mags of the month: january

In this month’s edition we take a look at magazines with social activism, optimism and change in their agenda. As well as a whole heap of suggestions for lovers of design, illustration, photography and the written word. The magazines mentioned here have been published within the past month or so, and each have been read and carefully chosen to bring you a list of mags and stand out features from those issues.

All of the magazines from this article will be available to be chosen in our brand new mix and match magazine subscription service, where you can personally curate your year of monthly deliveries from a roster of 140+ magazines.

big ideas

© illustration by alain le quernec, mincho #14, 2017

a political poster is not there to show the truth, but rather to encourage action with the aim of bringing about improvements.
Alain le Quernec, Mincho #14, 2017

In solely featuring Alain le Quernec’s ‘racism is hate’ Donald Trumpet illustration on its cover, Mincho‘s 14th edition produce an early contender for cover of the year. The issue itself contains essays, interviews and a striking selection of illustrations which emphasise this edition’s purpose to encourage graphic artists to speak up about issues that “matter for the sake of social transformation”.

The Donald Trump cover reflects two stand-out features in the issue, one that surveys the work of Alain le Quernec, whose “provocative spirit” is described passionately and his images given full page spreads. The second is a super feature on cover designs that have tackled Donald Trump, giving special attention to illustrators David Plunkert and Barry Blitt who have illustrated covers for The New Yorker, The New York Times and TIME amongst other publications. The article inspired our own look at Donald Trump covers, looking at independent magazines who have critiqued his presidency. Other notable features: a fascinating profile of the artist Paul Peter Piech, and a peak at pictograms.

© mincho #14, 2017


© illustration by matthew brazier, like the wind #14, 2017

Like the Wind always do a great job of commissioning illustrations, and its overall aesthetic greatly hinges on how these remarkable images interact with stories, page design and typography. There are many small design touches in the issue that mirror and accentuate its illustrations, like the black strips anonymising the names of the bandit runners in the feature story, which reflect the black strips that cover the eyes of the runners in the illustrations. Or like how in ‘Down to Earth’, a story of how a husband and wife ran the length of South America, the dotted arrows within the text columns echo the journey depicted in its illustrated map.

There are some excellent illustrations, like Matthew Brazier‘s bandit runners, Luis Pinto‘s runner etched into a heart (more on his illustrations below) and Chiara Lanzieri‘s women running past a few of London’s landmarks. Ample space is given to the photo feature by Alexis Borg, whose photos of the Mount Gaoligong ultra marathon in the foothills of the Himalayas is set onto a dark grey background, highlighting the sun-drenched crystal quality of the images.

© illustration by chiara lanzieri, like the wind #14, 2017


the joy of these images for anyone with a passing interest in graphics and typography is in the sheer variety of styles and formats. many use a sort of cut and paste aesthetic, giving a sense of rawness that aptly echoes the low budget sexual films promised on celluloid.
emily gosling, typenotes, #2

If it’s smart written articles of substance you’re after, two confidently written essays in the latest edition of Typenotes, a journal about typography and graphic design, provide just that. Editor Emily Gosling pens an intriguing article about 60s and 70s erotic film posters, revealing how many professional graphic designers of the time shunned their byline fearing the consequences of being attached to a lewd project such as a porn film. She also discusses how and why the posters didn’t actually reveal all that much skin – the answer is more innocent than you might think.

There are some other superb features in this edition, including a look at tattoo lettering and how an agency approached designing a banknote, but it’s Laura Snoad’s essay on designing mastheads/title pieces (the image of a publication’s title printed on the front page) that will be of interest to many magazine readers. She expertly crafts this essay drawing attention to the sensitive interplay of tradition and radical design, showing how designers are acutely aware not to alienate a publication’s loyal audience. She goes on to analyse some publications’ mastheads, including Brick magazine, whose latest issue is currently available for selection.

© typenotes #2, 2017


It’s sad to see that issue 20 of Boneshaker magazine will be their last but it has shared some outstanding illustrations over the years, and right up there with the best is Luis Pinto‘s Horsebiking illustration for a tale of one riders’ trot through Italy, Slovenia and Croatia. Luis Pinto responds to this story with his magnificently imaginative and colour-intense illustration of the knobbly-kneed warhorse bike that she rode. There are many other fine examples of illustrations from the issue including Matt Chinworth’s volcanic mega city, Sam Schuna’s tattooed lady, Chris Perry’s itinerary of a seven day trip from Norway to London, and Amanda Willemse’s cartographic realisation of an essay on bike camping.

we hired mountain bikes: carthorses with stocky legs and big knees, no temperament at all and, when propped up laden, an unfortunate tendency to slowly fall over.
jo klaces, boneshaker, #20

© illustration by luis pinto, boneshaker #20, 2017


some people think that you need to go to faraway places – africa or the amazon – to see interesting wildlife, but you really don’t. you just need a garden, or a park, and a good book.
dara mcanulty, positive news, #92

This piece was truly inspiring, as often Positive News‘ subjects are. In its latest edition, Editor Lucy Purdy met with four young conservationists aged 13-19 and shared their experiences with British wildlife, showing that despite what some media tell us, young people aren’t just fastened to their phones, or if they are, maybe they are using it for good.

“It’s depressing to read stories about climate change and declining biodiversity, but it doesn’t make me want to give up, it makes me want to do something about it,” says Sorell Lyall from Nottingham, and another of the young interviewees, Zach Haynes who is 13 from Yorkshire says “it’s going to be up to my generation to look after the planet, so I try to get my friends to come on walks with me and get interested in saving species. If we get enough people into it – maybe we can do it.” There’s an optimism that runs throughout these interviews, that it’s never too late or futile to take action on something that urgently requires change.

© positive news #92, 2018


Charlotte Roberts and Bertie Brandes’ zine Mushpit started life when they were students when they wanted an outlet that other publications couldn’t provide, some years later and with an art director enlisted on issue #10 Mushpit is a masterpiece of originality. It oozes with energy, humour, intelligence, sex, frustration and sardonic smiles and there is literally nothing else like it.

This edition is genuinely laugh out loud stuff with highlights coming in the form of a handful of cheeky quizzes, like the one for private school students now seeking creative work but not knowing which one is right for them, and ‘who’s your perfect pathetic rebound?’. It’s the imagery and design touches that make the magazine, with the editorial voice of a pink marker pen and restless page numbering dotting the pages, and brilliantly funny images and fake adverts such as Conservative politician, Jacob Rees-Mogg’s merchandise collection and ‘prick repellant’ spray for women. It’s glorious.

© mushpit #10, 2017


his passion for photography all began when he discovered his father’s national geographic collection as a kid. “i would look through a stack of them every night before bed. it was a way to travel and explore the world when i couldn’t in any other way”.
satori, issue #2

Issue #2 of Satori is dedicated to ‘change’, and the most permanent of all changes: death. Using the teachings of philosophy, psychology and religion the magazine has already set itself apart as a publication that forgoes passivity in favour of promoting active, heedful and mindful lives in its readers. There are many articles in this edition that go deep into the teachings of Buddhism and the philosophy of Kant, but also from real-life experiences of loss.

The photography used in the issue has a healing quality to it. Many of the images of wildlife is remote and somewhat soothing, as if it captures a tranquil place in the mind. There are plenty of examples of this, like Phil Hewitt’s dreamy Suffolk landscapes that are full of memories, Sara Sandri’s black and white photography that appeals to the viewer to make patterns out of the natural objects she photographs, and in James Wright‘s images of a rugged Scottish landscape with the colours of the seasons in full bloom. The subject of the issue will be of interest to many but it’s also an issue for those who enjoy landscape photography.

© photography by sara sandri, satori #2, 2017

now available to MagShuffle subscribers:
mincho / like the wind / typenotes / boneshaker / positive news / mushpit / satori

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