Metazine talks to magazine makers about magazines

by Grace Wang in June 2018
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If we encapsulate 2015-2016’s dialogue surrounding UK independent magazines, it might take the form of Metazine. Named for its ‘meta’ approach, it is a gloriously indulgent magazine about magazines. Founded by Matt Gill against the auspicious backdrop of Nottingham Trent University, where he is a lecturer, it shines with conversations with independent publishers that provide a candid insight into the ups and downs of magazine making. Published by Raw Print, its second issue brandishes a cheerfully fluorescent cover, with a fittingly hodgepodge illustration by Dan Whitehouse that signify the many faces of indie print (above).

With brass fastens and pages of different sizes, its playful design hides surprises on every page, bringing you an engaging, absorbing reading experience. I’m usually a big fan of risograph, the printing technique used by many self-publishers, but the orange ink on the purple paper in this issue made the text a strain to decipher at times (it probably doesn’t help that I have bad astigmatism.) But that didn’t stop me from reading it cover to cover — in fact, it is so full of great advice that we’ve picked out some of our highlights below…

Elsie Magazine | Les Jones, founder and editor

“One of the themes that runs through Elsie magazine is the notion of starting a ball rolling and seeing where it goes. When I start a project I really have no idea what the end product is going to look like, it’s more I will start along this line which could actually lead nowhere.”

Delayed Gratification | Rob Orchard, co-founder/editor

“If anyone is thinking of starting up their own magazine, just one piece of advice is to think of it as a long term project. I worked on the first three and a half years of this project for free but it all pays off and now I do get money from it, but it all starts from freelancing.”

Contemporary Other | Demi Nandhra, founding editor

“If the publication aims to offer a concrete space for all manner of individuals, yet it is marketed as ‘alternative’, it is still being put in relation to the mainstream. It maintains the idea that anything other than the white, middle-class mainstream should be marketed as something that applied to a smaller or alternative societal group.”

Weapons of Reason | Danny Miller, publisher

“We believe as a company that the most amazing thing you can do is to motivate people into action. Mags are such a great way to talk about problems, they’re so great at self-telling stories and emotionally connecting people.”

Lodestars Anthology | Liz Schaffer, editorial and creative director

“You would never start a magazine if you didn’t want a challenge. A little fear gets you up, it makes you want to do it better and keeps a Netflix binge at bay.”

Bonus! Not an advice, but in case you were wondering where Mushpit magazine’s name came from…

Mushpit | Bertie Brandes and Char Roberts, co-founders and editors

“We moved into this flat together and it had a disgusting carpet the colour of mushrooms, and the flat was kind of a party flat so it became the ‘moshpit’ mixed with ‘mushrooms’, but everyone assumes that it means vagina and it kind of also does, and we love it when people start thinking that! It means whatever you want it to mean, basically.”

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