Friday, July 14, 2006

Art magazines

Whenever I'm in London I invariably have to be somewhere in the west end, rather than hang out in the cool places like Berwick Street or Camden Town. Most of it's unbearable, but I do love the Borders on Oxford street. Hate Oxford street, way too crowded and full of rubbish shops - so Borders is a sort of oasis. There's a cafe up top, but to be honest I rarely venture beyond the ground floor as that's where their magazine racks are located and I love browsing.

Music magazines seem to have lost their way at the moment - they haven't really worked out how to report the new, with passion but rigour, and to reflect on the old with innovation. Too many people write about music, but few know how to let the music speak, perhaps because so few musicians are really able to reflect on their art with any real insight. Drummers? Second only to football players for insightful social commentary...

Art magazines on the other hand seem to be going through a temporary renaissance. Bizarrely, an awful lot of art these days strikes me as meandering masturbation, but - surprise o surprise - artists can actually write; and generally, being intelligent folk, they also have a lot to say for themselves. Interviews with artists usually make good copy - and good art, makes for a delightful magazine; add to that some cutting edge magazine design and beautiful print, and you have a recipe for something worth buying.

And Tracey Emin's column in the Independent on Fridays! Who'd have thought - but the girl writes better than she draws, and she is charming, intelligent and endlessly fascinating - despite most of her columns being about her life, or rather her life on the floor following a night on the tiles (well, it is subtitled My Life in a Column). It's damn fun tho! Tracey Emin - my new found literary friend. Who'd have thought?

Anyway, I was browsing Borders today and homed in on the art and design magazines, of which there were many. The only problem with art magazines is they assume their readership works for big design and PR companies with corporate account cards to spend on frippery - e.g. they are so over-priced. Nicely put together, and probably worth it (they are never more than the price of a CD!) they are still more than us humble folk can afford, and not things you tend to scoop up to buy en masse, although today I wanted to.

Here's some of the best from today's visit:

  • Eye magazine - the international review of graphic design £15.99
  • Foxy Dreamy, Yes Indeedy - not really an art mag, but a cartoon film of various hand-sewn teddies and sock monkeys. Only for adults who can "indulge in make-believe" - although, I'm one, and I have no idea what this is about, it jurst lookd pritty! Yours for £10
  • 3x3 magazine - devoted entirely to the art of contemporary illustration, published three times a year. Quite beautiful - and so good, they even publish their own Illustration Annual. Affordable in the USA, but from the UK even the student subs are $53 for three issues.
  • .cent magazine - a quarterly magazine celebrating creativity in all its forms, with a guest editor each issue which should keep things lively. Not just art - covers fashion and film too

And two I actually bought today:

  • Modart Europe - "creative action = active creation" - only £3.50 (6 issue subscription £20 or 30 Euros), and you can download the previous issue in low resolution for free from
  • Art Review - actually an old well-established mag, but in its latest issue completely reborn and looking very modern and sexy as a result. Very promising, and only £4.80 (but a subscription is a bargain £38 for 12 monthly issues). Will be interesting to see if they can maintain the quality and the imagination - hopefully its a diverse team, not a one man band, but looks promising - I especially liked the interviews, allowing artists to speak for themselves (as of course they do in volumes through the exquisite illustrations too).

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