We’ve already marked the end of the year with a series of magCulture pals’ 2018 mag highlights on our podcast, but what caught the magCulture team’s keen eyes this year?
Jamie Atherton, magCulture shop manager
Those three words: ‘California’, ‘Sunday’, ‘magazine’. It’s hard to imagine a more appealing pairing of proper nouns, especially in the context of an issue all about home. The state is kind of my other home, so every issue I take a little personally, like I’ve just bought a newspaper from a kiosk in LA and look what’s fallen into my lap! (Which is how most people encounter it, as a supplement — luckily for us in London and everywhere else, there’s magCulture.)
And ‘magazine’… there are a lot of magazines in my life: the 400 plus I manage and maneuver on non-Sundays, the few I especially treasure (new favourite Tinted Window, perennial treats The Architectural Review, the all-archival issue of The New Yorker…), and the one I publish: Failed States.
This is the first time The California Sunday Magazine has been all photography all the way through: an at once monumental and intimate slice of the western United States by 34 photographers, mostly portraits captioned with quotes from their subjects. I’ve been engaging with photography a lot this year — contrary to my original imagining of the project, the second issue of Failed States is full of it, from Saudi Arabia, Shanghai, Florida, Lahore and South Africa.
Despite the dominance of photographs, there are of course some words and I was particularly taken by Editor-in-chief Doug’s writing on the issue’s theme:
‘In a year when migrant children have been sent to live in a tent city, rents for a San Francisco apartment reached an average of $3,750, and wildfires destroyed entire communities, the question of how people find and define “home” has never felt more urgent.’
It feels like there’s an urgency of urgency going on right now (thankfully!) — see this year’s Turner Prize show — and in large part that’s what made this issue so compelling. These are not the headline images of burning towns, tear-gassed migrants and caged children, but rather the complexities of distinct yet intertwined lives — small stories speaking of global shifts and crises; the objects that surround us, the food we eat, stories of foster kids, suburban moms, thru-hikers, radon mine operators, firefighters, people imprisoned by dementia and emancipated juvenile offenders, neighbours and the neighbourless, the uprooted and deep rooted.
Stephanie Hartman, events producer
The ever-fabulous Ordinary magazine’s did it for me this year. The quarterly publication made by Max Siendentopf and Yuki Kappas gives photographers a platform to transform mundane objects into something magical with the most recent issue turning its lens on the plastic straw.
Making up a considerable chunk of un-recycled plastic and messing with our oceans big time, the plastic straw is soon to become a relic with more and more countries banning it from production. This timely issue of the mag commemorates the death of single-use tube (obviously a good thing for the wellbeing of our oceans and environment) with images that see it repurposed as a material for making sandals, used as decoration to jazz up a pot plant, utilised as as breathing apparatus for a nighttime swim, or fashioned it into a smile on a pingpong bat with balls for eyes :)
I also want to highlight the brilliant events Riposte has put on this year. I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with a number of them and am always blown away by the sense of community Danielle and the team have built. More in 2019 please!
Jeremy Leslie, creative director
MacGuffin’s sixth issue ‘The Ball’ was the most complete magazine of the year: it looked great, felt great in the hands, and contained a wonderfully diverse combination of stories spanning clever takes on the obvious (a series of ‘skinned’ footballs, a look at the role of ball boys and ball girls), pop culture (the disco mirror ball, the smiley face), architecture (globes and hemispheres) and the mundane (the ball point pen). Always well put together in every sense, the issue was faultless, reassuring us with the familiar while still surprising us.
Also deserving a mention: the two magazine specials published by Eye gave great insight into the timeless nature of editorial design. As I wrote at the time, ‘Free from the structural/thematic needs of a book about the subject, this pair of magazine specials is at once a visual treat and a unique survey of magazine design through the eyes of people that do it.’
And it was great to have Richard Turley back doing what he does best, making magazines (Good Trouble and Interview as well as his own project, Civilization).
Liv Siddall, ModMag MC and magCulture podcast co-host
My favourite single issue was the completely perfect Apartamento #22 as, among other things it featured some incredible women such as Francoise Mouly and Ruth Rogers.
Favourite magazine may be Homesick because Reagan Clare has done an amazing job of it, and I love how it contains images which you simply cannot find on the internet. Who needs the internet anyway?
Thea Smith, magCulture shop
One of the smartest new mags to come into the shop this year, No Man’s Land encapsulates the rising tide of feminism in 2018. The tagline ‘for women with something to say and nothing to prove’ is apt, as the magazine manages to create a balance between activism and lifestyle in a page-turner that you’ll want to recommend to all your friends.
It’s unapologetically gunning for a revolution, with tongue-in-cheek approaches to the women’s mag format of fitness, food, and fashion, and an insanely all-killer-no-filler line up of interviews including Chelsea Manning, Mary Beard, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and coverstar Jessica Williams. It doesn’t shy away from introducing you to women you might never have heard of but you’ll be glad that you did, and talks openly about sex, drugs and mental health. The design is great, too; each piece gets a different treatment, but put together it all makes a coherent and stylish whole.