Lume magazine, based in Hobart, is growing from strength to strength, helping get creatives on the map from Tasmania. The duo behind it: Andrew Johnstone, creative director & photographer and Claire van Ryn, editor & writer tell us about the creative scene in Tasmania and where they would like to see Lume in the coming future.
What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design/writing? AJ – I remember being able to copy cartoons characters very accurately when I was a kid and thinking that was kind of fun. In year five at primary school my school had an art contest and three of the final four drawings chosen were mine, which made me realise I had a bit of a knack for it. I don’t think I really understood I was being creative or artistic at the time, I just enjoyed drawing. I wanted to be an artist but realised that my style was more graphic than artistic so design suited me better.
CvR – My mum is an artist, my grandmother was a writer, and we were always encouraged to express ourselves creatively – that and to “get outside” into the paddocks of our farm that was situated beneath the beautiful Western Tiers. Creativity was how I tinkered, exploring the thoughts bunched up in my head, and that included everything from painting, pencil drawing and dancing to photography, poetry and narrative. I guess over time my creative bent was honed into this focus on writing. That’s what I love – to express the intricacies of this world through the medium of the written word.
Give us the elevator pitch on what you do. AJ – I’m a graphic designer currently working as creative director for Foundry in Hobart. I design, take photos for and do some writing for Lume alongside my other work for Foundry. I also created and still run the design site Design is Kinky and publish a couple magazines; Empty, an art magazine and Take, a photography magazine.
CvR – I’m a freelance writer and one of my main projects right now is Lume, a free quarterly street magazine covering design, ideas, culture and travel. Lume is published by creative educator Foundry, with campuses in Hobart and Launceston, and the idea is to “light up the little-known” of Tasmania’s creative assets. I hold the title of editor, so I curate content and write a fair few stories myself too – which is just the way I like it!
What does a typical working day include for you right now? AJ – Hobart is cold, so a few hot chocolates then just get cracking on whatever needs to be done. For Lume that means editing photos, writing up an article or starting on the design of the latest issue. Plus updating the social media.
CvR – After dropping my gorgeous kids (5 and 2) to school or grandma’s, I set myself up at my laptop with a mug of rooibos and fire off a battery of emails. I’ll touch base with the rest of the Foundry team via Slack and interface with Andrew on magazine progress: which stories are flying and which stories are dying. I might liaise with a handful of writers, artists or photographers, giving them clear content direction. If I have an interview scheduled, I’ll meet the photographer there and, for around 40 minutes, lose myself in knowing something new: how a girl becomes a successful travel writer (Brooke Saward, issue 2), what it takes to work for Marvel Comics (Patrick Brown, issue 1) or the creative process of a French-Tasmanian author-illustrator (Rachel Tribout, issue 3). I’ll scribble a novel and then whittle it down to a tidy, but hopefully entertaining, read.
What do you look for in a great portfolio? AJ – It’s a hard question because each person brings something different to their work and their portfolio. The main thing I like to see though, in design portfolios at least, are self-generated projects. Projects that the designer has created themselves, either for fun or as a creative project. This shows that they probably have a passion for what they are doing beyond the paycheck.
CvR – When I consider contributors’ work for Lume, I look for quality and what I call “quirk factor”. There’s a certain level of creative quality that must be maintained in order to uphold the magazine’s own expectation for design excellence but after that, we just want to see personality. I like writers who can articulate themselves in the same way that a charismatic person can hold the attention of everyone in the room. Humour, light and shade, thought provoking observations, information rich and relevant. Lume is not a journal or a university thesis, so I also encourage writers to relax the verbiage somewhat. Write the way you think… which is always a dangerous directive…
What is the design landscape like on your city and where do you fit in? AJ – I’ve been in Hobart less than a year so am certainly no expert on the design landscape here. From what I see and hear though it’s definitely booming. There are some studios creating really nice work and very talented individual designers and artists here and the community seems quite engaged. Foundry fits in as an authority on design and creative education. Lume fits in by celebrating the Tassie spirit for eccentricity and creativity.
CvR – I’m not a designer, so I can’t speak for that particular landscape. I do know, however, that since Lume entered the Tassie mag scene, we’ve had a LOT of people contact us and exhale in relief saying, “Tassie SO needed this!” Feedback has been awesome – people are loving the way Lume mixes brilliant design (Andrew’s done lots of this before and he’s really put his stamp on it again) with local, relevant content. Each edition has an opinion editorial written by someone in-the-know in their particular scene, we have businesses sharing tips, artists revealing some of their portfolios, walk-throughs of some really top notch tourist destinations and our own Lume take on Tasmania’s iconic places. I truly believe that it’s the design rich presentation that sets Lume apart from other Tasmanian mags.
What’s the big goal in the next five years? AJ – Lume Sydney. Lume London. Lume Berlin. Lume New York. Lume Los Angeles. Lume Auckland. Lume Sao Paulo. Lume Reykjavik, etc etc. I can dream can’t I!
CvR – What Andrew said! Haha! I’d love to see Lume become a vehicle for up-and-comers to get noticed. I see that happening at both ends of the magazine’s delivery; at the creation end and the content subject end. Foundry and other student/amateur creatives in the state will find that Lume is a place they can gain experience by being involved in its production, as well as being featured in its pages. Distribution is at 10,000 right now – I’m shooting for popularity that drives it to 25,000 and support that fuels Lume to become bigger (in number of pages) and better (in stock quality). Heck, while we’re dreaming, I’d like to have a team of writers and photographers that we can pay and a few awards wouldn’t go astray!