Limbo is a lockdown magazine created to support unemployed artists and creatives
Founded by Nick Chapin with Francesca Gavin and David Lane, the debut (and potentially only) issue sees contributions from Wolfgang Tillmans, Jack Davison, Annie Collinge, Collier Schorr and Tom Sachs.
- Ayla Angelos
- 29 July 2020
Starting up a magazine in lockdown is no mean feat. A tricky task working from living rooms and arranging meetings via Zoom, but it’s not just the process that may be causing the headache. With work lost and exhibitions cancelled or postponed, many have turned to creative endeavours to kickstart things up again – whether that’s through charity fundraisers or not-for-profit zines. For Limbo magazine, what initially started as a “mad idea” soon turned into a necessity. A response to the current pandemic with its publishing partner WePresent, the magazine’s aim is to support unemployed artists and creatives by assembling a top notch team of contributors and submissions, including work from Jack Davison, Annie Collinge, Wolfgang Tillmans, Jonas Lindstroem, Collier Schorr and Tom Sachs.
“When the lockdown kicked in,” says Nick Chapin, publisher and founder of Limbo, “I lost all my paying work. I think most of us did. I didn’t really know what was going to come next, and I realised that most people I knew in art, design and publishing were feeling the same. It made me worry for the less established artists and creatives.” After an influx of arts initiatives circulating, which “was lovely”, Nick landed on the fact that there needed to be a way to generate work that “paid fairly for people in our community”, rather than relying on artists submitting work for free. Culture in this sense was put on hold for the time being, meaning that a “peek into the homes, minds and studios of the most creative people” is an initiative worth pursuing.
As such, Limbo was created – a community-focused print publication formed with Francesca Gavin as the editor and David Lane as creative director. “I came up with the idea of a magazine that worked as profit share,” Nick continues to tell It’s Nice that, “distributing funds back to the artists involved; almost like a co-op. When I spoke with David and Francesca, they instantly saw the appeal and the urgency, and started layering in ideas from editorial and design perspectives.”
With 100 contributors on board for the debut issue, all of the money raised is to be split fairly amongst the artists and people who helped shape the magazine – “a lot of high profile artists volunteered to take part as a way to help their less established peers,” says Nick. “The idea was to break the deadlock and get artists, designers, writers and editorial staff paid work – which was in very short supply.” A much needed turn for the industry no less, not only is the ethos behind the magazine a great determiner that not all parts of the creative world needs to suffer, the magazine itself is a gold mine of exceptional content. “The list of 100 contributors is quite mind blowing and beyond our wildest fantasies,” Francesca tells us, noting Tyler Mitchell, Julie Verhoeven, Charlie Engman, Grace Wales Bonner, Ed Ruscha, Stephen Shore, Miranda July, Vivienne Westwood, Honey Dijon, Scott King, Viviane Sassen as further names involved.
Francesca continues to refer to the magazine as a medley of Sunday Supplement, Smash Hits in 1987, the Village Voice in 1968 and The Beano – a vintage inspired, well-executed, informative and playful ode to the past and, most importantly, to print publishing. “It was important to us that this was a print product,” she adds, “something to enjoy physically, read slowly and come back to. Lockdown brought so much focus on screens and the internet.” A healthy turn away from all that is digital, the team hopes that this will be a welcomed opportunity to slow things down a little.
Inside, you can expect to see an array of astounding imagery, writing and thought-out design. When asked to pick out a prominent piece, Francesca replies: “Gosh there are so many.” Dan Fox’s memoir of living in a New York multiplex is one that springs to mind for being “very special”, accompanied by Jack Davison’s monochrome photography of television screens. Elsewhere, Peaches created an entire shoot from the beginning of lockdown in her studio, and there’s a Choose Your Own Isolation Adventure that she wrote, accompanied by Kyle Platt’s illustrations, that “really reflected [her] own paranoid breakdown, while making all [her] Steve Jackson/Black Mirror fantasies come true.” Elsewhere, there’s a gardening column by Jasmine Amussen with photography by Lotte van Raalte, horoscopes by Raven Smith, classified ads by Lloyd Corporation, plus cartoons by Bedwyre Williams and Paul Noble.
It’s clear that when many great minds come together, something even greater will arise as a result. In the case of Limbo, we’re seeing exceptional content curated for a great cause – it’s even had such a great response that the initial one-off magazine may now turn into a second. “The positivity and sense of community spirit has been really moving,” adds Nick. “I get emails every day from readers and contributors alike saying how much the concept resonates with them. It was really hard work to bring into the world given the circumstances, so that means everything to us.”
About the Author
Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she was interim online editor in 2022/2023 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima.