With two kids of my own I’ve always loved Anorak magazine, especially as a balance against the tide of glossy TV tie-ins that is most kids sections of newsagents is nowadays. This point was highlighted by founder and creative director Cathy Olmedillas as a reason for Anorak’s existence, so it’s exciting to hear about her next move, the launch of Teepee in 2014 – “by teens for teens”.
Typophile Paul Barnes of Commercial Type was the non-editorial speaker of the day but he covered their work for Vanity Fair and Wallpaper*. He is a man with extraordinary attention to detail in all his work and that showed through his presentation. I was glad to notice the mention of Vanity Fair’s new masthead, which seems the weakest part of a such a quality recent progressive redesign by Chris Dixon.
David Jacobs of 29th Street Publishing talked about how the career arc of editors and publishers has changed dramatically. As they need to diversify their skill sets, there’s similarities in the way designers’ have become typesetters, repro houses etc. The use of a film editor as creator of one of their apps showed how knowledge of scenes, cuts and rhythm brings a unique user experience. Such different skills show how we’re in the early days of apps.
“Where next for indie magazines” was the second panel discussion of the day. Stack‘s Steve Watson was joined by Cathy from Anorak, Davey from Boat magazine, Simon Esterson from Eye, Rosa from Cereal and David from 29th Street. Covering many of the points discussed throughout the day, “the business of publishing” was mentioned as something creatives need to learn to make their titles successful. I hope that could be the subject of another conference, as it’s so often talked about as the area lacking in indie publishing. Many of us know enough creatives to make a magazine but lack the contacts or knowledge to maintain and build it into a prosperous business.
Scott King was a real pleasure and a jolt out of the day’s magazine naval gazing. “I was a bit angry. Still am” was one apt quote. From his days at Sleazenation to his Vogue cover project it was great to hear someone peel back the façade of publishing from his days inside and outside that world. The reminder of his “I’m with Stupid” cover illustrated his technique of looking beyond subject and into medium and context, in this case of a magazine cover on a newsstand. “Method design” was one way he described his practice and that played out in both the Vogue covers and his Stalky series of posters. A personal hero.
With a final dash of panache, Richard Turley led us through his superior work for Bloomberg Businessweek. While he’s characteristically modest and talks about his huge team and American budgets, the strength of his work lies, like all great work, in the ideas. He talked about the BBW covers as events, and visuals that are so easily shareable and an effective sales tool. His team has done so much great work for BBW that he was able to show spreads with little more explanation than “that was that one.”
He’d heard that the creative director at Prada takes something she hates and uses it to break out of repetitive cycles. So throwing yourself into crochet can be a great way to break designers block. Using this was a way to begin breaking out of the tight grid of BBW and “grafitting the structure”, something I’ve heard him mention at a previous talk: design the page as you think it should be, then fuck something up.
I wandered upstairs for a drink after the day, goodie bag on arm, head still reeling for all the input of the day, desperate to output something onto pages as soon as I was able. Which is what the best sort of conferences should do: inspire you to try harder, make something better, aspire to the best in your field…. and that’s who was on show at The Modern Magazine.
Now to crack the spine on the book…