We at Anorak are incredibly fortunate to be part of a wonderful community of independent magazine-makers, with a whole host of beautiful and intelligent titles emerging in recent years. Not only will you find these mags stocked at some of our favourite independent retailers up and down the UK (and beyond!), but they also make for super stocking fillers for your friends and family: and the good news is, there's something for everyone. If you're in need of some gifting inspiration, at least one of our ten favourite indie magazines from 2016 is certain to fit the bill...
For the Animal Lover in your life, we recommend Four & Sons, a twice-yearly title about all things dog-related which released its sixth instalment last month. Discover and meet beautiful breeds from across the globe that uses hounds as a starting point to explore the creative industries and the people who staff them, through lush photography and quirky illustration, and of course, plenty of reading material too.
For the intrepid Explorer, Avaunt magazine makes the perfect Christmas gift: it's dedicated to adventure in all forms, with inspiring stories of human achievement told through an exceptionally stylish lens. Its remarkable portfolio of photography is complemented by some striking lettering, and its fourth issue is still new(ish) on the shelves.
For your Fashionista friend (or family) look no further than Buffalo Zine: a mag that not only shifts formats from issue to issue (the latest is a chunky, book-like creature), but has a vast array of alternate covers to choose from for each issue – most of which are low on conventional design principles... but incredibly high on fun. And its tongue remains very much in cheek throughout, with riotously colourful pages and unorthodox photography throughout.
There's no lack of choice for the Girls on 'planet magazines', with plenty of choice for those looking for a diet not too heavy on celebrity gossip, blaring neon colours and, well, diets. One of our favourites from this year is the sporty Season magazine, which explores the world of women's football and of women in football, interviewing some fascinating and lesser-known figures from within the beautiful game. There's a footy-centric fashion focus too, and the latest issue even came complete with stickers, too. What's not to love?
If you are struggling to find something to put in the stocking of a Homebody, then Apartamento is the answer. It's an interiors magazine but not as you know it, with no immaculate houses nor perfectly preened gardens; instead it's lived-in living spaces — think dirty laundry and unwashed dishes — with long-form interviews with the people who occupy them. It's on issue 18, and if you fancy stocking up on back issues, their decorative spines will stack up rather beautifully on your bookshelves, as an added bonus.
Are you reading this poring over a boring packed lunch? If so, familiarise yourself — and the Parents on your gift-list — with Lunch Lady, a magazine all the way from Australia about food and family, filled with packed-lunch inspiration and delicious design that's bursting with colour and flavour. Issue five is available to preorder now, and a yearly subscription will see your gift-recipient receive a healthy four issues.
It's been an eventful year and it's more than likely that some of your beloved will need a little festive cheer, but for your pal the Pessimist, perhaps a subscription to another Aussie magazine, Dumbo Feather, might brighten their 2017. Billed as a series of conversations with extraordinary individuals, it's a quarterly magazine that introduces readers to passionate, purposeful people who are, in a whole range of often surprising ways, trying to make the world a better place.
Everyone knows an avid Reader, right? But even the biggest of bookworms needs a book recommendation every now and then, and where better to get one than Granta magazine? There are words aplenty, as you would expect from a literary magazine, but its design and choice of illustration to accompany the stories is quietly confident – and its front covers are, more often than not, exceptional.
If your gifting itch hasn't been scratched by any of the above, perhaps you're buying for a Travel Junkie. Meet Brownbook. It's a lifestyle title that looks at design, culture and travel across the Middle Eastern region, reporting on inspiring stories from those who live in, and love, the countries within its remit. With its distinctive design and colour scheme, Brownbook is a mag to enjoy with a travel-journal at hand – and Skyscanner open on a nearby device...
And our final recommendation is for the Super Mag Fans: yep, those strange folk who actually make magazines. (It's harder than it looks, you know...) For such creatures look no further than the final issue of Gym Class magazine, the mag about mag-makers that changes format, fonts, you name it, from issue to issue. Its fifteenth outing is its last – though we've heard rumours of a new project emerging from its editor – and, we reckon, it's one of its best yet. There is also a limited number, so if you want one, you had better get a move on...!
Should you want to lay your hands on any of these ten, you can do so through some of our lovely stockists, chief among them these fab friends and super supporters of ANORAK: La Biblioteka (Sheffield) Colours May Vary, Ideas on Paper, Kioskafe, Magalleria, MagCulture, NewsStand; our stockist Central Books; and for those of you not in the UK, Athenaeum (hallo!) and Do You Read Me? (guten tag!).
Or, should you want something a little more surprising from a magazine, then subscription service Stack is your new best friend. You'll receive a different magazine each month delivered direct to your door, from an expertly curated selection of intriguing and imaginative independent publications. It comes with the added bonus of having someone else whittle down the beautiful magazines of the world and do the choosing for you.
Happy reading, and most of all, happy Christmas!
By Danny Arter.