Printout – the morning after

by Steve Watson in July 2014
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Thanks very much to everyone who came down to Printout last night, and especially to our speakers, who battled through projector difficulties to give three brilliant insights into their magazine making. (Actually, Patrick was let off because he wasn’t actually there – presenting by video has never looked like such a good idea).

Vice, Colors and Eye are very different magazines, but it was interesting to hear that all three of them attribute their longevity to the quality of their content.


For Bruno Bayley of Vice, the trick has been to keep on improving the magazine’s content, moving into more serious types of reporting, while retaining the tone that attracted readers in the first place. He cited examples like their Iraq issue, made during the second Iraq invasion and featuring Iraqis from all sides of the political divide to tell a familiar story in ways no other magazine (or any media for that matter) would attempt.


Speaking via the calm of a pre-recorded video, Patrick Waterhouse, editor-in-chief of Colors, stated his need to put editorial heritage out of his mind so that he could create his own version of the magazine. Paying tribute to the great magazine makers who came before him (including Tibor Kalman, above) he explained that he began by creating a conceptual framework for Colors, using the vernacular of the survival guide to break subjects down and present them as elaborate ‘how to’ guides. Pursuing his own editorial vision, he concluded, is like rebelling against parents and doing something deliberately different to them, while realising and acknowledging the ways they’ve influenced you.


And finally Simon Esterson and John L Walters of Eye spoke about their investment in quality content, and the best quality printing as a way to present that content. After buying Eye from Haymarket back in 2008, John acknowledged that there hadn’t been a sea change in content, rather they kept on pushing in the direction they’d been going, taking extraordinary care over their stories (some of which can take two to three years in the making). And of course their work is never done – they noted that there’s no shortage of fantastic stories waiting to be told, and that printing technology just keeps on getting better, meaning there’s always something new for them to experiment with next.

Of course it should come as no surprise to hear magazine makers championing content above all else, but it’s surprising how easy it is to forget that simple truth. When there’s so much nervous hand-wringing around the future of magazines, quality words and pictures will always be the bedrock of any successful title. Of course they’re not enough to guarantee success on their own, but without them a magazine has nothing.


Thanks to The Magic Elephant for providing the pictures of the evening

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