MC1R is a magazine for red-heads, and its huge scope of content and imagery makes it hard to believe that no one has ever thought of the concept before. The Hamburg-based publication celebrates red hair and fair skin with all the devotion of a pre-Raphaelite painting, and this is the first issue to be published in English so it can reach redheads worldwide.
Editor Tristan Rodgers started the magazine out of a desire to reach other gingers like himself: ‘Red-heads are one of the smallest minorities in society, and they often grow up without the kind of self-understanding that would protect them from discrimination, stereotyping and bullying,’ Tristan tells me. ‘When I was a child, I had no support or anyone to look up to or learn from. With this project, I hope to give younger red-head the experience that I missed.’
As a blonde, I had no idea what the name MC1R might refer to, an abbreviation that any redhead will instantly know the meaning of – so that it’s almost like the name is a secret code for fellow gingers. A quick Google later and I learn that MC1R stands for melancortin-stimulating hormone receptor – a gene mutation which causes red hair and 85% of the time freckles as well. These physiological ‘mutations’ – ginger and glass skin prone to freckling – are the two inspirations behind art director Max Weinland’s design.
For interviews with model Hattie Watson (above) and photographer Thomas Knights (below), known for his photographs of handsome red-haired men, the magazine’s questions are always tinted orange. This typographic detail emphasises that the magazine’s voice is very much a ‘ginger’ perspective. The orange haze falling across Knights interview spread similarly pays close attention to the skin and hair of MC1R types.
The rosy pink background of a fashion spread (above) and border to the editorial letter (below) continues the design theme, referencing the colour of sunburnt skin. It’s also the hue most often said to suit a redhead’s complexion, and its recurring presence compliments the photo-shoots and spreads.
Small graphic illustrations of an orange bob and beard recur and are particularly memorable, functioning as little totems to ginger-hood (above).
And lastly, an interview with artist Anthea Pokroy has a particularly humorous title spread which looks like the last round of a game of Guess Who? In the interview, Pokroy discusses her call for a Ginger Revolution and Ginger Utopia, and although the tone is partly tongue-and-cheek, the article touches on moments of real pathos when she delineates the difficulties that many of her subjects faced when growing up.
Although MC1R have settled on a seemingly niche subject and it’s a publication very much in its early days, their surprising variety of content proves that there is longevity in what they’re covering. The colour combinations match the content, and because pink, orange and white aren’t usually the cohering colours of a publication, the overall look is unique. Like red-heads, it’s a rarity. This visual dimension, as well as their decision to break from and question stereotypes through magazine making, is the reason that we’re celebrating MC1R this week.
Review by Madeleine Morley