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Raw Print Celebrate Magazines in Monthly Seminars

4 October 16 words: Kimberley Bond
Matt Gill and Alex Smith are the pair delivering monthly seminars on the print industry
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When I started my second semester as a magazine journalism student, my heart sank to the pit of my stomach when our tutor announced that we were expected to produce our very own magazine from scratch. It seemed like an impossible task for someone independent from a big media company to create something not only unique, but of high enough quality to scrape a passing grade at least. So it was with pure serendipity that I found out about Raw Print. Committed to the magazine industry, the co-founding pair host regular talks on how to produce independent magazines, with the help of industry professionals. Perhaps I wasn’t so screwed after all.

When I meet Matt for our interview, he comes stacked with a pile of independent publications – including LeftLion, naturally – and it’s immediately clear he wasn’t exaggerating when he described himself as a ‘magaholic’. “I’ve always loved reading,” he explains. “It’s more of a physical experience than TV or film, as it allows you to use your imagination. I’ve always loved the art and design aspects within magazines and the creative process of it. It’s something that’s always interested me.”

It’s this interest in how magazines are manufactured that influenced him to start Raw Print back in 2010. “I’m a lecturer at NTU in fashion communication and promotion. Six years ago, we did a change of direction for the course with a move for students to create their own zine project. We worked with Alex Zamora on it, who got us to take part in the London Zine Symposium. While we were there, we sold a lot and it became a yearly thing for us.”

It was a few years later that he was introduced to Alex Smith [owner of independent magazine shop, Ideas on Paper] and Raw Print as we know it began to take shape. “Alex had the idea of holding talks and discussions by using our contacts in independent publishing.” Matt explains. “We got students involved in helping us organise and run the social media and website for the Raw Print brand.”

The first year of Raw Print talks started in September 2014, running over the academic year. Hugely popular, with most seminars selling out, its success brought about the idea of Metazine. The Metazine – a magazine about magazines – expands on the subjects addressed by the Raw Print speakers, archiving the seminar content and building on it. “Yeah, Metazine isn’t your standard mag,” Matt explains. “We intended the talks to be an introduction into the industry, to celebrate independent publishing by bringing people together as a community, and to get students talking to professionals. For Metazine, we revisited all our speakers, who gave us a follow-up interview going into greater depth, highlighting the reality of how to make a magazine in 2016.”

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Metazine was designed by Craig Proud and Benjamin Kay of Dizzy Ink, Nottingham Trent alumni, and regulars at the Raw Print talks. The pair met Matt in the summer, and settled on giving the magazine its image. “Because it’s for Raw Print, we wanted Metazine to have the same raw feel,” Craig explains. “Each issue is cut individually and hand-bound, so a lot of work went into it”

“It’s almost like a celebration of zines in its design,” Benjamin adds. “It’s the era of DIY magazines – print is becoming cheaper, software such as InDesign and Photoshop are easy to use, so making your own magazine is much more accessible.” Metazine’s strong format allows the reader to construct two narratives of the material in the mag; people who want to admire Dizzy Ink’s unique risograph prints can follow the variety of images, which are interspersed between the text-led interviews. “It’s definitely the strongest format we’ve used.” Craig said. “It works almost as if it’s two magazines in one.”

“Design is just as important an aspect as writing in magazines these days.” Matt says. “This is why we decided to do these split pages, as it allows people to delve into the text in a fairly straightforward way, as well as providing a larger and more in-depth discussion of material.”

The Raw Print talks have been host to some impressive speakers throughout its two-year run, with a variety of magazine genres; from Rob Orchard, editor of the slow journalism magazine Delayed Gratification, to Anja Wohlstrom from architecture magazine Icon. For its final talk of 2016, Raw Print welcomed Liz Schaffer from Lodestars Anthology – the quarterly travel magazine which focuses on luxe design and rich photography – and us lot from LeftLion.

The success of the talks throughout the year has given rise to plenty of material for the second issue of Metazine, due to be released early next year. “We’re also working on launching a Raw Print archive,” Matt says. “This will be a library made up of entirely independently published magazines and zines. At the moment I’m getting together some material; I’ve got the first fifty issues of i-D to start. Once I’ve got an assortment, we’re planning to have an exhibition.”

For some, however, independent publishing is a dead art. Print has gone through some dark times this year – we’ve seen some of the biggest names in publishing dying. The Independent moved solely online in March, and The New Day newspaper lasted for only fifty issues before folding in a crumpled heap in May. Despite this, Matt says print is still very much alive and kicking.

“Print isn’t dying, but it’s definitely changing. New technology and digital zines are exciting as they contain new elements, such as multimedia, which you wouldn’t usually get in print. These new elements can evolve, providing a dialogue between old and new technology, allowing old magazines to be reincarnated.”

For Matt, Raw Print and the magazine industry in general, are not necessarily all about the profitability of the final product.

“Magazines are fundamentally about telling stories in a really beautiful way,” Matt explains. “Some coffee table mags can cost between fifteen and twenty quid, but we pick them up and read them time and time again because they are a luxury. The editors we have come in and talk at our events do it for the love of doing it. People are desperate to be creative, and Raw Print wants to be part of that; it’s all about helping others in the creation of beautiful things.”

Raw Print with Seb Rogers (Cranked) and Nick Dawes (Hop and Barley), Wednesday 5 October, The Lacehouse, £3.

Raw Print on Facebook

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