Enter the Stack Awards 2019

The Stack Awards are back for their fifth year, searching out the world’s most exciting independent magazines. If you published a great independent title between October 2018 and September 2019, follow the instructions below to enter the competition and you could win a Stack Awards trophy and up to £1,000 at our ceremony in London on Thursday 14 November.


How to apply

Check the categories below and fill out the short application form for each category you’d like to enter

Pay the £30 fee for each entry

Print three copies of the application form for each entry

Send the application forms plus three copies of the magazine for each entry to us by 27 September

We believe in judging magazines, not application forms, so don’t spend ages agonising over your entry. And remember you need to leave enough time for the magazines and entry forms to reach us – unlike other awards, we don’t extend our deadlines!

Magazine of the Year

Presented by Adobe InDesign
Prize: £1,000

We’re looking for remarkable magazines that have excelled in 2019, producing the highest quality content to deliver on a strong and clear editorial concept.

You can submit any single issue published between 1 October 2018 and 30 September 2019 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.

The judges:

Astrid Stavro

Pentagram partner Astrid Stavro is an award-winning graphic designer with an international reputation for concept-driven design, applied with exquisite typographic sensibility and attention to craft. Her work encompasses brand identities, editorial and exhibition design, wayfinding systems and packaging for clients such as Camper, McKinsey, Cahiers du Cinéma, Phaidon, Barcelona Design Museum, Laurence King, PORT magazine, The National Portrait Gallery, Fedrigoni and Wallpaper*. Between 2013 to 2017, Stavro led the celebrated redesign of the London-based arts and culture magazine Elephant, where she was art director and contributing editor. She is a visiting lecturer at The Royal College of Art and a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI).

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, a 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, online resource Lecture in Progress and creative recruitment platform If You Could Jobs.

Launch of the Year

Presented by Kickstarter
Prize: £500

This category is for magazines that made a bright start in 2019, 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 2018 and 30 September 2019. 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.

The judges:

Jeremy Leslie

Jeremy Leslie runs magCulture, 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 magazine news and opinion. He curates the annual ModMag conferences in London and New York and oversees the magCulture shop, home of the monthly magCulture Meets evenings. In 2018 he was awarded the BSME’s Mark Boxer Award for an outstanding contribution to magazines in the UK.

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. She is also chair of the world’s first Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts, and the author of six books on design and branding.

Editor of the Year

Presented by Newsstand
Prize: £500

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. The issue submitted must have been published between 1 October 2018 and 30 September 2019.

The judges:

Ekow Eshun

Ekow Eshun is a writer and curator. He is chairman of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group and the former director of the ICA. He has previously been the editor of magazines including Arena and Tank and his writing has appeared in publications including The New York Times, the Financial Times, the Guardian, the Observer, Granta, Aperture and Wired. He is the author of Black Gold of the Sun, which was nominated for the Orwell Prize for political writing.

Adam Moss

Adam Moss was editor-in-chief of New York Magazine from 2004 to 2019. During his 15-year tenure he oversaw an ambitious digital expansion in his role as editor-in-chief of parent company New York Media, with the magazine and digital properties widely recognized for editorial excellence. Under Moss’s leadership New York and nymag.com won 41 National Magazine Awards, more than any other magazine over this time period, including Magazine of the Year. New York’s groundbreaking journalistic event “Cosby: The Women” won the 2015 George Polk Award for magazine reporting, and in 2018 the magazine won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Oberlin College, his alma mater, and is a member of the Magazine Editors’ Hall of Fame.

Art Director of the Year

Presented by GF Smith
Prize: £1,000 worth of paper

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. The issue submitted must have been published between 1 October 2018 and 30 September 2019.

The judges:

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. In 2019 they were named Design Team of the Year by the Art Directors Club, and Brand of the Year by the Society of Publication Designers. 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.

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 Entrepreneur programme. He is the author of over 180 books, including Merz to Emigre and Beyond: Avant Garde Magazine Design of the 20th Century and 100 Classic Graphic Design Magazines (with Jason Godfrey), Graphic Design Rants and Raves, and most recently THE MODERNS: Midcentury American Modern Graphic Design (with Greg D’Onofrio). He is the recipient of the 2011 Smithsonian National Design Award.

Cover of the Year

Presented by Newspaper Club
Prize: £500

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 2018 and 30 September 2019, 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.

The judges:

Jaap Biemans

Jaap Biemans is the man behind coverjunkie.com, championing ace cover designs and their designers. He is art director of Volkskrant Magazine and his work has been recognised by D&AD, SPD, ADCN, Mercur and Prix de Couvre. He is also proud to have designed a set of postage stamps for PostNL.

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 20 years. Simon was previously the Head of Retail at the Design Museum in London and store manager at Magma Manchester. Simon also writes books on art and architecture. His latest book, Street Art (Art Essentials Series) is published by Thames & Hudson in September 2019.

Best Use of Photography

Presented by Flipboard
Prize: £500

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 2018 and 30 September 2019. 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.

The judges:

Steve Fine

Steve Fine is currently the picture and sports editor at Flipboard, an app that has over 145 million monthly readers in 22 countries. He curates daily photo galleries around the world’s biggest events and creates interesting long-form packages on themes and issues in the sports world. In addition to leading the social strategy for major sporting events, including notifications, he maintains a magazine called The Shot, Flipboard’s destination for photography. Prior to joining the Silicon Valley startup five years ago, Steve was the Director of Photography at Sports Illustrated for 17 years, leading a 25-member team of staff photographers and editors. Before that he was deputy picture editor at The New York Times Sunday Magazine and sports picture editor at the paper.

Clare Grafik

Clare Grafik is head of exhibitions at The Photographers’ Gallery in London. She has worked for public institutions including the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Hayward Gallery and National Portrait Gallery. At the Photographers’ Gallery she has collaborated with artists and photographers including Lise Sarfati, Isa Genzken and Larry Sultan/Mike Mandel, and her last group exhibition was Double Take: Photography & Drawing (2016). She curated a Bettina Von Zwehl solo exhibition at The Freud Museum, London, (2016), and forthcoming projects include an exhibition on children’s photobooks.

Best Use of Illustration

Presented by Park Communications
Prize: £500

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 2018 and 30 September 2019. 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.

The judges:

Suzanne Tromp

Suzanne is the commissioning editor of WeTransfer’s content site WePresent, which currently has two million monthly readers, where she curates five billion pages of art, photography, music and more to WeTransfer users. She also publishes newly commissioned works from the likes of Björk, Edel Rodriguez and Gorillaz. She joined WeTransfer in 2014 and has played a crucial part in shaping WeTransfer’s creative community. Suzanne also leads on diversity for WeTransfer’s content team, ensuring that as many different voices as possible are supported through the WeTransfer platforms

Marc Robbemond

Marc Robbemond is a core member of Athenaeum Nieuwscentrum, the renowned newsstand that was established in Amsterdam in 1969. Working at the store since 2011, he specialises in the discovery, import and circulation of independent magazines and zines from across the globe. Fascinated by the stories behind independent publishing, Marc has also been the initiator of many of Athenaeum’s events with indie magazine makers.

Best Original Non-Fiction

Prize: £100 worth of Stack shop vouchers

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 2018 and 30 September 2019.

The judges:

Olivia Laing

Olivia Laing is a widely acclaimed writer and critic. She’s the author of To the River, The Trip to Echo Spring, and The Lonely City, which has been translated into 15 languages. In 2018 she was awarded the Windham-Campbell Prize for non-fiction. Her latest book is Crudo, a real-time novel about the turbulent summer of 2017. It was a Sunday Times top ten bestseller and was shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize, the Gordon Burn Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

Mike Dang

Mike Dang is the editor-in-chief of Longreads, which is dedicated to sharing and publishing the best storytelling in the world. Under his tenure, Longreads stories have been included in several nonfiction editions of The Best American anthology series, nominated for three National Magazine Awards, and won a Peabody Futures of Media Award for Digital Journalism.

Best Original Fiction

Prize: £100 worth of Stack shop vouchers

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 2018 and 30 September 2019.

The judges:

Ailah Ahmed

Ailah Ahmed is editorial director of two imprints: Little, Brown and Virago Press. She publishes critically acclaimed novelists Andrew Sean Greer (winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Less) and Chigozie Obioma (shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize with The Fishermen). Her non-fiction list ranges from activist titles such as Trans Like Me by CN Lester and Can We All Be Feminists? by June-Eric Udorie, to Hormonal by Eleanor Morgan and How to Start a Revolution by Lauren Duca. Over 10 years in publishing, Ailah has held positions at Simon and Schuster, Canongate Books and Tindal Street Press.

Sian Cain

Sian Cain is the books news editor at the Guardian, steering the newspaper’s coverage of literature and authors around the world. Working from the London office, Sian has previously worked at the ABC in Australia and CNN in the UK, and spent five years working as a bookseller.

Student Magazine of the Year

Prize: £100 worth of Stack shop vouchers

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 2018 and 30 September 2019 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.

The judges:

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.

Liv Siddall

Liv Siddall is the deputy editor of Riposte magazine, music editor of Twin magazine, and a freelance writer for many independent online and print publications. She was previously features editor at It’s Nice That and was the founder and editor of Rough Trade Magazine. She is also the host of ModMag and the co-host of the magCulture podcast.

Awards offer

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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 7 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 Thursday 14 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 7 October. Any remaining tickets will go on general sale via the Stack site on Monday 4 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 in December, with the proceeds donated to charity.

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