I work in a paper shop. “Work”. I’m paid to talk to people about stationery, pretty gift wrap, Filofaxes and, currently, Christmas decorations. Dream job? Probably. Being just a temporary Sales Assistant for the Christmas period, I’m aware my time within Paperchase is limited. This is yet to impact on my enthusiasm for spending in-store, however, and it’s not just notebooks I’ve been in-about recently.
Some customers might not be aware that as well as stocking some of the finest (and priciest) writing goods and gifts, Paperchase also sell some pretty rad magazines too. The magazines on sale in-store aren’t your average tabloid or celebrity speculation outlet – unfortunately, they’re also not as cheap as these kinds of publications either, sweeping through the scanner at between £5.00 and £18.00 each. But there’s a lesson to be learned from them about the value of the saying “quality over quantity”.
Look does matter.
This type of publication is full of colour, photography, bulk copy and alternative content, bound by a thick spine that looks fantastic when lined up against others on a shelf. Their appearance is every bit as important as the quality of the content, publications usually sourcing their ‘look’ from professional graphic designers, illustrators and photographers, all dedicated to recreating the brand in each edition to suit the theme. How they feel to hold is equally valuable: an array of smooth covers decorates the shelves in our Glasgow store which are full of glossy pages, sugar-paper and chunky spines. Among them, Oh Comely, UPPERCASE Magazine and A New Type of Imprint..
Content that speaks for itself.
In my hands I am clutching the latest edition of Oh Comely, a UK-based magazine dedicated to creativity and the artists who live by it. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that my greatest motivation for picking Oh Comely above the others was down to affordability; it costs a mere £5. It is also only out bi-monthly. I now feel like I can spoil myself without breaking the bank or entering a dangerous realm of guilt and still have something truly beautiful to hold in my hands.
Flicking through the pages of Issue 27 (oct / nov), I see stories which adhere to the theme of ‘the body’. Beautiful illustrations of the anatomy meet my eyes, including the profiles of 13 Oh Comely readers of all shapes and sizes discussing their favourite things, biggest problems and insecurities surrounding their bodies past, present and future. This issue is the perfect combination of real-life snail mail, illustration, photography and mindfulness.
I really believe that the look of an article is ultimately what will entice someone who doesn’t normally read to read. I enjoy the while canvas of Oh Comely. Many pages are simply white with cloudy-grey Cambria font, the text itself shaped on off-centre across two pages to create something rather simple, though, not entirely enticing to the eye. However, this issue has a great balance. If every second page was full of large images, you’d begin questioning why this is a magazine and not a catalogue.
Something I really look for in magazines these days is some sort of exploration into mindfulness. Although I’ve yet to try anything myself, I do have a certain admiration for individuals who practise yoga, eat healthily, meditate and take time for themselves to be creative or simply take a hot bath. I feel as though this is partly down to my lifestyle at the moment. My weeks are flying by without the faintest trace left behind, each day full of assignment preparation, core-reading, tutorial questions, part-time customer service and agonising hour long journeys to and from the city each way. I feel as though I have little time for myself. As a result, sound-of-mind and health have been compromised and I feel very run down, anxious and bloated every minute of the day that I am not asleep. A magazine I can indulge in during the daily commute is an essential two hours of ‘me’-time I enjoy. I like reading about other real life people who prioritise themselves in the hope that, one day, after university, I will be in a position to do the same for myself.
A publication which indulges you.
I have my sights set on being a writer of young-adult (or YA) fiction which is something, when said out loud around the wrong group of people, which might look like I’m trying to be a “big shot” and leave people wondering who the heck I think I am. I’m working hard to teach myself that not everybody’s mind works like this.
The truth is, I don’t share my blog posts and published articles on social media as a way of saying, ‘look at me, look at me – I’m wonderful.‘ I do it because I want to engage with others with a similar mind set and join a community which will enable me to thrive, thus, where I will produce my best material. When I hold a magazine like A New Type of Imprint – which I have yet to actually buy because it’s £18.00, and hey: I’m a student – I feel connected to people who understand me.
It’s difficult in the creative world having to justify yourself to everyone – I often felt compelled to downplay the university course I studied perilously to get into for two years: “I’m studying Creative Writing but, don’t worry, I’ll get a real job and just write my best-selling fiction on the side.”
This seems shows others outwith your field that you really do have your shit together. Thankfully, I no longer feel like I have to do this. I study a joint degree of English with Creative Writing and Journalism. I will hopefully attain a BA Honours degree in two years time. Reading about other’s in creative courses spurs me to keep going. I’ve realised as a writer of the printed word I will likely stick to niches my whole life, leaving the mass-coverage to the consumerists. This will leave quality with us. I feel a part of something when I read beautiful magazines, something which does not require justification: something I want to create myself one day.