In our last profile for Review of the Year we caught up with Bertie Brandes and Charlotte Roberts of DIY-zine-turned-actually-very-legit-mag Mushpit to hear about the “complete and utter shit show” that was 2016.
In the simpler times of 2012, the duo hit upon the idea of making a mini-zine from their ivory-towered “Mushpit” (a nickname for the Dalston tower-block flat they rented at the time) and Mushpit’s founders Charlotte and Bertie have been leading London’s independent print army. Now nine issues in and 10,000 Instagram followers deep, Mushpit has grown in size and stature, inching closer to the centre of mag stands in London and across the world and knocking its competitors off the shelves in the process.
In a year that has universally been the worst, the Mushpit girls have managed to scrape themselves off the floor and do something about it, “probably because there’s just been so much to say”. Mushpit’s latest Crisis issue took on the pantomime villains turned real-life world leaders Donald Trump and Teresa May with its now-signature (not to mention weirdly prophetic) Ad Busters-style humour. And, with a blockbusting list of contributors, genuinely exciting fashion stories and a lick of fresh paint in the form of art direction help by Ditto’s Ben Freeman, this year Mushpit is looking better than ever.
In their own words…
What was your creative highlight of 2016?
We put out not one but two magazines which is definitely something to be proud of. Not to mention them both remaining ad-free and true to Mushpit’s forever ethos. We also collaborated with Toby Mott, a childhood hero of ours, on an exclusive range of Vodka Lime Socialist t-shirts which was very exciting. There are still a few available on our online store if anyone’s interested…
What was your lowlight of 2016?
Reaching 10,000 followers on Instagram and, after all the soggy eggs at marketing meetings, realising it means absolutely sod all.
What do you think are the markers of a good year creatively?
This year has been pretty apocalyptic so managing to do anything other than wring your hands and lie on the floor in a heap of disappointment is a feat in itself. On a lighter note we definitely feel we’ve done our best issues yet this year, probably because there’s just been so much to say. Looking back that feels like a very satisfying way to digest a completely dreadful year.
Which piece of work from the last year has been your favourite to work on?
The water adverts we did in collaboration with Milo Reid for the new issue was one of our favourite projects ever. We spent hours mocking up the most hilarious and ridiculous labels we could think of (and spending an absolute fortune in the process – bespoke acetate is not cheap) topped off by our “Trump Water” which is now hauntingly prophetic. It’s also the opening spread of the crisis issue which is sadly appropriate isn’t it.
Which piece of work from the last year do you feel has been most significant to your portfolio/career?
We’re very proud of Good Grief, a real pie in the sky idea that was only realised very, very close to our launch and print deadline, giving us all mini panic attacks. We basically helped to construct a “tomb to democracy” at the back of Highgate Cemetery, in collaboration with Phin Harper, Sam Jacobs Studio and the Architecture Foundation. They did all the hard work like constructing and designing the monument, while we flapped around making sure there were enough free drinks. It was nice to create something outside of the magazine but had an imprint within it too, that’s something we hope to do a lot more of with the upcoming issue.
How has your work evolved over the last 12 months?
We’ve really utilised google sheets and Dropbox.
What’s been the most important thing you’ve learnt in the last year?
Probably to trust our instincts. We’ve been criticised more than praised in the past and although that was painful at the time it’s definitely helped to define Mushpit as it exists now.
Who has been the most influential creative for you in the last year?
Kira Jolliffe for her kind words, adorable daughter and copious amounts of wine. Ben Freeman for cracking the whip, working till 5am on layouts with us and generally believing we could make the maddest, most ridiculous magazine around that people would actually want to buy. Everyone around us who’s willing to work on ridiculous projects that no one will ever see.
Describe 2016 in five words…
Complete and utter shit show.
What are your hopes for 2017?
It’s the year of our tenth anniversary issue — we’ve finally made it — so central London offices with muffin baskets, engagement rings and a mortgage each, of course! Some more parties would be nice.
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