The Modern Magazine 2014 – part 2
To start the second session of The Modern Magazine 2014, Gideon Spanier interviewed Jeremy Langmead, chief content officer at Christie’s. Formerly editor-in-chief of Mr Porter, Jeremy spoke about immersing himself in the Christie’s experience in order to develop the editorial profile of the auction house: “We wanted to celebrate what print was. We spent a lot of time in the old Christie’s archive and studied the typography and, respecting Christie’s heritage, brought it into 2014.” Jeremy said, “To create content you need to live and breath the brand. To get a taste for it.” Gideon probed Jeremy about Christie’s decision to initiate a new print magazine. Jeremy said: “In some ways it is a glorified brochure, but we wanted copy that opened up the art world and would be open about the exchange of art and the exchange of ideas. We’ve produced hundred of catalogues and brochures over the years for each sale in the last 250 years, so print is already a big part of Christie’s. But soon, there will be daily online content. Online allows you to be nimble.”
After several questions from Gideon and the audience, Jeremy gave some sound advice: “If you do content badly, it’s the worst thing you can do for your business.” A member of the conference audience asked: “Why set up a very expensive magazine and not an eBay shop?” Jeremy responded: “With art, it’s about provenance and the trust of the brand.” For Christie’s it had to be print.
Elana Schlenker, of annual magazine Gratuitous Type, spoke about her “really personal endeavour – I edit, design, market, conduct interviews, mail it out – that is the unspoken very worst part of magazines, carrying it around and sending it out.” Each issue of Gratuitous Type is “trying to do better than the last” and works to “recontextalise” and “re-present” design. “I don’t think design is precious,” said Elana. “The tone is more celebratory, upbeat and accessible. I wanted to reach out to my design heroes and pick their brain.” With previous experience in editorial design and publishing, Schlenker now run her own studio and prints Gratuitous Type with the indie printer, Chris Young at Prolific in Canada. The magazine has played with formats from other genres lending from pornographic centrefolds and editorial such as ‘Type affairs’. Elana said, “I struggled with not feeling like a design authority, so I let that be transparent in the title, it’s gratuitous. I’ve also avoided a brand – there is a tone and look but it changes each time.”
“My approach is intuitive and about finding new surprises and making the magazine that I want to read; my plan doesn’t go beyond that. I’m not thinking much about advertising and strategy but it somehow works because I’m honest about what I like. I put heart into it.”
Simon Lyle of ‘booze magazine’ Hot Rum Cow, initiated by White Light Media, saw that drinks magazines were speaking to people that were already connoisseurs. Hot Rum Cow wanted to do something different and be less prescriptive about what someone should be drinking. “Our reader is a mix of graphic design and amateur drinker” said Lyle, who got the audience laughing, introduced their new magazine Poppy and was the perfect finale for the morning session.