Report: magCulture Live 2020 • Day two

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With 100+ international attendees logged in for a second helping of magCulture Live, Day Two: Analogue soon proved to be similarly upbeat to the first – opening with a lively presentation from Theseus Chan, creative director at Singapore-based Werk.

Theseus, through Werk, is pushing the confines of magazine-making to its outermost limits. In moving away from the ‘polished’ aesthetic of many contemporary magazines, he succeeded in demonstrating that ‘something very special can be achieved using ordinary materials.’ Throughout the presentation, he held up different issues of Werk to his camera for everyone to examine (via whichever corner of the world they happened to be tuned in from).

‘I wanted to focus purely on creation, so I made myself a space where I could perform in that manner.’ Theseus’s talk itself something of a performance – and one that kicked the day off with a healthy serving of experimental creativity, widening the very boundaries of what makes a magazine.

Following Werk, came two art directors based in New York.

First, Chloe Scheffe, art director of Here magazine, who’s ‘not-so-secret’ secret, is that it’s a brand magazine for luggage company, Away. Despite not sounding like the most intriguing magazine of the event, Here is a quality magazine which has allowed Scheffe her own space for creation, particularly in terms of original typography – ‘I went crazy with a brush on paper!’ – and is an exemplary case of a brand publication capable of standing on its own two feet.

Sadly the current, 14th, edition is the final one, the project a victim of the Coronavirus travel downturn.

Following Chloe, Kurt Woerpel, art director at Interview magazine, brought an equal dose of enthusiasm to the Zoom room, allowing attendees to adventure behind-the-scenes of the latest iteration of the ever-emblematic magazine – famously launched by Andy Warhol – while he shared the different processes he used while redesigning the magazine’s titular logo.

He also gave a nod to the day’s theme, Analogue, explaining notably, the magazine’s cut and paste aesthetic – ‘We try to embrace that a lot’ – and spoke about the advantages of Interview’s large format, newspaper-texture pages; particularly in being able to reproduce artefacts from the magazine’s historical archive at true-to-life scale, or even bigger (notably, a feature on the many mobile phones of Paris Hilton).

Throughout the rest of the evening, we were greeted by speakers from London, Paris and New York once more.

The all-women team behind Parisian publication The Skirt Chronicles – Sarah de Mavaleix, Sofia Nebiolo and Haydée Touitou – presented their publication ensemble, reminding us that no magazine (or at least, not many) is the result of a ‘one-man band’ but instead that of like-minded people coming together to create something concrete and meaningful. In Skirt Chronicles’ case, that being ‘a chronicle of our time’ which the team hoped readers would continue to revisit over and over.

From there Rose Nordin, co-founder and graphic designer at OOMK & Rabbits Road Press, echoed a similar sentiment, bringing to the fore the importance of community and ‘coming together’ the zine-making workshops for non-publishers that Nordin and her colleagues facilitate.

She told how, though lockdown had ‘put everything on hold’, the connection herself and her team have felt with the communities they work alongside have continued to endure and, crucially that, as humans: ‘We’re still looking to printed matter, the analogue, to connect us’, perfectly capturing the mood of the day.

Bringing magCulture Live 2020 to a close, were Jack Self, editor-in-chief at Real Review, and Oliver Munday, creative director at The Atlantic.

Jack began by giving an artfully succinct, crystal-clear introduction to Real Review, explaining the thinking behind the magazine’s instantly recognisable ‘front cover faces’ as a means of ‘capturing the mood of the time.’

Issue two for example, themed ‘historal déjà vu’, featured a Janus face, the Roman god usually depicted with two faces – one looking forward and one looking back – which Jack employed as a representation of the political mood at the time (Trump, the so-called ‘return of the right-wing’, and a lack of historical precedent, etc).

After quickly walking attendees through all ten issues of Real Review so far, Jack then went on to encapsulate the essence of the magazine as ‘timeless and timely’. The brief in the beginning, he remembered, was to effectively create a publication with the ‘aesthetic of the Google doc’, one with a rigid structure which was eventually broken up by the softer edges of the hand-drawn faces found on each cover (faces based on drawings cover artist Nishant Choksi had been sketching for fun, ‘for his kid’).

Jack ended with an additional series of faces Choksi prepared retrospectively, each one representing a year of the last decade.

Where Jack left off, Oliver Munday came in to close the conference under the masthead of one of the US’s best known magazines, The Atlantic. Delivering a thorough and fascinating look at the process of the magazine’s most recent redesign, Oliver shared how he and his team took a deep dive into the magazine’s archives when looking to rejuvenate the masthead; now the recognisable ‘A’ logo: ‘What would it look like if we created this very sturdy, classic yet modern mark?’

The team then began exploring the publication’s core type and, ‘how to make it more bespoke; classical.’ In the end, they actually rebuilt an old typeface found in the archive. Bringing us up to the current day, we were shown some of the magazine’s most recent – and widely celebrated – covers, giving a sense of where The Atlantic is today, and where it is, seems to be exactly where it should be, as it’s recent readership has grown by a whopping 400,000 subscriptions, a phenomenon which Oliver put down to this being ‘a really unique moment’ in history and the magazine being ‘an object that people want.’

And on that note, magCulture Live ended. After tuning into this, magCulture’s first fully-remote conference, it seems evident that, yes, print’s still got it. With England about to exit its second national lockdown, marking the (soon-to-be) close of what’s been an exhausting year, over two afternoons, attendees spanning the globe came together digitally and, if our feelings are anything to go by, were left feeling excited, reinvigorated and hopeful for future of independent magazines.

After all, to quote Rose Nordin once more, us humans, “are still looking to printed matter; the analogue, to connect us.”

Liked this article? Read about Day one: Activism. @wordsbydanielle

All ticket-holders should now have received a link to the Zoom recording of the event.


Thank you to all the speakers and our audience for making this first full-sized virtual version of magCulture Live so successful.

Thanks too, to our partners for their support in bringing the event to life digitally:





And thanks to our media partners:

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