Not the first interesting publication from that small territory to be showcased this week, Bracket is as straightforward as it is enjoyable: a 15-question survey was sent out to a collection of creatives, broadly themed “Craft”. Following an introduction by Duane King, the responses are all printed unedited.
That’s not to say that there isn’t some craft in putting this together – the six-column grid is faintly printed in the opening and closing pages, and the 16 handwritten responses from creatives based around the world, originally compiled as a supplement to Anonymous’ Crafty2010 event, are arranged well.
There’s more than a few big names in there, including Ian Anderson of Designers Republic, KarlssonWinkler, Jessica Hirsche and Geoff Mcfetridge. They’ve also included chocolate makers, musicians and a film director in the mix.
I’m not really clear who did the illustrations in the centre pages, but they fit the theme well.
Some choose to use photography to answer the questions, others barely readable typography. The handwriting of each person gives each set of replies a truly personal feel.
I particularly sympathize with this response from Geoff Mcfetridge.
And then it’s over. Simple, uncomplicated, entertaining, and it doesn’t outstay its welcome. They’ve declared that there will eight Brackets in all; the second issue is themed “Hunger”, and I’m very much looking forward to it.
I wrote about an edition of Centrefold previously. Unlike that edition, this one has been produced by Andrew Hobbs and Daniel Baer. The first thing to say is that it’s huge, and its foil-embossed card cover gatefolds out into something even bigger – 87cmx42cm, or nearly 3 ft by nearly 1.5ft.
It’s well printed on 150gsm heavy, metallic stock by GF Smith, bound loosely with a black elastic thread, and contains a series of fashion photographs.
To be honest, most of these leave me pretty cold, but I’m not a fashion type, so I’m not really target audience.
I do like the angles on the shot of these models though.
Overall, its scale forces you to look at the images, but the photos, though beautifully shot, make this little more than a lovely paper sample for me. It’s a genuine shame – I really liked the drama of the previous edition. Hopefully they’ll be back on form in the next edition.
I Want You is also a quarterly, visual-only publication, a simple 16-page free magazine based in Seattle. They sent me four issues, and its images, in contrast to the majority of Centrefold, are almost all extremely arresting. The juxtapositions are never explained or justified, but they add to the sense of unease. The artist credits are in the top corner of each page, always displayed as a simple link to the website, where more images – many of them exclusive – can be seen.
It doesn’t take long to go through each large-format issue, but certain images stay with you for much longer than that.
Not sure if it’s worth the $15 cost of back issues on its website, but definitely worth paying postage for the latest issue that’s available to order for free online, and/or picking one up if you are near one of their global distribution points.
Headmaster is a new queer magazine very much in the tradition of Butt. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but doesn’t pass up the chance for some eye candy either.
I don’t know the queer arts scene at all, but the Headmaster crew assure me that they were particularly delighted with the names they got to contribute.
The conceit is a cute one – the Headmaster (a distinctly British word – they’re Principals over here) sets homework assignments for credit. The contributors – including Sholem Krishtalka, manager of the world’s oldest continually operating gay bookshop, whose painting is above – have to respond as best they can.
It’s mostly visual, with a clean, simple design, and three articles spread throughout the issue. The one by Connor Habib about making a gay porn video is well-written and unexpectedly tender. The other two are good, but could do with an edit.
I really enjoyed this cheeky (ahem) series of Wallpaper*-esque revering of furniture design in miniature, the chairs nestled among a forest of close-up body hair.
And the photo recipe for fried bread is just silly.
The homework assignments are all printed at the back – I’d have preferred them next to each article, so I could immediately grade the results for myself.
Like so many new publications, it was over-funded at the start thanks to Kickstarter (check out the amusing assignments for each donation level), and this first issue is available in a limited run of 1000. They plan to make it
quarterly twice a year. At $20, it’s a little pricey, but for such a visually strong magazine, that doesn’t seem too outrageous. Good stuff.
Ampersand is an Australian literary magazine of the kind that’s becoming fairly popular – that is, fiction alongside photography alongside short interviews and non-fiction. By far the strongest elements are its paperback format and design. The cover (above) cleverly apes Penguin Classics, while introducing the issue’s (fairly broadly interpreted) theme.
Inside, the Penguin Classics theme prevails, with plenty of Gill Sans abound.
It’s truly a lovely format, the size and shape of a paperback book, bound on the top edge rather than the side. Very easy on the eye and the hand, and its narrow shape never appears to be a problem, though I imagine it’s a real issue for Mikie Inglis, the designer.
Monochrome pencil illustration is the overwhelming aesthetic, but it’s not the only one. Colour photography is sparse and well used, including this selection taken from the seventh edition of KesselsKramer‘s In Almost Every Picture.
Some articles and images are read “top to bottom”, but not too many to become irritating.
The text itself is a real mixed bag, varying from the enjoyable to the over-long and self-congratulatory. The non-fiction pieces are a shade better than the fiction, but that’s not a hard-and-fast rule. My favourite pieces were Jazz Andrews’ Adventure, Chritos Tsialkos’ eulogy to Jack Charles, and the interview with the whipcracker. Did you know the crack of a whip occurs when the loop of string on its tip breaks the speed of sound? My fact of the day, that.
I also really liked its index, a rare sight in a magazine, combined here with that of another publication, to add an extra frisson of unpredictability. In this issue, the guest index is from The Bog People by PV Glob (1969).
Anyway, Ampersand is a really good-looking magazine, and not a terrible read. Which is as good a place as any from which to get even better.
Read anything good yourself lately?