This week’s magCulture magazine of the week is Vanguards from Scotland, a new title published by two Edinburgh College of Art students during their final year.
There are two reasons why the publication stands out. Firstly, magazines about a place and its local brands and craft scene are often tired and repetitive, but Vanguards has its own honest and charming approach, one that feels humble not try-hard. Secondly, the magazine is very beautifully put together – it’s a reminder of the satisfaction that you can get from simple layout, soft paper and crisp binding (not to mention a great selection of illustration).
The curating and production behind the magazine is slick: its bright and tantalising cover for example, illustrated by Jack Fletcher, was printed at Glasgow’s much loved Risograph printers Risotto. For a magazine all about being ‘Made in Scotland’, this vibrant cover doesn’t opt for the obvious – I’m relieved to see no tartan in sight.
The title ambitiously sets out as a quarterly and it celebrates ‘not just the small-scale craftsman but also the global brand’. The first four issues will focus on Scotland, looking at the country’s distinctive design and manufacturing history. In a market filled with an abundance of magazines celebrating traditional brands and craft, Vanguards also sets out to push for more critique when it comes to unethical manufacturing practises. There are articles on established companies like Mackintosh (above) as well as profiles of lesser known textile designers.
For an essay on Laurence Odie knitwear, which produces for A.P.C and Margaret Howell, there aren’t any accompanying photographs but rather collaged, loose illustrations by George Douglas (below). Most titles that focus on craft (like Hole & Corner) rely too heavily on photography; Vanguards places importance on words and illustration so the reader has to engage and can’t just idly flip for a quick fix of rustic looms and wooden work benches.
Vanguards have also collaborated with Laurence Odie to produce a limited edition line of unisex jumpers available in steel grey and oatmeal. The project is a determined and obviously well backed: there’s a lot adverts for example (unusual for launch issues), suggesting that the publishers have been playing their cards right.
Inside you can also find still photographs by Olivia Stoddart of fish from Loch Duart (above), and a Q&A with the daughter of textile designer and artist Bernat Klein who lives in Scotland’s striking modernist Klein house (below). The title doesn’t overwhelm with content: six carefully chosen features fill the book-sized publication.
Vanguards is ambitious and well researched – as the founders Hugo Ross and James Roberts state in their editor’s letter, issue one is the product of 18 months of exploring and investigating. They’ve done a lot of homework, and it shows.