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Tips on how to make a stand-out magazine from purveyors of print, Park

Park is a name most in the independent publishing world will already know well. The London-based printer is behind many beloved independent magazine titles and helps transform a publication into a tactile object readers want to reach out and touch.

Park prints with a personal touch and this is largely thanks to its core team’s helpful advice, which it is always happy to share with established and new titles alike. If you’ve had the idea for a magazine bubbling away in your mind but the process of printing is holding you back, Park’s managing director Alison Branch has many of the answers to your burning print-based questions.

Below, Alison takes us through some of the need-to-know details, helpful tips and eye-opening nuggets of advice for launching or improving your magazine.

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Don’t be afraid to reach out for advice

Being afraid of seeming naive about printing techniques often holds creatives back from asking the questions that could kickstart their dream magazine. It’s understandable as the printing world introduces a whole new vocabulary even the most experienced designers will be unfamiliar with. However, asking these initial questions can not only help you put the first foot forward but can help save money too.

Talking to Park directly is a suggestion Alison regularly gives to creatives and soon-to-be editors before they begin their journey into magazines. Park can answer all the nitty-gritty questions around “sizes, paper types and weights, and the finishes that will deliver the best value and impact for the budget,” Alison tells It’s Nice That. Asking these questions and seeking out a printer’s advice early on is key and can allow “these ideas to be built into the design from the earliest stage, and avoids unwanted surprises".

Make a visit and get to know the factory

Not only is going to a printing factory a fascinating experience, it can also help new magazine founders find the whole process a little less daunting. By talking to the team, including the printers working away to make magazine titles absolutely perfect, Park often suggests magazine founders “come and have a look around the factory and see the process”. This not only allows a face-to-face relationship but also brings an overall understanding. Making an initial visit “smooths out the process and reduces mistakes” and it can also help you gain an understanding of the cost implications of your ideas and make sure you have “the process control in place to achieve the quality you seek”.

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Choose a cover to capture attention

The choice of a cover is undoubtedly one of the most important and impactful decisions you’ll make in creating a magazine. After all, it’s a chance to create a magazine that will “capture attention so it stands apart from other magazines in the bookshops”, says Alison.

Thankfully, Park has a few suggestions to make this decision a little easier. The process begins simply in your choice of cover before going to print, where Alison suggests choosing “a striking image that is printed to maximise vibrancy and impact”. Alison notes the most recent issue of Beauty Papers as a tangible example of this, and also the last issue of Printed Pages, featuring an illustrated cover by Edel Rodriguez. With this image selected, Park can then push it to be impactful in its printing technique, having spent “many years perfecting our ability to reproduce imagery and artworks as well”.

Alison also recommends choosing “bright or fluorescent colours for backgrounds or key text” to add an extra edge to a magazine’s cover. Park can also provide the use of “coloured, gold or silver foils to highlight key text and features and add tactility”, pinpointing the first issue of Rapha’s Mondial as an example “where the title and issue number are highlighted with a black foil against a clean, pink background”.

If you really can’t make a decision on your cover Park also suggests printing multiple covers if the decision proves too hard. Not only could this be beneficial in selling your magazine to a wider audience, as “different versions attract different readers and widens the appeal of the magazine”; Park also handily prints on a large paper size meaning it can print equal quantities of four covers for the same price as one.

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Make it tactile

When publications make a first visit to Park and are browsing samples they’ll regularly "run their hands over the front covers”, says Alison, noting how tactility is vital in today’s magazine market.

Printing using foil is an example of this, but there are also numerous other ways to add texture to your magazine from “applying a grained finish to the cover material, embossing or debossing, or die cutting to reveal content sitting on the first page of text”.

Add gems for readers to find inside

Once you’ve bagged a customer to buy your magazine, hopefully because of the helpful cover tips provided above, a way to make the inside content stand out is to add some hidden printed gems. Say you wanted to highlight a particular long-form feature but the large size of the magazine doesn’t fit your imagined reader experience, Park has a few ideas…

The first is to differentiate the paper stock dependent on the editorial or creative angle. “One technique we see is to highlight specific articles by using a different type of paper,” says Alison. “This may be differentiated solely by finish – i.e uncoated/silk/gloss or by using a coloured stock.” As well as this option, Park also suggests adding further differentiation by printing a particular section on a smaller page size to the rest of the magazine. “Mixing stock and sizes like this adds interest to the journey of the reader,” Alison suggests, pinpointing the essays in Riposte as a prime example.

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