Friday, 23 November 2012

Independent magazines

We often hear that the rise of blogging and digital media will have an impact on printed publications, suggesting a gradual turn away from our books and magazines in favour of more convenient kindles and blogs. There remains, however, a culture for independent magazines, where the emphasis is placed on selecting an (often obscure) subject area, yet one which evokes passion within people, and exploring this interest in a distinctly artistic way. We would assume that this industry would be the first to suffer in the face of digitalisation, yet in fact it could be seen to have the adverse effect, making those who prefer to possess the printed work in all its tangible glory even more loyal to an otherwise threatened art.  

Browsing the shelves in W H Smith's, my eye fell upon the only magazine which did not use flashy colours and pictures of celebrities looking "fat" in a bikini to sell. 'Oh Comely' prefers a minimalist layout, where a sense of uncluttered calm pervades the pages and tells the reader that this is a magazine which deserves to be read, admired, thought about, and then kept on a shelf to be taken down again at another date. The tag-line 'Keep your curiosity sacred' is for me what magazines are all about. There is little purpose to independent, arts focused magazines other than attempting to encourage people's curiosities about the world. I recently subscribed to Stack, a service which collects independent publications from across the globe and sends one to my doorstep every month. I’ve realized that I don't have to be particularly interested in the magazine’s subject area in order to get something out of it. Magazines such as ‘Rouleur’ have an underlying focus on cycling, yet it is the atmospheric and brooding monchrome photography which gives it its distinct character. ‘Anorak’ calls itself a ‘happy mag for kids’, yet the colourful illustrations are enough to make any adult happy too. With certain magazines, it is the actual physicality of the book which we are led to admire. ‘Wrap’ is a magazine showcasing emerging graphic designers and artists, yet once you’ve finished reading it, the pages can 
be taken out to create wrapping paper from these artworks.

It takes a little more searching to find these magazines, yet I would say well worth it if you want to read about something other than the latest new skincare product, or what happened on last week's X Factor.

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