September 15, 2016

Unity Culture Club: On Your Radar Meets Angharad Lewis

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This week, the On Your Radar team went on a field trip to find out how we would go about making our digital offering a print-worthy publication.

Hosted by our neighbours Magculture at their St John Street store, the talk (which we recently featured ) was led by editor and publisher Angharad Lewis, who cut her teeth at Grafik magazine and recently released her first book, ‘So you want to publish a magazine?’.

As well as imparting key take-outs from the book, collated from both her extensive experience in publishing and a rolodex full of great contacts who contributed with interviews, she chatted to us about what’s on her radar at the moment.

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Where do you get your inspiration from? You mentioned receiving and hoarding boxes of post in the past, does that contribute?

That’s a really hard question! It’s quite unexpected sources. All the stuff that I’ve collected over the years – that doesn’t really happen anymore, people don’t really send stuff in the post. Things are so digital these days, for everybody, and I find that really uninspiring a lot of the time.

I think my biggest inspiration is actually talking to people, when you meet people. I think that most email is a complete waste of time and if you can take a couple of hours to go and meet someone for a coffee you’re going to get a hundred times more out of it – and probably more to take away with a head buzzing full of ideas. Whereas you can just sort of sit in front of your screen for the same amount of time and actually get very stagnated in terms of inspiration.


In terms of your creative process, do you have any rituals you adhere to? When you get an idea how do you develop it?

I’m very paper and pen. Some people take the piss out of me for having a paper diary. I can’t go digital with things like that – I sound like quite a grandma! But yes, I have to write things down by hand and that’s how I find I connect things to memory and how ideas get freed up as well.

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I often find that when I write things down it makes things visual in my mind. Because a lot of magazines are beautiful in the way they’re designed and printed, do you think that publishing is more focused on aesthetic than the actual words?

Yes, I think that does happen and there are examples – where it’s about design muscles being flexed and it’s maybe flimsy content or not particularly well-thought-out editorial concepts. So the really good magazines are where those come together and design is really important, but it’s only one ingredient in the recipe. You’ve got to have great writing and thinking and ideas as well. And you very quickly notice if you pick up a seductive-looking magazine but it’s not delivering. I think that comes through when you start reading.

There is a bit of a culture at the moment where you just pick [a magazine] up because it looks lovely. You pay for it and take it home and probably it sits around in your living room and you never really read it – and it’s just a sort of momentary pleasure. There’s no real substance to it. I think those magazines won’t survive.


Lastly, who is on your radar at the moment? Who is killing it in the magazine world?

Mushpit. It is genuinely funny and it’s got real energy and comes off the page. It’s a brilliant idea and they’re not really bogged down with design, it’s kind of pastichey on the fashion world, but it’s just a rollicking good magazine.

I think maybe what we need is a bit more radical [thinking], a few more mavericks – people who aren’t just making nice, safe, lovely, calm design coffee table mags, but where there’s something really important or funny and interesting things to say. Things that don’t look nice and clean and safe, but have a bit more warmth with ideas coming through.

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Finally, if you’re left feeling inspired, here are some top tips from the talk:

Have a great phenomenal idea
Ask yourself, “what is so special and unique bout my idea that I’m killing all these trees for it?” (Felix Burrichter)

Be prepared to do unglamorous jobs
It’s not just interviewing inspiring people (ahem) and creating beautiful layouts – be prepared to lug boxes up stairs.

Work with your friends
The best work, made with and for your friends, will always come from a genuine place. Just look at Dazed & Confused; friends who worked together to create something that not only reflected a genuine culture, captured the zeitgeist.

Evolve, invent, expand, celebrate
Once you’ve survived a few issues, now is the time to innovate and stay ahead of the curve. A magazine is your outlet to try new ideas and flex creative muscle, and in a fast-paced world you must grow constantly to keep your readers interested. But, most importantly, have a party. A wrap party, a launch party… just have one – you’ve got to enjoy the journey.

To sum it all up in the words of Jefferson Hack: “Enjoy it, and don’t be afraid of making mistakes”