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Old and new at Printout

Old and new at Printout

This week’s Printout was another sold-out evening of magazine intelligence, with Vice, Colors and Eye sharing the floor to offer advice on the staying power of their magazines. Despite early tech problems – when things go wrong they ALL go wrong – a singular message came from the three speakers.

Bruno Bayley from Vice opened the evening explaining how Vice had adapted its editorial approach over time, moving from the early schlock that made its name to recent more serious coverage of issues. He cited their recent Syria issue as a key example of the latter, meeting a serious topic head on while maintaining the familiar tone of the magazine. Bruno was open about the relationship between print and digital – the Vice websites account for the vast majority of readers and income – but with its roots in print it seems the publishers intend to continue the magazines. Curious fact: the magazine is still designed in Canada by the original design team.

Next up was Patrick Waterhouse, editor-in-chief of Colors. Always a strong speaker, Patrick appeared on video to highlight the two highlight eras of the magazine (those being Tibor Kalman’s launch issues and Fernando Guiterrez’s later ones) before explaining his own issues and their Survival Guide strategy. Originally arriving as creative director before taking overall charge of Colors, Patrick has very clear ideas on design and editorial working together and that shows in both his magazines and his presentations. He very adeptly overlooked Colors’ fallow years to focus on the highlight eras.

John L Walters and Simon Esterson of Eye have taken part in Printout before but as far as I recall have never shared the floor together. Coping with an erratic remote control provided a comic insight into their working relationship. A brief history of the magazine reminded us it was originally bilingual, and as publishers as well as creatives – togetehr they own Eye – they emphasised the choices they made for quality of content, image and production over financial restraint. A central part of their presentation showed the magazine being printed, proofed and bound. A usewful reminder of the manufacturing part of the process.

Steve and I work hard to devise themes for the Printout evenings, but sometimes it’s enough for the audience just to hear from the speakers about their magazines. This night was different; while no simple magic answer to the question of how to make your magazine last was revealed, all the speakers confirmed magazines have to be ready to change and develop to remain relevant. More than ever, standing still is a deadly option.

Thank you to all the speakers, particularly to John from Eye for also providing the musical background to post-event beers, to the Book Club for hosting us and to everyone who came to listen.

As always, there were plenty of magazine makers in the audience, but Les Evans of Elsie magazine deserves a special mention. His first issue appeared about two years ago, and he was at Printout with copies of the second Elsie. It’s a creative workout exploring Les’s interests in found items and other stuff that inspires him. It’s a beautifully obscure, personal, open project and for this issue he’s designed 100 different covers.

He also made a special one-off cover for me (at top of post), using a Google search of my name to collect visuals and quotes. Thanks Les!

Read Steve’s overview of the evening on Stack.

The next Printout takes place on 23 September. News soon.

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