We chat with the makers of new British men's style magazine ARTICLE about their love of print, coptic binding and dye cuts. What's not to love? We're in.
Congrats on the first issue of ARTICLE. For people who haven't seen it, what's it all about? What's its USP?
Thank you so much! ARTICLE seeks to celebrate everything British and British-related: from art, design, culture, entertainment to contemporary men's fashion, explored from unique, intensely personal perspectives by our team of writers, photographers and creatives.
How long was the magazine in development? Who are the people behind the magazine? (And are they from a publishing background?)
It has taken a little over two years to fully develop the identity of ARTICLE. It was very important for us to take time to refine and evolve our brand aesthetic, and to find the right collaborators that reflect what we represent. ARTICLE was founded by creative director and fashion director Kenny Ho and art director and designer Rosy Tsai, they met while working on a different title together three years ago.
How many copies have you distributed?
It was important for us to start small and create a solid audience first with our launch issue. For this reason, we started off with 1,000 copies of issue one.
Why start a print magazine rather than, say, a website or tablet-based app?
We wanted to create a magazine that is interesting and aesthetically pleasing in its physical form as well as its editorial content; that readers will want to keep hold of and collect over time. There is a tactile quality with beautifully printed and designed pages that you definitely don't get with content online. For example the smell of ink, and the subtleties of its reaction with the four different types of paper we used in our issue one cannot be conveyed on a flat digital screen.
We do actually have a mobile app also. But instead of the usual digital version of the print magazine, the ARTICLE app offers something entirely different. It uses the camera on your phone, and through a technology called "mobile visual search", takes you from the designated pages within the magazine to exclusive digital content on your mobile phone: such as fashion films and videos to new products, websites and much much more. A great way of bringing together traditional print with interactive digital technology.
I love the magazine's binding? This must have been expensive... why did you decide to bind it like this?
ARTICLE is about discovering aspects of Britain that are lesser known but have always existed, and new perspectives on the familiar. This type of exposed sections binding (called coptic or French binding) has always existed within traditional hardback books, and we wanted to bring this hidden process to light in a contemporary way with ARTICLE. This binding has a very bespoke feel about it, which reflects the various forms of artistic craftsmanship that we aim to feature in our editorial content.
What is the meaning of the four gold dots on the cover?
As well as the four gold dots, you will also find various circles of the same size throughout the pages of the magazine. They take different forms within issue one – from the shoe polish tin and the wheel of the unicycle, to the artwork of Heidi Locher and the page with the dye cut... these circles are all placed in the same position on each page. When the magazine is closed, all the circles will line up perfectly on top of each other, and together with the four gold dots on the cover, they form the motif of a "button" – a staple fastening used in men's wardrobe that transcends both time and trends of the seasons. Hence the four gold dots is an abstraction of a button.
Who is your favourite British creative, and why?
There are so many from all different aspects of design, from the past and present, its hard to choose just one...
One person that is very inspiring is illustrator and author Aubrey Beardsley. His black ink drawings that were influenced by the style of Japanese woodcuts are very beautiful and powerful, and used to illustrate many diverse subjects. The mythology within them are especially charming. Not-to-mention he was also a co-founder of a few different magazines of his time!
Congrats again. One last question... what can we expect from issue two?
We will strive to share with you more interesting discoveries from British culture, design and contemporary men's fashion. For example, there will be a feature on Thomas Hancock, an inventor from the 19th century who founded the British rubber industry and created the bonded fabric synonymous with the Macintosh clothing brand; we look at the work of artist Rose Wylie, whose large scale paintings are inspired by movie stills. There will be more musings from Jammy Taylor of course, and The Circular Project collaborator for issue two will be collage artist Richard Hoey.
ARTICLE is published by Unbound. A special collector's edition of ARTICLE issue one is available via the Unbound website. Get in!
Want more Julianne Moore magazine ace-ness? Well, we suggest you reacquaint yourself with this oh-so-super-sweet illustration by John Paul Thurlow (created for GYM CLASS MAGAZINE #06 and based on another T, THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE cover). Oh my, talented people are so great... right? Are we right? Yeah.
Hey Devin. Congrats on the all-new VANITY FAIR Italia. Looks ace. Are you happy with it?
I have to say... I'm thrilled with how the first issue turned out. I was expecting more of the typical transitional problems common with any first issue launch, but the staff managed it brilliantly. We flipped the production switch from the old design to the new design in just one week. And we still had time to develop ideas and finesse the details. I'm amazed by how smooth it was.
Talk us through the changes... what's new and improved?
One of the goals of the re-design was to find a visual uniformity between the nine distinct sections of the magazine to create a stronger overall package. Previously, sections were designed independently with their own set of styles and aesthetics leaving the magazine looking disjointed. Now, all sections share the same grid structure and color palette. Typography has been limited from 10-plus fonts to a tighter set of only four.
Another goal was to improve reader navigation. The page slugs and rule framework were introduced to give the pages a strong visual branding to set them apart from the adjacent advertisements. Also, each section now has a distinct 'cover' to indicate a clear starting point.
We also wanted to elevate the photography, especially within the Fashion and Beauty sections. Fashion Director Sciascia Gambaccini was recently hired to bring a fresh look to the magazine's visuals. The new design direction is intended to support quality photography, one the magazine's competitive advantages.
You were in New York for a lot of the re-design. Are you now based in Milan? Are you enjoying the city?
Actually, I'm based in both cities at the moment. I'm travelling back and forth until the beginning of July when I'll start a month-long term.
I worked on the re-design from New York, which worked out better than we expected. I was able to focus on developing the new look without disrupting (or being disrupted by!) the weekly production. Plus, the time difference worked in our favour... I continued to work after the Italian offices closed for the day. It was a daily passing of the baton.
I'm looking forward to spending more time in Milan this summer. It's a fantastic city... completely underrated in my opinion.
Unlike the US edition, VANITY FAIR Italia is published weekly... and is often over 300 pages. A massive undertaking. Did you look to any other weekly magazines for inspiration... especially for, say, the fashion and beauty pages. I think I see a little NEW YORK magazine in there.
If you see hints of NEW YORK magazine, I'm not surprised. I'm a huge fan and I'm always inspired by the solutions they have to weekly stories. I'm also a big fan of Chris Dixon. One of the reasons I took this job was to work in some capacity with him. He and his staff at US VANITY FAIR have been very supportive throughout the process.
I always look at the other weeklies in the Italian competitive set to see what they're up to. But I intentionally wanted VANITY FAIR Italia to pull ahead of the pack by reinforcing the strong VANITY FAIR brand and all that it represents worldwide.
We chat with Mitchell Oakley Smith, publisher and editor of new(ish) Australian indie men's fashion magazine MANUSCRIPT. We're fans. Re-sult!
Hey Mitchell. Thanks for chatting with us. And good work with MANUSCRIPT magazine. We're digging it. What's the MANUSCRIPT back-story?
Thanks Steven. That's pleasing to hear. I launched MANUSCRIPT in late 2011 after a few years spent as an associate editor of Australian GQ. I was always passionate about magazines, but when I left for a freelance career (I had a book that was coming out, and also had a research grant to work on another in New York) I felt as though there were all these ideas I hadn't yet explored… and a very commercial magazine like GQ didn't seem like the right forum for them.
My partner is a stylist who I had worked with a bit on the magazine, and we had so many story concepts that needed a platform. That, really, is how it began.
I started a menswear blog when I was in New York, purely to keep in touch with the industry in Australia, and it grew fairly quickly, so I thought we should just print it. There's something pretty special about print.
Now, nearly two years in, issue five is the first to be sold outside of Australia and New Zealand.
When did you pick up a copy? Where did you buy it from?
Um, let me think... it was Tuesday last week... so, the 7th May. I bought it from London indie magazine store Magma. Magma's ace. But my favourite London store is Wardour News in Soho. The guys who work there are great... and really know magazines. How important is international distribution to you? How many copies do you distribute in Australia and New Zealand? And do you have a favourite magazine store?
Australia is our most important market. Our advertisers are based here (whether local brands or international brands with local press offices) and part of launching MANUSCRIPT was that there was nothing else like it in Australia.
There's no Australian version of those great international men's titles, like FANTASTIC MAN or V MAN or ANOTHER MAN. We distribute 10,000 copies in Australia, and an additional 1,500 for the rest of the world.
We only have around 150 copies available in the UK. Issue six was released in Australia about a month ago; I believe it should be available in the UK shortly. International distribution is important, but in terms of the cost of freight, and the relative low cover price, we don't really see any return from international sales (we're also in Asia, the US, Canada and Dubai).
It's really more about spreading the word and establishing a greater presence for the magazine. Did you pay £3.50 for your copy of MANUSCRIPT? And is that expensive or cheap?
Yeah, it was £3.50. I think that's a good price for it. Any more and you're starting to compete, price wise, with titles like PORT (£5), FANTASTIC MAN and 10 MEN (both £6 each). A sub-£5 price point makes MANUSCRIPT a no-brainer purchase. Your fashion editorials look expensive... great production value. (I especially love the sci-fi swimwear editorial in issue five.) And the large format is sweet, too! Why did you decide on the newsprint-like paper? Were you ever temped to go with a thicker, higher quality stock... or maybe gloss, even?
When we started out, newsprint was a way of differentiating MANUSCRIPT from the rest of the titles on the market. The thicker cover stock helps it to sit properly on a newsstand. But also, it tied in with a very classic, gentlemanly notion of reading a newspaper, which people say is dying. And beyond all of that, it was an accessible way to get started in independent publishing. I didn't, and still don't, have any backers in this venture… printing on gloss or hardcover would have been impossible financially.
Indie magazines are going through a boom period at the moment. Seems like every week there's a new title. What's the indie publishing scene in Australia like? Is it healthy?
As I'm sure you know, Australia and New Zealand are the highest consumers of magazines per capita in the world, and have been for a very long time. Magazines have always been big business in Australia. Our country's largest magazine publisher, ACP (publisher of HARPER’S BAZAAR, COSMOPOLITAN, etc), was recently acquired by German media group Bauer, which goes some way in suggesting how interested in the local market people are. Also, ELLE is launching a local edition later this year, and 10 magazine did at the end of last year. There's also a slew of brilliant independent titles here, too. I think having been isolated for so long, people just get up and have a go. Maybe it's not as scary as launching a new title in, say, London or New York.
Who is the MANUSCRIPT reader? What's your demographic?
Facebook tells us it's male and between 18 and 35, and that sounds about right. I'm 26 and I'd pick it up and read it if I saw it on a newsstand.
Digitally, past issues of MANUSCRIPT are available to read on Issuu. Would you consider publishing an iPad edition? (Certainly makes distribution easier.)
We put these up on Issuu recently because of the amount of emails we get from people trying to find early issues. We printed 3,000 copies of the first issue and distribution then was via art galleries, book stores and menswear boutiques… so much more niche than our current newsstand distribution.
At this stage there's no intention to publish digitally. We began MANUSCRIPT as a personal creative project, and it is still very much that: we’re about the feel of the stock, the quality of the shoots and stories.
Can't wait to see issue six. I'll keep a look out for it. What can we expect from future issues? What have you got up your sleeve?
Issue five was our first birthday issue, so we wanted everything to be really joyful and colourful in the magazine. For issue six, on the other hand, we were coming in autumn in Australia and were thinking about the artisan/bespoke approach to fashion that so many businesses are employing, so the shoots are much more organic and natural in aesthetic. It's quite a shift. We don't aim to give each issue a theme, but I like it when there's a thread that ties it all together aesthetically.
Hey David, congrats on the latest issue. Loving the heroes theme... and the split-run covers. How many archive photos did you look at before deciding on the final five?
Hello. Thanks for the compliment. The team worked really hard on getting these right. It's easiest to answer your question in numbers. So, checking each scans folder for each cover, the stats are as follows:
- Clint Eastwood: 58 low-res scans;
- David Bowie: 124 low-res scans;
- Jack Nicholson: 97 low-res scans;
- Keith Richards: 79 low-res scans; and
- Michael Caine: 141 low-res scans.
Five hundred images were considered, so goodness knows how many we looked at to whittle it done to that. So, quite a trawl of images... carried out by ESQUIRE's amazing photo director Henny Manley. She spent countless hours looking for images that felt unique enough to carry its own cover, but also make all five feel like a set.
Was using archive photos on the covers a hard sell? Was a modern, original shot ever an option?
I'm not sure what you mean by hard sell, as we generally trust our gut and go with that. It usually serves us well. A modern shot was never a consideration. It wouldn't have been as visually cool.
We were pretty happy when the Jack cover arrived at GYM CLASS MAGAZINE HQ. Did you print more of any single cover, or was it an even split?
There was an equal split between the five. No favouritism.
Do you have a favourite?
When it comes to heroes... to be honest... Jack was my fav. And between you and me, I think Bill Murray should have been the sixth. (He's my all-time hero.)
The magazine looks tight... and it feels like you've found your stride after the recent re-design. Are you happy with how it's turning out/developing?
Yeah, I'm very pleased with how the magazine is developing visually. We are constantly reinventing the look and feel... which is a killer amount to do each month, but really good fun. This month my mighty art director, Nick Millington, introduced a new font, Calibre, for the cover and features section, which is really fresh and has spurred us on even further. More exciting things to come.
Cool. So what can we expect from future issues?
More experimentation visually, for sure. But more importantly... new exciting projects, such as cracking on with with THE BIG BLACK BOOK 2 (ESQUIRES's biannual sister publication) as well as some new exciting projects up our sleeves... so busy times at ESQUIRE.
Exciting! Thanks David. You rock.
No... you rock, boss. Keep up the good work.
What's this? BUTT magazine is looking for a freelance print designer. Interested parties need to be cool with printing and trimming 365 pages... guess the successful candidate will be working on the magazine's 2013 calendar. A-MAZE!
Not so sure banner ads on a website is something to be proud of... but Scott Dadich's first article as Wired editor-in-chief is pretty exciting:
"In the months ahead, we intend to reimagine everything about theWired experience—we’ll revamp our tablet apps, retool our website, reinvigorate the magazine, refresh our conferences, and rethink our approach to the mobile and social web. We’re going to add new features, deliver new reader experiences, and revisit just about every aspect of this storied enterprise. And we’re bringing you with us."