I've been thinking a lot about magazines again lately because we're voting on our next issue tonight. I've been trying to figure out what makes House Beautiful so good right now. I've been reading house zines for nigh on two decades, and I've been in design and the pro art market. What I'm new at is magazines, so I've got a hankerin' to puzzle it out.
The pics and interviews are fabulous (giving me ideas for author interviews, now that we're doing them at Espec). They have their finger on the market and trends, for sure. But mostly, it's that HB is taking its readers forward into a bright future. The interiors are anything but subdued. They don't feel so much like the waiting-roomesque, soothing interiors of a year ago (which is what we gravitate toward when things are bad on the world stage). It's cheerful to read, not staid at all (this issue's theme is "happy"), and it's got some how-to hints. They've got a top cookbook writer, ala Barefoot Contessa, and they've moved the cooking up front. The recipes are doable, not full of stuff you've never heard of.
It's got plenty of traditional decor, which provides the comfort of the past, while looking to a happy future of color, clean surroundings, and wonderful, livable family homes. The tables aren't set, but are cleared for homework and magazines. The throw pillows don't look too precious to toss on the floor if they're in the way. These are rooms that complement and reflect their owners, and make them seem like people you want to know. It's decor that invites, listens, and joins people, not separates us into castes or passes judgement (check out Traditional Home to see the difference). In short, it seeks ways to bring us all together. What else in the media is doing that for us currently?
Not that I think Electric Spec should be a happy zine (the preference for darkness rears its ugly head--especially with me, of course) but even in the grimmist futuristic there is hope to be found. It's warning rather than certainty--sometimes it's almost a plead: don't let's go there. Stop the train before we hurl off the cliff into this world I see ahead. It's a wonderful role for writing to take.
I'm going into voting, and my writing lately, with that in mind: How can all I do bring the world together rather than drive us apart?