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John Holt & Joe Prince, LAW
At work with

John Holt & Joe Prince, LAW

Today we start the working week off in East London with editor John Holt and art director Joe Prince of LAW magazine. The title stands for Lives and Works, and it turns away from society-built notions of beauty to consider what is beautiful and fascinating about the overlooked aspects of everyday Britain. We catch up with John and Joe after the release of issue eight.

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Where are you today?
LAW HQ. Coate Studios, E2. The brain yard, the bunker, the splinter cell, the bomb shelter for collaboration between the talented youth of today with grit in their teeth and something to say.

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What can you see from the window?
The Seabright Arms, in all it’s glory. The drowning hole, the saviour, tab alley, the answer to all menial dilemmas and life changing decisions.

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Are you a morning or evening person?
John: Trying to crack the magazine industry’s code requires 24/7 attention. I used to work all through the night in my bedroom, it would just be me, the odd stumbling casualty heading back from a night out, the taxi driver with his interior light on and the foxes. Now we have a studio we’re trying to achieve a certain degree of work / life separation, but they are all so intertwined.

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Joe: Previously I’ve always worked in jobs that require an extra early rise, up with the milk man and street sweeper. I love the feeling of having achieved a myriad of jobs before 10am. However creatively I prefer the evenings to work, less distractions of emails and phones I find the silence of the night much easier to focus on my thoughts and get lost in my work.

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Which magazine do you first remember?
John: The Argos Catalogue, the numbering system, the layouts, the order of things, the sections, the mecca of household essentials, remote controls, jewellery alongside garden furniture.

And the Free Ads Newspaper. Where you used to buy and sell second hand goods before the rise of digital marketplaces. It was A3 with yellow newsprint and black printed text, it came out every Saturday. We got our Nintendo NES from there about 3 years after everyone else, we drove about 100 miles to pick up my brothers electric blue GT Dynamo and did a deal on a table tennis table from a black clad house in Cottenham. Every Saturday we would go to the local shop, buy the Free Ads, go straight to the dog section and try to convince my dad to buy us a dog. One day he said yes. That dog’s now 14 years young.

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Joe: The very first magazine I remember wanting was N64, frantically flicking the pages for the latest Mario Kart short cut or Golden Eye cheat code. It was N64 where I won my first competition, a free copy of Fighters Destiny. I was so excited I got my mates from my street to bring their controllers round to play it. They were all so underwhelmed, I on the other hand was set on it being the best game I’d ever played that thought didn’t last long and it was back on to Golden Eye.

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What’s your favourite magazine this morning?
Sleazenation, June 2001. Including ‘Epidemic' a fashion story by Scott King.

You always feature such a broad and unusual range of people. What's the common thread that binds them all together?
We document the beautiful undercurrent of Britain. There’s enough negative press out there, we try to show things in a positive united light and draw peoples attention to the familiar but undervalued. We shine the limelight on those that make up modern British identity and somehow describe what it’s like to live here now.

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The latest front cover is a departure from previous ones; the model has his back to the camera and the magazine's name on his back. Talk us through this change
A LAW cover is always about the street cast model, the bespoke LAW garment and the typeface, the simplicity of these three things and how they interact.

LAW covers

The first four covers had a bespoke typeface created as always by our great friends and collaborators Colophon Foundry (above), for issue five we found a formulae that seemed to fit, so decided to stick with it (below).

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The first seven covers featured street cast models always in the same three quarter pose, shot outdoors against a sheet of plasterboard.

It got to a point where we were more concerned about matching the previous poses than concentrating on making the best possible image. We decided that sometimes there might be a particular detail or angle that we want to focus on and we should allow ourselves the freedom to explore that. The old formulae had became restrictive. There are no rules, only the ones you make up as you go along, but they can always be scratched out or painted over.

It’s about keeping things moving, not sitting on your hands and settling into old habits. We want to keep our readers on their toes, and we want them to keep us on ours.

The pages of LAW feature dispatches of ‘everyday life’ in Britain. Are you ever concerned that you might glamorize or over-aestheticise the everyday to the extent that it’s no longer ‘everyday’?
No. We don’t glamorise the everyday. We tell it how it is, we pay the everyday its well earned dues and offer it our respect. Often the everyday is re-appropriated or glamorised without being acknowledged, but we are here to counteract that fact and try to give something back.

People are always surprised how you are able to distribute your magazine free. How does that work financially?
On a daily basis we operate as a creative studio producing a broad range of work for our clients. We have an incredible body of contributors meaning we can assemble bespoke teams to ensure the best possible outcome for each individual project. The magazine is our voice and it’s important to always have that.

What are you most looking forward to this week?
The elation of tournament football.

What are you least looking forward to this week?
The heartbreak of tournament football.

What will you be doing after this chat?
Continue work on the masterplan.

law-mag.com

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