The Stack Awards 2016

Back for our second year, the Stack Awards recognise the best work in independent magazines


Still the world’s only awards scheme created exclusively for independent magazines, this year’s Stack Awards are coming back bigger and better, with more categories and more chances to win.

We want to see the most exciting and inspiring work published between October 2015 and September 2016, so if you have a great magazine, we need to hear from you. We’ll be doing even more this year to celebrate the shortlisted magazines, but the support from our sponsors means that entries still cost just £30, ensuring the awards remain open and accessible to all independent publishers.

Click on the categories below to read more about the awards and our judges, and submit your entry by Friday 7 October to be in with a chance of winning. But remember – your entry is only complete once we receive your magazines, so don’t leave it to the last minute!

Magazine of the year

We’re looking for remarkable magazines that have excelled in 2016, producing the highest quality content to deliver on a strong and clear editorial concept.

You can submit any single issue published between 1 October 2015 and 30 September 2016 and the judges will consider the magazine in its entirety, looking for originality, innovation and clarity, as well as the overall quality of content, design and production.


Jeremy Leslie

Jeremy Leslie founded magCulture 10 years ago, first as a blog, then an editorial design studio, and most recently a magazine shop. He's currently working on the follow up to his latest book, ‘Independence’, which he hopes to launch at this year’s Modern Magazine conference in October.

Gail Bichler

Gail Bichler is the design director of The New York Times Magazine. Her work is in the permanent collection of The Art Institute of Chicago and has been recognised by D&AD, the Art Director's Club (ADC), the American Institute for Graphic Arts (AIGA), The Type Directors Club (TDC), and American Illustration. This year the Society of Publication Designers (SPD) named The New York Times Magazine their Magazine of the Year.

Enter this award

Launch of the year

This category is for magazines that made a bright start in 2016, launching with an exciting new editorial concept and high quality content.

You must submit your first published issue (even if it’s an issue zero) and it must have been published between 1 October 2015 and 30 September 2016. The judges will consider the magazine in its entirety, looking for originality, innovation and clarity, as well as the overall quality of content, design and production.


Steven Gregor

The London-based freelance art director and editorial designer has worked at the Guardian and Observer newspapers, WIRED, Esquire, Newsweek, and Mr Porter. Steven is also the editor of Gym Class, a bi-annual printed magazine about magazines and the people who make them.

Malte and Urs

Malte Brenneisen and Urs Spindler are journalists and entrepreneurs based in Hamburg, Germany. Their love of publications produced outside the mainstream led them to create, an archive of independent magazines, and Indiecon, an annual festival for independent magazines.

Enter this award

Editor of the year

This award is for the editor who has led their magazine to success with a clear and original editorial vision, skilfully packaging their ideas into a compelling and engaging read.

The judges will consider a single issue in its entirety and will be looking for stories that come together to form a cohesive and characterful whole. The issue must have been published between 1 October 2015 and 30 September 2016, and attention will be given to long-form writing, but also to headlines, picture captions and story selection.


Rob Alderson

Rob Alderson is managing editor of WeTransfer, where he curates the background images given to artists and designers and oversees the This Works blog. Previously he was editor-in-chief of It's Nice That and has written for the likes of, The Guardian, Dezeen and Creative Review.

Andrew Losowsky

Andrew Losowsky was the co-curator of the Colophon magazine festival, and the editor/co-editor of several books including We Love Magazines, We Make Magazines, Visual Storytelling and Fully Booked: Ink on Paper. A former John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford University, he is currently project lead on The Coral Project for Mozilla, creating open-source tools to build better communities around journalism.

Enter this award

Art director of the year

We’re looking for the art director whose skilful and distinctive design has elevated their magazine and helped it stand out from the crowd this year.

The judges will consider a single issue in its entirety and will be looking for characterful design that defines and amplifies the magazine’s editorial identity. The issue must have been published between 1 October 2015 and 30 September 2016, and attention will be paid to picture selection, fonts, layout and production to identify an exceptional magazine brand.


Angharad Lewis

Angharad Lewis is a writer, editor and lecturer based in London, specialising in the fields of design, culture and publishing. She is co-editor of and contributes to a number of international publications. Angharad has also contributed to and authored a number of books, including, most recently, So You Want To Publish a Magazine, published by Laurence King.

Debbie Millman

Debbie Millman is a designer, author, educator and brand strategist. She is the CMO of Sterling Brands, host of the award-winning podcast Design Matters, chair of the world’s first Masters in Branding programme at the School of Visual Arts, president emeritus of AIGA, and the editorial and creative director of Print Magazine. She is the author of six books on design and branding.

Enter this award

Cover of the year

We want to see the year’s best, most inventive, most enticing magazine covers. The point of a cover is to make people pick up the magazine, so we’ll be looking for the ones we just can’t resist.

The cover must have been published between 1 October 2015 and 30 September 2016, and we will only judge one cover per entry – if you are submitting an issue that had multiple covers, please select just one version to be judged.


Steven Heller

The former art director of the New York Times Book Review, Steven is the current co-chair of SVA’s MFA Design: Designer as Author and Entrepreneur programme. He is the author of over 170 books, including Merz to Emigre and Beyond: Avant Garde Magazine Design of the 20th Century and 100 Classic Graphic Design Magazines (with Jason Godfrey).

Jaap Biemans

The guy behind, "an addiction to magazine covers you wanna lick, a celebration of creativity and ace designers", Jaap is also art director of Volkskrant Magazine, the weekly magazine published with Dutch quality newspaper Volkskrant.

Enter this award

Best use of photography

This category is for the most outstanding photography published in independent magazines this year. We’re looking for images that make readers stop and stare – all genres are eligible, as long as the photography is impactful and memorable.

The judges will consider the magazine’s photography in its entirety, and the issue submitted must have been published between 1 October 2015 and 30 September 2016. The photographs do not need to be original (they may have been published elsewhere before appearing in the magazine) but consideration will be given to the way they are presented, in terms of showing the quality of the image, and the way the image sits alongside text and other page elements.


Ben Hillwood Harris

The owner of Artwords, the London bookshop specialising in publications on the visual arts, media and culture, Ben has been involved in books and publishing since the 1990s, previously managing the Serpentine Gallery's book sales and publications.

Siobhán Bohnacker

Siobhán Bohnacker is a senior photo editor at The New Yorker, where she commissions
original photography for the magazine, is responsible for the art direction of the New Yorker’s award-winning short fiction section and both writes and curates stories on photography for

Enter this award

Best use of illustration

The judges will be looking for the best, most characterful, most distinctive illustrations published in independent magazines this year.

They will consider the magazine’s illustrated content in its entirety, and the issue submitted must have been published between 1 October 2015 and 30 September 2016. Combining excellent artwork with a clear editorial purpose, the winning illustrations will be conceptually rich as well as aesthetically pleasing, adding an extra dimension to the magazine’s stories.


Derek Brazell

Derek is a writer and illustrator, and has co-authored three titles on illustration with Jo Davies: Becoming A Successful Illustrator, Understanding Illustration and their first book, Making Great Illustration, which discussed illustrators’ process. As projects manager at the Association of Illustrators he produces Varoom illustration magazine, and campaigns for illustrators’ rights.

Cath Caldwell

Cath Caldwell is senior lecturer at Central Saint Martins and author of two books; Editorial Design for Lawrence King, and Winning Portfolios for Quarto. She is a former editorial art director, working at Observer London, Conde Nast Traveler in New York and at Hearst Magazines UK as design director for ELLE UK and ELLE Decoration.

Enter this award

Best original fiction

Our judges will be looking for fresh, distinctive fiction that stands out for its inventive ideas and memorable writing. They will base their decision on one individual story, which must have been published in English for the first time between 1 October 2015 and 30 September 2016.


Evie Wyld

After the Fire, a Still Small Voice, won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and a Betty Trask Award. Evie’s second novel, All the Birds, Singing, won the Miles Franklin Award, the Encore Award and the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize. In 2013 she was included on Granta's Best of Young British Novelists list, and her graphic memoir Everything Is Teeth was published last year.

Alex Clark

A well-known literary journalist and broadcaster, Alex writes for the Guardian and the Observer. She is a regular on Radio 4, chairs numerous literary events and is an experienced judge of literary awards, including the 2008 Man Booker prize. She lives in London and is an Arsenal fan.

Enter this award

Best original non-fiction

This category is for the most exceptional interviews, reportage, and any other writing based on real events. The judges will be looking for original storytelling that informs and engages the reader with a distinctive editorial voice.

The work must be written in English, and it must have been published for the first time between 1 October 2015 and 30 September 2016.


Shazna Nessa

Director of journalism at Knight Foundation, Shazna has more than 17 years of newsroom experience, with beginnings in internet technology and design. She was previously deputy managing editor at the Associated Press in New York, overseeing editorial products and innovation. She has taught at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in New York.

Christoph Amend

Christoph Amend is the editor-in-chief of ZEITmagazin and publisher of ZEIT's art magazine Weltkunst. ZEITmagazine's international issue, a bi-annual in English, was launched in 2013. Before joining DIE ZEIT, Amend was the editor of the Sunday supplement of Der Tagesspiegel and deputy editor of Süddeutsche Zeitung jetzt-Magazin.

Enter this award

Student magazine of the year

This award is for the best magazine affiliated to a university, college or school, or published by full-time students. The magazine must be creatively led by students, though it may include content and contributions by non-students. It must have been published between 1 October 2015 and 30 September 2016 and it must have been released and distributed to readers, so proofs of concept and sample issues produced solely for use in class will not be eligible.

The judges will be looking for exciting, innovative magazines that engage the reader with a clear editorial concept and carefully considered design. We want to see titles that use the platform provided by a student magazine to do things differently and try something new.


Teal Triggs

An educator, historian and writer, Professor Teal Triggs is associate dean in the School of Communication at the Royal College of Art. She also teaches on MA programmes within the school and has extensive experience in supervising visual communication, design criticism and information experience design.

Casey Caplowe

Casey Caplowe is co-founder and chief creative officer of GOOD. Since GOOD began in 2006, Casey has helped to build and shape the look, feel, and voice of the brand and all its creations. Under Casey’s direction, GOOD's products have been widely recognised and acclaimed, including several National Magazine Award nominations and various Webbys.

Enter this award

How to apply

Click any of the categories above to learn more about the award criteria. If you decide you’d like to enter the awards, choose the categories that are right for you and follow the instructions on the application form.

Entries cost £30 each, and we need you to send three copies of your magazine for each category entered. We are unable to return copies sent to us, so please only send magazines you can live without!

All magazines must be with us by Friday 7 October so we can shortlist the entries, package them up and send them on to our judges. The judges will have a little over a month to read, live with and fully ingest the magazines, and will deliver their verdicts at the judging day in London on Thursday 17 November.

Shortlisted publishers will be invited to meet the judges at a party to mark the end of the judging process, and all shortlisted magazines will be placed on display to the public in our pop-up lending library at Somerset House on Saturday 26 November. 

And finally, the winners and commendations will be announced at our awards ceremony at The Book Club in London on Tuesday 29 November.


What do you define as an independent magazine?

We’re working to the definition suggested at Indiecon 2014: “The chiefs are the makers – the people who take care of the financial decisions are responsible for the magazine’s content or design”. If you’d like to check whether your magazine qualifies under this definition, please drop us a line.

Does my magazine have to be in English?

The awards will be judged in English because it’s the common language of the judges. Non-English magazines are welcome, except for in the Best Original Fiction and Best Original Non-Fiction categories, which must be written in English. But even in our other categories, please bear in mind that the judges will probably have limited understanding of non-English text.

Why do you need three copies of my magazine?

Each category has three judges – two expert judges and a Stack judge. All shortlisted magazines will be sent to the judges, so we need three copies of all magazines submitted.

Can I enter the awards on behalf of somebody else’s magazine?

No – the Stack Awards are intended as a celebration of the best independent magazines, and we want to work directly with those magazine makers. If you’re a writer, photographer or illustrator and you want to have your work considered, you’ll need to persuade the people who published your work to enter it for you.

How many magazines will be shortlisted?

The Cover of the year category will be shortlisted to a maximum of 20 magazines, which will be sent on to the judges. All other categories will be shortlisted to a maximum of 15 magazines, which will be sent on to the judges.

When will the shortlists be announced?

The shortlists will be announced on the Stack site on Monday 17 October.

How many magazines will win?

Each category will have one winner, and up to two commendations.

When will the winners be announced?

The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on Tuesday 29 November at The Book Club in London.

How do I buy tickets to the awards ceremony?

All shortlisted magazines will be offered the opportunity to buy tickets once the shortlists have been announced on Monday 17 October. Any remaining tickets will go on general sale via the Stack site on Monday 07 November.

What will happen to the magazines afterwards?

All magazines left over at the end of the process will be sold and the proceeds donated to charity. Last year our Magazines For Good sale raised over £1,400 for L’Auberge des Migrants in Calais.

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