Receiving new magazines on a daily basis is what drives us on here at magCulture, and sometimes one arrives that really excites everyone in the office. Oh-So is one such magazine. It lands with a great origin story, a timely theme and looks fantastic. What more can you ask?
Launched by Brooklyn-based creative director Rob Hewitt, Oh-So is his response to the way his seven-year old daughter’s enthusiasm for skateboarding was dampened by exposure to the male-dominated world of boarding. Together they looked a little deeper and discovered the growing women’s scene around the sport, with its own celebrities and gear.
Sam Hassad’s essay sets the context for the mag, making the point that an activity that was once an act of rebellion has long succumbed to a dulling conservatism. Shee positions women’s skateboarding as the real renegades of the sport, a convincing argument displayed alongside the concrete slopes of a skatepark, and a perfect intro to the pages that follow.
Hewitt has made plenty of magazines before, and is used to researching and developing the distinct visual voice required for a publication, but admits this is the first time he’s developed an entire editorial concept from start to finish.
He clearly enjoyed the process, ‘I felt like I could really utilise my skills as a visual story-teller and as a content maker to compile something that wasn’t someone else’s idea’. It helps that the subject was something he was clearly passionate about of course, a reminder to anyone launching a new mag. Love your subject!
The intro essay is followed by a series of interviews with the young stars of women’s skateboarding. It’s a simple but effective format that allows Hewitt’s skills to come to the fore. This is classic US editorial design, with great commissioning of art and photography set against typographically flambouyant design.
Opening spreads reveal large black capital letters opposite beautiful portraits with minimalist colour detailing across the layout. Design is very present, yet attention is given throughout to the faces of the boarders, emphasising the presence of women rather than the action of boarding. And noting the one other recent nod towards women skatebaorders, the stars of the movie ‘Skate Kitchen are honoured with a series of portraits by Wilfred Wood (below).
The best part of Oh-So, though, is the way the whole issue exudes fun and positivity across all 86 pages. The serious intent behind it is all the more powerful for the way it represents the enjoyment of its subject matter. This is what makes it our first Magazine of the Year for 2019.
Everybody involved in the launch issue is carefully credited, with the notable exception of Hewitt himself. ‘Someone said to me midway through making the magazine, “Some of the girls are going to be upset that you’re a guy making a skateboard magazine for girls.” I get that. It’s powerful stuff,’ So he took a back seat. ‘This isn’t about me. I’m just the messenger and this message is for all the girls that aspire to join this sport and deal with all of the shit at the skate parks and elsewhere.’
And what does his daughter make of the finished thing? ‘I think she likes it! She loves the Lizzie Armanto cover because “Lizzie looks like she’s fun!”’ Issue two is already in the works , ‘and she’s going to interview another nine-year old skateboarder, which I think is very cool’.