Cover image photography by Tyrone Lebon. Cover graphic: Mark James Works
The debut issue of Artefact, the new newspaper for the University of the Arts London, features well-honed student journalism, imagery by a range of established artists and photographers and an influential name in the art director's chair: Scott King. I talked to him and the London College of Communication's Simon Hinde about the launch of the new project...
With its debut issue out this month Artefact will replace UAL's current student paper, Arts London News. As LCC's journalism and publishing programme leader, Hinde felt that ALN didn't reflect the kind of exciting journalism that could come from a student-led publication.
Equally, the format seemed restrictive and old-fashioned – the magazine was laid out according to templates, Hinde explains, with guidance from journalism staff with a background in newspaper layout. While the students saw the value in a publication being produced by the course, they were not particularly engaged.
Illustration by 123RF.com
"If you wander around Shoreditch and Soho you see a host of brilliant and exciting magazines produced by talented young people who are thinking differently about what journalism is and could be – and it seemed to me that our students could do the same," Hinde says.
Enter King – a recently appointed chair of visual communication at UAL – who on meeting Hinde agreed to art direct the project (he is interviewed below). King now works primarily as an artist but has a well-earned reputation for his work on magazines in the 1990s and early 2000s, having been art director of i-D and creative director of Sleazenation. Since then he has also designed and art directed several books and self-published works.
"Fundamentally, I wanted the thing to be outward-looking," says Hinde, "to talk to its audience not as students at UAL but as young people living in London, with all the social, cultural, artistic and political interests that implies. The magazine comes out of LCC but it should be something that people from a much wider community that our university can engage with."
Photography by Casey Orr
The writing is certainly strong – it's engaging and outward-looking, too – but it's interesting to note that the visual side of the magazine, its design and imagery, has come from outside of the college's student body.
King worked on the magazine with designer Oswin Tickler, a UAL alumnus who works out of the studio Smallfury, but on Artefact's debut issue at least, the college's design students were only involved during the initial stages – something Hinde is keen to develop further. As most of the work was carried out over the summer months, Hinde says, the students simply weren't around to contribute – but King and Tickler's template for the magazine can now be taken on by the students.
"We're in the early stages of this project and I'm keen to use talent from around the college and university," Hinde adds. "In our next issue, and in future issues, illustration and photography students will be providing artwork to illustrate articles. My intention is to broaden and deepen relationships with other courses and I hope this will include graphic design students, too."
Hinde's ambitions for the publication are such that he says he would like to see the magazine in shops, bars and cafes all over the capital. "I also want [it] to be unambiguously professional in its outlook and ambition: not to be a compromised 'student magazine'," he says. "The main stipulation I had was that it should showcase student writing at different lengths and in different styles and I think [Scott's] done an incredible job of doing that."
Below, I talk to King about his return to magazines and his design direction for Artefact.
Creative Review: What tempted you back to art directing a magazine again? What did Simon ask you to do with Artefact design-wise?
Scott King: Well, I've always continued to do self-published work in various forms, as well as books with JRP|Ringier and writing for Arena Homme+, but this is the first time in many years that I've art directed a magazine that you might describe as 'a commercial format' – one where I didn't wholly have control over the words or the contents, so it was very tough!
But I'm pleased with the results. Simon and I first discussed this project at the start of 2014, so it's taken a long time to come to fruition. I think the whole thing has been much more difficult than either of us imagined it would be. Simon didn't really have any pre-requisites design-wise, but it is, in some ways, a vehicle for journalism students, so legibility/readability were certainly part of the criteria – the students seemed to want it to have 'attitude' too – so I hope it has both of these things.
I really just tried to heighten the stakes by inviting many well known artists and photographers to contribute, which they very kindly did – the idea being that the magazine would then have a life beyond UAL and would hopefully become a foundation for the students to work from.
Artworks by Linder Sterling
Photography by Gareth McConnell
CR: I like the set up between the Blackletter headlines/pull quotes and the typewriter font for the body text, but the layout of the type as a whole seems quite pared back ... unlike a lot of magazines at the moment. Can you tell us about the typeface choices?
SK: Yeah, I like that font combination too, it's very simple and almost makes itself work if it's done carefully. I was trying to imagine the whole thing being somewhere between a newspaper and an old fashioned pamphlet – not a stylish fanzine sort of pamphlet – but one of those old Marxist home-produced kind of things like Touchpaper, something that you might have seen on Sheffield University campus in 1978.
I'm not sure I achieved that, but I really just tried to make it very simple: the idea being that if I wasn't there to design it, so long as the images were great, the magazine would still look good. Oswin Tinkler then came in and made the final designs.
Photography by Luke Stephenson
CR: At A3 Artefact is nice and big – did this format influence how you approached the design? It must be great to have the space to show images by people like Linder and also Luke Stephenson's photography, for example, at that size?
SK: Well, it's funny you mention that. I've only ever designed one publication in an A3 format before, and if you get it right, it looks great – but if you get it wrong it just looks like a pointlessly oversized standard magazine. So, I actually found it very difficult to work in this format, it's really very 'physical' and really can't be done 'on screen' – it really needs to be printed and studied and changed a lot.
But yes, it's great to be able to work with brilliant images from world class artist's and photographers on this sort of format. But the success of this format absolutely depends on getting great images, then using all the space that you're perhaps not used to seeing in a magazine.
I'm not normally very diplomatic – but am undergoing a self-initiated programme of retraining – so I think all the images worked well at this scale; and they really did, more or less.
Illustration by Will Cooper Mitchell
Image by Mark James Works
CR: Your new role as a chair of visual communication means that – according to UAL – you can give students guidance based on industry experience and expertise. What advice or suggestions did you give (or would you give) to the students working on Artefact?
SK: I just think they should use it as a springboard. I think they should be proud of it and they should act quickly to capitalise on it – great magazines are entirely reliant on great contributors, great ideas, great arguments and inspired direction. So it's really up to them – but I hope this is the best possible start for them.
Artefact issue one (A3 format, 52 pages, free) is out now. It is produced, managed and edited by students on the third year of LCC's BA (Hons) Journalism course. More at artefactmagazine.com. Scott King's website is scottking.co.uk.
Writers: Danielle Agtani, Yasaman Ahmadzai, Ivo Aleixo, Beatrice Bosotti, Dominic Brown, Sean Coppack, Luke O'Driscoll, Ed Oliver, Ebi Osuobeni, Bianca Pascall, Corie Schwabenland, Emily Segameglio, Zeus Simcoe, Storm Simpson, Isabella Smith, Fraser Thorne, Diana Tleuliyeva, James Wood. Images: Charles Avery, Jeremy Deller, Pete Donaldson, Jason Evans, Will Henry, Tyrone Lebon, Gareth McConnell, Casey Orr, Mathew Sawyer, Corie Schwabenland, Isabella Smith, John Spinks, Luke Stephenson, Linder Sterling, Juergen Teller.
Artwork of the month: Fuck You to the future (without me), Mathew Sawyer, 2014, C-type print (courtesy the artist)