John L Walters, Pulp
Italian paper manufacturer Fedrigoni has published Pulp magazine since 2014, showcasing creative work produced using its papers. It is distributed free to Fedrigoni’s customers, and is also available to buy online.
The magazine has been produced by the team behind graphic design journal Eye since its launch. Previously a musician with electrojazzpop band Landscape, John L Walters edits both magazines and has also written about music and design for many newspapers and magazines. He shares his coming week as issue 24 of Pulp gets delivered to Fedrogini customers.
What are you up to this morning?
I’m in the Eye office by the Haggerston Riviera, London.
Describe your desk and your work space
I’ve got a desk in the corner with a northwards view towards the rest of the Wharf, a mixed business / residential block.
Which magazine do you first remember?
The Sunday Times Magazine, which my parents always had, and often kept. I remember a Beatles cover with distinctive colourisations of childhood snapshots of the fab four—designed by David King.
Which magazine matters to you the most this morning?
Waiting for me in the office was a damaged package containing the latest issue of French graphic design magazine Étapes, contained within the usual ‘our sincere apologies’ plastic bag from the Royal Mail. This is why we put Eye and Pulp into protective (and in Pulp’s case decorative) card containers.
Most importantly, we’ve just received a copy of Telegraf, the Ukrainian magazine that will be the subject of a feature in the forthcoming Eye #104.
Describe Pulp in three words.
Designers, clients, materials
What’s the relationship between the magazine and Fedrigoni?
Fedrigoni hired us (Eye magazine, owned by me and Simon Esterson) to make a magazine for the people who specify, use and buy their products, papers and self-adhesives. The Pulp readership comprises designers, clients and specifiers who are interested to see what other people like themselves have done with these materials, and what lies behind. Each issue makes use of six or seven different papers.
We have also launched the Pulp Digital website, which now has more than a hundred articles—a mix of news stories and features from the printed archive.
Anyone doing interesting work on Fedrigoni’s products is welcome to contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publishing three different editions each issue, each with two different languages, means a strict production process. What’s the trick to making all three editions work?
There’s no trick, just a lot of work, in which I rely on help from translators and proofreaders in five languages. It’s been a fascinating learning experience: we started with two editions (Italian/ English and French/ Spanish), moving up to three editions (adding German/English) with Pulp no. 16 in 2019. I’m very glad to have strong support from my colleagues Mark Sinclair (working remotely), Gabriela Matuszyk and Amy Henry.
Simon (Esterson) and Holly Catford have evolved the design process to deal with different word counts—the translations come out longer than the English, and German sometimes has exceedingly long words…
What’s the theme for the new issue 24?
After doing a few themed issues—drinks labels (18); digital printing (20); sustainability (22); and the Fabriano special (23)—we decided it was time for an unthemed issue, which covers minimalist beauty packaging; the extraordinary screenprinter Lorenz Boegli; independent magazines (including a few quotes from someone called Jeremy Leslie); a piece about the non-sustainability of plastic lamination; and a selection of winners and special mentions from the Fedrigoni TOP Award.
What one piece of advice would you offer somebody wanting to launch their own publication?
If it’s your own publication, it has to be about subject matter that fascinates you; and people you like; for readers (and advertisers) you want to serve.
The new specialist mags seem to come more from that sentiment rather than a business plan, though you still have to grapple with spreadsheets as you work on that difficult third issue.
It’s good to remember that your readers are not just people like you, and that you can appeal to readers from different backgrounds and generations who can enjoy your title’s subject matter.
What are you most looking forward to this coming week?
I’m giving a talk for Stack Magazines on Tuesday at the Book Club in London,
And I’m chatting via Zoom to my friend John Warwicker (Tomato), now an RDI, about his designs for next year’s Landscape box set. John’s in Melbourne, so I had to pick up the RDI award on his behalf last week.
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