This Way Up
In the week following the launch of This Way Up’s first issue, I reached out to Adam Hunt for a short chat to find out more about the magazine.
Adam Hunt is a London based designer, currently working across a few brands at Wieden+Kennedy. In his spare time, he designs, writes, edits and produces This Way Up, a magazine that explores and showcase the curiosity, desire and fulfilment of self-initiated projects. You can learn & see more about This Way Up on their website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Tell us a bit about the events that led you to initiate This Way Up.
It’s been a bit of a slow process, but I’m now making every effort to not make This Way Up my entire life story. It’s a project I’ve been sitting on, developing and tinkering with for two years now. I’m pleased that it’s finally a real thing that people can hold in their hands.
The idea came at a time when I wasn’t particularly feeling where I was at with my professional life. Rather than bore everyone around me (which I’m sure I was), I decided to be proactive about it, take things into my own hands and make something I was proud to put my name to and call my own.
Like everyone else in this position, I was thinking that I should do more self-initiated work. Instead of putting my energy into trying to figure out a new project, I decided to make the project about side projects itself.
At a similar time to this I was regularly attending talks by magCulture, Stack and Unit Editions. I had the initial thought of a magazine in the back of my mind, but after attending a few of these events and seeing a large number of people showing an incredible amount of passion for a specific medium, it really cemented it for me. In my mind, it was the perfect marriage – projects that people love, told through a medium that people love.
Where did the name, This Way Up, originate from?
The title ‘This Way Up’ has double meaning, loosely it stands for an experimental space where there’s no wrong answer, you can take and run with an idea in any which way you want. It’s a place where no-one can, or will, tell you “no”. This thinking then developed into the visual direction for the design; type and image run in all directions, including the cover and masthead. Secondly, as a platform, TWU is a space where people can talk about the work they love, in the hope it gives them a literal step up in their career.
In the process of establishing This Way Up, were there any specific publications out there that you’ve drawn inspiration from?
There’s loads of magazines which do things very well, and I have a great deal of respect for lots of them (this amount or respect has significantly grown since putting together a magazine myself). I think it comes down to the classic “pick one thing and do it well”.
But, if I’m honest, instead of looking at other magazines in the marketplace, the inspiration for starting TWU really came from my own personal frustrations.
I was seeing a lot of online blog fodder at the time, images made purely to get noticed without context. I found myself continually thinking, “what’s the point of these images”, “why do they exist?” “What’s the reason or rationale (if any) behind them?”. TWU is a retort to that style of work with the aim of featuring thought provoking written and visual content, that delves deeper than design porn and the venereal, standardised copy lifted straight from a press release. Content that is instead, human and digs deeper, exploring the why’s and reasoning behind the work, which is then married with a modern design approach.
Were there a specific audience you were trying to attract?
The main audience for TWU is aspiring creatives, it doesn’t really matter how experienced they are or where they find themselves on their career’s progression. They might be looking to try something new, brush up on old skills or just generally find out and read about something they hadn’t seen before, or had, but it was spoken about in a different way.
For this reason, it’s not TWU’s intention to only feature the big names who already hog online and print media space. Issue one’s selected contributors are intentionally mixed, only held together by the fact they produce inspiring and captivating work. There’s no discrimination against gender, age, location, creative discipline or experience.
It’s TWU’s aim to informally nudge people to stay creatively hungry and engaged, in the hope that it kick starts a spark in them, to go out and do their own thing.
The aesthetic of the magazine, its feel is very much now. Was it a deliberate choice for the audience, or is it a style that you enjoy and want to experiment with?
Like with every magazine, it’s the content that’s most important and that’s what has to dictate the design. The design should never be detrimental to the work featured, otherwise you’re doing the contributors a complete disservice by putting your ego first.
After defining the visual direction, the feel really came from the contributors. When talking to them about their work, you can feel a huge amount of passion and excitement emanating from every conversation and email. It felt right that the design should have the same kind of energy. The layouts are supposed to jump around and feel fun. The reader should be able to feel the enjoyment that went into making every part of it – from the content, to the magazine itself.
Will the future editions be aesthetically similar or do you see yourself exploring new directions as you develop and grow with along with the magazine?
The contributors featured are working on side projects to try new things and stay fresh. TWU is a side project of my own, and I’d like to treat it in the same way. I haven’t decided exactly how yet, but the only things staying the same will be the masthead and size, the rest will change; everything from the look and feel, to the colours and typeface, right down to the paper stocks.
It’s exciting, continually trying to make something new and different – I’d hate for TWU to become formulaic.
What elements of This Way Up will help set it apart from publications out there that are aesthetically similar and for those which explores a similar narrative, championing self-initiated projects?
Creatives aren’t neglected in their choice for high quality publications both printed and digital. But, self-initiated projects are a fairly untapped resource. You have other magazines like True Photo Journal, who only focus on photographers personal work, but on a broader scale, using the creative community as a whole, there’s a huge amount of incredibly interesting work spanning every theme, medium and style, all available to explore.
Often the difficulty is finding it. I’ve found the majority of people either only display their professional work on their website, or use a different name or moniker, keeping it separate and leaving me in the dark as to if it’s their full time job or not?
Do you feel like there’s any other aims for this publication we haven’t discussed?
Good question, this may sound a bit of a wishy-washy answer, but the professional side of my job – like everyone elses – is continually thinking about and planning for the future. It’s nice being able to not apply the same pressure to your personal work. I’m currently enjoying seeing where this project takes me. It’s amazing talking to all these new and interesting people, people who produce incredible projects, maybe, one day in the future, one conversation will turn into something else, but right now I’m content seeing what happens.
What was the reasoning behind doing an extremely limited print run of 100 for your first issue, and will it be the case for future issues as well?
There’s a few reasons for this. Production quality and finish are hugely important to TWU – and generally they factor highly, becoming expected in the independent magazine sector.
Firstly, the magazine had to feel special and making it a limited run, with foils and a couple of different, high quality paper stocks, was a way of adding an extra sparkle and desirability to a new product.
The second is way more boring and revolves around my own affordability. I really wanted to get TWU’s name into the market place and honestly, I wasn’t sure if it would sell. As this is the first issue I didn’t want to get 1,000 copies run, only to find just my mum and dad bought one each and I’m stuck using 998 copies as a sofa in my East London flat.
In future as TWU’s name and reputation grows the print runs will too.
As we all know, self-initiated projects have a limited lifespan. Either you pursue them full-time, shut them down, hand them off, or some combination of the aforementioned. Where do you see TWU five years from now?
Generally, TWU is very informal and causal and it’s my intention to keep it that way; I don’t want to put any unnecessary pressure on myself. It has to be something that people can enjoy and have fun with, myself included – otherwise what’s the point of doing it? It’s not my job.
More long term, it would be nice to grow a team. It’s rewarding but an immense learning curve, working outside your comfort zone. There has to be other people whose strengths supplement mine, finding and working with those people would make everyones live’s better.
It’s a win, win for everyone. I get to focus on the work I enjoy, other people get to do work on the things they enjoy, and anyone who buys the magazine enjoys a better product. Well, that’s the plan anyway.
Last few words…
TWU’s second issue will be coming out towards the end of the year (hopefully). The theme will be ‘Development’, if you have a project you think would be relevant, I would love to hear from you at info at thiswayupmag.co.uk.
This project was made possible with the Wieden+Kennedy spore fund