Ammo gets jacked up

For nine issues now, Ammo magazine has been appearing with its eclectic mix of illustrators. Led by David Hughes, its latest special project is a beautifully printed book devoted to the topic of lumberjacks. Yes, it's a strange theme but flicking through you'll find a compelling mixture of axes, checked shirts, beards and, of course, trees.

We tracked down Hughes at Ammo HQ to find out more about the project. Plus, he's offering five copies of The Lumberjack's Illustrated Guide to Wood Cutting to lucky Computer Arts readers. Details on how to win are below our interview...

Computer Arts (CA): So, why lumberjacks?

David Hughes (DH): "I wasn't too sure what angle to approach it from and decided to use paper as a starting point and see where I ended up. This got me thinking of paper mills; my dad, who works in the paper industry; and visits he and I made to Kent-based mills when I was a kid. I also thought about the origins of paper which logically led me to wood and trees. The ideas came together and a lumberjack theme was the outcome. I was a little worried as lumberjacks seems quite popular in contemporary illustration."

DH: "Well, creative types do seem to be drawn to plaid shirts - myself included - and perhaps that also contributed to the theme I chose."

CA: What are some of the more interesting responses to the theme, and who created them?

DH: "One of pieces I found most interesting was Andrew Kolb's illustration (above) - at first glance it's simply a lumberjack character but when you look closer you begin to see all the little details he's added. The trees behind the character are also a saw, the plaid pattern on the shirt is made up of trees with little birds on the branches and the longer you look the more you'll discover.

"Marie ERR (below) created an illustrated boardgame full of lumberjack-related imagery. Tim Parker cut his illustrations out before photographing them to produce the final piece. Jim Rogers created a lumberjack gallery featuring a selection of characters from 'Family Lamberjacque.'"

Marie ERR's boardgame style image

Marie ERR's boardgame style image

CA: The cover texture, bevelled corners, bellyband and free letterpress print - a lot has gone into the physical production of the book. Tell us a bit about the decisions you made here?

DH: "I decided to start Ammo special editions to push myself as a designer and also to push the quality and variety of output I publish. Working at a slightly larger scale (regular Ammo is A6) gives me a bit more freedom to play with the layout and overall design. In this book the paper is ridged and you can clearly feel this when you hold it in your hands. The beveled corners just felt right and were a feature I decided to add after seeing the artwork."

"I'm lucky to have found Ripe Digital and Rik Penny in particular as he's always happy to give me advice and make print suggestions. I chose to add a bellyband to the books because I didn't want to ruin the amazing artwork that Mr the Beef had created. I cut them all out by hand before folding and sticking them to the outside of each book. It's a bit of a chore but I think the final outcome is definitely worthwhile.

"The letterpress print was produced by Blush Publishing. They contacted me about a possible collaboration and I was more than happy to get them involved. I put them in touch with Nick Deakin, a regular Ammo collaborator who creates amazing artwork and who I knew I could rely on to do something brilliant."

CA: How much does it cost and how many did you print?

DH: "The lumberjack magazine costs £12 including the letterpress print. I've taken the unusual path of trying to keep each issue of Ammo available for as long as possible. This means it's hard to answer quantity questions as I'll use money from sales to continue printing the book for as long as possible. I'll still getting reprints of older issues of Ammo and they are still selling so it seems to be working. I've always been disappointed to discover a great looking magazine only to find that the older issues have already sold out, which is why I chose this approach."

Family Lamberjacue by Jimmy Rogers

Family Lamberjacue by Jimmy Rogers

CA: Who buys it?

DH: "I'd say it's people involved in the creative industries that buy Ammo publications. This includes illustrators, art students, graphic designers, web designers, painters and so on. I pack each issue that's sold personally and it's always rewarding when I notice that a person or studio that I respect has bought something."

CA: What does Ammo do for you creatively?

DH: "Ammo is my creative outlet, a place where I'm free to enjoy designing and working with like-minded creatives whilst producing printed output that I can be proud of. No matter what job you have there will always be constraints and inevitable compromises. With a personal project like Ammo I can really put my own mark on everything I release and have the freedom to select how the final product will look. I try to pass on as much of that creative freedom to the artists that take part as it's not something that's too common in commercial work."

Win a copy of the book

Enter our draw to win one of five prize copies of The Lumberjack's Illustrated Guide to Wood Cutting by sending a tweet to @ComputerArts and @AmmoMagazine with the hashtag #andimOK. We'll draw the winner on Monday 3 December 2012 at 12 noon GMT.


Watch for more from David Hughes and Ammo in our upcoming feature article Why We Love Print found in issue 209 of Computer Arts, on sale Thursday 13 December 2012.

Tim Parker's lumberjack image

Tim Parker's lumberjack image

Cover by Mr the Beef

Cover by Mr the Beef

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