The power of ink

by Andrew Losowsky in March 2011
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The first Stack America mailing of the year didn’t just include Adbusters and a fantastic exclusive print, but also the second issue of the design magazine on newsprint, ink.

Originally created during the Society of News Design annual conference, ink is an independent design journal made by Nick Mrozowski (until recently, creative director of the World’s Best Designed Newspaper) and visual journalist Krissi Xenakis.

It’s a great read for anyone interested in design, and each issue is produced by the pair on-site in a different city every time. This issue was made in Detroit, with contributors including Eye editor John L Waters and design writer/critic Ellen Lupton.

In other words, ink is going to be very big, very fast, and we were delighted to give Stack America subscribers a chance to see and brag about it in its early days.

We spoke to Nick and Krissi, to find out a little more.

How does each issue of Ink get made?
We created a process where we curate content over several months and then design everything in fast and furious manner in three to five days an open lab environment in partnership with newspaper publishers in major cities. By developing this lab space — which is conducive to collaboration and innovation — the journal becomes enriched by the location, both editorially and visually. It’s an intense few days, but it adds a sense of urgency to the finished product.

What is it about?
It is a design journal focused on the people and culture of print. When we started Ink our goal was to celebrate print, but by adding the on-location, collaboration and workshop components, it has evolved it into a much bigger project. Our goal is not only to display interesting work, but to reveal something about the people who make it.

What makes it stand out from other design-focused magazines out there?
We interact directly with our subjects and part of our audience by making it on location and this allows us to get a more intimate feel for each location’s design culture. It’s as much about the people as it is about the work.

Why did you start with Detroit?
Detroit was a mini-homecoming for us. We are both Michigan natives, so we were incredibly lucky to have the support of friends and family through the process. Most importantly though, Detroit is bursting at the seams with creative, inventive people. We just tried to bottle some of it to share with the rest of the world. And we were fortunate to have a very gracious host and sponsor in the Detroit Media Partnership.

How did you track down the content?
Ah, the big question. There is a story behind, well, each story, but the most important thing we do is keep our ears and eyes open. It sounds obvious, but the content that goes into Ink is about people and projects we are interested in. It’s a mix of people we’ve known for a long time, people we’ve worked with, and people we admire (but don’t know), and a few totally welcome strangers!

Why print? And why newsprint?
It started as a love letter to print — we felt print was unfairly getting a bad rap. Both of us believe print is not dead. There is something that draws us to a tactile product. Newsprint is our past. It is our roots as visual journalists. Because it has a physical presence, it feels more permanent than digital, but the newsprint keeps it loose and from becoming too precious.

What are your hopes for the publication?
You mean after world domination? We would like the project to continue and grow. We want to spend more time on-location with the creative community and eventually try some international locations. We’d like to grow the workshop component, and try to foster new collaborations. If it became feasible, we’d both like to make it a full-time job someday.

What’s next?
We are working on confirming a location for the summer issue. And we’re excited to be involved with an advanced interface design course at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, which is working on prototypes for a potential iPad application.

Anything else you’d like us to know?
Krissi is using Ink as a living experiment for her thesis project at the Maryland Institute College of Art. It documents the contemporary role of the designer as producer. Her show opens April 22 at MICA’s Meyerhoff gallery.

You can buy copies of ink at

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