The STACK Blog
Used is a relatively new arrival on the London magazine catwalk. Launched in November 2011, it is the brainchild of London-based creative agency Useful, who were responsible for the art direction and editorial design of Topshop’s 214 Magazine. Each issue is positioned as a collector’s edition and after two issues Used already has international distribution to over 12 countries and a print run of 10,000 copies.
Issue 2 of Used comprises 130 A3 pages of rich fashion, photography and challenging ideas about the role that fashion and art play in our technologically tuned world. Themes around digital media and its questionable impact on society feature in an interview with digital artist Jen Hesse, ‘You’re Breaking Up’ (page 96), in which Hesse depicts the distortion of the digital image and questions the technological addiction of our age whilst acknowledging the bind that it is this very medium that has granted him public popularity.
Positioning itself as more than a straight fashion magazine, Used describes itself as, “a rich visual aesthetic and editorial voice,” arriving at the intersection of fashion and art with a “sophisticated visual language that challenges the way consumers read and explore content.”
Grumpy. That is how I would describe The Idealist, which is ironic given its name. The experience of reading it ages you a few years. You can tell from the very first page the editor, William Beaumont, is in a serious man huff. But it’s OK because he knows it.
“My cynicism is holding me back and it has been for a while.” He speaks like this is a condition, a Harry Potter hating affliction he has been burdened with since birth.
Until page 12 of The Idealist, I imagined Will as a militant supporter of tweed. His articles are angry and he hates trains. He could easily be a young, staunch Yorkshire man. But suddenly a chunk of photography appears which screams hipster.
Compared with the rest of the magazine, which is generally quite funny (particularly an article titled The X Factor & Islamic Fundamentalism) it sticks out as a cliché. I’m no photography expert but the ‘Beautiful people in ugly places’ thing just doesn’t work for me.
The magazine is impressive considering Will is a recent graduate. The writing is smooth and it’s pleasant to read but at the moment it needs more of an identity and this is something that will come with time. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, of course, even the finest of wines need time to mature.
Eat Me is a food culture magazine, which means if you’re not into cooking you’d probably never give it the time of day. But you should. As a connoisseur of beans on toast I took the plunge and was pleasantly surprised.
The writing in Eat Me is both amusing and useful. There are recipes throughout but not chunked together, which is good. People shouldn’t have to struggle through the richness of hundreds of Michelin star recipes.
Not all the recipes featured are for dishes which leave you feeling incapable, there is even one for Buckfast, the 15% vol, £5 bottle of mystery which was featured in 5,638 crime reports between 2006 and 2009 in Strathclyde.
It’s a fun magazine, which, with a double page spread devoted to facts about ham, could also be useful at a pub quiz.
It even tackles the subject of militant vegetarians. Something I for one am not prepared to do.
Lapham’s Quarterly is made up of 224 glossy pages of intellectual commentary and criticism on the issues of our time. Published four times a year, the magazine selects a theme for each issue and proceeds to map its historical significance through the ages. Established in 2008 the first four issues of LQ featured the overarching themes of Money, Nature, Education and War with beautifully constructed essays, art, photographs, articles, and artefacts. The graphic below traces the trade of tomatoes, black pepper and coffee over the ages.
The latest issue is its eighteenth offering and it places food on the soapbox of history. With an introductory piece by editor Lewis H. Lapham this issue features work from contributors both living and dead (including Alexandre Dumas) and discusses issues as wide-ranging as the industrialisation of food production and the paradox of food as an economic phenomenon (page 23), to Anthony Bourdain’s illicit tasting of one of the holy grails of the culinary world, the Ortolan (page 125).
It makes no difference if you’re a foodie or not. LQ’s mission statement cites Cicero’s statement that, “Not to know what happened before one was born is always to be a child.” There is something entirely refreshing in an age of 140 characters and atrophying attention spans to embark on LQ’s journey, “to forge men and women from Cicero’s children, to spread a love of history to anyone who picks up a copy.”
Fashion and photography magazines don’t appeal to everyone. That’s not because the photos are terrible or the articles badly written, but because people get intimidated by the thick glossy pages and pretentious attitude. So it was a breath of fresh air to receive Shoestring, a new biannual literature magazine showcasing the work of young artists.
Created by a group of MA students at Keele University, Shoestring has a disarming manner and the cover sets the tone from the outset. It’s uncluttered and implies youth and innocence, a design theme that is carried throughout. Blues and whites feature heavily and the lack of primary colours works in Shoestring’s favour; it’s not shouting at us and we like that. It feels dreamy and optimistic, a rare quality when the rest of the world is so angry.
The editor’s letter doesn’t play dictionary polygamy with fancy words, and instead promotes itself as being grounded from the offset: “Shoestring began in a tiny English university. We didn’t have a clue what we were doing then, and we haven’t a clue what we’re doing now.” 26 words in and I’m sold.
The contents page, instead of featuring a page-to-page rundown of content, separates the magazine into themes, making it easy to follow and find what you’re looking for, whether it be written or visual. Although minimal, it includes small snapshots of photography that are featured later in the issue, like a teaser for what is to follow.
Fashion photography is even scarier than fashion; it’s something you wouldn’t want to talk about, especially in front of people. But photography graduate India Hobson tackles the subject so well that even mega-bucks photographers wouldn’t argue with her. She writes sensitively about what photography means to her, noting her struggle to find an identity for her work and then inviting us into her world and sharing her influences.
Short stories and poetry feature alongside photography and interviews, a brave choice by editors Kate Vanhinsbergh and Red Newsom. As Kate says, again, in the editor’s letter: “All we know is that literature magazines are few and far between, and that they don’t sell.”
It’s clear, though, that Kate and Red have chosen their stories carefully. One, ‘Where the Smoke Led Me’ by John Amiratti, is a stream of consciousness for the non-reader. It feels like being inside somebody’s head, experiencing a different way of thinking and questioning your own thoughts.
Shoestring is a young magazine that seems more concerned with selling the artists and writers it features than with selling itself. It speaks to its reader as a person rather than a consumer and that in itself is worth a lot.
I’m not entirely sure how it has happened, but a box of the French version of Huck seems to have made its way into this month’s Stack delivery.
Needless to say, we should only have sent out the English version, so if you’ve been slightly confused by receiving a French magazine from Stack this month, please drop me a line with your name and address and I’ll put a replacement (English!) magazine in the post to you.
Sorry if you’re one of the people who has been reaching for the French / English dictionary – we’ll put it right asap.
I know this is what you’re supposed to say when you’re selling tickets, but it’s really true. Tickets to Printout on 1 March have been flying out and at time of writing there are just five seats left. We’ll be selling a limited number of standing room only tickets on the door on the night, but if you want to be able to sit down to watch the show, buy now!
As well as the speakers and magazine swap we’ve already told you about, we’ll have music courtesy of John L Walters, editor of Eye magazine, and the makers of Flamingo are going to be giving away copies of their FlamingoPaper free sheet. It’s going to be a busy night…
The Ride Journal has been on Stack for a couple of years now, but there are so many great cycling magazines out there that it was only a matter of time until it was joined by another bike title.
I’m very pleased to say that the latest new addition to the Stack line-up is Rouleur, the road cycle racing magazine that delves into every corner of the sport. The team at Rouleur place huge stock in the quality of their writers and photographers, delivering some fantastic journalism that harks back to the days when commissioning editors had a bit more budget to play with.
As you can see from the images above and below, they get around. That top image is from a moody photo story in the current issue based around, of course, Biarritz; while the image below is taken on the Tour of Rwanda, following the riders as they race across a country that has taken cycling to its heart.
It’s not all guts and glamour though – the spread below kicks off a story from inside the factory of Belgian spoke makers Sapim. The pages of gorgeous grubby machine porn need to be seen to be believed.
We won’t get Rouleur out for a little while yet, but watch out for it arriving some time later this year. Satisfaction guaranteed.