Behind the scenes: Yuca magazine

by Stine Fantoft Berg in August 2016
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Food & drink

A thick and inviting piece of conceptual publishing, Yuca magazine likes to do things differently. Like many other magazines, it focuses on a different theme each issue, but Yuca refers to its theme as an ‘alibi’, framing it as an excuse or pretext for the content to come. And cutting across the alibi is a broader theme, resulting in a playful magazine that this issue mixes gastronomy (the alibi) with roots (the broader theme).

I caught up with editors Lina Rincón and Juliana Gómez in Colombia to learn more about the concept, how it all started, and their transatlantic collaboration with Barcelona-based art director Carles Murillo…


As an introduction, how would you describe Yuca?
Yuca is an excuse to be creative and a place where everything we’re passionate about comes together. We see it as a white canvas on which people from around the world can share their perspectives on the issue’s theme.

For readers, we want it to be a glimpse into the way others see the world. We also want it to be proof that, no matter where we stand, certain aspects of life, like food, are relevant and important to us all, and that certain concepts (like roots, which is this issue’s theme) can be used to express a lot about oneself.


How would you compare it to other magazines?
When we were discussing the ideal paper stock for our cover, Carles Murillo, our art director and designer, suggested that we take a look at MacGuffin. We didn’t know much about MacGuffin then, but when we got our hands on a copy of their second issue, we realised how similar it is to Yuca in the way they approach a central theme from a variety of perspectives. And then there are magazines like The Gourmand and The Plant that, being thematically close to our first issue, have been a huge inspiration to us.


What makes Yuca unique?
We’re always looking to take our contributors away from the context they usually live and work in and invite them to put all their knowledge and experience into a piece created from a different perspective.

For example, one of our contributors in the first issue is a quantum physicist who loves music, photography, cinema and literature. So we didn’t ask him to talk about scientific theories. Instead, he said he’d like to write a short story inspired by the idea of roots. He doesn’t talk about physics in his piece, but that aspect of his life is embedded in the way he thinks and writes, and that’s exactly what we’re looking for.


How did the two of you come together, and why did you decide to create a magazine?
We met back in 2013 because we had friends in common, and at the time Lina was dreaming about making a magazine. But she lost her motivation in a combination of work stress and not finding the perfect team – someone willing to dive in 100 percent with her. We didn’t run into each other again for a while, but by the time we did, Juliana had decided she wanted to start a magazine on stories relating to food. We immediately knew we wanted to work together on it, and began to shape what Yuca is today.

It just so happened that we both broke up with our boyfriends at around the same time, so both of us went through a period of transition and heartbreak. Working on Yuca not only brought us together as friends – it became our breath of fresh air, which gave us the drive for the creative process that allowed us to heal, a kind of catharsis. That’s a big part of why Yuca is so important to us.


You’re based between Colombia and Barcelona?
Yes, we’re both in Colombia and most of the editorial work takes place here. Carles, who’s also involved a lot in the editorial process, is in Barcelona, so we meet regularly over Skype. Also, Yuca is printed in Barcelona because we wanted Carles to be able to control the printing process. It also means we’re closer to our European readers. Though we must admit, the logistics of printing in Barcelona and the two of us living in Colombia have been a challenge.


What were your considerations when choosing the format and paper stock for Yuca?
From the start we thought of Yuca as a publication that sits somewhere between a book and a magazine. We’ve spent a lot of time trying to find the perfect paper – constantly looking at paper used in other magazines, touching and smelling it.

Carlos suggested Munken Print for its warmth and porosity; it’s a noble paper stock that invites the public to engage in the experience of reading and enjoying the contents leisurely. It’s not inexpensive, but from the beginning we had agreed that if we were to invest all this time, money and effort in a print editorial project the result must have unequivocal value as a high quality object.


Have you started work on the second issue yet?
We have, and we’re very enthusiastic about it. It will be called ‘The Architecture Alibi & Migrations Issue’.

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