Print designFeature

How to create a magazine: 5 pro tips

Five leading designers talk us through the pitfalls of how to create a magazine. You can make one too...

Are magazines dead? Far from it. Despite the doom and gloom that surrounds commercial publishing, independent 'zines and small-scale mags are booming. And you can make one, too ...

Of course, wondering how to create a magazine and actually doing it are worlds apart. It's why we've gathered together the potted wisdom of five designers who've self-published and survived.

01. Typography design

"Column width is really important," says Luke Hayman from Pentagram. "Consider how the typography is set, and the text size. You can get away with smaller fonts for a younger audience, for example with youth magazines like Maxim, but consider something like The New Yorker, which is exquisitely designed typographically - it uses quite a large font because you're reading multi-thousand-word articles."

02. Editorial independence

"The most important thing for me," says Matt Willey, of Studio 8, "is having a handle on the editorial content. It's not that I don't care about the design of it, but we can publish things that are valuable.

"We're not owned by anyone - we're completely independent, so we only publish what we want to. We're not pandering to a media conglomerate that thinks, 'This is what a men's magazine should look like,' and then comes up with Nuts."

03. The pitfalls of newsprint

"As a graphic designer, working with newsprint has its own unique set of challenges. It's wonderfully cheap to mass-produce, but it refuses to print evenly, colours can bleed or appear washed out, and you'll never get photographs as crisp as they would be on high-gloss magazine stock. It takes some time to get it right, but luckily our printers are patient and willing to work with us until we approve each issue."

04. Life after your magazine launches

"There are lots of resources available on how to start a magazine," says Bec Brown, the publisher of Blanket Magazine. "But the real challenge isn't the launch, it's afterwards: how do you keep it going? And not just this month or the next, but indefinitely.

"I've produced Blanket for more than five years and have overcome many obstacles on the way, relying mainly on my instinct. I haven't found a formula to success; it really boils down to sheer dogged determination, hard work and the sacrifice of your free time - and you need to be prepared to do it for little (or no) monetary reward.

As the old joke goes: 'How do you make a small fortune with a magazine? Start with a large fortune'."

05. Wearing many hats

For designer, illustrator, speaker and first-time publisher Elliot Jay Stocks, the most important thing he's learned during the process of bringing a magazine from idea to sale, is that editorial and design are just parts of a much larger picture.

"You'll need to be prepared to wear many hats," he warns. "The thing that I really underestimated with 8 Faces [pictured above] was the time it'd take to do all the 'unseen' stuff - things like trying to get funding, chasing invoices, liaising with the printers, cutting down the copy, and so on and so forth," he says.

Do you want more tips on how to create a magazine? Or have you published your own magazine? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments below and share your magazine's website link so that everyone can take a look.

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