Friday, December 19, 2014

interview with Agnese Kleina and Madara Krievina from BENJI KNEWMAN

Last week the new title BENJI KNEWMAN came in, a magazine made in Riga, Latvia. The editor-at-large is Benji Knewman, an imaginary editor that leads you through the many stories of this first issue. There is guerilla gardening in L.A. and a cartoon about a Breaking Bad addiction. The magazine received some nice reviews on It's Nice That and Magculture.
We had a few questions for editor-in-chief Agnese Kleina and art director Madara Krievina.
What inspired you to start Benji Knewman? And how did you come up with the concept?

Agnese: We wanted to create this space where everyone would be free to simply be. Everyone – that includes us the makers, the heroes of the articles and features and, most importantly, our readers. There will never be advices on how to be a perfect man/woman, nobody will tell you what’s trendy or not. Come as you are and enjoy the freedom. Everyone is invited, no matter the age, profession or country of residency.

Now, about the concept. Madara and I, we are two girls but we didn’t want people to think that this is a girly bookazine (and we’re not that girly either). Also, we believe in imaginary friends. When Edijs, our real life friend, came up with five versions of potential names for the upcoming bookazine, this idea of a guy was among them. Then we spent six weeks elaborating the concept and thinking of the right name and surname. And so Benji Knewman came along.

What is the magazine scene like in Latvia? Are there more independent magazines?

Madara: There are a lot of mediocre mainstream magazines, but only few independent ones. Benji Knewman is the first and only bookazine (or mook) at the moment.

Agnese: Also, it’s the first bilingual – English-Latvian – bookazine in history. 

What are your favourite magazines at the moment and what is your favourite cover?

Madara: Content and design wise: Riposte, Apartamento, Printed Pages, Cat People. Wrap: Because of those cute wrapping papers/posters.

Agnese: In October I was in New York where I finally checked all those titles I had been mostly seeing on (as they’re not sold in Riga – yet). The one I actually purchased is Hello Mr., which, as we know, is about men who date men. One thing is that I’m an absolute book-size mag lover (my favourite is Apartamento and I like Kindling for that same matter), but another is that I look for life happening between the pages. Hello Mr. gave that to me big time (my favourite was the column on how a gay guy asks (or actually can’t ask) someone to take a picture of him and his BF when on holiday). As for covers, I can’t name one, as I believe that each title has its own path and style and you can’t really compare them.

Is Benji Knewman a literary magazine?

Agnese: It’s life that you can read. There are essays and interviews and poetic musings. And photo stories in between. Yes, I’d say it’s more on the literary side. It’s not a lifestyle mag that falls in love with a certain trend. It’s a reading matter that could be published today or maybe 20 years ago. Also, it’s interlocal (a name we came up with) – while it touches Riga, London, L.A and Alsace in France in the first volume, the people in those places could easily be from Melbourne or Amsterdam because the truth they express, the life experience they tell stories of, it’s something very universal and in the same time – very individual.

What will happen in the next issue?

Madara: We will start to plan Benji Knewman Vol. 2 next week somewhere between Christmas and New Year. Great things ahead. 
For Benji Knewman we do content driven design, so it’s pretty exciting to see what will come out of it for the second issue.

What’s the best thing about editing a magazine?

Agnese: Creating that space where we can simply be. Going places for the matter of meeting people I’d most probably not meet if not for Benji Knewman. Comparing my life experiences with those I hear from people featured in our bookazine. Agreeing that all is fine and there’s nothing you can miss.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

inside CUT #12: Leute machen Kleider

CUT from Germany is one of the few magazines about making clothes that's actually cool. Eventhough it's published entirely in German it has a big audience in the store and always sells out. We made a video:

Sunday, December 14, 2014

PINEAPPLE #1: Airbnb's magazine about travel

Airbnb just launched a magazine called Pineapple, named after the fruit of hospitaily. It is provided to 18.000 Airbnb hosts and available in selected stores. We have a nice pile of it in the store now. It has no adds only content and is a nice addition to the curent wave of travel mags.

"Travel on Airbnb is about more than sightseeing and consuming, it’s about connections and community. Our new magazine will combine the emotional and practical sides of traveling by giving a comprehensive guide to neighborhoods and cities, as well as capturing the sense of belonging that comes from a memorable trip."

Pineapple is available at SPUI 14-16 Amsterdam 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

interview with Ryan & Tina Essmaker from THE GREAT DISCONTENT

Last week we received a pile of THE GREAT DISCONTENT’s first issue. A thick magazine with a strong cover full of interviews and photography. We had a few questions for the editorial team Ryan & Tina Essmaker.

Where are you based and can you discribe your magazine? What inspired you when you started out?

The Great Discontent (TGD) is a New York City-based print and digital magazine featuring interviews on beginnings, creativity, and risk.

We cofounded and launched TGD online in August 2011. It has since grown to include a print counterpart, over 150 digital interviews, a film series, Two Minutes with TGD, and a passionate community of readers worldwide.

TGD began as a side project and a way for us to collaborate on something creative outside of our day jobs. In January 2014, nearly three years after launching TGD online, we decided to embrace risk and shake things up. We simultaneously quit our day jobs to focus on The Great Discontent and launched a Kickstarter campaign, raising $105k to make the first printed issue of TGD. In addition to publishing TGD, we collaborate on other content-related projects via Wayward Wild, the New York City-based creative studio we founded with Brad Smith, founder and former CEO of Virb.

You can listen to us talk about our journey in this podcast episode of Design Matters with Debbie Millman.

In which frequency will TGD be published and when can we expect the second issue? Is editing the second issue more difficult than the first one?

Beginning in January 2015, TGD will be published quarterly—yes, four issues per year! Issue Two debuts in late January 2015, you can read the full lineup and presale announcement on our blog. Making a magazine is definitely much easier the second time around because you start to streamline and improve the process.

What are your favourite magazines at the moment? What’s you favourite cover at the moment?

This is a great question because we have more magazines in our apartment than any other item. Right now, our favorites are: Acne Paper, Interview, Fantastic Man, The Gentlewoman, The Travel Almanac, Bad Day, Lady Magazine, The Last Magazine, Saturdays, and Intermission

Favorite cover: Lula, Issue 19, Felicity Jones (Fall/Winter 2014)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Thursday, December 4, 2014

inside UPPERCASE #23

Canadian arts and craft magazine Uppercase comes with a calligraphy and lettering special. We made a video!

Claire Selby from Magpile on Uppercase:
'Uppercase is a lovingly-curated collection of bits and pieces from the design world and has a charming home-made feel. The magazine isn't perfect but it has sincerity and it's clearly made with real enthusiasm and a passion for all things creative. I reckon anyone from a casual crafter to an experienced designer could read Uppercase and find something that inspires them.' 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

FUCKING GOOD ART #31: four conversations

Fucking Good art is made in Rotterdam by artists Rob Hamelijnck and Nienke Terpsma. They publish this magazine, organise events and publish art pamphlets that map the art scene of Rotterdam - check out their work here.

This new issue of their magazine has the shape of a small, charming booklet with pink and white paper. The pink pages have the text in French and the white Pages have the text in English.
In issue 32 the editors bring together four conversations with Tijs Goldschmidt, Evelyne Reeves, Joris Luyendijk and Zoë Gray.

In the back of the magazine you will find a few pages with bonus tracks: additional conversations and content in the shape of QR Codes. The print and design is quite beautiful and it's interesting to see this digitalism in an independent print - there is always a connection to the internet.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Gifts for Kitchen Lovers

Gifts for kitchen lovers: food mags Lucky Peach and Chickpea from the US, Fool from Sweden and Beef! from Germany plus 100 postcards of old cookbook covers from Penguin.

Saturday, November 22, 2014


After a successful collaboration with Penguin and the Buttoned-up book, the Fantastic Men founders started this bookish quarterly. There's an interview with editor Seb Emina on the Magculture blog and we made the video below.