Introducing Stuck Magazine: a new platform for art and subculture
It's been a tough year for print publications. Magazines across Europe are struggling to stay afloat in the face of diminishing advertising budgets and other challenges linked to the Covid-19 emergency. Yet this hasn't stopped two young creatives, Marius Thielmann and Jacopo Borrini, from getting started on their own new editorial project. Stuck Magazine, the first edition of which will be distributed this spring, promises to "uncover new methods of survival and success," drawn from the values of community and artistic expression.
A photographer talks about his recent work in Iran. A German-Kurdish fashion designer reveals how her daily life influences her craft. Another artist talks openly about the disruptive impact of digitisation on the contemporary art market. Dancers and tattooists, musicians and painters all give intimate insights into their creative practice. These are some of the contents of Stuck Magazine, a new publication which was born just two months ago and which aims to inspire readers to explore subcultures.
This brand new print magazine and web portal addresses the doubts, fears and systemic issues facing a new generation of artists. "In the media, artists hardly ever communicate social grievances," says the editor, Marius Thielmann. "Yet art offers an ideal, alternative means of discussing such issues. We're also looking at the pandemic and the question of how [artists] are dealing with it. This period does feel like an emotional roller coaster ride."
Marius and his friend Jacopo Borrini are the two creative minds behind the project. The pair, who are both 29-years-old, originally met in Berlin but since the Covid-19 emergency they've mainly been coordinating via phone calls, Zoom meetings and WhatsApp messages. While Jacopo has moved to his home in Italy for now, Marius is still in Germany.
Right from the beginning the two friends agreed the venture would be published in English, in order to reach as many people as possible. The idea of launching their own independent magazine was, as they both describe it, a "passion project."
"Creating a magazine was Jacopo's idea," says Marius. "When he lived in Australia as a photographer, he was surrounded by artists. He realised that they have a lot of stories to share. We find that artists [i.e. not only their works] can convey stories and messages in a very authentic way."
One of the most recent artists that Jacopo and Marius interviewed for their project is Rafaella Braga. The Brazil-born Berlin-based painter uses her brush and canvas in order to process her own life experiences: "For me all [our] fears are connected with the fact that we overthink the past and future. So transforming these fears into love is the same as being present. This is what my paintings do."
Print publishing: an uphill struggle?
Marius and Jacopo quickly realised that they wanted to develop a classic print magazine. Even in today's digitised world, print has enormous added value. "Unlike online articles, print magazines have a closed system. You can go much deeper into topics without being distracted by advertising all the time," they explain. Both are looking forward to the upcoming printing of the first issue: "We're excited to hold the magazine in our hands, to smell it."
In order to remain independent Stuck Magazine is completely self-financed. The pair are hoping for support from a fundraising campaign which has just begun: "For now, it's important that we get the money together so that the print edition can get off the ground," says Marius optimistically. The Lithuanian printing house KOPA is currently putting the final touches on the magazine. From there, in the spring, it will be sent all over Europe.
The two friends have divided out tasks: Jacopo has a degree in graphic design so he is in charge of determining the magazine's layout. Marius, meanwhile, is handling the editorial side. The German is currently writing his Masters thesis on 'The Management of Creative Industries,' which is largely based on this project: "I'm dealing with the effects of print magazines, which are central to the independent media world. They create trust and togetherness."
Marius and Jacopo are aware that the market is highly competitive. Zitty, Berlin's oldest urban magazine, which has been running for five decades, recently had to shut their newsroom due to the ongoing pandemic. Cultural publications are particularly affected by the lockdowns in European countries. But there are also positive examples of niche magazines that are successful online. Marius is confident that their digital product will run successfully alongside the print magazine: "Our product is exclusive so this is already a reason why we will not print that many magazines to begin with. We've already reached lots of people through our online edition. Many have already given us signals that they will support us."
Stuck Magazine's small editorial team were able to put together a large variety of interviews for the first issue thanks to a wide-ranging network. Artists from all over the world have answered their questions. Miriam Partington and Rebecca Took, two British volunteer writers, have played an important part in this process; both in a conceptual role and by offering support with English language editing.
For now, until the first issue is published, Marius and Jacopo are producing content on their website and on social media: "We've started putting some small artist profiles, articles and interviews online. People that are interested can already click through to some of the stories."
Stuck Magazine is also integrating augmented reality and QR codes in order to create an interface between the digital materials and the print magazine. Once photographed the codes open up bonus online material for readers. "This way you can really experience the challenges our featured artists are going through," says Marius. No doubt, while the future holds much promise, the months ahead will present many similar challenges for this young and ambitious creative team.