foundation is a love of trying to do something different with great writers and artists.

How can the shape of an essay or photo story be new, different? What have we not tried? We both love reading great essays and fiction. But perhaps it’s simpler than that: I just like him. He’s a lovely individual, a good human—at times infuriating, but who isn’t?


What are you going to be talking about at magCulture Live?
A little about the magazines we have worked on together but mainly Inque: why we made it, how success in magazines isn’t what we think it is, and how we will carry it on.



Which other speaker are you looking forward to hearing talk?
It’s such a great mix and I’m looking forward to the whole day. I think the work Debra Bishop has done at NYT Kids is incredible (above); it’s introduced young ones to the delights of quality broadsheet editorial, which is a beautiful thing.


What are you most looking forward to this coming week?
We are working on a complete re-design of Port and also launching Port China later in the year, with the publisher Paco Tang (who published China GQ and Tatler), so a lot of exciting developmental conversations are taking place, which is the bit I love the most, as anything can happen: formats can transform, the brand develops, logos can change!

We also have a design supplement of Port recently launched, Anima, which we are turning into its own title in 2024 (you heard it here first!), edited by Deyan Sudjic, which I am working on and excited by.


Portrait above by Ayrton Crowe


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