Computer Arts: Can you tell us a bit about the production of WAH, how it's put together and how long it takes each issue takes to complete ...
Conor Purcell: I use InDesign and Photoshop. Photos play a large part in the design, so, often, I'll work on the design of a story without having the final text. It takes a month or two to design everything – I'll go back to a design four or five times and tweak it, and often it’s a case of taking elements away, rather than adding new ones. In this way, the design process is a bit like the editing process, in terms of constant tweaking.
It's myself and a designer, Roui Francisco – he helps with the production process and packaging the files for the printer, and is someone I can bounce ideas off. He's a very talented young designer in Dubai. Ultimately, though, this is a magazine set up so I could create it myself on a laptop and so everything is done after asking the question: Can I do this myself?
CA: How would you describe the overall look of the mag?
CP: I think the design is simple and structured. I wanted a template that I could design myself – a coherent use of space, a simplicity that will move across all the issues. I want people to be able to pick up any issue and know it’s We Are Here.
I was influenced by Apartamento magazine and Teller magazine – both of those use very few elements in the design, but both are very compelling. I guess the magazine is quite lo-fi, which might set it apart from other titles. I wanted it to be the anti-Conde Nast Traveller – no glossy photos, no PR-dominated articles and a sort of granular look throughout the design. This hopefully works with the text, which is ground-up look at a city.
CA: All photography is taken on smartphones: why is that?
CP: This was down to simplicity – I wanted the design to be clear and uncluttered and something I could do myself. This extended to the photography. I'm not a trained photographer and wanted to able to travel to places and take photographs on my phone and use Instagram filters.
Instagram does get a bad rap, but it levels the playing field – the composition becomes more important than the equipment, and that was interesting. In more practical terms, it’s easier in certain places such as Afghanistan to take pictures on a phone – it’s definitely more discrete.