Behind the scenes: TMBMITW magazine

by Miranda Thompson in July 2015
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Now on its third issue, London-based style magazine TMBMITW – aka The Most Beautiful Man In The World – is a newsprint paean to male beauty around the globe.

I caught up with creator Frank Strachan to find out why he prefers regular guys to professional models, and why he’s not interested in making a conventional magazine.


What inspired you to create this magazine?
I’d come to the end of five years at Attitude magazine and our shoots were getting a lot of social media attention from girls as well as boys. I thought, there’s nothing out there that celebrates male beauty and is catering to both males and females.

It’s been interesting hearing different people’s responses to it; if a gay guy sees it, he thinks it’s a gay product, and if a girl sees it, she might think it’s just for her. I love seeing girls tagging their friends on our Instagram pictures – “Look, this is the kind of guy you like!” And beautiful men cheer everyone up, don’t they?


How do you find the men you feature?
I’ll see them in the street and chase after them! Usually I’ll try and get their Instagram handle – most people are happy about giving that out. Or I’ll contact someone through social media – I’ve had to turn into a complete stalker at times. It might take me a while but I’ll get there in the end. Once they hear what the name of the magazine is they’re generally very happy to take part!

In the first issue we used some models from agencies. It was fun to shoot them – nothing negative – but it just felt like the more special moments from the first issue were where we’d found the people and they had more of a story to tell, rather than just being blank canvases.


Instagram seems to be integral to TMBMITW – not just for sourcing guys, but you link back to every man’s online profile on their shoot.
We’re only 64 pages so we can’t put every picture in there, but you can go on their Instagram and find out what they’re like. It’s a nice way to link back to the guys – they’ve given their time to help us, so maybe if they get more followers or if anyone else wants to find them for other work, then we’re making it easier for them.

Is there a big idea behind TMBMITW? Are you trying to promote any positive message in particular?
The big ideas come and go and change and evolve; we don’t have any single constant message we’re trying to put out there. I’m trying to show that there are different types of beauty and there are different, amazing people around every corner – but it’s ultimately to do with one vision, which is my aesthetic.

Yes, we could be more diverse, and I think that’s something I have to constantly question myself on as I do it. The more we do it, the more different people capture our attention – now we’re less swayed by a beautiful body than by a face or personality. But we’re not pretending to be clever about it. The whole point is to create something that’s nice and people want to look at.


Why did you choose newsprint as a format for TMBMITW?
It’s a cost-effective way of printing! Plus, I think printing it as a magazine would make it look too similar to other publications. I like that newsprint makes it totally confusing – people aren’t trapped in the head space of what else they’ve seen.

Print is a really nice medium to work with generally, and weirdly, I think it feels modern; we’re so used to seeing pictures on screens, so seeing something in print is different. It slows down the pace of looking at it and makes you think about what you’re seeing.


Would you change the format if you could?
At the moment I want to stay in the newsprint format – I feel like there’s more we can do – but it would be lovely to create a hardback book in a few years’ time. I’d prefer to jump to that than to print it as a magazine.

Newsprint does cause some difficulties. It’s hard to distribute. We put it in these cellophane bags with a sticker sealing it, which means we’ve resolved how we distribute it from our website, but it’s harder distributing through other outlets. Our cover doesn’t really help us on the shelf, so that’s probably what we need to think about. Everyone else is shouting for your attention – wham, bang and neon! – and we wanted it to be more of a quiet, sexy moment. So while it looks nice, it’s not going to jump out at you – but hopefully someone will notice…

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