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At Work With: William van Giessen, Facing Pages
At work with

At Work With: William van Giessen, Facing Pages

Next week the third edition of Facing Pages takes place in Arnhem, Netherlands. Organised by Joost van der Steen and William van Giessen of local design studio OK Parking, the two-day biennale celebrating independent publishing gathers together magazine makers from around the world. As well as a strong programme of speakers, an exhibition will display submitted magazines for visitors to read and touch. With preparations being completed for this year’s event (March 28/29), we look ahead at the week with William.

Where are you today?
As most people I’m starting this week at work in our office too. I always arrive after a bike ride with the dog and saying good morning to everyone. We share the office with friends who have their own one-man companies. Joost and I run graphic design studio O.K. Parking. We work on commercial projects, as well as many self-initiated projects such as a local newspaper (Nieuwe Arnhemse Krant, about bottom-up creativity) and Facing Pages, the biennale about independent magazines. The other creatives work in the field of web development and design, writing, communication and medical visuals. But everyone is working with each other on different projects. So there’s a lot going on and never a dull moment.

What can you see from the window?

Arnhem is a middle-sized city located in the east of the Netherlands with the national park aside it. So lots of green scenery. Our studio is next to the river which is very nice, but the main view is a small field of grass and a bridge (not the one famous for WWII). It’s in the city centre, but a very relaxed place to work.

Are you a morning or evening person?
Mmm… not sure yet. I just became a dad so the nights and days are shifting around constantly. And with Facing Pages coming up (and a lot of big commercial projects these weeks... bad timing…) there’s enough work to do in day and evening time. If I had to choose: a morning person (but only if I can sleep away the morning, start slowly in the afternoon, and finish in the evening with a good glass of beer or whisky)

What’s your favourite magazine this morning?

That’s a tricky question. As you know we are working very hard for Facing Pages. Every day we receive a lot of independent magazines for the main exhibition. The postman just came by and dropped a few packages. So these days I have a new favourite magazine every morning.

Todays arrivals contain LALATA, Works That Work, Neptun, Gather Journal, Esses, Forage Press, Stranger, Parabola Project and Wrap. And all of them are gorgeous! But if I have to choose right now it would be LALATA, since it’s not a paper magazine but an 'magazine object’. La Lata means 'the can’. And yes, it’s a sealed food can. I didn’t open it yet. I’m still deciding if I should. Maybe I will. Dunno…

But if I had to choose a paper magazine I’d choose Wrap. A good, light magazine breakfast to start the week with. But than again, I didn’t hold Neptun magazine in my hands untill this morning. It looks pretty awesome too!

You’ve structured Facing Pages 2014 around two themes, Activism and Escapism. Which current magazines best sum up these ideas?
Since the last Facing Pages we noticed and felt that Activism and Escapism are strong themes in current independent magazines. Magazine makers want to tell their stories and point of views in print, a medium that stays fresh and doesn’t fade away deep inside an obscure blog. Sharing curated content that’s worth reading. The speakers of Facing Pages are such magazine makers. They all make excellent magazines that’ll make you dream away or put you in the forefront.

Simon Esterson will give a talk each day introducing the themes. I’m really looking forward to this, since I’m a big fan of Simon and his work. He knows everything about magazines!

To highlight a few magazines… for Activism, there’s Colors, who just released their Protest issue. Patrick Waterhouse will give a talk about this and other issues of Colors. Besa Luci of Kosovo 2.0 will talk about the groundbreaking work their magazines does in Kosovo. It breaks borders and with censorship. When they released the Sex issue the editorial team was beaten up which is unthinkable for most Western countries. Still it happened unfortunately.

We are very happy that Ibrahim Nehme from The Outpost is flying over to the Netherlands to give a talk. The Outpost is a very popular indie magazine from Beirut. After the Arabic revolution it’s time for a change. He publishes about these changes and what should and shouldn’t happen. This magazine couldn’t be made only two years ago! Works That Work by Peter Bi’lak, one of the founding fathers of DotDotDot, the legendary design critique magazine. He experiments with new approaches of making magazines. Not only in content and design, but also in crowdfunding and crowd-distribution. Very interesting.

Escapism theme: Another Escape, of course. They cannot be missed and will give a talk about their magazine. I heard that they’re very nervous, but since their magazine is so beautiful and well-edited and designed I’m sure they will be fine. Delayed Gratification, the slow journalism magazine is exhibited. But do they give a talk?? Dunno. Stay tuned! :) One of my favourite magazines today. They take the time to reflect on the news and write satisfying articles about topics which outlive the heat of everyday news items. Baron? What to say about them. I’m not sure what to expect from their talk, but it will contain some explicit images for sure. Hot Rum Cow will be exhibited. It’s about ‘adventures in the world of drinking.’ Drink enough to escape!

There a so much more speakers and magazines which I could mention. We invite everyone because we love their work and most of them say ‘Yes!’ .

What single thought would you like vistors to Facing Pages to take home with them?

*start hippie-esk music*
Make Magazines Not War! And go home with a happy feeling and finally start their own magazine. Or refresh the current magazine they’re working on with a lot of inspiration! Simple right? Just have fun in making and creating your project and the world will be so more nicer.
*stop hippie-esk music*

You used to produce your own magazine, O.K. Periodicals. What advice would you offer anyone starting their own independent magazine?
We learned a lot of O.K. Periodicals. It started as a blog and within 1 year it transformed into the magazine. At our talks and guest-lectures we show our formula for ‘succesfull’ DIY projects. Basically it comes down to this: Do you have an idea?. Do it! Don’t let it make you crazy in the head. Teach yourself what you need to know. Gather around creative, smart people to work with. Go for the highest quality you can get.

In people, content, form, everything, be different and quirky. Don’t let ‘the rules’ guide you. Make up your own rules. But most important: HAVE FUN! People tend to forget this. Don’t let your idea become a thing you have to do or must finish. And celebrate the happy moments at important achievements or finishing the mag.

What are you most looking forward to this week?
This week we’re starting to build the exhibition space. So I’m definitely looking forward to that. Facing Pages is getting so close now. It’s the biggest exhibition we made so far. I’m still emailing with some speakers about what they will talk about. Can’t wait to see them on stage. There will be some more speakers revealed on the website and social media in the next few days. Exciting as well!!

What are you least looking forward to this week?
A screaming baby at night.

What will you be doing after this chat?
I have an appointment with Museum Arnhem (Museum of Modern Art). We’re going to design the catalogue of a current exhibition. And we have some ideas of connecting the museum to the people of Arnhem in a whole new way. I hope they will find budget so we can work on that project as well. I have to prepare a talk for a Pecha Kucha night this week (about Facing Pages of course). And have to prepare the editorial design for some Live Magazines. Live Magazines is when we make a magazine in one day at events with a team of writers, photographer, editor and designers. Finished and printed in one day!It’s such an adrenaline kick to work on this. But first the catalogue design. I love making printed matter. Books or magazines. Just bring it on!

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