Design inspiration from around the world.

What the FFF?

Founded in 2007 by an ever growing group of designers, illustrators, coders and makers eager to collect and share the best design work they came across, FormFiftyFive soon became an international showcase of creative work.

We scour the world’s best creative talent to keep FormFiftyFive a foremost collection of current design from both the young upstarts and well known masters. We’re constantly on the look out for new features that dig even deeper into what’s happening in the design community, so get in touch if there’s something you’ld like to see on here.

Have a look round, if you see something you love or hate be sure to comment, and drop us a line if there’s a juicy bit of creative gold you’d like to see on here.

Keep it real, the FFF team.

The FFF team

Glenn Garriock — 1582 posts
Graphic designer – Uetze, Germany

Jack Daly — 1191 posts
Graphic designer & Illustrator – Glasgow,…

Lois Daly — 45 posts
Lois Daly – Graphic Designer, Glasgow

Alex Nelson — 81 posts
Designer/coder – Leeds/London/Melbourne

Guy Moorhouse — 46 posts
Independent designer and technologist — London,…

Gil Cocker — 321 posts
Designer & Maker – London, UK

Liam Crean
Liam Crean — 20 posts
Designer & Developer – Derby, UK

Barry van Dijck — 125 posts
Designer & Illustrator – Breda, The Netherlands

Gui Seiz — 135 posts
Graphic Designer – London, UK

Chris J
Chris Jackson — 72 posts
Graphic Designer – Leeds, UK

Tom Vining
Tom Vining — 12 posts
Graphic Designer – London, UK

Tommy Borgen
Tommy Borgen — 15 posts
Graphic Designer – Oslo, Norway

Clinton Duncan — 24 posts
Creative director – Sydney, Australia

Amanda Jones — 27 posts
Graphic Designer – Ann Arbor, Michigan

Gabriela Salinas — 21 posts
Graphic designer – Monterrey, México.

Felicia Aurora Eriksson
Felicia Aurora Eriksson — 7 posts
Graphic Designer – Melbourne, Australia

Got something for us?

If there’s a juicy bit of creative gold you’d like to see on FFF, or you’d just like to get in touch, email us on the address below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

You can also check out our guide to the perfect submission here.

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Categories rowsEverything Interviews Books Events Jobs

Luke Tonge

Luke Tonge

Graphic Designer – Birmingham, UK

Posts by Luke Tonge:


The Edges of These Isles

A lovely post to finish off the year with! The Edges of These Isles is a collaborative project between photographer Simon Bray and artist Tom Musgrove, depicting seven landscape locations from across the British Isles using their respective mediums. The short documentary film above (a collaboration with DoodledoMOTION) is about the origins of the project, the journeys, the work being created, as well as an exhibition and release of the self-published book.

The full documentation of The Edges Of These Isles project is a beautiful A4 124page perfect bound book, containing photographic and artistic work from all 7 landscape locations as featured in The Whitworth exhibition, arranged in chronological order, matched alongside sketches, hand drawn maps, personal accounts of each trip from Simon & Tom and journey track playlists. It was printed on G.F Smith papers by Pressision, Leeds UK.

You can order prints from the book here.



Here at FFF we’re big fans of quality design whatever the medium so when the brain behind super cool London fashion brand Percival got in touch we sat down to find out what they’re all about, and what’s new in their world as 2016 gives way to 2017…

For those who might not know you, tell us a bit about Percival – your story and background?

Percival is 5 years old and still owned by me (its co-founder and head designer Chris Gove).  I try to keep as much of the manufacturing in London as possible, the story of garments designed and manufactured in London is both rare and a story that our followers really appreciate. It allows me to drop multiple short runs of product a year, keeping its offering fresh & varied.

It started as online store and, after numerous popup shops identified Berwick Street as an up-and-coming menswear area to launch our flagship store. In September 2016 Percival closed the doors to its store due to a massive rent increase and moved everything to a new online plartform after receiving its first round of investment.

Noted followers & wearers include; Alexa Chung, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rick Edwards, Jack Guiness, Alex Turner & Matt Helders.

Percival has a reputation for pushing creativity – how do you remain motivated and inspired to bring new ideas into your collections?

Part of the Percival ethos is to ‘redefine British classics through texture and print’, having that one line as a brief to yourself is a constant reminder to think about new ways to construct or frame the way we try to think about wearable menswear. I am always collecting references from textiles, graphic design and architecture, but go through phases of taking to different aesthetic references. More recently it was the patterns on the seat upholstery of public transport, they reminded me a lot of 80s knitwear jacquards.

How has your background in graphic design influenced your current career in fashion?

Almost all of my graphic design career was freelance, I spent a decade in a huge variety of agencies in London. Numerous pitches and design projects of all sizes was basically ideal experience for when it came to branding and packaging the tone of my own product – I knew exactly how to go about it.

Can you tell us a bit about the new Winter collection?

It’s a new limited edition range of outerwear & knitwear for December. We’ve produced a qty of 30 only for each style at our London factory, each one individually hand numbered. The story of timeless classics enhanced with London based construction and Italian fabrics, the Percival Pea Coat, Sheepskin collar Whitley jacket and Outershirt have been brought back in our classic neutrals of navy and charcoal, but we’ve included a cinnamon Pantone that runs throughout the collection. Our knitwear, woven in Portugal from organic lambswool, enriches the collection with the creation of our custom ‘blanket‘ weave.

The Blanket Weave you’ve just released is particularly interesting, can you tell us a bit more about that?

This blanket weave uses the technique of completely reversing areas of knit jacquard to give the appearance of multiple tones in a limited colour pallet by using the back of the knitted piece. It’s a new weave I developed with the technicians in Portugal, for a few seasons I’ve been trying to find a way to use the reverse of a knit weave. Usually hang loops on the reverse tend to snag on everyday objects preventing its use. After a 6 months of development we found a way to to incorporate the front and reverse on one side.

..did you have the pattern/design in mind before you discovered the technique, or did the technique inform/dictate the design?

I had collected a lot of references from Ottoman Rugs and Kilim textiles, generally they are all hand woven giving them a sense of uniqueness. I wanted to replicate a similar tone with the new knit collection. Plain woven knit jacquards tend to feel quite geometric, computer generated – I had created a jacquard artwork that didn’t repeat, we used that and references from the inside of lots of previous knit jacquards.

Anything exciting in the pipeline for 2017?

We’ve just launched our new online platform and have moved to producing multiple seasons a year rather than the standard Summer and Winter. We’ve moved almost everything to our London factory which means turning round ideas quickly with short runs using special edition fabrics. We’re soon to launch our first leather and accessories, so 2017 should be exciting!

Go get yourself some new togs!


Impact 1.0 & 2.0

Unit Editions have just released a two-volume survey of the front covers of design magazines, journals and periodicals – 1.0 (Unit 27) covering 1922–73, and 2.0 (Unit 28) covering 1974–2016. Spread over 768pp it offers ‘a helicopter view of graphic design trends and stylistics backflips’. Starting in 1922, and coming up to date in 2016, it’s a homage to the great design publications of the past (nearly) 100 years. In these two new books you will find the covers of design magazines, journals and periodicals of all kinds. They come from many countries – including Japan, India, Russia, Switzerland, USA and Iran, and they cover many topics – graphic design, typography, architecture, interiors, print, theory and history. But above all, they are brilliant specimens of innovative visual design. We caught up with the books editors Tony Brook and Adrian Shaughnessy to find out more…

Why this book, why a double issue, and why now?

AS: This book began, like so many of our books, with a visit to an archive. Tony Brook came back from a trip to UCA Epsom (part of the University of the Creative Arts), raving about the archive the school has recently acquired. It’s the collection of the famous Amsterdam bookstore, Nijhof and Lee. No longer in existence, the shop was a mecca for designers for many years, and when Warren Lee, one of the founders, retired, his collection of graphic design magazines was acquired by Epsom. Tony came back from his visit with his eyes on stalks. The collection was staggering and, thanks to the generosity of Epsom, it soon became clear that a book was begging to be made.

The double issue came about when we started speaking to friends who had their own “archives” of rare specimens. Suddenly we had too much for one book, and with the time span – 1922 to 2016 – it was obvious that the book could be split logically into two volumes.

Why now? Well, as more and more design writing, reporting and image curating goes online, it seems timely to remind ourselves the debt we all owe to the editors, writers, designers and publishers of printed design journals. Without it’s printed journals, the craft and profession of graphic design would be infinitely poorer.

TB: As Adrian says the project just grew, we started off thinking that there was a something in the subject based on my own collection but soon realised that it was far richer and deeper than we imagined. It seems the perfect time to look backwards and forwards, there are some brilliant innovative new magazines coming through.

Steven Heller writes: “As we head deeper into the age of hand-held devices, covers will become obsolete.” – Do you agree? Or will there still be need for books like these in 50 or 100 years?

AS: Who knows if we will still have a habitable planet in 50 or 100 years, far less printed books, but as long as we’ve got graphic designers, we’ll always have printed matter. But of course, in a world of free online content, printed journals have to work harder than ever to justify their existence – and their cover price! The internet is faster than print and it’s mostly free: but so much online design publishing is gossamer thin, so there will always be a place for reflective and informative design journalism. It will be more niche than ever before, and there will be fewer big circulation mags, but that needn’t be a bad thing.

TB: The book is a tough technology to beat, it isn’t going to die any time soon. The initial impact is still going to be key whether the content is delivered via paper or pixels.

Out of the thousands of covers from the last 100 years how on earth do you go about selecting which to include? What was the criteria?

AS: Early on we realised that we couldn’t include everything, so we fell back on a trusted Unit Editions’ criterion – if we (Tony, the Spin/Unit team and me) admired a publication, then it was in. So the choice is mainly based on personal judgment, but also a desire to represent the range of design publications across international boundaries, and across subject matter. For instance, we agonised over whether to include architectural mags, but in the end we decided to include them, mainly because the covers were so often excellent examples of graphic design.

We ended up with something we didn’t expect – both volumes, when taken as a whole, give the viewer an almost unrivalled timeline of graphic styles and trends. I can’t think of anywhere else where you’d see this more clearly. It runs from 1920s German severity, though the postmodern eclecticism of Émigré in the 1980s, to the plurality of 2016 – you’ve pretty much got a helicopter view of graphic design in the past (nearly) 100 years.

TB: It felt important to represent the sheer scope of what has been made, I think that informed our choices to some degree.

I’m sure like me many buyers will be much more familiar with the covers in Impact 2.0 than 1.0 – do you have a favourite era from these books? and do you think they accurately represent the wider trends and styles evident in design work across the decades?

AS: We worried that 2.0 would be less interesting than 1.0. But we were genuinely surprised to find that 2.0 stands up really well. I thought I’d lean towards the 60s stuff, but there are mags being produced today that are really just as good.

TB: Personally I think there is a sweet spot between the 1960’s and the 1970’s when the language becomes more experimental and dynamic. As you go through the books it reveals the influence of various movements around the world. The way styles ebb and flow is fascinating. You would get a pretty good design education even if these two books were the only ones you owned.

The designers who have work included is a who’s who of superstars (Rand, Garland, Henrion, Brodovitch, Brownjohn, Vignelli, Aicher, Lubalin, Brody etc) – what do you think it is that draws so many talents into the world of editorial/magazines?

AS: Designing the cover of a design magazine has always been a sort of Holy Grail for graphic designers. I asked a few of the people I interviewed in the book about this, and pretty much everyone said that yes, it was a great opportunity, but because the audience was other designers, you had to work twice as hard.

You’re both avid collectors of design ephemera – and you both love print. Do you have favourite titles or covers you just had to include? Any special pieces from your own personal collections make it in?

AS. Yes, some my copies of early Idea magazine made the final cut, and another Japanese mag called Industrial Art News. I also like Stile Industria from Italy, and amongst current mags I’d mention Concrete Flux.

TB. Idea, Octavo, Neue Grafik, TM.

Adrian recently mentioned always aiming to keep photographed content readable on the page. Did you consider going with a larger format for these titles at any point?

AS: When we do a book, we spend more time discussing the format than just about anything else. We agonized over the size of Impact, but in the end we concluded that since magazine covers are bold and eye catching, we didn’t have to worry too much about not being able to read the small print. I think in all cases it’s readable.

Favourite magazine – of all time? And contemporary?

AS: For me, it’s the two Japanese magazines: Idea, of course. But also the wonderfully named and search engine bothering Graphic Design. There were only 100 issues printed and it’s full of good stuff. I’d also say Architectural Review is an undiscovered gem from the 60s. Covers were by leading British designers of the day – most of whom are now forgotten. Coming more up to date, I’m amazed at how fresh Émigré looks. Amongst current mags I really like Graphic (from Korea) and an architecture magazine called Archphoto.

TB: That’s an impossible question, all of the above plus TM, Neue Grafik, Form from then and from now – Eye Magazine, Slanted, ID Pure, Printed pages etc.

Lastly, 2016 has brought new titles, events and products – what can we look forward to from Unit Editions in 2017?

AS. Well, we are in danger of turning into a real publisher! We’ve got a pipeline! In other words we’ve gone from only working on one book at a time, to working on multiple titles. We have books being written and designed by other people. So if you like design books, hold onto your socks, next year is going to be busy!

Read more


Happy CHRIS-tmas

Skiddle approached StudioDBD asking if they could design some Christmas cards to help them raise a bit of cash for MacMillan Cancer Support. Sadly a good friend of Skiddle and colleague Chris Glaba had been diagnosed with a terminal form of cancer and given just a few months to live. Skiddle wanted to do their bit to help and are on a mission to raise over a £100k in the next 12 months to support cancer research.

StudioDBD decided to speak with a few design friends and see if they’d be willing to help out by designing their own card. StudioDBD founder Dave Sedgwick:

The brief was to interpret the music of Christmas and to use Skiddle’s brand colours (Skiddle are a ticketing/music company so it was pretty apt). The response back was amazing and both Skiddle and StudioDBD are massively grateful to Superfried, Stan Chow, Eve Warren, Lee Goater, Querida, Lundgren & Lindqvist, Si Scott, Nick Deakin and Build for all their hard work and involvement in the project.

You can purchase all 10 cards (StudioDBD did the tenth one) with all the profits going to Macmillan Cancer research by clicking here.


Studio Feixen

Studio Feixen is an independent Design Studio based in Lucerne, Switzerland and founded by Felix Pfäffli in 2009. They’ve just launched a new website, an expended team, new projects and a new shop! Here at FFF we see a lot of studio sites, and this stands out as one of the best – its super easy to use, downloading projects is a doddle, and there’s some lovely touches hiding round every corner.

“We focus specifically on nothing in particular. Whether it’s graphic design, interior design, fashion design, type design or animation?–?as long as it challenges us?–?we are interested. We work internationally with clients like Nike, Google, Reebok or The New York Times as well as more locally with institutions like Wanderlust or the Nuits Sonores Festival in France, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and ArtsSüdpol or the Luzerner Theater.”

The Südpol is a multi purpose cultural center in Kriens, Switzerland, close to Lucerne. It houses a theatre, a symphony orchestra, a brass band, a music school, a restaurant, a flea market, and rents out space for performances of music, dance, theatre, literature, digital arts and many more. From 2010 to 2015, Felix Pfäffli was commissioned to design all posters for the venue, and a book collating them all is in the works. We spoke to Felix to get the latest on everything Feixen…

Your site is live and you just announced some big changes – congrats! Thanks, we are super happy we are finally online. We work now since a year as a studio. Before it was just me. So for us being a team now it’s a big moment.

The site is a triumph, was it a hard project to realise? Ha, ha, ha! Thanks! Hm. It was a big project for us. For sure. But it wasn’t hard – it was just a long project. We also had great help from our fist intern Loana Boppart. And we simply took all the time we thought was necessary. In the end we are all super happy how we ended up. And I think it was also very important to not over hesitate. All the ideas like a chat or the crazy press folders and the header image came on the way. We tested out different structures different starting systems and played around like children play with lego.

Whats it like going from a solo practise to a small studio of 3? It’s great! I simply realized that over time its just no fun to work alone. It’s an incredible feeling to realize what happens if you merge talent. There is a huge tradition of graphic designers which are known as single person. But in fact I think we are living in another time. Today its about teamwork, about collaboration and this idea of one person knowing and creating everything should be an idea of yesterday. Work gets better the more people are working on a project. The more eyes the more talent you can put into your work the better. Also – lets be honest – success is much more fun to celebrate in a group. We fight together, we have our goals and if somebody has a bad day the others help you to concentrate on reality.

Can you tell us a bit about the ‘lab’? Yes. We are working on it. I guess in about half a year we will go online with our second page ( There we will publish our in house projects. The first releases will be our studio font. A book. And our own clothing brand.

When can we expect to see the book?! Depends on what book you mean. We will launch a book which is secret at the moment. I cant talk about it at the moment, since the idea is so simple that I think its funnier to publish suddenly with nobody knowing anything about it before. The other book about the südpol posters we are working on at the moment will be on one hand of course an overview of the 99 Posters I designed for the südpol with some background informations and sketches of these works. And on the other hand it will be about the idea of studio feixen at the example of the exhibition we are creating simultaneously.

We are a studio that creates visual concepts. So we create a lot of corporate designs but actually hate limitations and corporate designs. So in a way our job is to formulate borders but at the same time we try to set these borders in a way that we still have enough freedom. Do you know what I mean? We hate borders but we make them. Our solution for that problem is simply that we try not to make border but rules for a game. So in the end every application we do for a client should feel like playing a game – where we don’t really know how it will look in the end.

With very graphic work such as your posters, do you start by sketching, or do you play directly on the computer? Its a combination. Sometimes a sketch is a starting point. Sometimes an experiment on the computer. I think that is not so important. For us there is no difference anymore between computer work or hand-made stuff. Its just tools. Whether its a pencil or a mouse doesn’t really matter. What is really important I think is: We don’t believe in thinking about design ideas. We believe that it’s not possible to imagine a new visual language since everything you can imagine is actually just a combination of stuff you’ve already seen somewhere. You have to make it. And look at it. And react. So when we start a project we don’t loose a lot time talking about it. Since after ten minutes hearing a client we all already have twenty ideas how that could look like we just start trying out suff. What then happens is the interesting part I think. You print out your ideas. Put them on the floor. Try to find out what feels good. Search for combination until suddenly you find a language that does everything or even more you expected.

You’ve worked with some incredible clients already – anyone still on your wish-list? Uh! The list of stuff we would love to do is incredibly long actually. We also realized that it’s probably not possible to do everything we would like to do in our lives. But an attempt to prevent this is actually our Lab. That’s the part of our company which needs no clients. When it comes to clients its absolutely the same. I mean who wouldn’t like to design a car for Jay Z? Or who wouldn’t say no to be in the list of incredible designers which designed a cover for the New Yorker? And it would also be cool to redesign the incredibly ugly looking logo of Uber.

Thanks Felix! Now go enjoy some time with that responsive header :)



Its almost a fortnight since we attended this years Modern Magazine Conference in London, MagCulture’s fourth annual event for mag lovers once again held at Central Saint Martins. A range of diverse & international speakers from established titles to new and emerging magazines gave the audience plenty to think about…

Christoph Amend, Editor-in-chief, ZEIT magazine (DE), Kirsten Algera, Editor-in-chief, MacGuffin (NL), Gail Bichler, Design director, New York Times Magazine (US), Seb Emina, Editor-in-chief, The Happy Reader (UK), Paul Gorman, Journalist, currently writing ‘Legacy: The Story of The Face’ (UK), The Ladybeard team (UK), Penny Martin, Editor-in-chief, The Gentlewoman (UK), Rebecca Nicholson, Editor-in-chief, VICE UK, Kai von Rabenau, Editor/publisher, mono.kultur (DE), Tony Rushton, Ex-art director, Private Eye (UK), Jack Self, Editor, Real Review (UK), Terri White, Editor, Empire (UK), Liv Siddall, MC for the day!, Editor, writer, Rough Trade magazine (UK)

There was some great coverage of the day by friends of FFF including Rob Alderson for wetransfer which you can read here, and a great little reflection by Its Nice That available here. For those of you who prefer to listen to other people chat about events you can listen along to the lovely Steve Watson of Stack Magazines in conversation with ModMag organiser Jeremy Leslie on the Stack podcast here, or delve a bit deeper with this special episode of Monocles ‘The Stack’ featuring Tony Rushton from ‘Private Eye’ and the editors of ‘The Happy Reader’, ‘MacGuffin’ and ‘Empire’.

We’re already looking forward to the ModMag 2017!

Photography credit: Owen Richards


F37 Jan

Jan is a lovely new font by Rick Banks for the F37 Foundry and exclusively sold at Hype For Type. Inspired by Jan Tschichold’s geometric sans-serif and Matthew Carter’s Bell Centennial font, F37 Jan features pronounced ink traps. The font contains alternatives and covers an extensive range of Latin-based languages, including Western and Eastern European.



Lots of designers scratch their product design itch (increasingly turning to funding platforms to see their ideas realised) but this is a case of someone doing it the ‘old fashioned’ way… Ric Bell of POST has spent the last couple of years figuring out how to make his three-dimensional wooden desktop calendar a reality! Called DodeCal it’s a beautifully made, nicely weighted, precisely laser etched object and a joy to hold in the hand. It is made for people who appreciate design, maths and traditional craftsmanship. The initial run for 2017 is of 100 – a number is hand-written on a brand card inside the box along with the calendar. I spoke to Ric to find out a bit more…

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Jenue is a Spanish Artist and Art director, who divides his time between Madrid and London. He makes playful images for editorials, music, and advertisements with his own colourful view and style for clients like Nickelodeon, Wired Magazine & Aiga Design.


Modern Mag 2016

A favourite in the conference calendar, The Modern Magazine 2016 is almost upon us! Ahead of this day of editorial enjoyment we caught up with Jeremy Leslie (Mr MagCulture himself) and his able assistant  & conference producer Stephanie Hartman to find out whats in store…

Steph, can you explain the role of a producer in this context – and how you work alongside Jeremy to help make the conference happen?

My role is basically to ensure everyone’s in the right place at the right time. I book flights and hotels for our speakers, pull together presentations so they’re ready to roll on the day and organise a big, fun dinner after the conference for the magCulture team and speakers. I also keep press ticking over, gather magazines and other items for the goodie bags we dish out, make sure our attendees are fed and watered and work with the team at Central Saint Martins to ensure everything runs smoothly on the day. I’ve been working with Jeremy since the first Modern Magazine back in 2013 and it’s great to see things becoming more streamlined each year.

Jeremy, 4 years in and the conference feels like its in rude health – whats it like behind the scenes? Does it all come together easily, or are you more like the proverbial swan paddling franticly under the calm surface? ..Is it enjoyable?

Creatively, ModMag is in rude health, the finance side is a bit more shaky! It was originally a one-off but we kept it going and it gets easier year by year in most respects. We’ve got a small, strong team and we all know what we’re doing. Programming the day and inviting speakers is the fun part, topped only by the adrenaline buzz of the day itself. Without exception everyone involved – at the venue, the caterers, the sponsors, the speakers – are super-supportive and positive but I’d be lying if I said all aspects were fun. There’s a lot of behind the scenes swan paddling for sure. But it’s always worth it.

Steph, you’re responsible for the live elements happening alongside the conference talks, whats in store – any highlights? Any big reveals?

We’re bringing back the mag handling session we ran last year as it proved a great success. Attendees can sign up on the day and Cath Caldwell who’s the Stage 1 leader on the BA Graphic Design course will take them through some of the beautiful examples that can be found in the Central Saint Martins archive including a copy of Rolling Stone from 1970, LIFE from 1968 and Esquire from 1955.

We’re also working more closely with the Graphic Design students themselves this year. We’ll be setting them a live brief in a week or two and they’ll be tasked with creating a magazine centred on the conference. Kati Krause who spoke at last year’s event will be leading the team who’ll be interviewing delegates, photographing the day, illustrating and designing throughout. They’ll then take part in a masterclass back at magCulture HQ the following week where they’ll whip their magazine into shape. The final output will be printed by our sponsor Park and sent out to all of our delegates as a memento of the day. We’re pretty excited about it! We’re also getting the South London Makers to make us a giant ‘M’logo which will be perfect fodder for any Instagram account.

Jeremy, once again you’ve lined up an incredible mix of speakers – high profile, commercial, niche, indie, specialist etc – any talk you’re particularly looking forward to hearing this year?

You’re right, it’s all about the mix. We try to cover all types of magazines on the Journal all year, and I see/hear people talk regularly. The result is ModMag presents the best from all spheres. This year we have speakers representing publications as small and new as Real Review all the way up to the huge and influential New York Times Magazine. Add in the ever-growing multi channel Vice and The Gentlewoman’s Penny Martin and you get a sense of the range.

I’m looking forward to hearing them all; if I’m not excited by someone why invite them? But perhaps the most intriguing will be our first foray into mag history via Paul Gorman’s reflections on The Face. This hugely significant magazine has never really been acknowledged properly but Paul’s writing what should be the definitive book with the cooperation of founder Nick Logan.

Steph, can you sum up in a sentence or two why someone should attend this conference? – Especially first-timers.

It’s ultimately a massive celebration of people making great magazines and is designed to cater to those already in the industry as well as those hungry to find out more about the business. Come along if you’re thinking of starting a magazine, are a student keen to pick the brains of your mag heroes, or simply because you just love reading a good mag. We have delegates flying in from across the globe and some brilliant connections have been made over beers at the end of the day.

Jeremy, anything else going on you’d like to make folk aware of?

We always like to add something new each year and this time we have a little nostalgia via The Face, history via Private Eye, and the exciting live magazine project. The magCulture Shop will be present too, so bring your credit card! But before all that we’re putting together a popup magazine shop in Las Vegas in partnership with the Eye on Design team. It’s part of this years AIGA Conference (16-29 Oct). We’re dedicating most of our swan paddling hours to that!

All photographs from 2015 by Owen Richards.


Believe in Canada

Brand design agency Believe in® has announced the launch of a second studio in Canada, operating alongside the agency’s founding operation in Exeter, South West England. The company will operate as a single team collaborating across both studios, serving clients in Europe and North America. Founder and Creative Director Blair Thomson, along with Business Director Joanna Thomson, have opened the studio in Mono, Ontario, just north of Canada’s largest city, Toronto. 2016 marked 20 years in business for Believe in®, and this provided the impetus to expand their offering with a permanent base in Canada. Blair, a returning Canadian, believes that his homecoming represents an amazing opportunity for the business:

“I’m enormously proud of my Canadian heritage, and have deep admiration for those pioneering designers who established Canada as a centre for modernist design in the 1960s and 1970s. I believe that the time is right for Canada to reassert its position as a global design leader, and if I can play a small part in helping to make it happen, it would be a major achievement in my career, and my life.”

To celebrate the launch they created a special limited edition bottle of premium maple syrup, one of Canada’s most iconic exports. The name, Uproot, reflects the company’s arrival in Canada while also referencing the process of drawing water up through the Maple tree to create the sap from which the syrup is made. Uproot takes a Canadian icon and adds a European design sensibility. 100% pure Canadian maple syrup was packed by hand into heavyweight Italian glass bottles. Takeo Tassel, a subtly embossed light gray paper from Japan was supplied by UK paper specialist GF Smith to reinforce the feeling of luxury. The paper was digitally printed, die-cut and adhesive-backed by creative printers Kolor Skemes in South West England to create the finished labels. A truly international collaboration. 200 bottles have been created, each individually numbered. The die-cut diagonal line on the front marks the geographic connection between Exeter in South West England and Mono in Ontario, the company’s two studio locations.

“Our brand is very much a representation of who we are and how we see the world. Uproot embodies everything that we strive for in our work – simplicity, beauty and meaning. Hopefully our clients and friends will enjoy the packaging almost as much as they enjoy its contents!” – Blair

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Gym Class Mag 15

The indie mag scene is in rude health these days, and nowhere more so than in the UK. This is thanks in part to, not only the brilliant mag makers (and their readers), but also the community and infrastructure that has sprung up supporting the scene. The triumvirate arguably championing the hardest are FFFriends MagCulture (Jeremy Leslie), Stack Magazines (Steve Watson), and Gym Class Mag (Steven Gregor).

Having worked at WIRED and Esquire (and more recently freelancing regularly at Observer and Guardian) Steven started making GC way back in 2009 (while working for a customer publisher) to creatively express himself – and more recently his love for the publishing scene. On the cusp of Issue 15 shipping Steven dropped some very big news about this issue, so we caught up with him, and his newly appointed Art-Director Alex Vissaridis to find out more…

Can you give us a summary of your ‘creative plaything’ Gym Class Mag and its evolution over the years?

Steven: I started Gym Class in 2009 as a small zine. It had the strapline: A Zine For The Guy Chosen Last. It was a personal counterpoint to mainstream men’s magazines. I’ve never wanted to be the strongest, or the richest, or to drive the fastest car, or have the hottest girlfriend. I found mainstream men’s mags hard to relate to. I still do. Gym Class, instead, was for the underdog or the geek.

Of course, over the years, it became something very different. Now Gym Class is about magazines and the people who make them.

You recently dropped the bombshell that the forthcoming Issue, number 15, will be the magazine’s last! Getting to that milestone is a huge achievement – have you done everything you hoped to with the mag?

Steven: Oh wow, I’ve done so much more with Gym Class than I ever hoped. And, at the same time, I feel I like I haven’t scratched the surface of what was possible.

It’s opened so many doors and enabled so many opportunities. It’s been super hard work — ‘the harder I work, the luckier I get’ rings true. I’ve learnt so much about editing a magazine, design and production, public speaking (eek!) and promotion, managing contributors, printing, distribution, sales, and all the un-sexy business stuff that goes into publishing an indie magazine.

As a through-and-through editorial man what’s next for you? Any exciting mag projects on the horizon? Will Gym Class live on in its digital forms?

Steven: I love magazines. The Gym Class Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr feeds will continue. I’m planning a Gym Class blog, too. That said, any new digital endeavour will need to have a clear point of difference to what magCulture or Stack are doing.

But, print is my first love. So… I’ll be launching a new magazine in 2017. I know what it’ll be about and I have a title, but it’s too early in development to chat about publicly in any real detail. I’m super excited about it tho.

This is the first issue of/for which you’ve handed the art-direction reigns over to someone else (talented chap Alex Vissaridis) – why now, and how did it work out?

Steven: I’ve changed. I’m an art director by trade, but when it comes to making my own magazine, I really want to focus on the content and storytelling. Plus, I really want to collaborate. If I have one regret, it’s that I didn’t work with talented people like Alex sooner.

Alex, you’re also immersed in the world of indie publishing, tell us a bit about the projects you lead or are involved in?

Alex: When I was still fresh out of uni, I joined ShellsuitZombie, a collective of creative graduates that ran a print mag, a blog and a whole range of events. It was loads of fun and I got myself stuck into everything, but it was the zine stuff that appealed most, and I went from designing issue 4, to art directing issue 5, to doing a little bit of everything on issue 6.

More recently, I’ve been working with a friend on a new title called Castle, which will look at video games and the worlds they inhabit and affect through themed issues – starting with Health.

I presume you were already a fan of GCM – a publication as known for its variety of format as much for its passion and unique tone of voice – how was it for you climbing aboard such an established & beloved mag-institution?

Alex: I fell in love with indie mags when I was at uni, through my discovery of Little White Lies, and when I moved to London I went to every magazine event I could, so of course I very quickly became a fan of Gym Class. I was a little nervous when I showed Steven the first couple of spreads I’d worked on, but that enthusiasm and friendliness we all know and love from the pages of GC quickly gave me a boost of confidence and helped me produce better work.

What was it like picking up where Steven had left off with the design? Did you come into it with things you wanted to do, or were you executing Steven’s ideas?

Alex: I had a couple of ideas in my head before I got started, but what with this being the last issue, I didn’t want to impose myself too much on Steven’s vision. Saying that, it was a very collaborative process in the end, with each of us taking an article or two and working independently, then dipping in and out of each others’ files and having a play around. I’m really happy to have introduced some new illustrators, photographers and writers to the pages of Gym Class, and to have learned from someone with such a wealth of mag design experience.

Anything either of you are particularly proud of or excited about in this issue?

Steven: The cover feature, contributed by award winning Photo Director Rebecca McClelland, is epic. It’s a retrospective of Magnum photographer Chris Anderson’s editorial work (we focus on New York magazine, The New York Times Magazine, and Tank magazine in London). It’s proper. Rebecca aced it.

I’m also super proud of the beefed-up, super-fun back of book section. I hope peeps enjoy it.

Alex: I couldn’t stop nodding while I was reading Kate Hollowood’s piece about impostor syndrome, so I have to mention that; it has a lot in common conceptually with what we were doing most recently with ShellsuitZombie, plus Michael Driver smashed it out the park with his illustration. Jeremy Leslie’s piece about Japanese magazines is great too, and I was really happy that we were able to commission Japanese illustrator Hiroyuki Ishii for it.

Finally, Sean McGeady’s piece about fictional magazines in TV shows and films is a hilarious read.

Lastly, any words of wisdom or advice for those thinking of starting a magazine…

Steven: Preparation. Planning. Sort out the money side early. Be original… the indie magazine scene doesn’t need any more cookie cutter wannabes. Alex: Obviously make your own magazine in your own vision, but get as much advice as you can from those who’ve done it before. I was surprised at how many people were willing to grab a pint after work to discuss Castle and give us some pointers. People are lovely.

 Gym Class 15 will only be available in selected magazine shops in the UK (including the MagCulture shop) and in Barnes & Noble in the USA. Don’t forget to follow GCM on Instagram for more info – and colourful cover updates! Gym Class, we salute you. 


Pencil & Help do Hide & Seek

Pencil & Help is the collaborative side project of illustrators Mark Long and Mark Oliver – much of their work focussing on schools or the community.

Sheffield Children’s Hospital and (the brilliant) Cat Powell from Artfelt recently commissioned them to work with the long term patients of the ward, to come up with artwork for the space together. They delivered a workshop and came up with an activity pack – the outcomes from these activities were characters that the children designed using a couple of creative exercises. The duo then redrew these characters in different positions hiding around the ward.

“Part of the brief was to come up with something distracting. A lot of the kids have to undergo fairly long and uncomfortable treatments. Injections etc. So we came up with a ‘Hide & Seek’ idea. The Characters are interacting with the furniture in the hospital, hiding behind bins and under tables… We also designed an activity book using the same characters, to run alongside the artwork – some of the patients have long waits in the ward and hopefully the activity book should provide a some fun and distraction.”  _

 Photography by 93ft


Cut That Out

Curated by Ryan Doyle and Mark Edwards, who work together under the name of DR.ME, Cut That Out focuses on the compositions of 50 leading designers and studios from 15 different countries for whom collage has been the key to creating vibrant, effective work. We caught up with half of the duo to find out more about this great new book…

FFF: Tell us a bit about yourselves for those who might know much about DR.ME (and what about that name?) – who you are, you experience, how you work, what you work on etc. ME: Just to clear something up (this came up last night in fact whilst giving a talk), DR.ME is pronounced Doctor Me. Not D R M E, not dreamy, Doctor Me. Also, when written down it is DR.ME not Dr Me, nor DR-ME, DR.ME pure and simple uppercase with a dot in the middle. Rant over. The reason we’re called DR.ME is a miss-ordered acronym of our initials: Ryan Doyle – DR and Mark Edwards – ME. Just to take you back to where it began we were actually paired together on the first day of studying Design & Art Direction at Manchester School of Art & Design. After finishing our studies we decided go to New York for a few months to intern for Mike Perry in his studio in Crown Heights, this was a really great learning curve for us, Mike was everything you could want in a boss and taught us so much in such a short amount of time, we’ll always be indebted to the big guy! After that we returned to Manchester and opened our studio, since opening we’ve worked with clients including Red Bull Music Academy, Budweiser, Manchester International Festival, Young Turks, Tri Angle Records, Vevo, YoungArts Miami, painted murals on the French Riviera and exhibited in New York, London and Frankfurt. In the past year we’ve had a change of dynamic, Ryan met a girl (now his wife) in France and moved out there to be with her, 10 years ago this might have been harder but through using things like Skype, Slack and email it’s made it whole possible to run the studio together remotely without it affecting our dynamic.

FFF: You’re perhaps best known for your recent ‘365 days of collage’ initiative – was that conceived before the idea of the book? Or related in any way? ME: Yeah, 2 years ago my mum Jilly Edwards who is a tapestry weaving artist had a show as part of Collect at Saatchi Gallery, we did the brochure design and designed the layout of the show, when we went down to set up the exhibition we were staying in an Air BnB, this turned out to be owned by a collage artist called Paolo Giardi. Paolo’s work filled the apartment flood to ceiling and really made us think about the speed and immediacy  of the medium. As we’d been talking about working on an ongoing project that would sharpen our skills in collage we decided to start 365 Days of Collage. After we’d been working on it for about 6 months and had had a good response to the project we started to think about what could happen at the end of the project, an exhibition sounded achievable but we wanted something with a bit more longevity. We decided to approach Thames & Hudson about the possibility of them publishing the project as a book. Their response was pretty unforgettable “We only do Artist monographs for people who are dead or famous”, we were neither so we though that was it but they came back to us and asked whether we’d like to pitch an idea for a book on design. As we are designers who utilise collage within our practice and knew many others who fell into this category we thought that this would be an exciting starting point for a book.

FFF: What is it about collage that has you hooked? Do you consider yourselves designers, illustrators, makers, artists etc.? ME: I’d say we consider ourselves designers, we use collage to convey an idea. Whether this is a collaged pattern design for Vevo, an abstract collage for Cactus Digitale magazine editorial or a record sleeve for Evian Christ, the majority of the time it is a medium that we gravitate towards within our work as it creates such unexpected outcomes and pushes us to think in new and interesting ways.

FFF: The book features 50 of the best practitioners – how did you go about selecting them? any personal favourites? ME: I think we’ve both been keeping lists in our minds of our favourite practitioners since we both fell in love with design so about 75% of the book was already selected from the get go! The rest we discovered which was super exciting to come across somebodies work and realise that they would be a perfect fit for the book! Personal favourites is a tough one, that changes all of the time, Damien Tran, Steve Hockett, Aliyah Hussain, John Powell-Jones, Ellery James Roberts, Anna Beam, Nous Vous were great to have in as we have worked with them all previously and have longstanding friendships. People like Stefan Sagmeister, Hort, Yokoland, Mike Perry, Mirko Borsche, Hvass&Hannibal, Neasden Control Centre and Mario Hugo have been studio heroes for a long time and Jesse Draxler, Lewis McLean, Louis Reith, Cameron Searcy and Matthew Craven were people that we only discovered further down the line but were really excited to get involved. So, yeah, it’s a bit of a book of personal favourites!

FFF: You recently spoke at NicerTuesdays – do you think there’s a bit of a misunderstanding or lack of appreciation around contemporary collage within the creative industries? Are you happy to be pigeon-holed as the ‘collage guys’? ME: I think it’s definitely getting more appreciation, there have been some excellent books come out about collage in the art world in the last 10 years. What I think is exciting now is that it’s starting to filter out of the art gallery and onto the street a lot more be this giant advertising hoardings on the street created by Mat Maitland for Kenzo, record covers for Tame Impala and Caribou by Leif Podhajsky and Matthew Cooper respectively in your local record shop, beer bottle labels we created the artwork for Cloudwater Brewing company adorning the fridges of your local bar or gig posters made by Braulio Amado or Ronny Hunger pasted up high and proud on a street corner. People can call us what they like, we’ll continue to try and make work that is bold and true whether that’s with collage or paint, type or video, vector or hand drawn.

FFF: Tell us a bit about the process of putting together a book! Was it fun? easy? arduous? as expected? do-able? plans for a volume two?!?! ME: It was a long process, there was a lot of chasing people for work, a lot of writing which is a new thing for us, but it was totally worth it in the end. Since we started the studio we’ve always wanted to make a book and it was a massive pleasure to do it with a publisher that we have so much respect for and who we own so many books by already! It was a great experience for sure, it gave us a lot more confidence in our own eye, if Thames & Hudson had had to guide us through it more then it could have been quite arduous but they were always really happy with what we were doing throughout so that was encouraging. I’d love to do a volume two, have already started collecting work on a pinterest board, there was a few people that we missed out of the last one as they had too much on to be involved at the time so would be great to go back to them, along with some of the people from this book who have continued to make amazing work that came out too late to feature and then there’s a number of new names that would be awesome to feature and speak to!

Grab your copy here.


So you want to publish a magazine?

When we found out our friend Angharad Lewis was writing a book about magazines, we knew we had to get the inside scoop! I caught up with her after spending some time with ‘So you want to publish a magazine?’ (beautifully designed by She Was Only)…

FFF: For our readers who might not know you, what has your role/experience been in publishing and design? how do you split your time these days? AL: I’m a bit ‘fingers in pies’ – I divide my time between freelance writing (a bit of journalism, a bit of book-writing, a bit of copywriting), teaching at The Cass School of Design and being co-editor of Grafik. I joined Grafik in 2003 (when it was still graphics International. We were a monthly printed magazine until 2011 and at the moment we’re an online publication.

FFF: Tell us a bit about the book in your own words, who its for, and why you created it.. AL: I guess it’s a bit of a user manual for anyone interested in the endeavour of independent magazine publishing. As well as giving lots of practical advice about what is a fairly complicated business, the book is also hopefully interesting for anyone who (like me) is quite nosey about magazines and how they’re made and how publishing models are structured. It’s packed with the knowledge and experiences of about 50 people involved in the magazines world, from makers to distributers and retailers – I tried to come at the subject from all angles and tackle the more tricky aspects of the business head-on and in a very accessible, hopefully entertaining, way.

FFF: How much of your own personal experience with Grafik did you draw on for this book? AL: The bones of the book really come from my own experience – knowing what areas were relevant, what questions to ask, and how things behind the scenes of magazines fit together – but this skeleton was fleshed out and animated by calling on the generous input of lots of other indie publishers from around the world. Also, I hope that having ‘lived it’, I am able to give a bit of humour and the human side to what might otherwise border on the ‘dry’ when it comes to subjects like distribution and advertising.

FFF: Do you see your students still interested in making printed magazines? AL: Definitely. There’s no diminution in the interest in print. Printed magazines have a magic you can’t match with other media. That said, digital platforms are absolutely essential now and the really exciting things are happening when very clever people find ways to combine the two. Students often bring a surprising and enlightening view that I would not otherwise have seen, because as a generation, they’re breathing digital like air, whereas I’m of the generation that had to learn it.

FFF: A book like this is always a snapshot of the publishing industry, any observations on where we’re at? AL: We’re enjoying a time of amazing diversity – so much so that the volume of new titles being launched can actually be pretty overwhelming for readers. I think this will inevitably settle down in the next few years and sustainability will come into sharper focus – for magazines to stay the course it’s a constant battle of devotion to your vision versus concessions to financial realities and that applies to the full range of sizes of magazine ventures, from the tiniest side project to commercial ventures. It takes an immense amount of time and energy to make a magazine, so the magazine makers who have a really natural, instinctive relationship with their readers, and who are indefatigable in finding new ways to survive and innovate will show us some interesting things in the next couple of years.

FFF: The format of a magazine is always an important consideration – at 168 pages in a handy 230x190mm softback format the book is quite magazine-y! – was that intentional? AL: The format was one of the first things we thought about – we wanted something that felt easy to carry and refer to – a bit like a nice diary or notebook – to emphasise it’s handiness and functional nature as a tool. I suppose I’d like to think of it being carried around as a trusty companion while someone is going about the business of planning and making a magazine!

FFF: Any favourite insights, observations, quotes or interviews from the book? AL: That’s a tough one. I’m such a nosey parker that I love chatting to people about what they do and seeing where and how they work – especially magazine people, who are a pretty impressive bunch, with some really niche and surprising areas of interest, expertise and reference points. So I had a lot of great experiences along the way. One of the things that delighted me most was how upfront and happy to share almost everybody was in exposing their know-how and the inner workings of their mags. And I got to meet and interview some heroes, which was intimidating and a thrill. This is kind of silly, but the toilets at Midori House (Monocle HQ) made me chuckle – seemingly more technology in one lavatory than I have in my whole house!

FFF: Now you’ve produced one book, any plans or desire to do it again? AL: This is the first book I’ve done solo (I’ve done a few in collaboration with co-authors in the past) and it was an epic mission! But it’s really satisfying – if a little nerve-wracking – when a book you’ve worked so hard on makes it to the shelves and hopefully people’s hands, so yes, I would love to do another (in fact, I’m already working on a tentative outline…)

Get your copy from publisher Laurence King, or that other place

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yes… loving this

ed baptist on Studio Feixen

Nice article – its good to hear the experience of other designers who have started up. Myself and partner have just made it through our first year, i can see some parallels so comforting to get a solid view point

jess codrington on Ten Tips To Starting An Agency

Really nice work. Love the Nike campaign.

Peter Scott on Studio Feixen

Absolutely stunning work!

– Natalie

Natalie on Studio Feixen

A few highlights from a colleague here if you need any reminders:

Matt on ModMag16

Thanks for sharing this post about the Jan font. I love the typography of how the letters are formed. Also, it makes me happy to hear that numerous versions were created. As a designer, it is irritating when you want …

Design Cache on F37 Jan