If you haven’t heard of It’s Nice That, then you should definitely check them out. Nicer Tuesdays is an evening of talks on the last Tuesday of every month, curated by It’s Nice That, with four speakers talking around a particular subject. This could be anything, from food to fashion to favourite mistakes. The most recent one was based on publishing.
I have a bit of a soft spot for magazines as do most designers, so I was looking forward to hearing from Steven Watson, founder of Stack Magazines. A subscription service for all kinds of genres, Stack is not about what you are interested in, but about the best. According to Watson, print magazines are in their second golden age (the first being in the ’60’s), and this is all down to technology. With the large number of blogging platforms out there, huge numbers of people are setting up their own part of the web and writing. But what happens when you have a following, where do you go next? Come in the print mag: ‘blogging has become a gateway drug into print’.
Unfortunately, with this resurgence of print magazines comes a downside. Every single one of these magazines is in competition with each other, and every YouTube clip or news stream out there. It’s a nightmare for readers, how do you choose from all these magazines which probably cost around £10 each? That’s where Stack has found its market.
Stack began seven years ago, and Watson has gone full-time with it last year. There are a list of reasons on the website on why you should subscribe – saving money, getting more exciting mail etc. and I couldn’t agree more. ‘As we all now live in a digital world, our horizons are narrowed’ says Watson, explaining that by sending out magazines that you might not have picked up, you are broadening your horizons. I can’t wait for my first delivery.
Up next was David Hellqvist, who is the fashion features editor at PORT. He was there to talk about his ventures at Document Studios, an organisation he co-founded to tell brand stories via unique content.
When making ‘Timberland’ Hellqvist found the key issue was how to balance a commercial project with editorial integrity. When a brand does their own book they become blind, and, in love with their own work, they try to cram everything in. They need an editor. What’s interesting about the brand? What would you do if you were making a magazine about it? A great way to do this is not to talk to the designer, but someone outside, who has a vested interest in the topic, but no involvement with creating it. For example an interview on the knitwear brand Sibling with Katie Grand. As long as a suitable person is chosen to conduct the interview with, I think this is a great idea as you get an opinion on the brand along with finding out about them, and perhaps discovering someone new.
Hellqvist’s last piece of advice: ‘publications should have three targets: to educate, to inspire and to create desire.’
After a short break we were introduced to Dirty Furniture, co-founded by Anna Bates and Elizabeth Glickfield. Not knowing them, I found it interesting to hear about a magazine that takes a unique approach to an established area of design writing. The idea behind Dirty Furniture began with the question of what happens when furniture leaves the design hall, and fits into your home with your mess.
Each issue was to focus on a particular item of furniture, the first being the sofa. I liked the initial idea, but I was surprised at the breadth of articles derived from this topic. There was a focus on materials naturally, but they also had a political article looking at the derision of benefits users as sofa dwellers, and also a look at the sofa’s role in sitcoms over the years. They were interested in what designers live with as opposed to what they design, which I think could open up an intimate look into what they show the world, perhaps who they want to be, and who they really are.
Dirty Furniture has six issues planned in all, taking you into each room of the house. This is definitely a magazine to look out for if you want an interesting read. I like how once the six pieces are done then it will be a complete set. I’m curious as to where co-founders Bates and Glickfield will go next.
Last up was Tim Noakes, editor in chief of Dazed and Confused. The most well-known magazine of the night, Dazed has become quite a giant of the fashion and music world. Launched in ’91 by then LCP students Rankin and Jefferson Hack, Noakes was there to talk about how as the newly appointed editor in chief last year, he began to make changes to help rejuvenate the magazine, and his success in doing so.
Like so many magazines in the last few years, Dazed was languishing slightly. What does it mean to be a magazine in this day and age? Noakes set about building a strong team of opinionated editorial, and unified the print and digital sections of the magazine. His aim was to adapt to changing reader habits, and brought the print run down to six issues a year, timed to hit the fashion seasons. This meant each issue is more of a spectacle, and a buzz is created with each launch such as the video released for the previous issue.
The digital side of things began to grow and grow, with 15 pieces of content on average produced a day. According to Noakes, ‘if you’re not in the daily discussion, you’re nowhere’. Noakes’ opinionated editorial team ensure that the magazine stands for something, and has an original point of view. You may have heard of Rick Owens’ controversial AW15 show, their report of it had 2.1 million impressions. It’s fine describing what the clothes look like, but what are they saying?
As a parting thought, Noakes emphasised the need for a good team around you, and to always evolve and adapt. Also, pissing off Marilyn Manson has its benefits.