Counterpoint

Counterpoint is edited by illustrator and printmaker Bethany Thompson and journalist Sam Bradley. They founded Counterpoint as an online project in 2013, and began printing as an independent magazine two years later! Here we had a chat about potato prints, RISO printing and Sam throws out some great tips from some tough lessons.

Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.

We produce Counterpoint magazine, a quarterly publication of independent journalism and beautiful illustration. Each issue has a different theme which contributors respond to with their own ideas. Counterpoint is risograph printed using a limited three-colour palette, with quirks of production that mean each copy of the mag is unique.

Tell us a bit about yourself and the studio that you work for.

B: I'm an illustrator and printmaker, and by day I work in a studio called Out of the Blueprint, specialising in risograph printing. I'm a total RISO superfan - it was invented in Japan in 1986 as a cheap duplicator for schools, church halls and political parties, but it's recently been picked up by the design community because it looks so awesome. RISO uses soy-based inks and banana paper stencils, and because you have to print each colour separately, it's really changed the way I approach my illustration.

S: As well as my day job in PR, I'm a freelance journalist for titles like The List, Pop To, and other publications.

Design work by Counterpoint The Design Kids interviews Counterpoint work-2

What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design?

B: My earliest memory is doing potato prints with my mum on the kitchen table. She'd cut a raw potato in half and carve a shape into each section - maybe a circle or a star - and put them face down in a little plate full of paint for me to stamp onto printer paper. It was very messy and very satisfying and now that is what I do for my job.

S: I've always been a writer, primarily, but I've only recently started doing design for a new project, Dive. It's a magazine that looks at one city's music scene per issue, and I designed the whole thing. It was really fun, actually, to build something up from scratch around writing, to explore new aesthetics and ideas. If anyone's interested, I'm looking for music writers and photographers to collaborate with on the next issue.

What does a typical working day include for you right now?

S: We both work full-time day jobs, so our working day on Counterpoint doesn't start until we get home. We're constantly working with new contributors and new subjects, learning as we go. There are a lot of cups of tea, and a lot of late nights spent in front of InDesign.

Design work by Counterpoint The Design Kids interviews Counterpoint work-4
Design work by Counterpoint The Design Kids interviews Counterpoint work-4

Be transparent about your limitations. Everyone has imposter syndrome so fake it until you make it.

Who are your top five design crushes right now?

S: Bruce Usher, who designed the (recently departed) Rough Trade music magazine, is awesome. I love the DIY, collage feel of the magazine - it really manages to reflect the spirit of the record shop and label. I'm a big fan of Delayed Gratification, for their beautiful covers and brilliant infographics. Also Raquet, for great sports photography and very nice type.

B: I really enjoy NOUS, a Manchester-based mag about mental health, and ANORAK, which is definitely meant for kids but the illustration is brilliant.

What has been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way?

S: Remember to ask for help. Be transparent about your limitations. Everyone has imposter syndrome (so fake it until you make it). Be kind when setting deadlines. Be kind to yourself.

Design work by Counterpoint The Design Kids interviews Counterpoint work-6
Design work by Counterpoint The Design Kids interviews Counterpoint work-6

Where to find Counterpoint online.

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