There’s been a subtle shift in how some people are approaching independent magazines. Instead of a simple, relieved thank you for their existance as proof that print will survive, we are witnessing more outright criticism. Perhaps it’s a sign of their success?
We try to offer constructive crtiticism on this site, but others are less positive. In a rather embittered piece for Grafik about the Designs of the Year competition and show, writer Thom Swann recently took aim at independent mags, suggesting that many ‘simply fetishise the commodity of the magazine itself’ and are ‘primarily just objects for owning and looking at… they are luxury items.’
We can all think of magazines to which these descriptions might apply, but he was referring to The Gourmand and Riposte, both excellent magazines that, yes, major on the physical side of magazine-ness, but match that with strong content and design. Both have been shortlisted for Designs of the Year (The Gourmand in 2014), and while it might have been a surprise had either won outright, their presence on the shortlist was well-deserved.
Swann’s main demand appears to be that design ‘do good’ as opposed to being indulgent; well, magazines like Good and Weapons of Reason do promote the greater good. But I believe there is space on the magazine shelf for enjoyment and entertainment too; it’s too easy to be sniffy about the many niche mags, and sneer at those covering, as he highlights, ‘dog culture.’ In real life, such subjects connect with people, the magazines are about shared experiences and interests and are an alternative to the more product-orientated mainstream.
I’m not sure what Swann would make of Spanish magazine Perdiz; on the one hand it contains random, light-hearted stories from around the world, on the other it claims that ‘Happiness is Contagious.’ Is encouraging happiness a ‘Good’ enough thing to count? For me, that claim is the perfect foil against which to compile a collection of stories that are broad and wide in their scope. The result is surprising, intelligent, witty, good looking and… fun. As co-founder Marta Puigdemasa said in our At Work With interview last year, ‘I wanted to do a magazine that contributed positive values, interesting topics and good design.’
Issue five arrives in familiar small format with open binding and foiled title; not fetishisistic, but making the most of the medium to produce a piece of print worth keeping. Inside the dual languages (Spanish and English) run alongside each other without jeopardising design or flow.
We hear about one man’s obsession with a Polynesian architcture; about the self-appointed mini-states dotted around the world, complete with hero pictures of their ‘heads of states’ (above); and about an event celebrating boredom (below).
Along the way, the flow of stories is split by double-page images of ‘Nice Things’ (above) and a comic from cloud-spotter Gavin Pretor-Pinney (also above).
Smaller written stories include a series about day dreaming of time travel, beautifully illustrated by Miju Lee (above), and an interview with a 16-language polyglot. The regular Good News section includes the success of a campaign against neo-Nazis in Rudolf Hess’s burial place.
The design expresses the high mood of the content perfectly, with good use of colour and subtles touches to the typography throughout (above). It is not overdone, but the team enjoy themselves; the only monochrome, rigid page in the issue illustrates the Boring story.
Good editorial design matches design and content, something Perdiz has been achieving with ease since it launched. It is a special magazine, one that arrives without false promises of a perfect life or of easy change. As I’ve written before, it is a magazine about people; it wears its enjoyment of life well and its enthusiasm is contagious. If that doesn’t do good I don’t know what does.
Read our interview, At Work With Martha and Marc, Perdiz
Buy this issue of Perdiz from our online shop