AS A MAGAZINE OURSELVES, THESE ARE OTHERS WE THINK MERIT A READING.
Thanks to the digital revolution, fewer and fewer of us are getting our hands on paper copies of books, magazines, or newspapers these days. By extension, fewer and fewer of us are subscribing to any publications at all. Sure you might read articles every day but be honest, how many publications do you actually subscribe to? To subscribe is to support, and while the journalism industry as a whole has been on shaky ground of late, the publications that really need your help are the little guys. Don’t you want to support the brave souls who aren’t only helping to keep print journalism alive, but reinventing the form?
Most of these niche magazine take a step back from the safety of the fashion/lifestyle model and tend to experiment with more unique content. Whether focusing on a particular profession within the arts or on people whose work makes them travel for a living, these funky well-crafted magazines should be crowding your coffee table.
ART & CREATIVITY
This topic, however broad, is a fairly common one for the indie magazine world. Many of these publications focus on the arts, whether that’s architecture, photography, design, or all of the above. Here are a few of the most interesting; they may provide you with a new perspective on how to be creative.
The Great Discontent (TGD) is a tri-annual magazine featuring candid interviews with artists of all stripes. From well-known personalities like Reggie Watts to eccentric designers like Aaron Draplin, TGD focuses on a creator’s beginnings, journeys, inspirations, entrepreneurship, and risks. TGD provides a memorable look into its subjects' lives via long-form interviews and short features collected into a beautifully designed print artifact. They sell each issue individually at $25/issue and they have no fixed schedule for release.
Cereal is a biannual (spring/summer & autumn/winter) travel and style magazine based in the UK. The magazine highlights unique stories going on in the worlds of fashion, fine art, and design, with each issue focusing on a specific theme, such as sustainability or desire. Cereal’s print magazines offer city guides, art prints, and even a children’s books. All with some of the best photography and design out there.
Cereal definitely has a lifestyle quality, but it’s like if a lifestyle magazine was edited by Ansel Adams. Design and an artistic sensibility is part of everything Cereal does. Their print magazine is particularly unique. It’s broken into chapters focusing on various aspects of the particular issue’s central theme. This allows the subject to be explored in-depth, giving it the attention and focus it deserves. Cereal also sells magazines by the issue (at $12/issue) rather than having a subscription model.
Offscreen is a print magazine about technology. It’s an oxymoronic publication released three times a year, as well as a newsletter released weekly. Offscreen takes a thoughtful, human-centered approach to technology. It’s a slow counterbalance to the fast pace of popular media, exploring creativity and design through introspective writing and thoughtful human stories. Offscreen takes an in-depth look at digital creators' life and work, captured in enduring print. It tells the less obvious human stories of creativity, passion, and hard work that hide behind every interface. Offscreen may seem less directly about “art” than the other publications in this category, but once you actually view the magazine, you’ll understand why we placed it here. You can purchase an individual issue for $22, or pay $20/month to subscribe. Offscreen doesn’t release their mags on any fixed schedule.
This is certainly an overdone category. At this point what does “lifestyle” even mean? These niche publications don’t use the word lifestyle to write about just anything. They have similarly niche topics and a deep passion for that topic. Like many of the magazines on this list, you’ll find incredible photography and design in every issue.
A Gourmand is a person who takes pleasure and interest in food of all kinds. The Gourmand magazine is a food and culture journal that binds inspirational words, images, and ideas with the humble and universal subject of food.
A food-centric magazine doesn’t break any molds, but with its book-quality paper and eye-popping art and design, the UK-based biannual magazine is arguably the most gorgeous of the bunch. As we reach the peak of our food media zeitgeist, The Gourmand has emerged as one of the leading alternative voices in the space. They cover everything from new ways of visualizing food emojis to Georgia O'Keeffe's strict diet. Boasting both witty writing and distinct art direction, the magazine offers a unique perspective and inspirational fodder to foodies, designers, and creatives of all stripes. One issue costs $12 and they aren’t released on a fixed schedule.
Another Escape is an outdoor lifestyle and creative culture publication that explores passionate travelers’ stories and the motivations behind their particular lifestyles. Less about travel and more about exploring, the magazine contains breathtaking photo essays, long-form pieces covering all manner of topics (usually presented from the point of view of several people), and profiles on indie makers and doers. The editorial team covers a wide variety of subject matter all deep-rooted in exploration, creativity, innovation, and discovery. Their tone is investigative while still being gentle and humble. Their articles are often looking for new, interesting, and unusual ways in which people can be exploratory or creative. The magazine aims to be a source of inspiration and knowledge for those seeking a more migratory lifestyle. Another escape publishes twice a year and one issue costs $12.
Kinfolk is a lifestyle magazine that explores a wide variety of pretty basic topics like ways to simplify your life, cultivate community, and spend more time with friends and family. Not the most exciting topics, but after 10 years (they were founded in 2011) Kinfolk has become a leading independent magazines for young creative professionals. They even publish in Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Russian, so they must be doing something right.
Kinfolk publishes their print issue four times a year. One issue costs $18; they offer a digital subscriptions for $40/year and a print & digital Subscription for $75/year. Check out the “city guides” section on their site for some of the best restaurant, shopping, hospitality, and entertainment recommendations you’ll find.
We’re getting into our own territory here, but we aren’t the end all be it when it comes to career advice. There are some excellent magazines out there focused on the careers of the modern worker that are nearly as good as we are, nearly.
A bi-monthly print magazine that focuses on work, life, and how they blend together. Courier has an indistinguishably young vibe reflected in the young entrepreneurs and freelancers they interview for their publications. Courier reports on progressive business culture across various industries from startups and tech, to fashion, media, design, finance, and craft. Launched in March 2013, Courier has grown rapidly and now reaches over 30,000 readers worldwide. It has a fairly international subscription base for a smaller magazine. Courier publishes six times a year at $6 per issue. They offer a print & digital subscription for $35/year.
[BranD] is a Hong Kong-based magazine that explores the concept of communication in the worlds of design, visual art, advertising, product design, graphic design, and architecture. It brings together designers, artists, art directors, marketing specialists, and other business-minded people of all stripes to share new ways to express ideas and brands visually. [BranD] is a great vehicle to stay connected to the ways other professional communicators are stretching their own skills and building their crafts in a discipline that is always evolving. [BranD] is unfortunately no longer in publications but you can view digital versions of their entire archive on their site. It’s worth a look.
Launched in February 2007, Monocle is a global briefing on international affairs, business, culture, and design headquartered in London. Their overall tone has an old-fashioned British tenor but by no means feels antiquated. Their content definitely appeals to a young international audience. In print, Monocle’s 10 issues a year are dense, bookish, and collectable. Monocle’s issues are filled by a global team of staff editors and over 30 correspondents from Beirut to Milan and Washington to Singapore. Monocle is very diverse in its content offerings but still probably leans toward a business and entrepreneurial focus. It’s a lifestyle magazine that understands that one’s career is indistinguishable from one’s lifestyle. Monocle costs $11/issue. Their digital subscription is $120/year, and their print & digital Subscription costs $160/year. With a subscription you don’t only get the 10 issues a year, but 4 special issues they release each year, plus a notebook and a tote bag.
Not only do these magazines offer valuable information and insight, niche magazines are just that, niche. There’s something incredibly rewarding about reading stories that you know not many others are.