This week we are at work with the editor and creative director of Suspira, Valentina Egoavil Medina. This horror and monster magazine, a recent Magazine of the Week on the Journal, explores its sinister subjects through the feminine. We join Valentina while she is in the production of issue two, the Fetish issue.
Tell us about your typical Monday journey to work
My journey to work varies as I rotate between three different work spaces – the office of the creative agency I work at, the Dreadful Press office, and my personal work space at home, which is where I’m working from today. Lately I don’t get to work from home all that often so when I do I really enjoy those “me-moments” when I don’t have to rush off. So, I always put on one of my playlists, I need my music as much as I need my coffee in the morning.
Currently I’m listening to a lot of Tito & Tarantula, Wovenhand and Jefferson Airplane. Then I usually have my coffee while I start going through my emails and to-dos for the day.
Describe the state of your desk and what you can see in your office
My desk always starts off tidy and as empty as possible. I can’t work properly if my workspace is messy. However, as the day progresses and I get out books, magazines or paper clippings for research purposes it tends to get a bit chaotic. I also really enjoy being surrounded by things that inspire me, so I decided to place a shelf behind my desk with all my work and inspiration items in order to keep my desk as free as possible. Another thing I love when working from home is that I live on the 24th floor and have big windows in my apartment, which is lovely because I have a great view and I feel less “caged” being indoors all day.
Which magazine do you first remember?
The very first magazine I remember is Bravo, which is a teen magazine that was hugely popular in Germany when I was growing up there. The thing about Bravo is that it wasn’t just about pop culture and celebrities, it actually addressed a lot about relationships and sex education. I remember they had this recurring series where Dr. Sommer (a therapist) answered reader’s question about relationships and sex. I’m starting to realise why my Mom wouldn’t buy it for me when I was twelve!
Which magazine matters to you the most right now?
I have a thing for fashion and photography magazines from the 1950s to the mid-1980s (aesthetically, I tend to dwell a bit in the past). Zoom’s 1970s issues are incredible and I’m lucky to have two in my possession. Even though I’m unfortunately not able to understand much of the articles as my French is not great, I just love the photography and layout, even the adverts! I’ve just started working on the second issue of Suspira and I am really feeling Zoom’s 1970s aesthetic at the moment, so let’s see what the outcome of the inspiration behind this will be.
What first triggered your interest in Horror?
To be honest, Beetlejuice. I saw the cartoon series for the first time when I was 4 or 5 and was immediately hooked. Then I started watching Tales From The Crypt, Tales From The Cryptkeeper, Goosebumps and Are You Afraid Of The Dark? From there on I was obsessed with anything spooky and mysterious, getting into proper horror films from age 11.
You’ve avoided all cliché/kitsch Horror reference points in favour of a far more nuanced visual character. Talk us through the development of this design approach.
From the very beginning we set out two goals for the visual aesthetic of Suspira – for one, we wanted to create a magazine that would appeal to bot, horror fans and non-fans alike. For another, elevate and innovate the artistic boundaries of horror publishing.
We spend a lot of time perfecting the aesthetic to find the right balance between classic horror elements (like the dividers showing redesign outtakes of classic horror film trailers and stage photographs from classic monster films) and more sophisticated, streamlined visuals (like Anna Garforth’s work in The Face of Fear, below). With this approach we hope to demonstrate that horror as a genre carries tremendous cultural, social and artistic value.
I wouldn’t say there was a conscious link to Sabat with regards to the design, especially since the design team behind it is another. The overall concept and design grew and developed organically, but the idea was certainly for Suspira and Sabat to be able to exist alongside each other while each being their own entity. This is why Elisabeth Krohn (editor of Sabat and editorial advisor for Suspira) and I founded Dreadful Press, because we realised that there is a definite crossover between Sabat’s audience and Suspira’s, and we saw the potential for it to grow beyond our own publications.
Why did you launch with the theme ‘Monsters’? What future themes are planned?
Before starting with the first issue I made a list of all the possible issues we could do with Suspira (a list that has been expanding ever since) and came to the conclusion that with the Monster issue we could touch upon most of the topics I wanted to address in Suspira – mental health, female character development and representation, otherness (physical, psychological and emotional), sexuality and musical influence. We all can relate to the character of the monster in one way or another, so this issue hopefully speaks to as many people as possible. Besides some of the very first horror films were in fact monster films, so it was only fitting to start there.
Now we’re working on the Fetish issue, which was actually Elisabeth’s brilliant idea! This issue will explore the sweet spot where horror and sex meet so it’s going to be quite an exciting journey. We’re keeping all other future themes to ourselves for now – I wouldn’t want to rob anyone of the exciting feeling of anticipation.
What are you worrying about at work this week?
Mostly how I’m going to fit in replying to all my emails between all the other work I have to do. It can be a bit challenging juggling several jobs but in the end, it always works out.
What’s going to be the highlight of the week for you?
This afternoon I’m meeting with Dario Gracceva and Aldo D’Angelo (Studio Fax), Suspira’s amazing graphic designers, to start discussing the design approach for the second issue of Suspira, which I’m really excited about.
What will you be doing after this chat?
Probably refuel my system with more of my favourite Peruvian coffee before attempting to tackle the beast that is my email inbox for a while, then prep for our design meeting.