Getting personal

by Steve Watson in July 2011
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A couple of magazines have caught my eye this week for their adventures in personalisation.

First up was Gopher Illustrated, which has letterpressed and hand-numbered every copy of its latest issue. But it doesn’t stop there – it even takes the time to let you know that if your number is in red it was done by Michu, and if it’s in blue it’s the work of Lope. I don’t know either of them, but I love knowing that somebody (with nice handwriting) took the time to individually customise each one.

But Michu and Lope’s efforts can’t match up to Elsie, a magazine from Staffordshire-based designer Les Jones. Jeremy has already written about the extraordinary lengths Les goes to, but to reiterate: Every copy has its own unique cover – mine has a silver star and a little cartoon speaker glued onto it.

The first spread contains a ‘random message’ (mine is number 70 – I wonder how many he made?)

A piece on found objects comes complete with an old postcard for the reader to ‘find’.

There’s a one-off illustration by Les.

And another postcard, this time left blank for the reader to customise it and send it back to Elsie.

It’s an incredible package, and you can’t help but feel the sheer number of hours that went into the thing. Comparing my copy to Jeremy’s also reveals that there are differences in the customisation. He had a personalised invitation to join an art project, which I don’t seem to have. Somehow that makes me like it even more (and not just because I’m relieved that I don’t have to come up with a clever art idea). The fact that there are differences between copies emphasises the personal element – it feels less like Elsie was made on a kitchen table production line, and more like each one is genuinely special.

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