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Facing Pages 2014, day two

Facing Pages 2014, day two

We started Facing Pages day 2 – escapism – with glorious weather. Looking over at the Feestaardvarken on his back (above) lazing in the sun when I left my hotel, I did feel quite jealous, writes Belinda Johnson.

Rather than head to the Wilco launch party at Museum Arnhem last night, I spent my evening with Alessandro Ludovico’s ‘Post-Digital Print’, bought at the fantastic Athenaeum pop-up store. In this re-reading of the history of media technology, Ludovico plots the transition, mix and crossover of analog and electronic publishing since 1894. It’s fascinating, read it.

Anyway, I digress.

A self-styled ‘old man with a garage full of magazines’, Simon Esterson was back to give us some opening food for thought. Highlighting the similarities of the two themes of the symposium (activism and escapism), Simon reminded us that independent magazines shouldn’t be defined by what they are – but perhaps instead by what they are not. We were treated to some spreads from titles I’d never seen (Nautical Quarterly, Curves and Head Full of Snakes) as well as some familiar faces (Carl’s Cars, The Ride Journal, apartamento and Sang Bleu), all in the spirit of escapism – not only for the reader, but sometimes for the magazine creators themselves.

Rachel Maria Taylor and Jody Daunton were up first, presenting Another Escape – another publication that fast emerging hotbed of new indie talent in the UK, Bristol. A magazine about storytelling and discovery, Rachel and Jody spoke about their working process and ‘creativity as a mindset’… though I’m sure, as magazine makers, we all strive for this. Another Escape, in contrast to yesterday’s more radical and politicised presentations from Kosovo 2.0 and The Outpost, serves instead as ‘a gentle reminder of what is possible’.

As a huge fan of infographics, my mind was blown by Francesco Franchi’s presentation on IL and ‘Designing News’. He proved that just about anything could be remodeled and rethought through information design, even his own slideshow!

I’m sure Cathy Olmedillas of Anorak, like Patrick Waterhouse and Peter Bilak, won over some new fans today. She highlighted childhood as the most natural form of escapism and luckily, that she gets to relive hers every time she makes a new issue. No news on Teepee though, sadly.

Delayed Gratification’s ‘first ever employee’ Loes Witschte presented a Slow Journalism 101, proving that stepping back and letting the dust settle is far better than following the herd and the frantic PR storm. She also revealed they’re going global – Delayed Gratification South Korea coming very soon!

Toine Donk of Dutch literary publication Das Magazin talked passionately about the parallels between publishing a magazine a putting on an event. Thankfully, as independent publishers don’t do focus groups, Toine has been able to establish instant and more lasting connections between readers, contributors and authors at his series of Literaturfest events. This year’s Das Magazin Festival will be held in Amsterdam on 14 June.

Next up, a panel debate with lecturer Frank Jurgen Wijlens (AMFI) and Koen Denolf (Het Salon / Bruce). Is making a magazine the ultimate branding experience? Frank and Koen are magazine-makers with very different backgrounds, so it was great to hear about their similar experiences with collaboration – whether with Amsterdam Fashion Institute’s students (AMFI magazine) or Koen’s time in Edinburgh working with White Light Media on Bruce 12.

Matthew Holroyd and Jonathan Baron questioned the nature of erotica with their presentation on Baron, a magazine that sits somewhere between pornography and art. Their next issue will focus on the future of sex, guest edited by Robert Henry Rubin (Night) and, perhaps most interestingly, infamous club kid Michael Alig.

Escapism should really be all about having fun, so Ben Newman presentation on No Brow Press was a good way to end the day, and the whole symposium. It was lovely to hear all about the spot-colour printing process and see some of the amazing illustrations and comics they have commissioned over the last 5 years. Launched at Facing Pages this evening, No Brow 9 ( and Big Mother 4: Raymond Lemstra will be published in April.

Thank you to William, Joost and Tanja. Whether trying to change the world or escape from it entirely, independent magazine publishing should be all about exploring possibilities and Facing Pages is a brilliant forum for this. Hopefully see you in 2016.

A big thank you to Belinda Johnson, publisher of Tate Etc magazine, for offering to write this report. Follow her on twitter.

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