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Meet the Maker: John Coe from Pressing Matters Magazine

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Hello, I am John Coe, founder, publisher and designer of Pressing Matters magazine - a new printmaking publication that takes a look at the people, process and passion behind the art form. I approach the curation of the magazine from a ‘creatively curious’ standpoint and find myself getting arm deep trying out new printmaking techniques and meeting makers to chat about their work. I created a new kind of magazine as, although I have plenty of books about the subject, I felt that the magazine area of the printmaking world was limited, so decided to do my own!


Describe your magazine-making process.

It's a pretty drawn out process actually, ideas for articles can come at any point and contacting and working with printmakers fits around their schedule and mine (I also run a design company - www.coecreative.com). I usually have an angle/approach in mind when I contact an artist and sometimes even some ideas for page layouts and then we work along with a writer and photographer to create unique content for the magazine. Saying that, some pieces come together very quickly and stay the same as my initial designs if I am happy with them. The whole magazine goes through a proofing process, we get final advert artwork and anything else from people and then its sent off to the printers. Seeing the magazine on the press, especially the cover, is a joy and a very exciting moment after the months of work leading up to it.


How and where did you learn to make magazines?

I am a self-taught graphic designer, and I have always followed my interests and tried to make them part of my working practice. My first foray into magazine design was probably doing zines for my band back in the 90’s… there was a lot more photocopying and pasting things then, but the idea was the same - trying to tell stories and connect with people. I founded a magazine about cycling (http://boneshakermag.com) some time ago and it was really on that where I learnt everything, not only about designing them, but how to sell them, working with stockists and so on. I also worked as an art director in Hamburg on an outdoors magazine for a couple of issues and as that was for a large publisher, I got to see how things are done differently to independent publishing. Pressing Matters is a publication born out of all of this experience and of course my love of all things ‘printmaking!’

Why printmaking?

I guess it's been ever present in my design practice, be it though creating some prints for Boneshaker magazine, buying books on graphic design and being drawn to letterpress poster artwork and typography. I signed on as a printmaking student 2 years ago at Spike Print in Bristol and have just finished two One Year courses, covering all aspects of printmaking and this year focusing on screen printing. I hope to do more courses next year, with a Woodcut course at Cato Press turning my head currently…!


Where do you work?

Design wise, I work from a converted bothy that is in my garden (we live next to an old house that used to have a large garden and this was a workspace for the gardeners originally). I design the magazine from here mostly, and get out to coffee shops and shared workspaces when I can. I do smaller printmaking from home, mainly on the kitchen table as everything is nearby (I mainly do linocut at home) and have worked from Spike Print of the last couple of years and am now thinking of joining as a member.

Describe a typical day in your studio.

At the moment, a typical day is trying to get through my client work as quickly as possible, so that I can do the fun stuff - working on the magazine… I try to finish up on client work by 4 pm and then do a couple of hours a day on the magazine, but often that's taken up by chasing content, emailing and so on. I do block out whole days for the mag and that's when I get the most work done.


How long have you been making the magazine?

The idea for the magazine came about when I first started my course 2 years ago. Once I had committed to doing it, it took about 6-8 months to get all the ideas, layouts and content together for issue 1. This is longer than other issues will take, as I was starting from scratch. Issue 1 was released in May and we were lucky enough to sell out of our 1,000 copy print run in about a month, so we did a reprint of that issue… Issue 2 is due out in October and I hope to do 3-4 issues a year from 2018…


What inspires you?

I am inspired by all of the brilliant printmaking work from all around the world. Instagram has been a real success for the magazine, with a really diverse set of followers and heaps of ideas for articles and people to talk to about work, etc. Personally, in my own print work, I am inspired by the illustrative work of Evan Hecox, Adrian Tomine and Jeffrey Alan Love. I really love texture and narrative and am always sketching, collecting old books and taking photos in a magpie fashion - this often leads to a bit of a mash up of ideas, the strong ones hopefully coming together in an idea for a print.

Where do you sell the magazine?

The magazine is available online at https://www.pressingmattersmag.com (and also in the Handprinted shop) along with a few stockists around the UK and Europe.


What will we be seeing from you next?

Issue 2 is out around October time and we are planning on having stalls at the Brighton Print Fair, InkPaper&Print in Eastbourne and Sheffield Print Fair in the winter once the mag is out. There is also talk of a couple of print fairs in and around Bristol at the end of the year, so we will be having some presence at those too. I plan to carry on sketching, getting my ideas down and potentially have some print work to sell via the Pressing Matters website in the new year (along with some other printmakers' work).


Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?

Just keep making. Like the quote on the back of issue 1 (by the brilliant Corita Kent) says… “Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail. There’s only make.” I have learnt so much over the last two years being a printmaking student and the people that I am connecting with via the mag are driving me on creatively, so I’d say ‘make work, share it with people, make more work, discover possibilities… etc)…'

Pop in to Handprinted to pick up your copy of Pressing Matters magazine, or visit the website at www.pressingmattersmag.com.

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