“Although it’s a privilege to be part of a creative or artistic community, it can be an incredibly inward-looking place,” says Naoise Farrell, the founder and editor of a new newspaper hitting the stands: Hot Potato. Naoise’s publication is a merge of magazine formats. It’s a newspaper at first glance – with its giant, pink dusted pages that may lead readers into thinking they’re picking up a copy of the Financial Times – but, once opened, it’s photographically led stories that will be found. Creating a newspaper modelled on the idea of a fashion magazine is Naoise’s attempt “to engage young people in global affairs and to create conversations in print”. And, in turn, the publication initiates conversation “between two types of people who wouldn’t necessarily choose to work together”.
For the founder, the concept of Hot Potato has been bubbling away in the back of her mind for quite some time. Since graduating Naoise has spent “a couple of years working in different areas of fashion, from commercial to luxury”. While working in the industry she began “considering the intensity of the discipline, and saturation of the industry,” but also how “conversations happening in the majority these areas were rarely surrounding current or political events,” says Naoise of the publication’s beginnings. “It’s this kind of idea where you are at a social gathering and standing in a group. Someone starts talking about Brexit and you’re nodding along like… I don’t know what ‘hard border’ is,” suggests Naoise. “I spent some time researching, spoke to my peers and to strangers and tried to gauge the extent of their interest and knowledge in the topic, and wondered what might draw them. Hot Potato is the product of that research.”
Utilising fashion as a focal point, the founder believes that by focusing on a specific area, the publication will be representative of “an important segment of arts and culture, but it’s also influential enough to inform, and hopefully for the better, rather than solely for consumption purposes.” Hot Potato aptly chooses photography as the medium to pair with fashion-focused narratives, using images “as a tool to draw the ‘visual learner’ in. Hopefully, enough so that they will read the correlating text.”
The publication is also relatively small in content despite its large size, zooming into nine topics “from Trump to a sports section,” describes Naoise. The process of these pieces begins by giving a topic to a creative team and a journalist. From there, “each of them has one page at their disposal, and they are asked to respond accordingly. Then, it follows a similar format to a fashion magazine.” It also features its own advertising campaign featuring the tagline, “Intelligence is your best accessory”, in which creatives create a campaign, but use the newspaper as the focal point to advertise.
Since its release in London, “the response has been really interesting,” Naoise tells us, admitting how due to the fact that she doesn’t “have a background in publishing at all, I wasn’t aware of the context in which Hot Potato would fit into, or if something like it already exists,” she says. Nevertheless, its already piquing the interests of both academics and publication fans who lean towards the visual.
Regardless of the cultural sectors this new magazine may catch the eye of, Naoise only hopes that readers “learn something new, especially if a topic touches on a subject that they usually find too heavy to follow on a day to day basis (this might be Brexit),” and there’s always a new topic to divulge on the next page anyway. “On the contrary, I hope that an already well-informed person will appreciate the interpretation of the creatives, which may open an area of interest for them.”
Hot Potato is currently available at Casa Magazines in New York, Palais de Tokyo’s bookshop in Paris and Mag Culture in London.
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