Magfest is “Scotland’s biggest and best magazine event, with magazine publishers and enthusiasts coming from far and wide to be inspired by the international speakers, meet others in the industry and hear about the latest developments in the magazine world.” This year’s theme for the event was ‘Heroes and Visions’ which was really cool. The programme, stage music etc. were all inspired by various films/comics and books. We all got a chance to meet some of the heroes of the magazine industry and uncover some of their visions for the future of magazines. I won’t go through every singles panel/talk/presentation but I’d like to (at least) give you a little run through how the day went and write a little about some of my favourites!
The event took place in September (15th) and started with a keynote from Zillah Byng-Throne who is a Chief Executive of Future plc. At one point, she told the audience to “be open to the unexpected” which I think is extremely important in this sector. It was a very interesting presentation and it started the event with a kick.
We were then introduced to some new magazines such as Boom Saloon & Cable. Boom Saloon has especially caught my eye and attention and I got a chance to speak to Rachel Arthur who founded it. She gave a great talk about how the magazine came to be and what it’s all about, I urge you to check it out. It looks and sounds great, I’ll be grabbing my copy very soon. She had a message to anyone interested in getting involved and that is “if you’re doing something creative- we want to showcase that”. She also shared the best advice she ever received which was to “do a job for as long as you love it, and then do something else” and I think this we’ll become my new mantra in life.
One of my favourites was the presentation by James Hyman and Tory Turk who were talking about the Hyman Archive and the fact that once upon a time magazines “were your internet”. I have never heard about the archive before but it’s now the biggest collection of magazines in the world! It was amazing to listen to their story and see the passion they have for it. James Hyman has been a collector for over 30 years now and his theme in collecting is ‘popular culture in print’. The archive contains over 5,000 individual title publications and 120,000 individual issues with the collection constantly growing! They welcome all donations so here is an email and website in case you’d like to get in touch!
After a quick tea and a delicious brownie, we were back to listen to a panel of guests who were discussing the ‘Audiences of the Future: How Can We Attract the Next Generation of Magazine Lovers’? The panel included Siobhan Galvin, Gareth Whelan, Rossie Stone and Cathy Olmedillas who all had some very interesting and insightful things to say. All of them agreed that there is place for print mediums to attract young audiences, arguing that children don’t really care about the medium instead they focus on content!
“Magazines are unique for the child and the parent”
They also highlighted the fact that more books are being sold now than ever before! And if that’s not good news, I don’t know what is.
Straight after this we had a chance to hear from Ruth Mortimer who was my personal favourite and highlight of the day. I really enjoyed her presentation, it was insightful and she added humour to it all. Ruth is the Director of the Festival of Marketing (btw, it looks AMAZING) and Content Director for Centaur Marketing. Here is what Magfest wrote about Ruth in the programme:
“Her role is to lead Centaur’s flagship event for brands, which comprises a programme featuring 250 speakers, including high profile figures such as Apple founder, Steve Wozniak.”
She made a point which I really liked and that is “if you want great content, it costs money”. If you’re someone interested in Marketing etc she is definitely worth checking out and reading up on.
After another amazing tea we were all back in the auditorium to hear from John Brown who is a publishing legend! He was in conversation with Fraser Allen, a fantastic chat with so many funny anecdotes about John’s life and career.
Alex Miller was there to speak to us about Vice UK and I have to admit I didn’t know they had so many platforms and channels. I’d like to check out some of their documentaries because the clips we were shown looked extremely interesting and well made.
Another two new magazines were introduced to us! Marbles founded by Kirstyn Smith is a “new indie print magazine exploring, dissecting and exploding the stigma around mental health.” I’d love to grab a copy of this but they were all sold out before I could get one! I feel like there’s such a big gap in the market and it’s the perfect magazine to fill it. Kirstyn seemed very passionate about the issue which only added to the importance of it all. Definitely check it out and support in any way that you can!
Next up was Word-O-Mat “an indie publisher of new, short international writing plys a zine vending machine, run by Charlotte Ormnston.” I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything as cool as this! I’ll pop a link below so you can see for yourself- I’m speechless! An absolutely beautiful project!
The day ended with a conversation between Ian Rankin and Barry McIlheney. I’m planning to go through all of Ian Rankin books now. I really enjoyed listening to him and his writing process and career. He’s a very down to earth guy and he gave a lot of good advice. The festival ended with Ian talking about dealing with rejections and giving the best advice “you just gotta say, fuck you, I’m gonna try again”.
Thank you MagFest17 for such a brilliant day!