The Stack Awards 2017

The world’s only awards scheme dedicated entirely to independent magazines

The Stack Awards are back for the third year, searching out the most exciting independent magazines published between October 2016 and September 2017.

Led by top talent from across the publishing and creative industries, we believe in judging magazines, not application forms – our judges take a whole month getting to know the shortlisted titles before reaching their decision.

We also believe that awards should be open and accessible to all, so entries still cost just £30. If you’ve made a great independent magazine this year, we want to hear from you, whoever and wherever you are.  

Click on the categories below to read more about the individual awards and our judges, and submit your entry by Friday 29 September to be in with a chance of winning. Good luck!

Magazine of the year

We’re looking for remarkable magazines that have excelled in 2017, producing the highest quality content to deliver on a strong and clear editorial concept.

You can submit any single issue published between 1 October 2016 and 30 September 2017 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.

Enter this award


Jeremy Leslie

Jeremy Leslie leads the magCulture studio, dividing his time between designing, consulting and writing. He’s a passionate advocate for editorial design, has written several books about the subject, and the magCulture online Journal is a key source of news and opinion. He organises the annual Modern Magazine conference and recently opened the magCulture shop where he hosts monthly magCulture Meets evenings.

Gail Bichler

Gail Bichler is the design director of The New York Times Magazine where she and her team have won numerous awards for their print and interactive design as well as their groundbreaking work in virtual reality. They were named Magazine of the Year by the Society of Publication Designers in 2016 and Design Team of the Year in 2015 by the Art Director’s Club. In addition Gail’s work has been recognised by national and international design organisations including D&AD, the American Institute for Graphic Arts, the Type Directors Club and Creative Review.

Launch of the year

This category is for magazines that made a bright start in 2017, 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 2016 and 30 September 2017. 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.

Enter this award


Malte and Urs

Malte Brenneisen and Urs Spindler are two of the founders of the editorial and design studio "Die Brueder". 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. They also publish gentle rain, a ‘glocal’ city magazine about Hamburg.

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

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, with attention given to long-form writing, but also to headlines, picture captions and story selection.

Enter this award


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, and ZEITmagazin MANN, a bi-annual stand alone men's magazine, was launched in 2016. Before joining DIE ZEIT, Amend was the editor of the Sunday supplement of Der Tagesspiegel and deputy editor of Süddeutsche Zeitung jetzt-Magazin. He also started writing a daily newsletter this Spring – to subscribe, visit

Tom Edwards

Tom Edwards is the executive producer of Monocle 24 radio. Tom has worked on titles ranging from Art Review magazine to The Independent (when it was still a proper newspaper). Each week he scrutinises the best titles and chats to key industry figures on M24's print industry review and analysis programme, The Stack.

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. Attention will be paid to picture selection, fonts, layout and production to identify the creation of an exceptional magazine brand.

Enter this award


Will Hudson

Will Hudson is founder of It’s Nice That and innovation director across the HudsonBec Group – a group of companies that exist to enable creativity to thrive. Founded by Will Hudson and Alex Bec the group provides a framework for a series of small, beautifully structured companies that share a purpose, set of values, a studio space and above all, a belief in the power of creativity. Companies within the group currently include media company It’s Nice That, creative agency Anyways and online resource Lecture in Progress

Debbie Millman

Debbie Millman is a designer, author, educator and brand strategist. She is host of the award-winning podcast Design Matters, the world’s first podcast on design; Chair of the world’s first Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts; the editorial and creative director of Print Magazine and President Emeritus of AIGA. She is the author of six books on design and branding.

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 covers we just can’t resist.

The cover must have been published between 1 October 2016 and 30 September 2017, 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.

Enter this award


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). His most recent book is Graphic Design Rants and Raves.

Jaap Biemans

The guy behind, ‘an addiction to creative magazine covers you wanna lick’, Jaap is also art director of Volkskrant Magazine, and earlier this year he was named Art Director of the Year in the Netherlands.

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 2016 and 30 September 2017. 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.

Enter this award


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.

Clare Grafik

Clare Grafik is head of exhibitions at The Photographers’ Gallery in London. In her time there she has worked on exhibitions and projects with artists including Taryn Simon, Cuny Janssen and Zineb Sedira. She has worked in a number of public institutions in London including the ICA, Whitechapel Gallery, Hayward Gallery and National Portrait Gallery. She has been a sessional lecturer at Birkbeck College, London, has lectured at institutions including University of the Arts, Westminster University, University of South Wales, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, and is on the editorial board of 'Studies in Photography' magazine.

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 2016 and 30 September 2017. 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.

Enter this award


Olivia Ahmad

Olivia Ahmad is curator at House of Illustration, the UK’s only public gallery dedicated to illustration and graphic arts. Since its opening in 2014, she has been responsible for its programme of exhibitions on historic and contemporary illustration, artist residencies and commissions. Before joining House of Illustration, Olivia worked for the Northern Design Festival, Seven Stories National Centre for Children’s Books and Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums. Her recent exhibitions include Comix Creatrix: 100 Women Making Comics, Laura Carlin: Ceramics and A New Childhood: Picture Books from Soviet Russia.

Simon Armstrong

Simon Armstrong is the book buyer for Tate Modern, Tate Britain and Tate Liverpool, and has been putting books and magazines on art, design and visual culture into people’s hands and heads for over 15 years. Simon was previously the head of retail at the Design Museum in London and store manager at Magma Manchester, following several years working as a bookseller. He also works as a freelance publishing agent and is the author of books on art and architecture. Simon is currently writing a new book on the history of graffiti and street art, set for publication in 2019.

Best original fiction

Our judges will be looking for fresh, distinctive fiction that stands out for its inventive ideas and memorable writing.

The work must be written in English, and it must have been published for the first time between 1 October 2016 and 30 September 2017.

Enter this award


Glory Edim

Glory Edim is the publishing outreach specialist at Kickstarter, where she helps writers use the platform to build community and find support for their creative endeavors. She has worked as a creative strategist for over 10 years at startups and cultural institutions, including the Lincoln Theatre, The Webby Awards and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She is also the founder of Well-Read Black Girl (WRBG), an online community that celebrates the uniqueness of black literature and sisterhood. WRBG’s mission is to increase the visibility of black women writers and initiate meaningful conversation with readers.


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 2016 and 30 September 2017

Enter this award


Govind Balakrishnan

Govind is CEO and co-founder of - 'The Netflix of high-quality audio', with articles from top publications including The Financial Times, The Guardian and Aeon brought to life by superb voice actors. Govind previously worked as a strategist at the BBC, and is a graduate of the LSE, Imperial College and the Royal College of Art.

Barbara Rowlands

Barbara Rowlands is an academic and freelance writer and runs the MA in Magazine Journalism at City, University of London. She has written for the Observer, Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, Daily Mail, The Times, The Sunday Times, and other consumer magazines and the specialist press. She has done media training to staff from pressure groups, public relations companies, charities, human rights organisations and government departments, and loves reading and talking about magazines.

Student magazine of the year

This award is for the best magazine published by or affiliated to a university, college or school. 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 2016 and 30 September 2017 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.

Enter this award


Ruth Jamieson

Ruth Jamieson is author of Print Is Dead, Long Live Print, a book that delves deep into the current resurgence in independent magazine publishing around the world. She has a monthly column covering magazines on and she’s a guest lecturer at London College of Fashion and the University of the Creative Arts.

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. She is a lecturer in Visual Communication, runs a publishing-themed studio and is Course Leader in BA Design for Publishing at The Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design, London Metropolitan University.

How to apply

Click any of the categories above to learn more about the award criteria. If you decide you’d like to apply, hit the ‘Enter this award’ button 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 29 September 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 during our judging panels on Thursday 9 November.

The winners will be announced at our ceremony in London on Monday 20 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, but please bear in mind that the judges will 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 9 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 in London on Monday 20 November.

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 9 October. Any remaining tickets will go on general sale via the Stack site on Monday 6 November.

What will happen to the magazines afterwards?

All magazines left over at the end of the process will be sold in our Magazines for Good event, held on Saturday 9 December at The Ace Hotel, and the proceeds donated to charity.

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