Modern Mag 2016

Modern Mag 2016

A favourite in the conference calendar, The Modern Magazine 2016 is almost upon us! Ahead of this day of editorial enjoyment we caught up with Jeremy Leslie (Mr MagCulture himself) and his able assistant & conference producer Stephanie Hartman to find out whats in store…

Steph, can you explain the role of a producer in this context – and how you work alongside Jeremy to help make the conference happen?

My role is basically to ensure everyone’s in the right place at the right time. I book flights and hotels for our speakers, pull together presentations so they’re ready to roll on the day and organise a big, fun dinner after the conference for the magCulture team and speakers. I also keep press ticking over, gather magazines and other items for the goodie bags we dish out, make sure our attendees are fed and watered and work with the team at Central Saint Martins to ensure everything runs smoothly on the day. I’ve been working with Jeremy since the first Modern Magazine back in 2013 and it’s great to see things becoming more streamlined each year.

Jeremy, 4 years in and the conference feels like its in rude health – whats it like behind the scenes? Does it all come together easily, or are you more like the proverbial swan paddling franticly under the calm surface? ..Is it enjoyable?

Creatively, ModMag is in rude health, the finance side is a bit more shaky! It was originally a one-off but we kept it going and it gets easier year by year in most respects. We’ve got a small, strong team and we all know what we’re doing. Programming the day and inviting speakers is the fun part, topped only by the adrenaline buzz of the day itself. Without exception everyone involved – at the venue, the caterers, the sponsors, the speakers – are super-supportive and positive but I’d be lying if I said all aspects were fun. There’s a lot of behind the scenes swan paddling for sure. But it’s always worth it.

Steph, you’re responsible for the live elements happening alongside the conference talks, whats in store – any highlights? Any big reveals?

We’re bringing back the mag handling session we ran last year as it proved a great success. Attendees can sign up on the day and Cath Caldwell who’s the Stage 1 leader on the BA Graphic Design course will take them through some of the beautiful examples that can be found in the Central Saint Martins archive including a copy of Rolling Stone from 1970, LIFE from 1968 and Esquire from 1955.

We’re also working more closely with the Graphic Design students themselves this year. We’ll be setting them a live brief in a week or two and they’ll be tasked with creating a magazine centred on the conference. Kati Krause who spoke at last year’s event will be leading the team who’ll be interviewing delegates, photographing the day, illustrating and designing throughout. They’ll then take part in a masterclass back at magCulture HQ the following week where they’ll whip their magazine into shape. The final output will be printed by our sponsor Park and sent out to all of our delegates as a memento of the day. We’re pretty excited about it! We’re also getting the South London Makers to make us a giant ‘M’logo which will be perfect fodder for any Instagram account.

Jeremy, once again you’ve lined up an incredible mix of speakers – high profile, commercial, niche, indie, specialist etc – any talk you’re particularly looking forward to hearing this year?

You’re right, it’s all about the mix. We try to cover all types of magazines on the Journal all year, and I see/hear people talk regularly. The result is ModMag presents the best from all spheres. This year we have speakers representing publications as small and new as Real Review all the way up to the huge and influential New York Times Magazine. Add in the ever-growing multi channel Vice and The Gentlewoman’s Penny Martin and you get a sense of the range.

I’m looking forward to hearing them all; if I’m not excited by someone why invite them? But perhaps the most intriguing will be our first foray into mag history via Paul Gorman’s reflections on The Face. This hugely significant magazine has never really been acknowledged properly but Paul’s writing what should be the definitive book with the cooperation of founder Nick Logan.

Steph, can you sum up in a sentence or two why someone should attend this conference? – Especially first-timers.

It’s ultimately a massive celebration of people making great magazines and is designed to cater to those already in the industry as well as those hungry to find out more about the business. Come along if you’re thinking of starting a magazine, are a student keen to pick the brains of your mag heroes, or simply because you just love reading a good mag. We have delegates flying in from across the globe and some brilliant connections have been made over beers at the end of the day.

Jeremy, anything else going on you’d like to make folk aware of?

We always like to add something new each year and this time we have a little nostalgia via The Face, history via Private Eye, and the exciting live magazine project. The magCulture Shop will be present too, so bring your credit card! But before all that we’re putting together a popup magazine shop in Las Vegas in partnership with the Eye on Design team. It’s part of this years AIGA Conference (16-29 Oct). We’re dedicating most of our swan paddling hours to that!

All photographs from 2015 by Owen Richards.

Luke Tonge

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