So Young magazine – like a gaggle of contemporary magazines – pairs its theme (music, in this case) with great illustration. But it’s under the cut-and-paste stewardship of art director and co-founder Josh Whettingsteel that really stands it out. Each issue features artwork by your soon-to-be-favourite illustrators, and soon-to-be-favourite bands. Check out their site and try get a copy before they all go. Having just finished – and, yeah, sold out of – their tenth issue, it’s an exciting time for Josh and the mag. Their first So Young Festival at the Old Blue Last in Shoreditch opens TONIGHT (August 10th) featuring a glut of new bands and a show of Josh’s work. Don’t miss it, and keep an eye on their site for more upcoming fun…
Hey Josh, how’s it going?
Hello! Good thank you, very busy but enjoying the London summer.
You guys have the So Young festival coming up; including an exhibition of your work for the mag – tell us about that.
Yes, we can’t wait, we’ve developed a really good relationship with the people running The Old Blue Last in Shoreditch and they offered us 3 days to put on some shows in the middle of summer. So it seemed like a no brainer to turn it into a festival and we’ve managed to get some of our favourite bands on board with some very special guests still to be announced. Above the pub is a really cool space that we felt would be great for an exhibition as the aesthetic of it really compliments my work. The exhibition is a celebration of 3 years and 10 issues of So Young in print and features original collages and cover artwork that I’ve designed over the years. One of my roles for the magazine is the art direction but my own collages have been scattered throughout all the issues and I feel they are an important common thread that shows our punk fanzine roots and adds longevity in an illustration world based on passing trends.
What’s your approach when creating a new mag; does the design come first, or the content? The mag has a very distinctive style.
I’ll always have illustrators in mind for the next issue but normally the content comes first and then we go with illustrators that will suit the bands or if an illustrator is a fan of a particular band it makes sense for them to choose. Some of the best work has come when the illustrators don’t know the band initially but get to know them through researching the illustration and then subsequently become fans.
Lots of magazines – Shelf Heroes, So Young, Noble Rot, Gourmand etc – have a very illustration- led aesthetic at the moment. It’s great; why do you think mags are reverting to this style?
For us, that was the idea from the get-go, there was never any intention of it being anything other than fully illustrated. I think it’s because of what the Internet has done to photography; as soon as it’s online it seems to be fair game. And specifically for a music magazine like ours, you get sent press photos and then you end up with the same images as NME, DIY etc. I feel like the Internet, as well as diluting creativity, pushes people to find smarter ways to get their message across and to get noticed in an oversaturated online marketplace. Illustration is the best way in my opinion. I also feel that music magazines like Beat and Crack have nailed the photography side, so having a different approach like ours has been essential.
What’s coming up for you guys?
After the festival and exhibition is over it’ll be back to the drawing board and getting to work on our new issue which will be a celebration of the last ten issues as well as a massive nod to the future with some amazing illustrators and new bands. We can’t wait for people to see it.
So Young Festival and the ‘Covers and Collages’ Exhibition takes place at The Old Blue Last in Shoreditch from Wednesday 10 th – Friday 12 th August. There will be a ‘private view’ of the exhibition Wednesday 10 th August 6-9pm with a chance to buy prints, zines and t-shirts as well as some free beer for early birds. Their online shop, soyoungmagazine.bigcartel.com, will have all the above available to buy for the duration of the exhibition as well.