The Stack Awards 2015

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Last night at a packed ceremony in London the winners of the first Stack Awards for independent magazines were announced. The shortlists made an impressive case for the sector, with illustration, photography and writing all impressing a strong set of specialist judges. The international nature of the magazines was demonstrated too, with shortlisted editors, designers and publishers from Dublin, Riga, Barcelona and Beirut in the room and videos from two NY winners.

Stacks_020Judging the Magazine of the Year category was a refreshing opportunity to closely examine 15 magazines. We see many publications here at magCulture but having a discrete group to look at in detail was a really enjoyable and useful process, and proved once and for all the breadth of the indie sector. The final three on the winners list sum this up: Flaneur, an experiment in editorial creation from Berlin via multiple cities, testing how to edit and design a magazine; Beirut’s The Outpost using editorial to advance alternative narratives in the Middle East and asking whether a magazine can change our world; and The Gourmand, from London, a magazine that at every stage of the editorial, creative and production process strives for perfection and more often than not achieves it.

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Fellow judge Ruth Jamieson and I each had one or two other choices that might have made the final three but in the end the three were a unanimous choice; together, we felt these magazines were a fantastic representation of contemporary indie magazines at their best. It’s worth noting too that all three are have produced at least five issues each – these are not flash-in-the-pan projects. The winner was a clear decision too; The Gourmand would grace any awards list.

Stacks_047The evening should be regarded as a watershed for indie publishing, another landmark in its growth and a definitive move towards broader recognition. Perhaps once independent magazines meant rough and ready, half-formed but intriguing. There are plenty of magazines like that still, of course, and we need those titles, but we are now seeing some that started that way develop into serious editorial projects. The rest of the publishing world should be paying attention.

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Here’s a complete list of winners and commendations; congratulations to all:

Magazine of the Year
The Gourmand (London) winner. David Lane, above.
Flaneur (Berlin) commended
The Outpost (Beirut) commended

Launch of the Year
Weapons of Reason (London) winner
American Chordata (New York) commended
Benji Knewman (Riga) commended

Cover of the Year
Guts (Dublin) winner
Avaunt (London) winner
Cercle (Strasbourg) commended

Best Use of Photography
Victory (New York) winner
Four & Sons (Melbourne) commended
Gather Journal (New York) commended

Best Use of Illustration
Weapons of Reason (London) winner
Little White Lies (London) commended
The Ride Journal (London) commended

Best Original Fiction
American Chordata (New York) winner

Best Original Non-Fiction
The Lifted Brow (Melbourne) winner
Delayed Gratification (London) commended
Victory Journal (New York) commended

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