New N by Norwegian

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The second issue of Ink’s new N by Norwegian just landed in the office. The story line up is appealingly eclectic taking in wolves, wooden skies, Sweden’s sourdough bakeries and an Arctic road-trip. Best of all though is the cover, which accompanies a story on innovative architecture in the Norwegian capital. It was created for us by Terje Tonnessen of Made in Norway, a leading Oslo-based design studio responsible for some brilliant infographics. They’re so effective – I immediately put in an application to join the Norwegian Air Force. (Posted by AndrewH)

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Tailing a Story

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What better place is there to use the old he-said/she-said format than a fishing feature? Second possibly only to claims of feats under the sheets, the boasts of fishing aficionados make perfect fodder for humorous reality checks from an eye witness. In the February issue of Go, our very own Sam Polcer and New York Times writer Amanda Petrusich head to a small Yucatan seaside village in search of a big catch. But—thwarting gender expectations—it’s not the boy who’s the braggart…

I really like how the footnote technique has been used to create the conversation. It keeps the reader’s eye moving, and it gives the feature an interactive feel.

-Orion Ray-Jones

Konichiwa!

Hello from Jetstar Japan, Ink’s first Japanese magazine. As part of the Jetstar stable, it follows the same format as the Australian and Asian editions (already published by Ink), and we’re delighted with how the first four issues have turned out. We’ve also learned a lot about how things operate in Japan: the production process is completely different.

In Japan, the writers’ allegiance is with the people/places they’re writing about rather than the magazine they’re writing for. Permission has to be requested from those we are featuring: even shrines want to see a hard copy of the magazine before they’ll agree to being included in the story. Everyone one gets to have final approval on the story before it goes to press and any text cut by the sub-editor has to be approved by the writer.

Cover images are especially tricky to deal with, and involve everyone from the PR, movie/music companies, to the photographer and celebrities themselves. From the get-go, only a very few selected images are cleared for use by the publicist, even when the entire shoot had been commissioned and paid for by us.

Photography is mostly done in studios, as an outdoor shoot would involve cover a celeb’s entire entourage, and would cost three times as much (which explains why most Japanese magazines have static, single-coloured backgrounds for covers). And once a high resolution image has been agreed upon for use, no further digital-imaging work can be done to unless approved by the photographer. No colour-correction, change of background colour or even minor cosmetic touch-ups are allowed. It is often considered an insult to the photographer if the image has been ‘tampered’ with in anyway. Even a small change (example, the colour or position of the coverlines, however slight) once the mock-up has been approved is seen as being fickle and is frowned upon. Everything has to be ‘perfect’ before being sent  – anything less is considered very ‘shameful’.

We’re on a huge learning curve with this magazine because of the amount of respect we have to accord to celebrities and their managers, photographers and writers. It seems the editor and art director are only ones who don’t command any respect at all. (Posted by Liz Weselby, Anne Loh and Terence Goh)

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Here’s Leeeeeeeeeon!

Leon Borja of Hawksmoor. Photo by Phil Fisk

Meet Leon Borja, age 29. He’s a sous chef at Hawksmoor, on Air Street in London’s West End. Art director Christos and I met him the other week as part of a series of chefs with tattoos being photographed for the Eurostar magazine, Metropolitan. Leon has a huge steak covering his chest; to be precise, a T-bone steak, which, he told us, is his favourite cut of beef. The steak also happens to be roughly shaped like Brazil, which is where Leon comes from. Down his right arm are various fruits and vegetables in yellow and green (the colours of the Brazilian flag); on his left upper arm are sprigs of basil and rosemary (two herbs that grew in his grandmother’s garden) and a bottle of Tabasco. Leon loves Tabasco: “If I could, I’d put Tabasco in everything. And I love Bloody Marys”. Immediately after the shoot, he was heading up to Camden to get a new tattoo around his navel: “This will be the one where it all comes together”.

We could have filled a whole magazine with pictures of Leon and his tattoos, but we met a bunch of other chefs too (that’s Lee Tiernan, head chef at St John Bread & Wine, below), all of whom were photographed by the talented yet charming Phil Fisk – check out his mind-blowing Circus series here. You can see the results in the forthcoming February issue of the magazine. (Posted by AndrewH)

Lee Tiernan of St John Bread & Wine. Photo by Phil Fisk

Putting on the Ritz (and then some)

Clearing my desk of old magazines just now I came across a couple of faxes received a few years back, which are two of the most extraordinary documents I’ve ever read. They’re worth sharing.

Soon after the launch of Gulf Life, the magazine we publish for Gulf Air, we decided to do a behind-the-scenes story on the Paris Ritz. The hotel’s PR was keen and offered to host a journalist for a couple of nights. There was a writer who’d just done us a really funny piece on the experience of being the travelling companion of a genuine A-list superstar, who we thought would be perfect. She was up for it (who wouldn’t be?) and so we booked her on a Eurostar service and off she went. A week later the story came in, which was not quite the great read we’d hoped, and then came the faxes below.

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These are two bills for room service and extras. That’s 1,762 euros of room service and extras, run up in one two-night stay. On the night of the 23rd alone, there’s 71 euros spent in the hotel’s Hemingway Bar, 770 euros in the hotel’s Espadon restaurant and 134 euros drained out of the minibar. I called her: there was no mistake, she signed the bills, she said she thought it was all free. No wonder the story was so shit, she’d probably couldn’t remember a single thing that happened.

In the end, I thik the whole affair was settled by her agreeing to write something on the Paris Ritz for Vogue, in exchange for which the hotel wrote off the bill. I’m not sure what the moral of this is, I just wish I’d gone with her. (Posted by AndrewH)

Letting go with a grin

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Behind its Six Feet Under cover (photo by Pierre Pellegrini), the current issue of Privatair, which has just landed in the UK office, contains one of those rare stories that after reading leaves you with a kind of warming inner glow. Which is odd, because it’s about calligraphy. And a Bible. And mortality. There, you feel uplifted already don’t you?

It’s a profile of Donald Jackson, master calligrapher and Senior Scribe to Queen Elizabeth’s Crown Office at the House of Lords. Mr Jackson’s latest project, completed in 2011 after years of committed labour, is a hand-lettered and -illuminated Saint John’s Bible. It’s the only entirely handmade Bible to be created in the last 500 years: seven volumes, each two feet tall, totalling 11,050 pages of text all executed using feather quills. Despite the extreme aesthetic nature of the task, Jackson turns about to be quite earthy and a wryly engaging character. ‘I’m rather prone to mistakes,’ he admits. He embarked upon the Bible, he says, because, ‘It’s the Everest thing: it’s there so, sod it, let’s climb it’.

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Along the way the story touches on the essentiality of creativity, the relationship between the traditional and modern, and why we do what we do. It’s a terrific profile piece by Josh Sims, elegantly written and full of little details that stick with you long afterwards, not least the quote with which he closes the story: ‘This has been 15 years of my life and now I’m nearly 75. Obviously life is drawing to a close. When you’re working on that text for that long, it’s right in front of your eyes that you’re wearing out. And so in some way the Bible project has been a preparation for death for me – so I can let go of it all with a grin.’

I strongly recommend you pick up a copy of the magazine and read the whole thing, and admire the photography by Andrew Montgomery. (Posted by AndrewH)

Scoot

We launched Scoot magazine last year for Singapore Airline’s new low-cost, medium-haul airline of the same name. It’s bright, bold and fresh with a community feel. Readers are invited to share tips and experiences through the airline’s social media and the best appear in print. Editor Alexandra Karplus and Art Director Pete Stephens have done a terrific job in creating a fun, lively ‘lifestyle manual’, which is informative and interactive as it is nice to look at and read; you get a real sense of the magazine striking up a conversation with the reader.

I’d love to share the video on making the first issue, but WordPress won’t let me. Instead here’s a selection of layouts: A first-person piece by Singaporean musician Charlie Lim, who shares his city tips and photos taken with his phone, and Brent Lewin’s atmospheric photo essay about Bangkok’s Takraw players, which effectively captures the game’s energy and street culture surrounding it. The creative approach to the blogger photos in the December issue is a quirky take on standard portraiture. Even the destination guides and airline pages – a photo strip on ‘How Scoot was born’ and illustrated guide on what to expect on board – are engaging and fun. (Posted by LizW)

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A fine spirit

bSpirit, the Africa-centric magazine published by Ink on behalf of Brussels Airlines, has just had a revamp. It’s always been a difficult prospect: try finding a regular source of upbeat, airline-friendly stories from the likes of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kigali in Rwanda. Plus beautiful photos to go with? And a design that accommodates text in three languages?

Editor Piet van Niekerk and art director Dan di Paolo have pulled it off with aplomb. Stories are positive without being bland – a piece on a new trans-Gambia bridge connecting north and south Senegal; a report from the Pan-African film festival in Ouagadougou; and an interview with an actor worth publishing for his name alone: Telley Savalas Otieno. And, yes, he was named after who you think he was.

The design deals with the tri-language issue efficiently – it’s never going to be pretty but it is easy to navigate. Some of the photography is excellent – and where no photography was available, Dan has compensated with some very fine illustration. I particularly like the images from the film festival, one of which graces the cover. I love the patterned edging strip, which wraps around the spine, and which is from a fabric traditional to Burkino Faso, where the film festival took place. The strip will be a feature of future issues with the pattern changing each time to stay appropriate to the cover image. It’s going to look great lined up on the shelf. (Posted by AndrewH)

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New Year, new magazines

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The very first Ink issue of n by Norwegian has gone onboard. Staffers in Ink’s London office may already have seen a physical copy but for anybody that hasn’t it’s a great looking product and a good read to boot. There’s a front section of short stories, each of which poses a question (‘Are these girls Norway’s most riotous export?’), followed by a feature well filled with polar bears, Danes in space, New York denim and Bangkok vintage. It’s a quirky and insightful line-up that reflects the airline’s forward-thinking, boundary-pushing ethos. Congratulations to the editorial/design team of Toby Skinner, Rickard Westin and Patrick Welch.

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