Insider: Benji Knewman

by Stine Fantoft Berg in October 2015
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Publishing an independent magazine is a pretty immersive affair – holidays pass unnoticed, and your number one bed companion is probably your laptop. In our series Insider, we ask the people behind some of the best independent titles to share their experiences.

This week we caught up with the founding duo of Latvian-based Benji Knewman. Named after a middle-aged man who seems to be in some sort of existential crisis, it’s a magazine dedicated to the joys of ordinary life. With their anticipated third issue right around the corner, here’s what Agnese Kleina and Madara Krievina had to say.


In the making of this issue we…

Agnese: Latvian black bread with nuts, dried plums and apricots with a side of Mozzarella cheese.
Madara: Milkshakes and strawberries (a lot).

Agnese: All kinds of Wikipedia articles. Every time a new piece comes in I Google the names, places and historical events mentioned to learn more. Then I get sidetracked jumping from one hyperlink to another all the while enjoying the trip. Sometimes I get teary-eyed, as with 25-year-old footage of the Baltic Way. The story behind the video is featured in our newest issue.

Got sidetracked by
Agnese: See previous question as well as the divine, calm Latvian seaside scenery we enjoyed while shooting the story about Saturdays in bed.
Madara: Giving birth to a cute little baby boy in the middle of making Vol.3.


Argued about
Agnese: Which paintings of Santa Bindemane to use for illustrating the chapters of Vol.3.
Madara: Hmmm don’t remember. We pretty much click as Agnese once said.


Agnese: That a photo shoot I thought was too intimate for the given model had been his dream for a long time. As they say – if you never ask the answer will always be “No”.
Madara: We try different paper stocks and various techniques for every new Benji Knewman cover. So now we know that the dust jacket that Vol.2 is wearing is too flimsy and not very suitable for newsstands.


Worked from
Agnese: The spare room of Marc Robbemonds, the head of independents at Athenaeum bookstore in Amsterdam. I was in town for Benji Knewman’s first international presentation held at Athenaeum and Marc was the kindest host ever. Also, hi to Ricarda Messner, the founder/publisher of Flaneur magazine, who stayed at this same room a week or so before me.
Madara: Home/bed office.

photo3 copy

Were surprised by
Agnese: The unexpected Facebook message from an old colleague of mine who coincidentally gave me the perfect idea for a lil’ something that we could offer our readers just before Christmas. Don’t switch the channels.
Madara: All those incredible people and stories that somehow find their way to us, to Benji Knewman.

Wish that we had
Agnese: More pages in the bookazine (always the problem).
Madara: A time machine.


Lost sleep over
Agnese: A web thingie that will go on air just before the launch of Vol.3.
Madara: I try not to.


And finally, everyone should buy a copy because…
Agnese: Because we managed to squeeze in an art exhibition!
Madara: Well, I don’t think that everyone should, but if you feel like you belong, you totally should.


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