ModMag15: am

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9.00am
Good morning from Central Saint Martins in Kings Cross, Madeleine here, I’m at the Modern Magazine conference and I’ll be live covering the event throughout the day! So far guests have been trickling in slowly, gathering round the coffee cart and the magCulture pop up stand…

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…and browsing the shelf of the beautiful printed matter printed by our sponsor, Park:

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I speak with a few guests to hear about their favourite magazines, and also to find out what they’re most looking forward to today.

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Guido, Maison Moderne

What’s your favourite magazine this morning?
The Gentlewoman.

And of all time?
It changes so often! Probably Manipulator from the early 90s, with lots of big pictures and an A1 format.

What are you most looking forward to today?
The choice!

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Grace Ahn, 1 Granary

What’s your favourite magazine today?
Kinfolk.

What’s the first magazine you remember enjoying?
Time magazine.

What are you looking forward to today?
Hearing Charlotte Heal talk about the creative direction of Kinfolk. But there are so many amazing mags speaking today.

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Liv Siddal, Writer (and our MC today!)

What’s your favourite magazine today?
Amuseum! It’s great.

Who are you particularly looking forward to hearing speak?
Mushpit.

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Serge, L’Obs

What’s your favourite magazine this morning?
New York Magazine.

Of all time?
Might magazine.

What are you looking forward to today?
New experiences and hearing Scott Dadich from Wired.

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James, Weapons of Reason

What’s your favourite magazine this morning?
Amuseum.

What magazine do you first remember?
New Scientist. My mum got it in and it was excellent. Lots of terrible illustration.

What are you looking forward to today?
Everything. I’m looking forward to the Kinfolk story too.

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Paul, Commercial Type (one of our sponsors today)

What are you looking forward to today?
I like to come to things like this to see typefaces in use, larger magazines use them in similar ways but small indie mags use typefaces in an interesting way… That’s interesting to see.

What’s your favourite magazine today?
I’m biased… Esquire. Also New York Mag and Private Eye.

What are you looking forward to today?
James Fairbank – I’m absolutely bonkers about cycling.


9.30am
Jeremy introduces the event, and he starts by considering ‘the new normal’. There have been endless amount of panel discussions and talks around the subject of print media and independent magazines, and we’ve now come to realise that the industry is in permanent shift. That’s reflected in the line-up today; there’s Andrew Tuck talking about Monocle radio station, and also Sophie Lovell from digital magazine Uncube.

Liv Siddal, another well-known mag-a-holic, is MCing today – she used to help make them when she worked for It’s Nice That, she collects magazines, and now she writes for lots of them.

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magCulture tote bags have also been handed out, here’s a peak of what’s inside:

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9.40am: David Lane, The Gourmand

‘A manifesto for a magazine’

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David discusses the idea for starting the magazine. He was attracted to the subject of food because it is ‘The Most Universal Subject in the World’. As he says, ‘it’s memory, it’s history, it’s something we all do.’

He discusses his work with Bompas & Parr, a film called ‘Gherkin Chandelier’. David says: ‘It’s the closet thing to making a magazine, really, you’re working with photographers, art directors, editors – it’s a similar thing, just a different form.’

‘We’ve always championed people who devote their lives to things behind the scenes – people that aren’t necessarily obviously famous,’ he says when discussing photographers and illustrators, ‘We give each area, the writing, the visuals, equal weight.’

David ends about talking about the website: ‘We don’t have a team to update it daily, and you need that for web. Similarly, all our content is bespoke. Our decision was that when you arrive to our website, you can either see the magazine “On Paper” or you can go “On Screen”. The content online is a combination of curated content and work we’ve made ourselves. It’s weekly as opposed to daily.’


10.20am: Andrew Tuck, Monocle

‘How to reflect a print brand in audio’

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Andrew is one of the founders of Monocle and a regular host on the radio station, and he discusses how the print brand was brought into the audio world. Monocle don’t do Twitter, they don’t do social media, so their initial podcast was important to them. Their connection with their audience has always been personal, often built at events, and radio suited their personal approach: ‘Radio, even though it’s not face to face, allows us to do something interesting. When you’re on the plane, or in the subway, and you’re in their ear, there’s a link between the two of you. There’s something about the voice that connects with our audience in a really special way.’

The New Yorker have just moved into radio, and The Economist is also moving into that world. Andrew discusses how lots of people now have the This American Life app on their phone, and how many people listened to Serial, it’s a world that’s very popular at the moment, and radio hasn’t dipped or faced the same kind of challenges as the print industry. Monocle decided to go into not only podcasting, but 24-hour radio.

They decided to have a single sponsor for each show. There is never a bank of advertising throughout a show, just a few advert slots, and the brands agree that they won’t feed into the editorial, there’s simply a ‘this show is sponsored by…’ announcement. Monocle radio have explored native advertising, but Andrew stresses that those 15 minute shows are clearly marked.

The fact that the station is live is crucial: ‘People ask why we do it live, but the minute you don’t, the energy isn’t there,’ says Andrew, ‘As soon as it’s not live, people say “oh, can I say that again?” The discipline of being live keeps it exciting, it keeps us on that news beat. There’s also a serendipity – someone listening to the news might stay on and listen to the design show, or the food show.’


10.40am: Grashina Gabelmann, Flaneur

‘Inside a unique editorial process’

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‘The good thing about indie magazines is you can make stuff up, like having two editors-in-chief,’ says Grashina. She first discusses how all the content of the magazine comes about through collaboration during two months on location. To edit, assemble and design, they head back to Berlin, but for the launch they always return to the street.

The magazine is non-linear and subjective. ‘Travel magazines will tell you where to eat and where to go. Our approach is to look at it differently: as something literary. Then you see that a street isn’t linear at all. Streets are always larger on the inside than on the outside, abstract connections can be found when you look closely.’ The idea is to look at all the stories they find, but then to put them together ‘as a puzzle, but a fragmented one.’ If a reader buys Flaneur to find out about a street, ‘they’ll probably be disappointed’, says Grashina, ‘We say: “This could be Kantstrasse”.’

Grashina also explains that they think of themselves as part-book, which has been approved as Flaneur has an ISBN.

Another interesting approach to what to do with the online platform, and how to extend the tone into other realms like Andrew discussed: On the Flaneur website, they have a section called ‘Unprintables’, a collection of music and films found along the way of making an issue.

Once they’ve chosen a street, they walk around, they try to get into buildings, speak to shop owners, get in touch with local artists that could be collaborators. ‘Most of the people we meet, though, are people we meet on the street: there’s a domino effect, one person will think of someone else, we’re constantly having coffee dates,’ says Grashina, ‘There might be a nun on the street, a refugee worker, a junkie, we’re sponges for information and we talk to them.’ They also look beyond the street, filling in context by exploring the rest of the city.


11am – coffee break

On sale at the pop-up shop today is also Indepedence, Jeremy’s new publication which features 12 different interviews with 12 magazine makers. There’s a different cover for each magazine, can you guess which cover matches which mag?

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And here they all are together…

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In the break, I also catch up with magCulture columnist and writer Rob Alderson:

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What did you find interesting about the first three talks?
What Andrew was saying about diluting the tone from print into another medium was interesting. I found it honest, often when you hear discussions about print we celebrate it, instead of thinking about these more difficult aspects.

What’s your favourite magazine this morning?
Vanity Fair. I love the serendipity of it, which people often say about magazines. It’s very true of Vanity Fair at the moment, there’s a lot of things in there you don’t normally see.

And favourite magazine of all time?
Match.

As some of the guests refresh with coffee and tea, others have signed up for the special magazine handling session, where they get the chance to look through and handle a range of classic magazines from the CSM and magCulture archives under the expert guidance of CSM design tutor Cath Caldwell. Some of the mags to be looked through (but only when wearing special white plastic gloves): Life, Nova, Look, Rolling Stone

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11.30: Sophie Lovell, Uncube

Adapting the print experience online’

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‘Digital vs. print. This is something people ask me about all the time. It’s not a competition though, these are two completely different things,’ says Sophie from the Berlin-based digital magazine.

‘I was at an event in Berlin by mono.kultur a few weeks ago, and everyone kept saying that they wanted to make something beautiful out of print,’ starts Sophie, offering a refreshingly different viewpoint on the topic of independent publishing, ‘It kind of annoyed me. That’s the old mindset – making things to buy and consume. Making a beautiful object shouldn’t be our primary concern today. We’ve got a lot of stuff today, why do we need more?’

‘The issue isn’t print or digital. The issue is thinking how and what we’re communicating – that’s why I’m putting my heard and blood into Uncube.’

They theme each issue because today it seems natural to organise by clusters; this is how we consume information. ‘If you’re on a mission to re-think publishing, then it’s not just the medium you have to re-think, but it’s also the structure.’ So Uncube has two separate areas: there’s a blog section, then the online issues. Online, they can only put 250 words on the page, which Sophie explains can be very limiting for longer essays – ‘we have to be so compact’. The blog is the space to go more in-depth, and to explore things that might not be as visually strong.

‘People are very interested in what we’re doing, but I’m not sure why. We’re just making a magazine, it just happens to be online,’ says Sophie, who gets lots of requests to see the ‘physical copy’. What they’re finding is that readers don’t read it all in one go, they return and continue through the issue over time. As Sophie says: ‘They’re learning to use it.’


12.00: Louis-Jaques Darveau, The Alpine Review

The magazine as platform’

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‘Instead of focusing on the what, I’m going to talk about the why,’ starts Louis. He explains how you see platforms everywhere – Vice, Monocle – and they create networks and communities, and since the beginning of The Alpine Review they’ve been thinking about platforms.

The platform of Alpine started by thinking about feasibility – how do you channel the core values of life into a platform? ‘My model is – and it’s still evolving – what can I do to connect with like-minded people and to channel my core-values?’ He wanted to build something about the world-at-large and where big questions could be asked – feeding these ideas into the printed page.

‘It would not surprise you hear that I run a agency and produce an independent magazine,’ says Louis, ‘But I started the agency first, and then made the magazine, so it’s a twist.’ Through the magazine, other jobs have come to the agency, and Louis believes its all part of the ‘platform-thinking’.

Today, they’ve just launched ‘Make Ready’, a new online platform for The Alpine Review. They also run an event series called ‘Aerials’ – it’s about organisational design – and these two other aspects feed into out from the platform that is Alpine. Louis discusses the ariel and collection of networks that begins to grow out from a single print publication. ‘The point is the community and the network. Today, it’s a networked environment, but it takes a network to fight a network. We’re trying to build our own network – and our hourglass approach is building this through a magazine. To conclude: the platform is the business model.’


12.15: James Fairbank, Mondial

Transferring Rapha’s brand content from digital to print’

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The head of branding at Rapha continues on the theme stringing many talks today, and he discusses how they transferred their brand into online and into a printed publication. ‘We set out in 2004 to try and make content both online, in film and in print, that’s revered by professionals in their field,’ begins James, ‘So photography that photographers will appreciate, film for filmmakers etc. If we don’t go beyond our field, than that’s not ambitious enough for our sport, which we want to make the most popular sport in the world.’ The latter, making people fall in love with cycling, has always been their aim.

Because they wanted to make people fall in love with cycling, they decided to consider how to put cycling at the centre of life. ‘It’s not just getting on a bike, but it’s also about what people who love cycling might eat, where they might go – the cultural side of things’ – this became a key to their editorial approach.

For Rapha, user-generated content is important. One example of this is that they set up regional ‘Cycle Clubs’ – through this, they often get a lot of article ideas, as they hear from club members about various treks and also personal cycling stories. This was a good base for the online editorial.

When making Mondial, it was important that the magazine wasn’t an indulgence, and that it stands on its own two feet financially. James discusses how the printed format seemed best to express what they were trying to do with their brand, but in another format.


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