Luciane Pisani, Village Raw
This week we delve into the emerging world of hyperlocal publishing with Village Raw’s editor and graphic designer Luciane Pisani. Village Raw covers the Crouch End, East Finchley, Highgate and Muswell Hill areas of North London and is about to publsih its third print edition.
Tell us about your typical Monday journey to work
It’s crazy. I’m always running. There’s no time to get ready properly. I just put on my backpack with the laptop and I just hope to drop the children off to school on time. I don’t relax until I step into the building.
We’re in Hornsey Town Hall which was the first major modernist building built in the UK. It’s a beautiful building and I feel I can breathe again as I walk up the grand stairs. There used to be lots of filming going on and I never knew what to expect when arriving.
Once, when they were filming Bohemian Rhapsody, they transformed the space into the 1970s Biba store – it was amazing. We had to navigate our way past manikins, actors, and a zebra to get to our office. The building’s about to be restored so we’ll have to find another studio soon – I’ll miss how random and alive the Town Hall is.
Describe the state of your desk and what you can see in your office
My desk is fairly clear apart from the computer that I work on – I plug my laptop into a monitor. The desk is by a beautiful window where I can see the main tower of Hornsey Town Hall. In the morning the sun arcs across highlighting the lines and features of the building – it’s stunning.
The windowsill is an extension of my desk where I have a pile of magazines that I love and constantly reference such as The Gourmand, Riposte, The Gentlewoman, Elephant, Eye and Delayed Gratification. I share the studio with the co-editor of Village Raw magazine and his desk is a mess.
Which magazine do you first remember?
Probably one of the magazines that my mum used to subscribe to – it was full of clothes patterns. But the thing that really had an impact on me was the magazines you could get in a shop called Status. We didn’t have many rock magazines in Brazil, so I had to save my money and buy the international magazines such as Metal Edge and Metal Hammer. I used to cut them up and stick the photos/posters on my wall – I still remember the Ozzy Osbourne picture.
As a graphic designer the first magazine to have a real impact on me was Flaunt. There is one that came with two covers – the real cover and a poster cover. I used to reference this magazine a lot in the early days and there are still place marker post-its attached to it.
Which magazine matters to you the most right now?
Bravo. It’s a Brazilian magazine that made sense two decades ago and I had the pleasure of working on it. It was independent but got bought out by a corporation which owned most of the magazines in Brazil. It lost its form and ended up closing down because it no longer made commercial sense.
While many commercial magazines are now shutting down, in 2017 a group of former editors brought Bravo back to life. They reinvented it a little, adjusted the narrative – but essentially, they still believe in what they believed before; that only art is able to open up a path (it’s the only magazine in Brazil dedicated exclusively to the arts). It’s a symbol of resistance as Brazil is going through a socially and politically difficult time right now - it’s hard to be independent and the media is largely propaganda. Magazines like Bravo offer a glimmer of hope.
Can you describe your magazine in three words?
We’re seeing a growth in free, local publications in London at the moment. Why do you think that is?
To answer that question, it’s best to understand how Village Raw came about. We came up with the idea when we moved office from our home to the studio in Hornsey Town Hall. While Crouch End was just a 15-minute walk away, we barely knew what was going on there.
Our kids go to school in Highgate and we know a lot of people in East Finchley. We literally put a pin in a map where we live and drew a circumference which also encompassed Bounds Green, Stroud Green, Alexandra Park and a part of Wood Green. On the ground it just seemed that there was a lot going on that no other local press or media was talking about.
I think that’s what inspired The Peckham Peculiar and Margate Mercury, among others. They’re generated bottom up rather than top down. It’s not about receiving a press release and knocking out an article – it’s about local writers going out into the community, engaging with a subject, and reacting. It’s hyperlocal. There’s something honest about that and that’s what people seem to be responding to – whether it’s in Peckham, Lewisham, Kentish Town, Margate – or the Village Raw neck of the woods. We’re all featuring the stories that no one else is.
We design through our company Studio Moe which represents design across print, digital and video – so the online version of the magazine is important to us. Our inclination was to make it an extension of the print magazine where in time we can explore more photographs, video and audio material. Where a feature discusses someone working a loom, delicate metal work, or a dance, we can show that. And the musicians that we feature can perform.
It’s something that needs development but we’re working on it. We hope that the two formats will talk to one another. It’s a pleasure to pick up a good read in a coffee shop when you’ve got the luxury of a few minutes to sit down and stop – and if something piques your interest enough then there might be further engagement with the digital version.
How do you fund the magazine?
We funded the production costs of the first two issues through Kickstarter. In that time, we wanted to begin to develop a subscriber base that going forward would help support future issues. Of course, there’s advertising in the mix, as there is with all free magazines, but we believe if we can engage the community enough to support the magazine, and everything that surrounds the magazine (our contributors are paid and we even print locally) then hopefully people will realise that it’ll be a good thing for the wider community in general.
The magazine is by the community, for the community and it’s a two-way process. We promote and support the community and in return we hope they’ll subscribe – and it’s about the price of a night out – starting at £20 for a year with six magazines delivered to your door – and event invites on top of that. You can’t go wrong!
The magazine looks great. What has the reaction been from local businesses and people? Do they appreciate the design as well as the content?
The reaction’s been amazing. The community was more than ready – even hungry. They made comments about how beautiful the magazine is, the design, and quite a few people were holding it up to their nose and sniffing it – they missed the smell of print.
But of course, we couldn’t go crazy with the design – budget meant we were limited by page numbers, the amount of content we wanted to include (so a feature couldn’t be more than four pages for example) and we were aware that our readership would be very mixed so I had to show a bit of restraint in the design, to appeal to this diverse community. We wanted the magazine to look contemporary and accessible.
What’s going to be the highlight of the week for you?
The magazine has just gone off to print, so we’ll be preparing the online version. But the highlight is going to be preparing for the launch party as we’ve been invited to launch live on the radio – so we’ve got to figure out how to translate the magazine to a radio format – that’ll be fun.
What will you be doing after this chat?
We’re looking to further our client-base, so lots of emails – and then off to pick the children up.
Editors: Luciane Pisani and David Reeve
Designer: Luciane Pisani