It’s Freezing in LA! #6

The joint themes of our magCulture Live conference next week are Analogue and Activism, two characteristics we’re seeing more and more of here at magCulture.

Our speakers will have plenty to discuss on both themes, but other magazines continue to explore both. A great example is climate change magazine It’s Freezing in LA!, whose new issue has just arrived. Here we look at how they combine the analogue with their activism.

ONE  The sixth edition of IFLA! concerns greenwashing, and a key story addresses the environmental tensions in the occupied territories of Palestine. This double-page illustration by Claire Harrup starkly sets the tone for that story and the magazine’s general thesis: the coming together of human activity and nature. All illustration in IFLA! is created by hand rather than computer, and this example shows how much more powerful than a photograph this approach can be.

TWO  The analogue approach to illustration is emphasised again in a story about trusting the promises made by oil companies; Sammi Lynch’s series of contributions include this example, a hand drawn representation of familiar mapping technology. Diagrams and graphics seem instantly trustworthy as they speak of science; this reminds us they are often be as imprecise and decorative as a drawing.

THREE  I really enjoyed (if that’s the right word) TV drama ‘I Will Destroy You,’ and with its primary theme of sexual abuse and its effects it’s easy to forget it addressed other issues. IFLA! picks up on the the way Michaela Coel’s lead character got co-opted into a PR greenwashing role during the early part of the story. It’s a neat way in to a broader discussion of black representation within climate activism.

FOUR  The issue’s blue and pink graphic theme comes from maps measuring damage done to coral around the world. As usual, details are used on the covers and opening pages of each feature. The centre spread pulls out to show the whole maps; accompanying diagrams give more information and demonstrate that not all information presented this way is merely decorative. These are clear, concise and informative.

FIVE  On the back cover we can read again the quote from Donald Trump that gave the magazine its name; a timely reminder that despite losing the election his voice will persist – the quote comes from before he even began campaigning to be be US President first time round.

Editor: Martha Dillon
Deputy editor: Jackson Howarth
Art editor: Nina Carter
Design direction: Matthew Sequel

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magCulture Live 2020

magCulture Live is back! Join us this November for a double session of inspiration from some of the best magazine makers working today. See below for the full list of 14 speakers.

Wednesday 18 & Thursday 19 November, 4–7pm GMT
(all sessions will be recorded and made available afterwards to ticket holders).

Book your ticket now via Eventbrite

Our annual conference shifts online for a special two-day celebration of magazines. As we make this move online, we’ve split the event into two Zoom sessions. Each one has its own theme, and the overall mood will be one of celebration. The two sessions take place on consecutive afternoons and tickets can be booked for either one or both sessions.

It’s been a tough year – join us to be reminded of the creative power of great magazines. Our speakers will share inspiration across writing, design, illustration, typography and photography.

Wednesday 18 November
The first session has ‘Activism’ as its central theme, highlighting the power of magazines as platforms for change from both historical and contemporary standpoints.


Alice Grandoit, co-founder, Deem Journal (Los Angeles)

Steven Heller, critic and author (New York)
Setting the scene for the day’s theme Activism, Steven will present a personal overview of the history of activist publishing, from the early 20th century to today.

Karl Henkell, founder, Record Culture (Madrid)
Karl will reflect on how his magazine celebrates the international and local activism expressed through music and DJ culture.

Sachini Imbuldeniya, founder, StudioPi (London)
Sachini will be talking to Jeremy Leslie about the lack of diversity in the creative industry, and how the launch of her new illustration and photography agency Studio Pi seeks to change that.  

Maya Moumne, co-founder, Journal Safar (Beirut)
Maya will discuss publishing in the Middle East, and how Journal Safar uses design history and cultural production as forms of

Rick Poynor, critic and author, David King: Designer, Activist, Visual Historian’ (London)
Rick will be examining David King’s graphic design legacy through his stunning
cover designs for eighties London listings magazine City Limits.

Terri White, editor-in-chief, Empire (London)
Despite the film industry being frozen by the pandemic, Terri has grown her movie magazine’s subscription base by campaigning on behalf of the broader movie industry, in the process redefining her magazine. She’ll share the creative response and other learnings from recent months.

Thursday 19 November
The second session is based around the theme ‘Analogue’, reminding us that there’s more to magazine-making than computers. How can editors and art directors maintain a human touch?


Theseus Chan, creative director, Werk (Singapore)
Werk tests the magazine format and process to its extremes; Theseus will share highlights from its first 20 years before sharing his thoughts on where it might go next.

Sarah de Mavaleix, Sofia Nebiolo and Haydée Touitou, The Skirt Chronicles (Paris)

Oliver Munday, creative director, The Atlantic (New York)
The recent redesign of The Atlantic was the year’s biggest editorial reinvention. Oliver will share the research behind it, before sharing the first issue and subsequent editions.

Rose Nordin, co-founder and graphic designer, OOMK & Rabbits Road Press (London)
Rabbits Road Press run open zine workshops for non-publishers. Rose will share work and experience from their London studio and recent residency in Portland, Oregan.

Chloe Scheffe, art director, Here (New York)
Chloe will show pages from travel magazine Here, with a focus on the playful analogue processes she uses to create type.

Jack Self, editor-in-chief, Real Review (London)
Each issue of Real Review announces its theme with a vivid human face drawn by artist Nishant Choksi. Jack will introduce the faces from the first ten issues of his magazine.

Kurt Woerpel, art director, Interview (New York)
Alongside the reinvention of Interview, Kurt contributes to Civilization and runs zine publisher TXTbooks. He’ll be joining the dots between these three distinct projects.

Book via the link below and join us on Zoom on 18 & 19 November at 4pm BST

Book your ticket now via Eventbrite

Ticket prices are £60 per session or £90 for both
(£45 and £60 for students)

These include all Eventbrite fees and taxes, there are no extras to be added.

All speakers are confirmed but in the current circumstances changes are possible.

With huge thanks to our partners for their support:

And thanks to our media partners:

Kathleen Tso, Banana

Kathleen Tso and Vicki Ho work in digital marketing and branding respectively; together they launched the visually vibrant Banana magazine in New York, aiming to create a voice for contemporary Asian culture. We hear from Kathleen (above, left) as issue six of their annual magazine is published.

How do you start your week?
The whole Banana team has been working from home since lockdown began in mid-March. We closed issue six in May and April remotely.

Banana isn’t our full time jobs, so we have all been focused on our 9-to-5’s during these uncertain times. We haven’t had a chance to regroup as a whole team in person since early March so we really miss the collaboration and support from each other.

Before the pandemic, we used to start our weekly meetings with an Onigiri from Yaya Tea Garden and a maybe a latte from Urban Backyard.

Describe the state of your desk and what you can see in your studio/office
We always meet at my apartment in Little Italy for Banana around my dining room table. It has become my full-time workspace for my full-time job as well. It’s gotten MUCH messier over the last few months.

Let’s just say we can’t use the table to eat our meals on anymore. It’s next to a huge window so gets tons of natural light and I can see classic Little Italy buildings and fire escapes outside the window. I got to know my neighbors a lot more and what they looked like when we used to all poke our heads out the window and clap for the essential workers at 7PM.

Which magazine do you first remember?
The first magazine I remember is J14, and getting it from a grocery store. I was mesmerized by all the amazing tear-out NSYNC posters inside.

Which magazine matters to you the most right now?
New York magazine has been extra meaningful to me in the last few months. What NYC has been through in the last eight months is incredible, and the magazine has shown how much love and community there is in this city during hard times.

You adopted the name Banana from a nickname used against Asian immigrants; such language seems from another time, is it really still used?
It’s definitely still used within the Asian community. It’s not always used with a derogatory intent, and is sometimes just used in jest between immigrant parents and their kids who were born and raised in the United States who have grown up with dual cultural influences.

Luckily this isn’t a term that people outside of our community use against us.

We love the way Banana combines the traditional and contemporary sides of Asian culture. Is it difficult to hit the right balance?
It actually comes very naturally during the storytelling process! Traditions and our history is so ingrained in our experience today and that comes out in the stories we tell.

Who are your readers?
Our readers live all around the world. With the increasingly globalized experience, the dual cultural influence of the West and the East permeates within the Asian experience around the world.

Banana is a form of advocacy for Asian voices in the creative space. And we hope that it helps inspire Asians as well as brings awareness to allies.

Share one piece of publishing/business advice that has helped you.
Don’t take on more than you can handle!

Looking ahead, what are you excited about this week? Are you optimistic?
It’s Election Week, so I’m cautiously optimistic. Gotta hold out hope… but it gets harder each year.

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The Best of Nest

There is currently a mini-boom in retrospective collections of dead magazines. The latest is this much-awaited book, a collection of pages from US interiors mag Nest.

Few magazines deserve such a fabulously produced memorial. Between 1997 and 2004 there were 26 issues of Nest, and as the book’s editor/designer Todd Oldham points out in his opening essay, ‘The title of this book is wrong. There really is no best of Nest… all of Nest is the best.’

Yet an edit had to be made, and while selecting 16 pages from each issue may seem an inappropriately tidy editorial device – the magazine was many things but systematic and simple are not words that spring to mind – it makes perfect sense from a production angle.

The magazine was renowned for its physical characteristics as much as anything, and those 16 page sections – the natural number of pages to fit a single printing sheet – mean the original print and finishing effects used on each edition can be faithfully reproduced.

The result is seriously imposing: 45mm thick, with a padded cover and so little white space on its pages there was surely a surcharge for ink coverage from the printer. The 26 issues run chronologically, opening with the front cover, the pages trimmed as they originally appeared: curves, angles, diecuts and fold-outs are all included.

The page layouts and typography actively competed with the visually rich photo stories, positioning the magazine at the opposite pole to the likes of fellow new launches Wallpaper and Frieze.

The founder of the latter, Matthew Slotover, wrote to the magazine, very much missing the point. ‘It pains me to think of the money that must have gone into the rounded corners, drilled holes, and samples of fabric and wallpaper. Nice try, but for me they weren’t worth it… More generally the art direction is too much.’ Rem Koolhaas wrote of the design, ‘a curious hybrid of amatuerism and calculation, its seeming arbitrariness a potent rebuke to current graphics…’

The books’s editor/designer Todd Oldham’s treehouse featured in issue 14

The magazine’s editorial and design visions were strongly matched, and remain unique, a complex combination of vernacular decoration and modernist idealism. The magazines arrived quarterly as if from another planet and the book retains that other wordly feel. Oldham is correct, an edited version of the collected issues is inevitably incomplete, yet it still convinces.

The magazine’s masthead began in more traditional fashion (top of the post) but evolved issue by issue, for a period including a birds next as its central motif

Over the years, some mystique has built up around the reason founder Joseph Holzmann ended publication of Nest in 2005. Announcing the closure in issues 26’s editorial letter, he challenged others to take up where Nest left off. Among those who have taken that challenge since are indie touchstones Apartamento and MacGuffin.

Holzmann’s silence since then has only served to add to the questions, but here he opens up. The book finishes with an issue-by-issue commentary from the founder, a series of reflections that make vital reading for today’s publishers. The orginal editor’s letters are reproduced alongside new notes, and you can sense Holzmann’s shifting concerns in his letters.

Broadsides about the state of ceilings merge into the realities of publishing: the importance of subscribers (a brilliantly desperate subs ad is included here, above), the desire for corporate support, the launch of product ranges, an internship programme.

He reminds us that the internet had by then arrived, and with it an ocean of free content. Nest continued to ignore digital photography, prefering to be ‘a dry island of the real,’ as it celebrated print and its myriad physical possibilities.

There are several levels on which to assess this book. First, it’s a fabulous object in its own right; the reproduced pages still stand up as more than a retro time capsule. Second, those same pages act as a strong advocate for the magazine format, reminding us of the power of a strong editorial vision, and yes, that role as time capsule.

Lastly, the back section is a brilliant record of the ups and downs of self publishing, that difficult coming together of ambition and reality.

One of the best-known stories the magazine ran appeared in issue two, about living in an igloo (above). Holzmann’s comment here neatly sums up his approach: ‘I was always curious about igloos – what they were like inside. You only saw them from the outside…’  That curiousity shines through every aspect of this wonderful book.

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Click and collect, Lockdown Bundle

As England locks down again, the magCulture Shop remains open online… Click & Collect, local bike delivery, worldwide shipping, the lot. We want you to have your magazines!

So much of the world is dealing with various levels of lockdown. Here in England, we enter our latest four-week lockdown today and with that, ‘non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues’ are due to close.

Thankfully, magCulture exists beyond the physical shop, so there will be no changes to our online shopping services where you’ll find all of the magazines available physically in our shop. In short, we’re always open online, and this time around our shipping services are better prepared to boot.

As well as worldwide shipping, we offer local same-day delivery and Click and Collect, all via our online Shop. Full details below…

Lockdown bundle
On top of that, we’ve put together a collection of magazines we believe are particularly suited to helping you through lockdown. Literature! Interviews! Rescue dogs! Chocolate!

Order five from this collection and use the code Stockpile to save 15% on the total cost:

American Chordata
An Inkling
Club Sandwich
Free Time
Journal du Thé
Record Culture
Scenic Views
The Happy Reader

Shop the Lockdown Bundle now

National and international shipping
Our usual online sales continue. Order before 2pm weekdays and your magazines will be shipped that same day, using Royal Mail or DHL.

Click and collect
Additionally, if you’re London-based, we’ll be continuing to operate our Click & Collect service (available at the shipping stage on the magCulture website) which means you can pay for your magazines online and then collect them in person between the reduced hours of 11am-3pm, Monday to Friday (though do give us a call or email if you’re unable to make those times and we’ll see what we can do).

Local delivery
If you’re in London you can also opt for a same-day delivery by bike. Please place your order before midday and select Gophr at check out.

For the most up-to-date information, keep an eye on our social media @magculture and sign up for our newsletter which is sent out weekly (and has plenty of good stuff in it, at that).

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Nina May, Wunderdog

Copy editor Nina May launched Wunderdog in 2016 as a website, inspired by her rescue dog, Pippa; after a brief delay to look after the terminally ill Pippa, the print edition of Wunderdog followed in 2019. We meet her as the redesigned issue three arrives in shops.

How do you start your week?
My week starts like every day: make coffee (filter), feed the dogs, and take them for a walk. Pets don’t care what day of the week it is. Since I work from home or my nearby co-working space, I have the luxury of not commuting.

Describe the state of your desk and what you can see in your studio/office
With all the coronavirus stuff around, I have not been to my London co-working space, the De Beauvoir Block, much. My desk is tiny, but I love writing on it. For proofreading and signing off layouts, I relocate to the kitchen table.

I like beautiful, silly, old things. So, my mid-century bureau (in my bedroom) is full of stuff: flowers from the garden, a portrait of my late dog Pippa, and a vintage letter-holder in the shape of a dachshund full of notes and pictures. To the side, I can see out the window, but the proper window seat is for my dog. Goldie rules.

On the Wunderwall next to me are cover options, the flatplan and an illustration pattern I commissioned for a Christmas 2020 gift box. It features Wunderdogs from issues one and two, and the colouring-book style work was produced by Elle Sorridente.

Which magazine do you first remember?
Vogue. My late aunt was in fashion. I would make tiny Vogues, the size of a quarter of a postcard for her when I was six and stayed at hers for a special weekend.

But if I may give a special shout-out to another title, it’s The Idler. I discovered it when I was a Blur-loving teenager living in Germany. Alex James had written for it, and it was a hell of a job to track down a copy.

Back then, The Idler published when it published (true to idling styling) and was based on Parkway in Camden. I thought any city that was home to a magazine like The Idler is a good place, so the title was one of the reasons why I moved to London.

Which magazine matters to you the most right now?
I subscribe to Delayed Gratification, which remains the strongest independent title in my view. In our time of ‘fake news’, surely we can’t benefit enough from perspective. Its co-founder, Rob Orchard, has also been very kind and helped me when I had a ton of questions about launching my magazine.

I also love New Philosopher, because it succeeds in making an extremely dry subject a thing of beauty. Studio Carreras designs striking covers for big questions, and the contents is lively and engaging.

Tell us about the first dog you remember.
I grew up with a little wire-haired dachshund, Biene (German for ‘bee’). Typically for that breed, she had soft grey hair on her head from a young age. I would sometimes make a bed for her in my mum’s drawers, throwing all her underwear on the floor to make room. Dog always came first!

Biene was the dog of my childhood – we got her when I was two years old, and she lived to the grand old age of 14. She was family, as dogs should be.

Describe Wunderdog mag in three words.
My pet project.

Who are your readers?
Dog lovers times ten! I think there are people who have a dog like they have a sofa, and they don’t think much about animals and their welfare. And then there are Wunderdog readers, who care about animals and the planet, who are active in the charities they adopted their dogs from, and who – like me – never shut up about dogs.

In that sense, we are all similar. I would like to think that all Wunderdog readers could meet up and would get on famously.

Geographically, London, New York and Toronto are the key metropolitan areas. I am pleased to say that I have also have subscribers outside the cities – in the UK, I have subscriber-clusters in the West Country as well as in Scotland.

I also want to give a shout-out to my distributor, Ra & Olly. They got me into Magalleria in Bath and Athenaeum in Amsterdam straight away. Wunderdog is also stocked at Magma in London, Papercut in Stockholm (above) and – soon – at MagNation in Auckland.

The magazine does a great job of celebrating rescue dogs and their owners; is there a wider agenda to the project?
Yes, I sometimes pompously call it a ‘media brand’, so there will be more branches apart from the website and magazine. Books and an annual children’s edition (Wunderpup) are obvious ways to help people who want to learn more about adopting dogs and educating this and the next generation about dog welfare.

I am also planning a non-profit app that gives back to rescue charities, and I would like to do walking events. Alas, with Covid-19, I don’t see events taking off any time soon, even if they are outside. People would still have to travel there.

Tell us about the redesign of Wunderdog; what did you set out to do, and what has it achieved?
I attended the magCulture conference 2014 with the idea of a dog magazine – and the first edition of Wunderdog ran off the press in 2019. That’s how long I have been sitting on it – and all because I never had an art director as a partner. Magazines should always have both: an editor and an art director. If it’s mainly images, it’s a portfolio; if it’s mainly words, it’s a book.

When I thought I had found one, in 2018, they let me down at the design stage. I had by that time commissioned lots of people and ran up costs of a few thousand pounds to contributors. I had a massive breakdown. Thankfully, a friend introduced me to a small design agency that was willing to take on Wunderdog. I ended up publishing issues one and two with the agency, which did a fantastic job of laying out a completely new publication.

But that partnership element was still missing – I don’t want to be a ‘client’ to a ‘service provider’; I want a partner who tells me off when I do something stupid.

I put out a question for a new art director on The Dots, and Alice Daisy Pomfret (above) was one of the respondents. I sent her a folder of 600 images from my Scotland travel story and asked her how she would design it. Alice’s redesign was spot on.

We decided to work together, and I asked Alice to redesign Wunderdog to make it bolder and cleaner. Alice also suggested restructuring the chapters and had other ideas for Wunderdog.

I can’t tell you how excited I was to read her proposal: for the first time, an art director really thought about Wunderdog, how it should look and flow, and went beyond what I’d envisioned or asked for. Because of the travel restrictions, we’ve only met once, in her hometown of Norwich.

It really feels more like a partnership – although Alice still hasn’t told me off for anything :-)

Share one piece of publishing/business advice that has helped you.
Have a North Star, and make it as small as the dot you can see in the sky. Wunderdog is about rescue dogs. It’s not about dogs or animals at large, it’s about rescue dogs.

That’s my North Star. Be specific. And if some people are not interested in your direction of travel, that’s ok.

Looking ahead, what are you excited about this week?
This is a huge week! Issue three is launching – culminating in our window at magCulture! I enjoy sending out subscriptions myself, so I’ll be writing notes and stuffing envelopes on my kitchen table. If any envelopes include fluff from my dog Goldie’s magnificent plume, I apologise in advance!

We’re also launching our Christmas bundle. Illustrator Elle Sorridente has produced a beautiful dog pattern for us, featuring wunderdogs from the first two issues, in a colouring-book style. We have applied her pattern to a luxurious box and a cotton tote bag. The gift set includes all issues of Wunderdog.