This year’s ModMag took place a few weeks ago at its new central London home, Conway Hall. 300 people gathered to hear talks by magazine makers from across the world and from all types of publications. Curated as ever by Jeremy Leslie, produced by the lovely Stephanie Hartman and hosted by the effervescent Liv Siddall – this was another fantastic year of celebrating the magazine in all its forms. Check out our report below and some photos from the day.
Kicking things off was Justinien Tribillon & Isabel Seiffert of Migrant Journal, a heavyweight ‘cultural and political endeavour’ with some beautiful custom type and special metallic inks to boot, followed swiftly by Lydia Garnett, one half of real life storytelling platform Accent Mag, who spoke about documenting ‘life outside of the ordinary’, and putting content out for ‘the right reasons’. She also endorsed putting on events as a physical presence to establish an audience if you can’t afford to print a magazine right away.
Tony Brook of SPIN (and Co-founder of Unit Editions) was up next, extolling the virtues of walking in the park and working on multiple projects – not to mention the importance of self initiated projects like their recent experimental type mag full of invented letterforms. Next up was Anja of Vestoj, a reaction to fashion magazines – looking at our relationships with our clothes – how we want to be seen in the world. She also endorsed events (or Vestoj Salons) to build momentum and community.
The fifth speaker of the day was Owen Pritchard of It’s Nice That (amongst other things). He gave a comprehensive overview of how and why they do what they do, with plenty of impressive statistics to back it up, and an insight into the commercial realities of a successful entity like INT. Particularly interesting was how they spilt posts on their site into one of 3 categories – Work (inventive, inspiring & interesting) News (informed, topical & timely) and Features (usually with illustrative or photographic commissions).
One of my favourite talks of all time was next up, Takahiro Kinoshita — Editor-in-chief of Japanese institution Popeye. He spoke about the popularity of magazines in Japan with many niches (4500 titles, twice as many as the UK market) and ran through the 10 best hits of his career. The magazine has been through huge changes over the decades, from a circulation of 800,000 at its height as a weekly edition in the 90’s, to a low point when it was down to 20,000 during a ‘predictable fashion phase’ in the 2000’s. Now 66 issues into Takahiro’s tenure it operates a healthy 100,000 monthly distribution. This talk along was worth the ticket price!
Seventh in line was our host for the day, Liv Siddall, who in characteristically amusing form talked us through her experience as editor of Rough Trade mag – and her subsequent lack-of-job situation… a healthy dose of realism and humour amidst far for ideal circumstances. She was followed by Mirko Borsche of Bureau Mirko Borsche, the uber-talent behind Zeit Magazin and its characteristic double-covers.
In a break to usual proceedings next up was a panel discussion chaired by Jeremy Leslie, looking back at what’s happened in magazines over the last five years and forward to the next five, comprised of Bertie Brandes & Charlotte Roberts (Mushpit), Danielle Pender (Editor-in-chief, Riposte), John L Walters (Editor/owner, Eye) Matt Phare (Creative director, Shortlist and Stylist) and Paul Gorman (Author, The Story of The Face).
3 big hitters followed…
Italian Francesco Franchi, Managing Editor of ‘la Repubblica’ talked about his background of a decade at IL and the change to working for a newspaper in Rome including weekly supplement Robinson. Next up was James Hyman of The Hyman Archive – the incredible Guiness World Record holding collection of magazines. Last but very not least was Nicholas Blechman, Creative director of the lauded magazine The New Yorker. He gave us a virtual tour of the office (which was way more exciting than it sounds) and a fascinating romp through the magazines history and the importance of tradition. It was a great end to a brilliant day of magazine talks.
We’re sure there’ll be a 6th instalment next year, so if you enjoy magazines keep your eyes peeled for more news as it never disappoints.
Anja Aronowsky Cronberg — Editor-in-chief/founder, Vestoj (France)
Nicholas Blechman — Creative director, The New Yorker (US)
Mirko Borsche — Bureau Mirko Borsche (Germany)
Tony Brook — Co-founder, Unit Editions (UK)
Francesco Franchi — Managing Editor, la Repubblica (Italy)
Lydia Garnett — Co-editor-in-chief, Accent (UK)
James Hyman — The Hyman Archive (UK)
Takahiro Kinoshita — Editor-in-chief, Popeye (Japan)
Owen Pritchard — Editor, It’s Nice That (UK)
Justinien Tribillon & Isabel Seiffert — Migrant Journal (France, Switzerland)
Liv Siddall — Editor, Rough Trade Magazine (UK)
Bertie Brandes & Charlotte Roberts – founders, Mushpit
Danielle Pender — Editor-in-chief, Riposte
John L Walters – Editor/owner, Eye
Matt Phare – Creative director, Shortlist and Stylist
Paul Gorman – Author, The Story of The Face