With just over a week to go before ModMag17, we catch up with the Nicholas Blechman, creative director of The New Yorker. He’ll be joining us on the day to give us some insight into how the famous old magazine remains as relevant as ever today. Here, he answers a few advance questions.
What’s your favourite cover of your magazine?
There have been many striking covers this year, from Barry Blitt to Malika Favre, but ‘Blowhard’ by David Plunkert (above) stands out. It’s the perfect metaphor for Trump’s embrace of hate groups after the violence in Charlottesville. The simplicity of it’s execution strengthens its message, and reminds me of the Vietnam protest posters from Tomi Ungerer a generation ago.
What has been your magazine highlight of 2017?
This photo essay on the opioid drug crisis in America, by Philip Montgomery, and its interactive presentation, is one of the more striking pieces of visual journalism we’ve produced this year.
What was the one mistake that taught you the most about making magazines?
Nozone was nothing but mistakes. I had no business model, a patchwork distribution system, and no consistent design. I’ve learned it is easy to make a nice looking magazine that wins awards. What’s difficult, is making it viable.
Which other speaker are you most looking forward to hearing at ModMag?
Mirko Borsche on ZEITmagazin, because editorially there is an overlap with what we do at The New Yorker; Owen Pritchard, since I am a long time fan of It’s Nice That; Takahiro Kinoshita, because everything from Japan is cool; Tony Brook, since he is one of my all time favorite designers; Justin Tribillon & Isabel Seiffert for their take on independent publishing; basically, the entire line-up excites me.
What will you be talking about at ModMag?
I’ll discuss how I got from Nozone, an independent comic ‘zine with a circulation of barely one thousand, to The New Yorker, one of the most venerable and influential magazines of our time, with a circulation of over one million, and growing. I’ll discuss how to keep an old magazine fresh, while offering an insiders view of the design, culture, and history of a storied publication.
The Modern Magazine 2017
Thursday 2 November (9am to 5.30pm)
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL (map)