In December we named boat magazine as one of our publications of last year after two blisteringly good issues focussing on Sarajevo and Detroit. Billed as “the antidote to lazy journalism,” the boat team decamps to a different city every few months to immerse themselves in its quirks, customs and culture and then they produce a beautifully-designed, brilliantly written magazine documenting the things they learned.
For Issue 3, editor/creative director/husband/wife team Erin and Davey Spens made a bold decision, they were going to do London. We were lucky enough to sit down with them both during the planning stages and it soon became clear that they were more than aware of the potential folly of taking on our much-written about capital. But they were determined that it could be done, and that by eschewing the obvious and sidestepping the “secret city” now documented to death, they could create something truly interesting and exciting.
This week we got to see how they got on – and suffice to say they’ve nailed it. Like my uncle telling jokes, the process of distilling a living, breathing, sprawling city often loses a great deal in the telling, but the boat team has stayed true to their mission to convey the city they love without resorting to cliche.
There’s an intro by Nick Hornby that touches on the culture of ease the internet facilitates, two unusual approaches to youth disaffection through the prisms of a closed-down advice centre and trainers, a nuanced look at markets presented as different stages of the same phenomenon (The Life Cycle of a London Market), a great piece on the Isle of Dogs and an obligatory Olympic feature on the unlikely rise to prominence of sprinter Conrad Williams.
Visual treats come in the form of Simon Roberts’ contrasting series of the City as financial hub and hotbed of protest, some gorgeous illustrated maps and James Pearson-Howes and Will Robson-Scott’s photos taken from the top decks of the iconic London bus (even when a London stereotype appears, it’s approached in a fresh way).
As you’d expect from a design studio it’s a great looking thing with the layout ensuring the cluster of content never overwhelms and the foil-block front cover is an eye-catching opening salvo.
Bravo boat-ies, bravo indeed!