Colophon 2007: A belated wrap up

Sort of like all day concerts, I’m not entirely sure if conferences are really ever that great. Is it really better to see you’re favorite band hundreds of feet away in the worst heat imaginable; is it really better to hear someone lecture about topics near and dear to you than have a discussion with them? I’d venture to say–a majority of the time–the answer would be no. But both summer concerts and conferences do afford you one thing: opportunity.

The Colophon: We Love Magazines conference is about–you might have surmised this if you’re blessed with keen eyes–magazines. It cost 75 Euros, was being held in a hilarious country, and concerned things that I might want to be a part of, so I signed up months ago. While magazines were clearly the topic, I still really didn’t know what that meant (nor did I care, too much). By the time the panels were announced I was too busy getting ready to leave to have a look at them, but from the e-mails and the aesthetics of the website, it seemed that the conference would focus on independent magazines, which I’m down with like my name was VInny from Naughty by Nature.

More specifically, Colophon focused on “stylepress” magazines–which I hadn’t really heard of before, though knew its ilk. Judging from the magazines seen over the weekend, Marc Jacobs is the most important advertiser for the stylepress.

On the one hand, stylepress magazines employ (or maybe get donated) somewhat fresher designers along with a whole bunch of illustrators and photographers. Their scope is more intimate. If I made a magazine, it’d probably end up being a “stylepress” magazine. On the other hand, by and large I think they’re total crap. They are all style and little-to-no substance (excluding “writers” from the people they employ wasn’t an oversight) and instantly forgettable. To me, at least.

But I guess they fill a niche, apparently some people are making a living off of them, and maybe they’re a good learning experience for the people involved.

While no one cares, I should also mention that I find out about some great titles, such as Carl*s Cars, Monokultur, and Directions.
(As a side note, you should plunk down the extra couple dollars and buy the new magazine Monocle.)

The biggest benefit of going was meeting lots of great people who want to be involved in magazines (especially these two guys from Britain who were super-nice), scoring a bunch of free champagne, totally taking advantage (over and over) of my position in the chocolate fountain line, and getting loads of “free” magazines (shipping a heavy box a far distance turns out to not be the smartest/most penny-pinching thing in the world).

For me, the best panel was the very last one (which pretty much paid for the conference itself) by two German designers who had a very long, thoughtful, and surprisingly hilarious presentation on trends in design. I probably won’t be able to afford to attend in the future, but as Colophon ages I imagine it will get better and better, and I’d keep your eyes on it if magazines are your sort of thing. Maybe. Sort of. Okay…maybe at least one eye.


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