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Facing Pages 2014

The city of Arnhem will play host to this year’s Facing Pages, a festival that celebrates the printed medium.

By Katie Dominy / 21-03-2014

Facing Pages kicks off with a two day symposium on March 28 and 29, 2014. With a timely theme of ‘Make magazines not War’, a panel of international speakers will discuss the magazine’s role as a vehicle for change. Speakers include Patrick Waterhouse, creative director at COLORS Magazine, Ben Newman from Nobrow and Simon Esterson, art director & publisher at Eye Magazine.

Alongside the symposium is the ‘beating heart’ of the event, the exhibition of over 100 independent print magazines curated by Facing Pages organisers Joost van der Steen and William van Giessen, the duo behind local graphic design studio O.K. Parking.  With the cultural programming experience of Tanja Koning added to the mix, the trio bring to life this festival of print. discusses Facing pages with William van Giessen: 

Why did you decide to start Facing Pages?

“With O.K. Parking, our graphic design studio, we create a lot of self-initiated projects. Amongst these projects are a lot of independent magazines. After years of making these we got to know a lot of people who actually are doing the same thing: make their own magazine because of the need to tell and share their stories, point of view, showcase work or interests which are hard to find in other magazines. These independent magazines are hard to find in regular bookstores, and online you have to know where to look.

“In this scene there are a lot of inspiring new ways of publishing, distributing, gathering and designing content. So inspiring that more people should hear about it. Especially when you’re working in media, journalism, graphic or editorial design or publishing. But we think it’s interesting too for people in the creative industry in general. So we started Facing Pages in 2010. The beating heart of the biennale is the big exhibition with hundreds of magazines. The two-day symposium is amazing. Every time we ask our design and magazine maker heroes to come over to Arnhem. And almost everyone says 'Yes!’ Sometimes they don’t have time or are living too far away. Anyway, with Facing Pages we create a momentum and a physical space for magazine lovers to meet each other, flip through magazine, get and share knowledge, and above all, be inspired to refresh their mind and work.

“The best thing we hear after each Facing Pages is that people finally have started their own magazine they always wanted to make. That puts a big smile on our face!”

Why did you decide on the theme 'Make magazines not War' for this year's symposium and its polar opposite views of ‘Activism’ and ‘Escapism’”?

After the previous edition of Facing Pages in 2012 we felt that these two themes are very current. More and more magazines seem to either want to shout out what’s happening or suggest change. Opposite to that there are a lot of magazines to take you away with their wonderful stories; it’s a nice contrast we wanted to explore. With the line-up of speakers I think we have some very inspiring, mind blowing days ahead of us.”

How is the Dutch print magazine business performing? And how do you see its relationship with digital versions?

“The regular, commercial magazines are having a very hard time. A lot of these magazines have stopped because they have been doing the same things for too many years. Quality of content, design and production is going down because of loss of advertisers. Opposite these commercial magazines stand the independent ones - the numbers of titles are growing, and growing fast - worldwide as well in the Netherlands. There are some reasons I think. 

“It’s becoming affordable and relatively simple to produce (print) your own magazine. Via social media people can find their niche audience and directly distribute the copies to them. The people behind indie magazines are not companies, but small teams of creatives. They start with passion and enthusiasm and keep on producing god quality magazine. It’s not mainstream, but niche. So a magazine is not made to please everyone (even your mother), but is very personal.

“As for digital versions - a digital version of a meant-for-print magazine is complete bullshit. I have been looking for good digital magazines over recent years, but still haven’t found one (either as a website or app). Digital and print are two completely different media and should be approached in their own way to make it work. They have their own experience: in time (browsing on screen of flipping through a magazine), space, environment, smell, touch, etc.

“Another thing is that good quality printed copies remain more valuable. I mean, you can put these on a bookshelf and after 50 years pick them up and read them. A website or app which is made today will probably not be there in 50 years time. There is so much to say about this topic. :) Just drop by Facing Pages to hear us talk about it some more!”

Facing pages symposium takes place March 28 & 29 2014 at Showroom Arnhem, Kleine Oord 177, Arnhem

The Facing Pages exhibition runs March 28 to April 07 2014 at Dutch Art Institute (DAI), Kortestraat 27, Arnhem


1 – Facing pages 2014

2 - William van Giessen

3 - Joost van der Steen

4,5,6  -Facing pages 2012