Forever Magazine is the publication railing against traditional literary journal design
With an eccentric design approach and platforming writing from the periphery, the magazine aims to bring back “the community, enthusiasm and sheen that once surrounded the literary and art scene”.
- Olivia Hingley
- 16 February 2023
“In academia, there’s this idea that intellectuals must present themselves in a professional, serious, sexless manner,” begins Nat Ruiz. “We’re challenging that.” A quarterly print publication, for which Nat is designer and creative director, Forever Magazine is a literary publication with a difference. Founded by editor and CEO Madeline Cash, who works alongside Anika Jade Levy, its event’s manager and editor, the project prioritises work from the peripheral with outsider writers, while breaking out of the often pared back design of long-standing literary journals. That’s not to say there isn’t a place for such a design on the market, or that it isn’t effective. The Forever team were simply keen to get a bit of diversity of content and visual difference on the shelves – something they have most definitely have achieved.
Summarising the overall aesthetic approach of the magazine, Nat says that it is “to fully embrace and dress up for each issue’s theme”. And so, each of the four issues has a very unique, distinct style. On top of this, the magazine also tries to present issues “from a feminine perspective” while also taking visual cues from the Bible. Issue 03 themed of Love & Loss used chrome text and butterflies to represent “flirting in the early 2000s”, while Issue 02 was made to look as though a little girl doodled all over her Bible. The overall layout of all the editions takes inspiration from the Bible, as it’s structured into three columns and, when someone ‘speaks’, the text turns hot pink; “although in the Bible it’s only when Jesus speaks, and it’s read”. This is something Nat only knows because she “ordered a million Bibles on Amazon to analyse them meticulously”. In between issues of Forever, the team also produced “low-stakes, home made” pocket Bibles in collaboration with the Perfectly Imperfect Newsletter.
The most recent issue, Issue 04, is themed around Lost & Found and is Nat’s favourite issue so far. In this edition Nat really amped up the interactive element – an aspect they had come to learn that people loved in the previous issue – by making the whole magazine a game of ‘I-Spy’. At the beginning of the issue there is an index of lost items to be found floating around the pages – “it’s quite a challenge to find them all”, Nat adds. It’s no surprise to hear how fun the curation ended up being for this issue, and with help from Patrick Hamilton, Nat sought out and requested work that could be “cut-out” to float around the pages. This led to some nice surprises, like working with sculpture artists who rarely see their work in editorial contexts. To “give pause to the hectic design”, Nat included full spreads of art. Not only do these “leave room for contemplation”, Nat highlights how to add a new rhythm to the experience as a whole.
Designing for Forever is no easy feat, and from the get go Nat understood that it was going to be “extremely time and energy consuming”. But luckily, creating new visual worlds has always been something Nat has been passionate about. Born in San José, it was around the age of four that she can first recall wanting to be an artist, inspired by the paintings her single mother would put up around their house, created by the kids who she ran painting workshops for. She has since studied animation in Madrid, photography at the Pratt Institute in New York, and art direction in LA. Currently she lives and works in Portland Oregon to continue her art direction alongside Forever Magazine as a passion project. “I love having to create a visual world to tell a story, and it’s crazy that I get to do this as my job,” she says.
Looking to the future, Forever Magazine isn’t sure what they will have for readers next, but Nat shares that it “might involve their dads”. Be sure to stay tuned.
Forever Magazine: Cover by Nichole Shinn, Issue IV (Copyright © Forever Magazine, 2022)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.