I recently caught up with fellow FFF’er Luke Tonge to find out about Issue 1 of new typography magazine The Recorder which he designed and art-directed this Summer. The mag itself is 120 pages of typographic goodness, with a stunning gold foil masthead that continues onto the back cover, multiple throw-out pages, spot colours and a very pleasing sewn binding. Contained within: Jamie Murphy of The Salvage Press, Design educator Harry Leeson, Illustrator David Doran, Pentagram’s Abbott Miller, The Herb Lubalin Study Center, Design legend Alan Kitching, Ghostsigns expert Sam Roberts, Design writer Angela Riechers, Ingo Italic and Bärbel Bold, Illustrator Neasden Control Centre, New York designer Jessica Svendsen and Type designer Gunnar Vilhjálmsson. Buy it online here, and read on to check out the interview and see how you can get a free copy courtesy of FFF…
Tell me a bit about the magazine & how you got involved?
Sure. Basically it’s a new revival of a very old magazine and its an absolute dream project. Type company Monotype first published ‘The Monotype Recorder‘ way back in 1902 and continued to do so sporadically for the next 90 or so years. It has incredible heritage with amongst others the amazing Beatrice Warde a former editor (appointed in 1927) and Eric Gill involved. As Monotype has been enjoying a public renaissance over the past couple of decades and moved into wider areas of type they put out a brief to reinvent the mag for a modern audience – not as a sales tool – but as a celebration of typography. I pitched in spring and over the past few months have been working very closely with Emma Tucker who is The Recorders editor (& unflappable mastermind), to put together the first (re)issue. It’s been quite a year for Monotype, they’ve added both Mark Boulton Design and Erik Spiekermann’s FontShop to their ranks, which cemented in my mind i’d made the right decision as they’re clearly a company as passionate about excellent typography now as in the days of Warde and Gill.
You’re no stranger to collaborating over distance, was this the case again with The Recorder as Monotype’s UK base is in London? How did it come together alongside your day-job?
It’s worked really smoothly for a number of reasons (and that isn’t always the case for distance projects as involved as a magazine relaunch) the biggest reason is how Monotype have been as a ‘client’ – they afforded me a huge amount of freedom to shape the magazine visually as I saw fit – and trusted me to find the balance of honouring their past while hopefully bringing the Recorder bang up to date. That ownership extended to spec’ing paper, determining the size and format, print finishing etc. Much credit has to go to Emma, she was a dream partner and we’ve developed a very complementary working relationship. As ever working at distance allows for a back and forth dialogue with big enough gaps to really digest and progress a design and our schedule allowed for that. The second big reason it worked as well as it did was because of the fine folk at LIFE Agency where I spend my days – they know i’m a magaholic AND a huge type nerd – so they understood this was a rare opportunity and a passion project I just couldn’t pass by, so they all generously supported me in going for it.
Our paths first met while you were out in Detroit working on that issue of Boat Mag, and I had just finished Issue 1 of Kinfolk, what is it about the magazine community that draws you back to it? Didn’t you fancy a break after Boat Mag?
I’ve always loved magazines and print, so for me they’ve always been the purest of canvas for design work – I love many aspects of digital but when it comes to consuming and owning a collection of stories or articles I just can’t get past the physicality and tactility of ink on paper. There’s so many words that come to mind when I think about printed magazines – craft, pace, artefact, feel, smell, substance, keepsake, etc – and they just don’t when I think about their digital counterparts. Boat was a great season for me and really opened my eyes to the indie magazine community – Jeremy Leslie aka Magculture, Steve at Stack, Dan at Magpile, Matt, Kuchar & Betty at Port, yourself at Kinfolk, Rosa at Cereal, Alec at Intern, Holly & Simon at Eye etc. There’s obviously loads more besides doing great work, but its a really open, unpretentious and enthusiastic microcosm to be a part of. Working in magazines is also a great opportunity to commission talented friends! I’m so stoked that in this relaunch issue we have brilliant illustrations by Neasden Control Centre and David Doran alongside great articles and photography, plus we were delighted to partner with the brilliant Mohawk Paper (shout out to Chris Harold for his help)