Set off from a main street in the coastal city of Brisbane is the tiny printed matter shop Künstler, a mini-magazine haven run by writer Lizzie Stafford. The unconventionally small space (made even more so by the fact that it’s sat atop wheels) is one of many independent stores on the eclectic, communal Winn Lane. For the second instalment of Source, we spoke with Lizzie about her shop, as well as the vibrant Australian independent magazine scene that seems to be growing stronger by the day.
When and why did you set up Künstler?
I opened Künstler in March last year (2014). I had just got back from a year living in Germany, so that’s why I decided on a German name (it means ‘artist’). In Australia, it can be read as being a little bit cheeky if you don’t know how to pronounce the um-laut. The shop is eight square metres and sits down the end of a laneway called Winn Lane in inner-city Brisbane.
How do you lay out the magazines around the shop and how did you decide on that set up?
We have metal shelves that line two sides, and then lots of wooden boxes that stack on the floor. We lie magazines on top of the boxes and then older and extra stock go inside them for people to browse through. A friend of mine is an architect and he designed the layout to be able to be changed up often. It helps to move things around when you’re in such a tiny space.
Who are your customers?
We get a real mix of people. Architects, designers, students, creative crafty types and people who have no idea what it is we sell, but like the idea of it.
What’s your best-seller this month?
An Australian magazine called New Philosopher sells itself. It doesn’t have any ads and it explores philosophical ideas about certain topics (this month it’s travel) without being wanky. It aims to ‘guide readers into living a happier and freer mode of existence’. You know I think a lot of people want to be guided into happiness and a simpler life, when you think about how popular Kinfolk is. Also, the ‘Do’ series (Do Disrupt, Do Protect, Do Sourdough etc) are some of our most popular books.
Do you have a favourite local magazine?
Future Perfect is a great new Australian magazine out of Sydney, a magazine ‘for the socially and culturally engaged’, that’s only on its second issue. I also love Ladies of Leisure zine, which showcases some of the hugely talented creative women we have in Australia. And as I mentioned earlier, New Philosopher, who also put out a magazine called Womankind. The independent scene in Australia is booming, like it is everywhere else. There’s a lot of passion (not much money!).
What has the biggest challenge been?
Money. Margins are small on magazines, the shop is small, shipping is expensive, the Australian dollar sucks.
What changes have you seen in the magazines since you opened?
Smaller magazines that were in their early days are now well into their lifespan and are getting bigger and better with age. It’s an exciting time to be in this industry.
Read our interview with Future Perfect editor Nick Watts
Photographs by Savannah Van Der Niet