Archive for the ‘independent magazines’ Category

Last chance to see – the trailblazing iconoclast magazines

August 20, 2018
Recognise many of these magazines? One of the walls at Somerset House

Recognise many of these magazines? One wals at Somerset House

If you haven’t been to ‘Print!: Tearing it Up’ at Somerset House yet, get down to London quick. It closes on Wednesday. Kieran Yates rounds the show off with a talk about her magazine, British Values, which celebrates immigrant communities.

The show ‘charts the evolution of polemic and progressive print publications and celebrates the current diverse industry of innovative independent magazines’. Beginning with Blast!, the Vorticist journal of 1914, to moves through the pacifist Peace News of 1930s, the satire of Private Eye, the Spare Rib of the feminist 1970s, the pop phenomenon of The Face in the 1980s and 90s and the zines from teenage feminist collectives into the new millennium.

The editor of British Values gives talk on Wednesday

The editor of British Values gives a talk on Wednesday

It’s worth it just to study Paul Gorman‘s wall-sized mind map of independent British magazine publishing – you will never have heard of many of the titles and zines, and it’s a great argument of an infographic.

The other walls are covered in displays of magazines that have changed the way we think about the world and fought against the dead hand of censorship and conservative attitudes in Britain.

The main focus is the postwar era to the present day. But the boundaries are pretty fluid, with Blast! being a seminal work and titles such as the Spectator and The Wide World creeping in (though the latter is mis-titled as The World Wide). Gorman’s archives are the foundation of the displays, which have been curated with Claire Catterall.

For anyone who’s worked in the industry, the sight of flat plans and layouts for several titles will; bring back pre-screen working practices.

There’s also a newsstand where you can peruse modern titles.

 

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Magazines at the Art Book Fair

July 29, 2018

Indie magazines venue: Whitechapel Gallery and Passmore Edwards Library building next door

This year’s London Art Book Fair is running a section for indie magazines. Tables cost £75 and there will be a chance for exhibitors to make 30-minute presentations. The deadline for stand applications at the event, on  6-9 September, at The Whitechapel Gallery is this Friday, 3 August.

The gallery has a strong, but not immediately obvious, link with magazine history.

The picture shows the Art Nouveau Whitechapel Gallery (1902) with the Jacobethan-style Passmore Edwards Library (1892) and Aldgate East Tube station entrance next door (added in 1937). While Andrew Carnegie’s libraries and philanthropy are well known, John Passmore Edwards is relatively obscure, but he also paid for dozens of libraries and other buildings, including the Whitechapel Gallery itself. The library closed eight years ago and the building was taken over by the gallery.

Masthead titles: John Passmore Edwards made a fortune from Building News

John Passmore Edwards made a fortune from Building News

Unlike Carnegie, Passmore Edwards was not the richest made in the world, but he made a fortune from the weekly trade magazine Building News. He used this to buy The Echo, a London newspaper, in 1876, and become MP for Salisbury. Passmore Edwards formed a partnership with Carnegie to publish The Echo, though they fell out and the paper closed in the early 1900s. Building News carried on until 1926, when it was taken over by The Architect.

The editor of Building News, Maurice Adams, was himself an architect and worked on several projects for Passmore Edwards. He published some of his own designs in the magazine, also wrote books, such as Modern Cottage Architecture (1912).

The Building News title has since been revived by McDermott Publishing in Birmingham.

News magazines profiled


To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

 

 


 

Delayed Gratification – what a magazine!

March 23, 2018
Delayed Gratification: the first issue with its Shepard Fairey c

Delayed Gratification: the first issue with its Shepard Fairey cover

Delayed Gratification. What a magazine. Last night, its editors gave a great talk at the London College of Communication about its latest issue with contributions from investigative journalist Heather BrookeJames Montague and Locke actress Kirsty Dillon.

For those with longer teeth, Brooke will be known for her NUJ courses and her book, Your Right to Know about the Freedom of Information Act, but her great claim to fame is the MPs’ expenses expose with the Telegraph. Montague has had astounding access to places such as North Korea as a football writer (though how he can describe Icelanders as ‘reserved’ is a mystery in my experience). Dillon gave her experience on the extent of the knowledge among British actresses of Weinstein’s excesses (can it really be true that Judi Dench had his name as a tattoo on her bottom?).

Has there been any magazine as innovative as Delayed Gratification in the past 50 years with its quarterly look back at the news, groundbreaking infographics and great illustration and photography? Town? Private Eye? Nova? Cosmopolitan? Loaded? Grazia? Monocle? The answer does not matter; it’s up there with them.

When it first appeared I doubted Delayed Gratification could survive. It was an independent magazine and, although its roster of Time Out veterans was a good sign, that was no guarantee. It was one of four titles I identified as pointing to the future of magazines in my book covering covering the past 170 years of British magazine design. Since January 2011, it has kept to its last and thrived.

I named Delayed Gratification as the only magazine I subscribed to in a 2016 interview for Magculture. A subscription to Stack, a birthday present from my son, the UX designer Max Quinn, is the only exception since.


To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

 

 


 

MagCulture’s Jeremy Leslie on BBC Radio 4

November 30, 2016
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Jeremy Leslie runs the MagCulture blog and shop

Jeremy Leslie is on BBC Radio 4’s Four Thought tonight, giving a 15-minute explanation of why reports about the death of magazines are so exaggerated. Anyone interested in magazines will have noticed all the niche print titles that have opened up even as the behemoths close down.

The state of the mainstream men’s sector is a classic example – with the likes of Loaded, FHM, Maxim, Nuts and Zoo going to the wall, while a thriving independent sector has ensured there are more titles around than for decades.

The designer and  MagCulture founder will address the questions of why this has happened even in the face of the digital onslaught that’s at the top of the media agenda and whether the trend will continue (of course it will!).

I was at the MagCulture shop  when the recording was made this month – with a certain level of irony because I’d just just come from the Printers Unite conference at the Karl Marx Library where I was delivering a paper on how magazines and newspapers responded to print disputes.

The week in magazines

October 9, 2016
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Town magazine ran a cover and several pages of the Monroe photos by  George Barris in 1963

It’s been a interesting week for magazines. There was the death of George Barris, the US photojournalist whose pictures of  Marilyn Monroe in her final weeks were published in Town magazine in the 1960s. A decade later, the Sunday Times Magazine made a cover of the ‘last pictures’; and again after that. And again in 2005.

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Then there was the mega spat at the venerable Burlington magazine, which saw the editor resign, along with her deputy, after just a year in the chair following a staff rebellion against her changes.

Over at Teddington, the Heseltine’s family plaything Haymarket sold Autosport, F1 Racing and Autosport News, along with the rest of its motorsport division to US group Motorsport Network. Not a big deal, but another example of the hollowing-out of British magazine publishing.

Farther north, in Scotland in fact, today’s Sunday Mail reminds us of the power of magazines to hold up newspapers. The paper is offering readers a free copy of The Scots Magazine – ‘the world’s best-selling Scottish-interest publication, covering topics from the contemporary to the historical’. It’s a similar story in Ireland, with the Irish Mail on Sunday spearheading a revamp with a new supplement:

JUST LOOK WHAT YOU GET! Today we are adding our new Irish Mail on Sunday MAGAZINE to the package of delights you pick up with your favourite newspaper. Already Ireland’s best-value Sunday newspaper, from today it’s getting even better AND bigger with the MAGAZINE, our superb new bumper celebrity, culture, home & garden magazine.
Every week, we’ll have an in-depth look at – and interviews with – the celebrities from at home and abroad… including the new SHRINK WRAP, where we get inside the head of a well known personality every week. Today, take your pick from Sarah Jessica Parker, new RTÉ star Seána Kerslake from Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope and international singing sensation Sophie Ellis Bextor.
Ireland’s top columnist, FIONA LOONEY’s weekly take on the world… from her kitchen sink!

And ancient jokes from Punch kick off the final episode in ITV’s costume drama series Victoria this evening. Prince Albert (Tom Hughes) reads aloud two jokes to the queen, the second of which is: ‘Who is the greatest chicken-killer in Shakespeare’s plays? Macbeth, because he did murder most foul.’ To which Victoria (played by Dr Who’s former sidekick, Jenna Coleman) replies: ‘We are not amused.’ This follows the trend in ITV’s Downton, which was forever mentioning The Lady in connection with advertising for domestic staff.

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Gym Class, the magazine about  magazines, last issue

Finally, the latest – and last! – issue of Gym Class, the magazine about magazines, is out. I have to confess an interest here, having written the pieces about the rules of cover design (on the cover) and a visual about the price of vintage magazines.

The latest – and last – Gym Class is out. And it Rocks!

October 9, 2016
The 15th issue of Gym Class is the last, by Steven Gregor September 2016

The 15th issue of Gym Class is the last

The 15th issue of Gym Class, the magazine about magazines, is out and it will be the last. As the issue says:

Magazines have their moments.
Gym Class has had its.
And it was great!

However, founder Steven Gregor is working on a new project for 2017, and is determined that it won’t be a one-man show.

Gregor tells It’s Nice That that North America has been the biggest single market for Gym Class, mostly as online sales, with the latest issue getting into Barnes & Noble bookshops.

The rules of cover design in Gym Class

The rules of cover design in Gym Class

The cover feature, The Rules of Cover Design, was by yours truly, taking in the unwritten habits that dictate the way magazines look (though independent magazines like Gym Class are forever looking to subvert them!).

Other features include:

  • dealing with self-doubt;
  • the ten commandments of independent publishing
  • Japanese magazine publishing
  • photographer Christopher Anderson
  • Andrew Diprose of Wired Magazine

As Gregor himself says, ‘You Rock!’

If you see an issue buy it – they’re running out wherever I look.

To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

Burlington editor quits after clash over ‘brio’ with ‘entrenched’ staff

October 9, 2016
Cover of the latest issue of The Burlington Magazine

Cover of the latest issue of The Burlington Magazine

Frances Spalding, editor of The Burlington, has stepped down after staff rebelled against her planned changes at Britain’s oldest art magazine.

Spaulding quit along with her deputy after less than a year in the chair because she lost a battle of wills over over whether the 113-year-old publication was stuck in its ways. She wanted to bring in more ‘intellectual brio’ to the title, which combines high production values with detailed photographs of sumptuous works and an academic attitude.

The Times quoted former editor Richard Shone as saying Spalding had ‘made a complete mess of it’ leading to a vote of no confidence by senior editorial staff, who could be ‘very entrenched’ in the way they worked.

Spalding retorted that ‘There had been no change among the senior editorial team for almost 20 years. There had been no new voice, no fresh ideas. The existing team were entrenched in their way of doing things, and some of the editorial practices were slightly eccentric.’

Spalding wished to eradicate ‘dry Burlington prose’ and that she ‘wasn’t someone who was going to encourage high theory of an abstruse kind with jargon-ridden language’.

For those who don’t know The Burlington, not only has it been around for 113 years, making it one of Britain’s longest-published magazines, but one of its former editors,  went on to become director of the National Gallery and then the British Museum, Neil MacGregor. Other former editors include the art critics Roger Fry and Herbert Read, and another former director of the National Gallery, Charles Holmes. It is run by The Burlington Magazine Foundation, both charitable companies, from London and New York.

Retro artwork for The Lady magazine from 27 March 2015

Retro artwork for The Lady magazine from 27 March 2015

The Burlington‘s owners should have been alert to the risks after well-publicised similar problems at an even older title, The Lady. In 2009, the owners discovered that average reader of the weekly was 78, so journalist Rachel Johnson was brought in to update that venerable title – and the clashes were portrayed in a television series, The Lady and the Revamp. She lasted less than two years.

The Lady was founded in 1885 by Thomas Gibson Bowles, who also set up Vanity Fair, and is still controlled by the family, from offices in Covent garden, London, that probably date back to that time. Today, the Lady describes itself as ‘for elegant women with elegant minds’, though its website is one of the tackiest around.

Candidates for the Burlington editorship were interviewed last week.


To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

 

 


 

BBC marks 50 years of Resurgence

October 4, 2016
Resurgence magazine in 2007 - 'at the heart of earth, art and spirit'

Resurgence magazine in 2007 – ‘at the heart of earth, art and spirit’

BBC Radio 4 has marked the 50th anniversary of Resurgence, Britain’s  longest-running environmental magazine, with an episode of Costing the Earth entitled ‘Spiritual Greens‘ in which:

‘Tom Heap talks to some of its most famous contributors – and their critics – to take stock of what the last half century of green activism has – and hasn’t – achieved in Britain’

The programme includes an interview with Satish Kumar, who stepped down as editor in May after 43 years in the chair to run the Resurgence Trust, which now publishes the magazine and its websites.

Kumar, now 80, is a former Jain monk, who in 1962 started out on an 8,000-mile walk from India to Moscow, Paris, London and Washington to promote nuclear disarmament.

Mathematician, philosopher and peace activist Bertrand Russell on the cover of Newsweek in 1962

Mathematician, philosopher and peace activist Bertrand Russell on the cover of Newsweek in 1962

The idea for the walk was sparked by the philosopher Bertrand Russell whose promotion of civil disobedience to protest against atomic weapons was influential in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in the late 1950s, through to the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp that was set up in 1981 and lasted though to 2000.

The magazine was founded in  May 1966 by John Papworth but has struggled for most of its life. Three years ago, it took over long-time rival the Ecologist, which was founded in 1970. The titles merged in 2012. The alternative technology magazine Undercurrents was taken over by Resurgence in 1982.

Resurgence started out in the peace movement and has been described as the artistic and spiritual voice of the green movement with a list of contributors that ranges from EF ‘Small in Beautiful’ Schumaker to James ‘Gaia’ Lovelock and the Dalai Lama.

All 634 issues of Resurgence since May/June 1966 are archived at Exact Editions.

Photo competition for a magazine cover

July 29, 2016

Summer of Print competition from Newspaper Club and Stack 3
Newspaper Club – the website that helps people make and print a newspaper – is launching a competition with Stack, the subscription service for independent magazines, on Monday. The idea is simple: they are inviting anyone to post an image they’d use for the cover of a publication about their summer. Tag it with #summerofprint on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook for a chance to win a £100 printing voucher for Newspaper Club and a year’s subscription to Stack. They’ve put up details of the competition.

You’ll also be able to follow progress on Pinterest.

Just the sort of prize to inspire anyone working on or thinking about their own magazine, or is just keen on getting a free year’s worth of independent magazines. If that’s you, look out for the August issue of Creative Review, which carries an article ‘How to make a mag’ by Danny Miller, co-founder of  Little White Lies and Weapons of Reason.  And, of course, Gym Class, the magazine about magazines.

Take a look at the Secrets of Magazine Design page and flick through the pages of covers for some inspiration on what makes a good cover pic. And there are several sites around where you can test your cover design idea, such as Canva.

The contest will run from 1 August until noon on 5 September. The winner will be announced on 7 September.

To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

Magculture – London’s new magazine shop

February 2, 2016
Football magazine 8 by 8 - available from the Magculture shop

Clip Klopp: football magazine 8 by 8 – available from the Magculture shop

I dropped in on magazine design guru Jeremy Leslie last week at his new Magculture magazine shop on my way back form a meeting at London’s City University. It’s a great location, just south of the university’s journalism school and so close to some of the great historical sites associated with magazines, from St John’s Gate to the Grub Street area where many hack writers – Dr Johnson among them – lived before making their names and moving closer to Fleet Street.

Only about 500 yards separate the home of the world’s first magazine from Magculture with its displays of the world’s latest independent magazines.

The front of the Magculture shop

The front of the Magculture shop

Jeremy has his studio behind the shop and it’s also a great space for hosting events – the display wall at the rear is on wheels and moves back to create a bigger space! Crafty stuff. And the shelves are all Vitsoe – I planned a display wall using the system in a house I wanted to buy about 20 years ago, but the sale fell through. And have you seen the prices of second-hand Vitsoe on eBay? Really holds its value.

The Magculture shop stocks 250 titles, probably about a fifth from overseas. I came away with a Magculture bag stuffed with US football title Eight by Eight, Elsie, Cover Junkie‘s This is not an addiction…‘, a copy of Jeremy’s Independence and Magculture’s My Favourite Magazine  and catalogue. Online shops are just so boring in comparison.

Magculture is at 270 St John St, EC1V 4PE.