Jaap Biemans is perhaps best-known to Journal readers as the man behind the Coverjunkie website, under which guise he already answered our At Work With questionnaire. This week we meet him in his main role, as the award-winning art director of Dutch newspaper supplement Volksrant Magazine. Jaap’s a busy man; he and his partner have just enjoyed the arrival of their third daughter.
Tell us about your typical Monday journey to work
My week starts off pretty relaxed with a fun bike ride through the heart of Amsterdam – no Monday blues for me! I cycle with my two girls, Bobbie and Charlie all on one bike (Amsterdam-style) and drop them off at school. After that it’s 25 minutes to the Volkskrant offices.
I like taking a little detour by crossing the Vondelpark and cycle underneath the Rijks Musem just cause I like the energy there. Some Mondays I work at home, that’s possible cause I just reconstructed the house and created a pleasant workspace.
Describe the state of your desk and what you can see in your office
Oh man it’s crowded and packed at my workstation at Volkskrant. Lots of people working on one square meter. I like my workspace though cause we have a fun tight team and work all on one island in the middle of chaos.
Got my Buzz Lightyear watching out for me on top of my screen, a superstitious thing I guess. But the best thing is my new office at home that carries my ’57 Faema Urania espresso machine, vinyl and piles of my favourite magazines. No man-cave, more of a Mag-cave. I created this wall of fame with iconic mag covers that I can change regularly. These king covers!
Which magazine do you first remember?
There was this comic called Pep, for the cool big kids. I was six or seven and wanted to be like the cool kids. The mag carried a sense of the free world I yearned for.
Which magazine matters to you the most right now?
I adore lots of titles, impossible to name titles cause theres so much good stuff out there, I have a subscription on new revamped Interview and New York. The nice people at Zeitmagazin and Suddeutsche send me their mag and there’s of course my subscription to Stack.
When I leave new ones on my desk at Volkskrant I noticed that California Sunday disappears at first haha, everybody loves that one. I adore mags when the makers, the creators, take extra steps to level up. That shows, you sense that energy immediately.
Tell us about Volkskrant, the magazine you work on each week in the Netherlands?
We have the little joke at the floor that management wrapped the newspaper around the magazine so the paper will sell a bit. Not the case of course but it IS very popular. We are happy to be connected to the newspaper, which is doing pretty good. It’s a nice choice for the reader on a Saturday morning; do you wanna read the lifestyle section or the hard news?
Its packed with 84 pages each week, published in the Netherlands and based in Amsterdam. And well known for its edgy photography, design and in depth interviews. My design team is small: it’s just a photo-editor, two designers and me as art-director. We have a pretty intense schedule, produce the mags one week ahead, all it’s gotta be right the first time cause we cant remake shoots or stories when they fail.
Your covers and contents pages get a lot of attention and awards, what is it that is so special about what you do with these?
I adore designing covers and content pages above everything (above, and see more on my website). And what a humble experience cause this year I received a golden SPD award for the redesign.
Content pages should carry the buzz and the sizzle of the mag, make the reader curious. I change the design each week, depending on my timetable that week. And I feel rich as a designer to be able to use ace font Five from McNeill, these content pages are so much fun to make, each week.
How does Coverjunkie fit in to everything else you do?
Its hard to keep it up next to a job, tons of emails are haunting me but I wanna answer all of them. I’m thinking about making it bigger: there are lots of possibilities to make Coverjunkie interesting for publishers. Really, if you have an ace idea, contact me!
At the moment I do it all by myself and I love giving shout-outs to talented people and magazines, they deserve it all. Not a lot of platforms are giving credits to creatives, these people make stuff happen. I hear those stories all the time about influencers making lots of money with their posts, well, not me. No moneymaking, no commercial deals, no hidden agendas: Coverjunkie is about love for mags.
What’s your favourite magazine cover of all time?
This changes each week. My fave now is Interview mag starring Elizabeth Taylor, from the seventies, I just found it on Ebay. Love the logo, the bold paper, all good. That one carries the coolness you hardly see.
What’s going to be the highlight of the week for you?
Thats the easy one; the birth of my third kid! Gonna be ace. The fun thing is that by the time this post is online there will be three kids in my life, expecting Teddie Tien in a few days.
What are you doing after this chat?
Fixing me a triple espresso out of my ’57 Faema Urania