take a peek inside 'gut' magazine's magical second issue — if you dare
As 'GUT' magazine launches its sophomore print edition, co-founder Ami Evelyn Hughes invites us deep inside The Magic Issue as she discusses the fantasies and realities of independent print publishing.
Photography Raphael Bliss
"A magazine should be a place where you get lost in another world," explains Ami Evelyn Hughes over email. After being left frustrated by the lack of imagination and inspiration to be found on newsagents shelves, Hughes and Georgia Kemball created their own gateway into another world, "a space that would celebrate the instinctual, clumsy and raw." Born out of obsession, sweat, tears, late nights, and paper cuts, GUT is part of DIY publishing's new dawn. It's often said that the print industry is struggling, but that's only made a new generation of editors and magazine devotees more determined to cultivate and champion the beautiful, unconventional, challenging, absorbing, and exciting. GUT is all of these and more. Inside a magic-filled second issue, Ami and Georgia explore their shared fascination with folklore and witchcraft while showcasing new faces from the contemporary art scene and collaborating with their creative friends.
As ethereal and transportive as the 144 pages are, they only hint at the double, double, toil and trouble behind them. In fact, there very nearly wasn't a print publication at all. Perturbed by the difficulties of independent publishing, GUT was destined to live online only — until the forward-thinking, east London-based subculture and fashion publishing wizards at Ditto stepped in. Encouraged by Ditto's Ben Freeman, Ami and Georgia went on to create an issue that dwarfs its impressive debut and suggests a bright future. As we peek inside, Ami talks us through the fantasies and realities of publishing, how the pair balance GUT with their day jobs, and their hopes, fears, and dreams for an even more fruitful tomorrow.
How was the magazine born?
It began from a conversation Georgia and I had [while] walking through Kensington Gardens about how we were both finding magazines we once read like bibles super boring and obvious. We had wanted to do something together for a long time — since uni, around four years before this conversation — and so it seemed like a good plan to make our own publication, one we would want to pick up and get lost in ourselves.
What inspired the two of you to create your own magazine?
We both feel that a magazine should be a place where you get lost in another world. It begins with fashion glossies when you're a little girl and imagine yourself in all the fine clothes and jewelry, maybe even circling the items you want. Maybe for that half an hour you are engrossed in the magazine, you have become this ideal person you want to be when you grow up. People may say, "It's just a magazine," but you could say that about anything — then we all may as well go and see nothing, make nothing new, and never listen to any music!
How's life as an independent magazine? We read that the second issue was going to be digital-only but then Ben Freeman stepped in and now it's double the size of issue one!
We both have day jobs, independent magazines make no money at all, you have to print loads to even make money from the actual sale of the mags — so it's not about the money at all. However, the money can be detrimental; we nearly only had the option of releasing this issue online. A friend has made a great website laid out like a magazine for us, so we thought maybe it could work. But thankfully Ben Freeman of Ditto really believes in us and decided to publish it. So now we have this big gorgeous shiny magazine and we get to work closely with Ben, who is a constructive force to have by your side. We are very lucky to have such a wide and varied group of friends who support and help us. My friend Jamie Reid [Art Director of Dazed] has introduced us to a lot of people and always been on hand to give us graphic design advice as this is certainly not something Georgia and I care about. If you need toad species advice, we're your girls.
What did you learn from putting out your debut issue?
We have learned so much already since issue one — from how we conduct ourselves on shoot, to learning that graphic design matters. Also, that you should probably ask for all the hi-res images at least a month before, and basically add double the time you think you can do things in!
From the wizard hat on the front cover to stories inspired by folklore and witchcraft, this issue is all about magic. Why magic?
Georgia and I adore everything magical, from historical texts about the witch trials, cartoon magic, the feeling of magic, the aesthetic — the gloomy forests, the gingerbread houses, dragons, dwarves, goblins and wizards, witches, Jiminy Cricket's shoes, ribbons in long hair, long warty witches noses, giant twisting trees, toads, and mushrooms. What is not to like? Inspired by our mutual love for witches, we decided to embark on this massive shoot with Raphael Bliss and went all the way to the Isle of Skye in Scotland to do our own take on some of the superstitions and tales of magic from that area. We decided to focus on the The Old Man And The Storr. We shot the landscapes nearly half a year ago and did a second shoot to add the narrative here in London.
How would you like to see GUT grow? What are your hopes, fears, and dreams for its future?
We would like to work together as art directors, stylists, and makers for other designers. We'd like to collaborate with our peers and continue to work with our friends to build GUT as a brand. We're designing new merch and now that we are published, we aim to be bi-annual. Issue three has already begun, with very exciting collaborations with two different designers that we massively admire.
What advice would you give for anyone wishing to follow in your footsteps?
We are just a mere seedling to dare give others advice but all I would say is: if you want to make a publication then don't expect to make money and expect to lose your social life. You also have to respect everyone that helps you and be very organized. If you are passionate about something never let money get in your way, just do it anyway and if it will fall into place.
What's next? What excites you most about issue three and beyond?
We are the most excited we've ever been about issue three. Georgia and I are polar opposites in every way and at first, we were struggling with finding that right balance but we have come together so much on this latest issue, with hardly any discussion even needed on all the decisions. Issue three is the food issue — something very close to both of our hearts!
GUT issue 2 is out now.
Text Steve Salter
Photography Raphael Bliss