Tom on Emilia (and Dolly and Jon)

In a sort of tribute to Dany, ‘Mother of Dragons’, one of the few principals left standing after the close of the fifth season of Game of Thrones a few weeks back, the front cover of July’s American Way features Emilia Clarke.

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We got Guardian and Observer feature writer and GoT fan Tom Lamont to do the interview (he also did ‘Jon Snow’ for GQ back in January). It’s a reliably good read. Here’s how it starts:

Cruising past Santa Monica pier one morning in an air-conditioned SUV, outfitted for the California spring in pastel Prada and American Apparel, the actor Emilia Clarke recalls another drive – in a very different vehicle, in very different clothes, beside a very different passenger. She had on leathers and Doc Martens boots at the time, and she was driving a bullet-proofed Brink’s truck around a film set in New Orleans. Next to her: Arnold Schwarzenegger. The pair were filming scenes for a new installment in the Terminator franchise, Terminator: Genysis, out on 1st July.

“So I’m carrying a Desert Eagle the size of my own head,” Clarke, 28, recalls, “wearing this wicked costume and driving this massive armoured truck…” She crashed. Schwarzenegger found it hilarious. He turned to his young co-star to say, in that way of his that has been iconic for more than three decades now, “Very naaaace.”

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You can read the rest of the piece at the American Way website from 1 July. I also recommend reading Tom’s encounter with Dolly Parton, which you’ll find on his website. (Posted by AndrewH)

It’s been a while…

Apologies for the lack of recent posts. We have some catching up to do. It would be a shame to let June go by without noting a crop of particularly fine covers adorning Ink publications.

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Metropolitan managed to land an interview with Paul Weller and a cover shoot carried out by photographer Lottie Davies with assistance from stand-in art director Jamie Trendall. The venue was the brilliantly bonkers Croc Bowling Alley at London’s new Ham Yard hotel. Weller wouldn’t bowl but he did play piano and he did smile, but only off-camera. Here’s a few shots that didn’t get used:

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Metropolitan always has a contents opener that speaks to the cover and also this month to the theme of the issue overall, which was music. I think this is very lovely:

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Not exactly music but also great fun is the spread relating to new book Haircuts of Hackney, published by independent publisher Hoxton Mini Press, which is a ‘visual encyclopedia’ of East London ’dos, as drawn by artist Daniel Frost.

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Deputy editor Elizabeth Winding hit Hackney, book in hand, to find real people with the same styles, sprinting after Pretzels in London Fields and scouring Broadway Market for Fros. Everyone posed for photos, including a passing dog:

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The pics are by the brilliantly named River Thompson. (Posted by AndrewH)

Rhapsody in the New York Times

Fantastic write up of Rhapsody, the magazine Ink publishes for United Airline’s premium-class cabins, in the New York Times this weekend gone:

Last summer at a writers’ workshop in Oregon, the novelists Anthony Doerr, Karen Russell and Elissa Schappell were chatting over cocktails when they realized they had all published work in the same magazine. It wasn’t one of the usual literary outlets, like Tin House, The Paris Review or The New Yorker. It was Rhapsody, an in-flight magazine for United Airlines.

It seemed like a weird coincidence. Then again, considering Rhapsody’s growing roster of A-list fiction writers, maybe not. Since its first issue hit plane cabins a year and a half ago, Rhapsody has published original works by literary stars like Joyce Carol Oates, Rick Moody, Amy Bloom, Emma Straub and Mr. Doerr, who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction two weeks ago.

As airlines try to distinguish their high-end service with luxuries like private sleeping chambers, showers, butler service and meals from five-star chefs, United Airlines is offering a loftier, more cerebral amenity to its first-class and business-class passengers: elegant prose by prominent novelists. There are no airport maps or disheartening lists of in-flight meal and entertainment options in Rhapsody. Instead, the magazine has published ruminative first-person travel accounts, cultural dispatches and probing essays about flight by more than 30 literary fiction writers.

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Congratulations to Jordan, Sean, Hunter, Christos and the rest of the team. Read the rest of the article here. (Posted by AndrewH)

Stories well told

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I’ve posted a couple of times about the visual lushness of Excelente, the premium-class cabin magazine Ink produces for Iberia but what I haven’t mentioned is the quality of the feature stories. The May issue, cover above, has a couple of absolute gems.

There’s the profile of Takuya Ishimine, 55 years old, born and raised in Osaka, who fell in love with reggae after hearing Bob Marley’s Redemption Song on Japanese radio. He managed to get himself sent to Jamaica as an employee of a Japanese coffee company but then he was made redundant. Instead of packing up and returning home he took over ownership of a Kingston record store after its Jamaican owner was gunned down and killed.

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For the last three years, in his loosely fitted, patterned cotton shirts, khaki shorts and flip-flops Ishimine opens up shop each morning, even though he can go several days without a sale. To supplement his income he serves Blue Mountain coffee and hand-makes record sleeves from assorted colours of cartridge paper. ‘Jamaica is still a paradise for me and now I can “eat a food” [make some money] and enjoy myself here,’ Ishimine told journalist Patricia Meschino. The photographs are by Chema Llanos.

Then there’s this:

The Eva Jocelyn arrived in the neighbourhood of Anibong – District 68 of the city of Tacloban – along with a host of other tragedies, when Typhoon Haiyan, known as Yolanda by its victims, swept through the Philippines. The 3,000-tonne cargo ship had been anchored in San Pedro Bay, on the San Juanico Strait, with its 19 crew members onboard. At 7am on 8 November 2013, Yolanda’s screaming 316kmph winds launched the ship at the capital of the Eastern Visayas Islands. It flew like a toy boat through the streets, adding to the devastation suffered by 80% of the structures in the city. Sliding to a halt, it embedded itself in the house of Estrella Moro. The bow pierced the second floor of the Moro home and there it stopped, the last voyage of the Eva Jocelyn.

That’s the opening paragraph of the story that goes on to describe how the Eva Jocelyn, which brought destruction to a Filipino village, rapidly became a focal point for the devastated community as the ship’s auxiliary engine provided a sole source of electricity. Local businesses like soft-drink sellers set up close by, while elderly card players found the shadow cast by its looming hull was a cool place to sit and the women did their laundry there.

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It reads like something from the pages of a novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, except the tale is true and there are stunning photos to prove it. Both words and pictures are by Spanish photo-journalist Daniel Burgui Iguzkiza.

Credit also to Ink editor Jesus Huarte for unearthing these amazing stories. (Posted by AndrewH)

More Norwegian (potential) glory

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N by Norwegian has been shortlisted in the 2015 PPA Awards in two categories including Best Cover (see above), in which it is up against Crumbs, Time Out, Shortlist, Radio Times, GQ, Elle, Red, The Big Issue and Country Life. Go here at once and give it your vote.

N by Norwegian is also up for Customer Magazine of the Year against the likes of High Life, Waitrose Kitchen and last year’s winner Slimming World. (Posted by AndrewH)

I never read. I just look at pictures…

…is something the Picture Desk team and Andy Warhol (sort of) have in common.

As picture editors, we of course have to, and might I add – enjoy to, read the stories that land on our desks. But our thing, just like Warhol, is pictures. And since I’m no wordsmith, I’ll keep this short!

We’re fortunate to work with some fantastic photographers and want to show them off. So here’s a sneak preview of some of next month’s commissions from the London office…

Ben Quinton went to Florence’s Botanical Gardens for Ronda.

Josh Shinner photographed Petitie Meller, Spector, Andreya Triana, Twin Atlantic, Kwabs and Gaz Coombes for easyJet Traveller’s Sounds of Summer feature.

Greg Funnell made the most of the extra hour of daylight in Mexico for Thomas Cook Travel.

And finally, our resident photographer Tim E. White braved the bright lights of Las Vegas and LA for n by Norwegian’s neon cover story.

(Posted by Julia Holmes)

Rhapsody rhapsodised

The Society of Publications of Designers in America has just announced its Merit Awards, which include three gongs for Rhapsody, the premium cabin magazine produced by Ink for United Airlines. They are for last June’s DeNiro cover, September’s Lenny Kravitz and December’s Emily Blunt photo story. Congratulations to the team: editors Jordan Heller, Sean Manning, Hunter R Slaton and Erin Brady, design director Christos Hannides and photo editor Jessie Adler.

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Rhapsody is also in contention for gold and silver medals for the photo stories with Robert DeNiro and Christina Hendricks, up against the likes of Bloomberg Businessweek, Fast Company, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker and Wired. An easy win then. The winners will be announced at the 50th SPD Awards Gala on Friday 1 May. (Posted by AndrewH)

Well red

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As of today passengers in the premium cabins on Iberia flights are being dazzled by the cover of the April issue of Excelente, which is vividly and gorgeously red. It’s just a shame the planes aren’t also carrying the January, February and March issues as well so everybody can see what a stunning set the magazine’s covers make to date.

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In keeping with the previous three issues, the inside back page ‘deconstructs’ the object on the front cover.

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The story to which the cover relates is about the Classic Car Club in east London, which gives members access to 50 cars of the sort boyhood dreams are made of (well, some boys anyway). The beautiful photography is by the highly recommended Ben Quinton.

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(Posted by AndrewH)

Snakes, unfathomable emergencies and invisible nuns

“In one wicked motion, the head whips around, the mouth opens wide ad the teeth sink into the flesh between Steve Daskam’s thumb and index finger. Daskam shrieks and squeezes the back of the snake’s head with his other hand to force the slitherer to withdraw its fangs before the rest of us can quite compute what has happened, our flashlights spinning like circus spotlights trying to focus. Ignoring the oozing blood and what ever stinging pain he endures, Daskam uses his bleeding hand to regrip the hissing 11-foot-Burmese python and shove it into a teal pillowcase. Then he starts to laugh.”

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I defy anybody not to want to continue reading this story, which runs in the May issue of Hemispheres. It’s about diesel mechanic Daskam and his friend, high-school teacher Devin Belliston, and their hobby hunting pythons in the Florida Everglades. Not only is this legal but it’s actually encouraged by the authorities because the reptiles are an invasive species that has been wrecking havoc on the delicate local swampy ecosystem through the strangling and swallowing of small mammals and other indigenous critters. It does what the best stories do, which is to immerse the reader in a whole other totally engrossing world they previously knew nothing about. You can read the rest of the piece by clicking on the pages below.

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There’s another great piece of writing in this issue but of a very different kind in Boyd Farrow’s travel essay ‘Modern Inconveniences’. Boyd used to edit CNBC European Business magazine for Ink where he’s remembered as a pugnacious grouch and it’s great that he hasn’t mellowed any:

“By my reckoning, there has not been a single positive technological innovation in hotels since the introduction of the passenger elevator in the mid 19th-century. All the same, hotels have insisted on introducing a succession of useless gadgets, ranging from the trouser press to the bathroom telephone. A phone in the WC? What kind of emergency are they envisaging?”

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Also this issue, changes in the magazine’s tent-pole cover feature Three Perfect Days.

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Not only has the design been upgraded, the presentation of the story has switched from second-person narrative (“Your destination is the red-dirt hills of southwestern Guam…”) to first-person, which allows this issue’s traveller Chris Wright to fully indulge himself:

“A highlight of the tour is a 17th-century convent that supports itself by making and selling cookies – commerce that’s complicated by the fact that the nuns must never be seen by non-nuns. I wander the hallways in search of a nun-run cookie shop, then come a cross a murky little room with a hole in the wall, inside of which stands a circular wooden contraption. It spins and a box appears. I put 10 euros down and it spins again. “Receipt!” I shout into the hole.”

It’s like the inflight version of The New Yorker. (Posted by AndrewH)

This post is brought to you by the letter J

To those of you who don’t know me, I am the editor of J Magazine – at least for another few hours. Ink has been publishing this magazine for Kuwait’s Jazeera Airways for around seven years and I have been editing it for around the last five of those years. Today is my last day on the title and with Ink – on Monday I start a new job (and life) working for Al-Jazeera news network out in Qatar. Before I go I want to present a little parting gift, which is my pick of the magazine’s ten best covers.

If you don;t regularly fly Jazeera Airways you are unlikely to have seen most of them as even the London office of Ink where the magazine is produced receives very few physical copies of the magazine – and these I jealously guard and keep locked in desk drawer. Which is a shame, because Jazeera Airways is a fantastic client, who has always allowed us (almost) total editorial freedom. To date we’ve produced 45 issues of outstanding photography, strong narratives and covers commissioned from some of fantastically talented illustrators.

For me, the cover that symbolises everything we do is this one by design outfit I Love Dust. Art director Rob Timm and I had to fight to get them on board: they’re busy people, always in demand, and they don’t come cheap. But we came to an arrangement and for the April/May 2012 issue they produced this beauty for us:

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It links to a story inside on cyclists taking over the streets of car-ridden Beirut. I travelled to Lebanon to meet the intrepid bike pioneers. I met one activist at a cafe and as he sat down to join me I noted that he hadn’t locked his bike. He laughed and said he hoped someone would steal it because it would increase the number of cyclists on the streets.

J launched with a brief to be different and it certainly was for the Middle East. Early covers (art directed by the talented Stuart Tolley) didn’t even have a masthead, just a giant and not always immediately obvious J. The client loved them and had all the covers made up as posters to hang around the office.

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The magazine came of age with this piece of art, below, by the very brilliant Olivier Kugler, a regular contributor to The Guardian. His ‘Istanbul to Tehran’ – which was accompanied inside by an eight-page comic-strip narrative of a rail journey – cover won J magazine its first award, the Magnum Opus Gold prize.

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My greatest joy in editing this magazine was to confound preconceptions of this very much misunderstood region and to tell some of the Middle East’s untold stories. I particular enjoyed uncovering the revival of the English butler school, only instead of sending graduates to British stately homes they all now end up in the palaces of the Gulf States.

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Other favourite covers of mine include one that illustrated a piece on Kuwaiti racers who revel in spinning their cars and sliding sideaways …

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… our round-up of the top Arab films of all time with an appropriately, wonkily styled B-movie poster cover …

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… the Airfix kit cover we commissioned to go with a story about the delivery of new Airbuses for the Jazeera Airways’ fleet …

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… an interview with Iron Sheik, an Iranian wrestler who found fame in the US circuit playing the cartoon bad guy …

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… and a profile of the Arab world’s answer to Pharrell Williams, the super-producer Khyam Allami:

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And I’ll end with a sneak preview. J Magazine has a new talented art director in Yessica Diez-Davies, who, with only her second issue in charge is starting to push the magazine in an exciting new direction. This week we go to press with our first ever typographical cover:

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It accompanies an interview with Pascal Zogbhi, the Jameel Prize-nominated font designer who’s changing the way the world sees the Arabic language. But you’ll have to wait until April to read that. Meanwhile, more covers can be seen here and here.

And that’s it from me. Thank you. (Posted by Sakhr Al-Makhadhi)