Indiecon preview: what to expect at this year’s event

by Grace Wang in August 2018
Art & designCurrent affairs

A series of independent magazine events take place every September in a lovely lakeside venue of Hamburg. Since launching in 2014, Indiecon has put on talks, workshops, stalls and parties for design and print lovers who come from all over the world, and this year’s festival sees editors from publications like Dummy Mag and AIGA Eye on Design take the stage.

On top of sharing their creative processes, speakers and other purveyors of indie print will hold workshops and market stalls, creating an intimate atmosphere for attendees to exchange ideas and inspirations. Curious to find out more about this year’s lineup, I got in touch with organisers Urs Spinder and Malte Brenneisen to ask them a few questions…


Tell us about the theme, No More Borders, and your reasons for wanting to explore it.

What we love about magazines is that they’re never finished. Of course you can finalise an issue, send it to the printer and hopefully enjoy a holiday afterwards. But in the end, that’s just one pop in a long stream of thoughts. That was kind of the baseline idea for No More Borders — every issue lives in its time, but a series of publications can become a document of something more: developments, changes of temperament, the articulation of aims or a mission, the travel log of a journey and a record of preliminary results.

If you look at a magazine that way, a couple of questions pop up: What kind of skills do you need to make and maintain such a record? Do you have to be a journalist? A curator? A historian? A designer? A bit of everything? Or do you just need a group of people who sends you some pictures?

Also, if you dive into a complex issue, how does it change if it’s on your phone or in your hands, if it’s a printed object or a website? Or if you decide to put together an event, a reading, something people can experience and remember? That’s some of the questions we want to discuss this year.

How will ‘borders’ be interpreted for discussion? Are they political borders, to do with migration, or fictional/abstract borders, to do with design — or is it a bit of everything?

We think it’s very sad that we live in a time where people are talking a lot about walls again. Indiecon has always been about bringing people together. And independent publishing has in our impression always been a tool for minorities to express their thoughts, and that’s actually one of the main reasons we think small and medium sized publications have to be around in an open, healthy society.

One important issue for us are the blurring borders between printed, digital and live media. There’s a couple of people who move so seamlessly between formats, like the team behind AIGA Eye on Design or — with a very different focus — NXS magazine from Amsterdam. We’re also really curious to meet the makers of A Dance Mag and see how they managed to translate the extremely elusive medium of performing arts into a printed object. One more dimension is professions. We think there are many fields where professions are merging, e.g. between designers and developers, or where you at least need the literacy to understand the other.

What’s one magazine that really inspired you this year?

As you’ll know, there’s always plenty. I mentioned a couple before, I’d like to add MacGuffin, which isn’t a new magazine, but you can re-read each issue a hundred times and always find new things. I’m really looking forward to have a sneak peak into the new issue at this year’s Indiecon.

Apart from that, we actually got a lot of inspiration for the conference from this text by Laurel Schwulst, who’ll be at Indiecon as well. She’s rooting for a more accessible and human-centred idea of the internet, and many of her thoughts reminded me of the indie mag scene, which oftentimes works more like a culture than a market. I think we can learn a lot from each other.

I’m intrigued by Taiwanese curator ArtQPie, who will be speaking at this year’s event…

When we start curating the program for Indiecon, we always ask a couple of people what they read last year. One of them is Nelson of Lost magazine, who’s been one of the most restless publishers in Asia we met in the past couple of years. We asked him to recommend some people who’ve been pushing the borders in magazine making, e.g. by creating digital media, exhibitions and the like. He recommended us to talk to Argi Chang and Iris Li of ArtQPie, and when we first saw the amazing reading spaces they create in abandoned buildings, we just had to invite them.

Tell us about the marvellous workshops you’re preparing…

There will be a beginner’s guide at Indiecon which teaches the basics of starting a magazine, and there will be a workshop on how to properly do your calculations. I recommend that to everyone who is starting a magazine or has been running it for a while without proper business experience.

Also, you’ll be able to learn something new. For example how to do riso printing, which is awesome. Or how to draw in 3D with Tilt Brush and VR goggles. And Laurel will show you how to build a website and host in on your computer to become part of the new peer-to-peer web. Check out the full descriptions on our website.

What’s one thing everyone should bring to Indiecon this year?

Usually I’d say an umbrella, but this year it just doesn’t rain at all in Hamburg. So just bring yourself and your curiosity.

Reserve your spot at, tickets start from €50 for students and trainees

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