The Modern Magazine morning
Simon Esterson, art director of Eye magazine, the quarterly graphic design journal, took the stage to speak about running a ‘little independent magazine that keeps chugging along’. International in scope and circulation, Eye’s art director spoke modestly about it’s contribution to graphic design history and in turn, to publishing. The magazine’s story extends beyond twenty years and was, for a time, seen as a ‘a strange trinket’ in the industry that won awards.
For Eye, making magazines is about conversation, not meetings. It is ‘like a critical mass; with enough materials you can see the pattern … We mix papers and bind things in funny ways… and it sort of comes together’. The publication has an authoritative tone and is always beautifully printed and designed, never sacrificing quality. This is a feature of independence, ‘The beauty of owning a magazine, is you can just decide to have a gatefold.’ Simon showed slides from the Monotype special issue (with a silver page and gatefold) that featured numerous Eric Gill drawings discovered in the Monotype archive.
Justine Picardie, editor of Harper’s Bazaar, was the second speaker of the morning’s second session. Picardie began by recalling her childhood pastime of hand-making magazines with her sister, saying that there is something magical about the relationship between conversation and publishing. Her instinctive belief is that the conversation Bazaar is having with its readers makes it unique to the women’s magazine market (‘a reductive term’ that implies the content isn’t also relevant to men).
‘Nobody really knows what’s going to sell on the newsstand, it’s ever changing and fluid’ said Picardie. ‘Celebrities continue to sell, but only the right celebrity’. The black and white Karl Lagerfeld (with cat) cover felt instinctively right to them and was produced strictly for WH Smith at Selfridges. It quickly sold out. The Bazaar editor’s talk demonstrated the magazine’s clear balance of vision and finance. The liberty of printing a cover like Lagerfeld’s ultimately ‘pleases us’, but isn’t the reality of the entire print run. She concluded: ‘There are easier ways to make money. We do it because we love it. The moment I stop, I’ll pass it to someone who still loves it.’
Following Esterson and Picardie, a decidedly female-focused panel, including Justine Picardie of Harper’s Bazaar, Liz Ann Bennett of Oh Comely, Debbi Evans of Libertine and The Gentlewoman’s Penny Martin, chaired by Kati Krause. The heated discussion covered categorisations on the newsstand, feminism, the importance of an enticing cover and managing the expectations of ‘fashion’; questioning what was missing from women’s publishing.
Print vs digital was also hotly debate, with Penny Martin saying ‘Luxury is about time. That’s the big issue about print, in the way that digital is the thief of time and print, if it’s any good, is more luxurious’. Another interesting prompt came from Picardie, who questioned prolific photographers and their approach to picturing women: ‘Feminism should be discussed. I was brought up by a feminists. I don’t want to do anything in Bazaar that objectifies women’.
By Sarah Snaith