With its all-analogue, no-beauty retouching ethos, PYLOT magazine stands out in the crowded indie mag market. Antonia Wilson talks to editor-in-chief Max Barnett and art director Daniel Clatworthy
Shown above: Cover of Issue 02: The Family Issue, photograph by Tom Johnson, from fashion photo story Into the Woods, with actor and character model Terry Wood
Spread from Issue 02, with photography from Max Barnett, for photo story Kith + Kin, inspired by family portraits of Barnett and his brothers growing up
CR: Can you explain how and when PYLOT was started?
Max Barnett: I started developing PYLOT in 2012 from a concept I had during my degree at the University of Westminster. I used the name for the first issue as it was the start of a new product, a new approach to a fashion and art magazine, and it stuck. Issue Zero [Jan 2014] consisted of images and text mostly from myself, purely to get interest from other creatives and start building a team. Issue One: the Craft issue, was released in May 2014, our second, the Family issue in May 2015.
CR: Why is PYLOT's all-analogue approach to photography important to you?
MB: We want to celebrate the skill and processes involved in analogue mediums and its rich history. There is an alternative layer of beauty garnered from an analogue photo; we wanted to show that to our readers in an accessible way. We like the idea of using an older medium of photography and applying it in a way that is current.
Spread from Issue 02, showing photo story The Thurstons, with photographs by Bex Day and clothing by American Apparel;
CR: And how was the ethos of no beauty re-touching decided?
MB: We feel unique in our policy, and we are trialing the approach on the public to see if they're receptive - so far it seems to be going down well. We wanted to say something different, to offer an alternative perspective on what constitutes a modern fashion photograph.
CR: Does this affect your choice of models?
Models are beautiful enough without having every 'imperfection' altered - it can create false ideals for both men and women and we want to promote a positive body image in our magazine. We use a mixture of models and street cast people in shoots. We like the idea of being more inclusive and using models that people wouldn't expect, but still love to use agency models, as this can produce some beautiful examples of non-retouched fashion imagery. It helps promote our point more clearly to have images that are directly comparable to more standard fashion images.
Spread from Issue 02, from Into the Woods, shot by Tom Johnson
CR: What are your thoughts on the indie fashion mag scene, and how does PYLOT stand out from the crowd?
MB: It's inspiring to see so many others making magazines at a time when print editions are in decline. It shows the passion and commitment to their cause by actually putting it into print. Acne Paper, Vintage i-D, Garage, The Face, and BJP are some of our inspirations. We aim to stand out by producing work that is both thought-provoking and beautiful, with our ethical and analogue approach and through the style of design - print still lives and so does analogue.
CR: Can you tell us more about the art direction of the magazine?
Daniel Clatworthy [art director]: We keep it as minimal as possible when laying out images, and test the limitations of what feels appropriate for presenting a collection of all-analogue photography, ie paper stock, text interacting with image, digitally created assets. The split masthead on the cover frames the image, and came about from trying to allude to a roll of negatives - that the selected cover image is one of a reel. Type choices are fluid, and headline style adapts depending on theme. The central approach is always that the images come first - they are our priority.
Cover of Issue 01, from a choice of two, shown here is the womenswear cover by Kasia Wozniak
CR: What was the idea behind theming issues?
MB: We like themes that can be widely applied allowing the creatives to explore relatable ideas around what each theme means to them. In our latest issue, The Family Issue, we were interested in what 'family' means in today's society. Photographer Wendy Bevan was inspired to shoot her sister Coral, which is something she hasn't done for a magazine before; and writer Ethel Bess wrote on fashion disasters in old family photographs; which in turn inspired me to shoot a menswear story around family portraits of my brothers and I.
CR: Have there been any particular challenges on the commercial side?
MB: At this stage all the ads are analogue, and not beauty retouched, which is something that we would love to continue. We face a hard task trying to pull this off and make money, so there may come a time where we have to be more creative with how we approach ads in order to keep our message strong. We have had a great response so far - many new independent magazines don't get major advertising until much later in development. To have worked with American Apparel already is a good sign and we need to keep the momentum going, and we have some special projects coming up online with other established brands.
Spread from Issue 01, from Fever shot by Kent Andreason
CR: Can you tell us more about your relationship with American Apparel [PYLOT is sold in AA stores and the magazine runs ads from the brand]? Considering PYLOT's aims to represent beauty in a true and fair way, did you have any concerns?
MB: Our relationship with American Apparel is an interesting one. We like the style they put out there and the negative press they received due to their style of imagery happened just before we had our initial meetings with them. We had heard that it was their plan to start making ads that were less sexual and so thought that a collaboration with us might have been a start to this. One of the things that worked out well is that their campaign images are rarely retouched, including the one we used, which is great for us.
CR: What are you rplans for PYLOT's future?
MB: At present the financial side is driven by sales of the first two print issues, and minor private investment, and we aim to be self-supporting in the next year. We are talking to a potential distributor for our third issue, and so hope to expand international distribution in order to further readership and exposure. We want to become one of the largest and most well-respected fashion and art magazines on the market.
Another spread from Issue 01, from Roots, shot by Bex Day
Issue 03 of PYLOT will be in stores and online in November 2015. Special thanks to features editor Rachel Speed.