A State of Independents

Something big has happened in the publishing world. Something interesting.
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While mainstream publishers continue to stare grimly at plummeting sales figures, falling advertising incomes and budget cuts, a persistent torrent of web-savvy, well designed and highly varied independent titles is thriving, with new titles cropping up every month. These independents cover every conceivable subject, from the predictable (fashion, architecture, cookery) to the more esoteric (sneaker culture anyone?) and are invariably beautifully designed. There’s no victory of style over substance here though — each small publisher seems to care deeply about his chosen field and has the expertise to back it up. Here are seven titles to appear in British design bookshops in recent years, though the magazines themselves are international. Any one would make a fine addition to any designer’s bookshelf. Enjoy…


Image © Elephant Magazine

Ah, the excellent Elephant magazine. Elephant is a new publication which focuses on art and visual culture. The magazine is divided into five parts: meetings, research, studio visits, economies and cities. Of the many new titles currently to be found out there, Elephant —still new on issue #6— looks set to establish itself in the visual culture sector.

Dapper Dan

Image © Dapper Dan

Dapper Dan is a brand-new men’s magazine that is “interested in inspiration, not novelty”. It is created in Athens, Greece and published twice a year, spanning fashion, culture and philosophy through striking photography and thoughtful texts. According to their website, “Dapper Dan is for the man who doesn’t feel he should have to be like everybody else.”


Image © File

File Magazine is a bi-annual publication featuring a broad selection of visual communication in the fields of graphic design, art, photography, fashion and moving image. Beautifully presented in a 30 x 39cm hard cover with a full-colour 96pp newsprint inner stitched inside. Recognising the potential synergy between print and moving image, each issue is accompanied by a full-screen online player, screening in full each issue’s short films, music videos and documentaries. A magazine to both watch and read.

It’s Nice That

Images © It’s Nice That

It’s Nice That is another one of those independents which looks set to stay. It showcases work from the fields of graphic design, product design and illustration, publishing exciting practitioners both on and offline, and directing that talent to produce creative projects for brands. The physical journal is published every April and October as an archive for the most interesting editorial from the last six months. For those who find relentless advertising a turn-off, each publication is entirely advertising free.


With all the iPad-inspired talk in the air of the death of print (a topic that refuses to die) it’s deeply heartening to find so many people so ready to launch their own titles, a fact that seems nicely to counter the prevailing prognosis for the publishing industry. That the industry has changed a great deal is not in doubt, and the dispiriting state of several first-rate established titles is a genuine concern. Perhaps though we’re witnessing not the death of an industry, but its metamorphosis into something different. As Jeremy Leslie of the excellent magCulture blog wrote in a recent Creative Review article, “It’s the tangible, physical medium of print that people turn to for self-expression.” There are no signs of the medium loosening its hold on the creative industry’s imagination. Beautiful magazines are here to stay.

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