Magfest 2018


Time and again I find myself asking authors what inspires them to write, but what is it that inspires us magazine people to be in the business of magazines?

One place you can find out is MagFest. It’s an event run by industry organisation PPA Scotland (Professional Publishers’ Association) in Edinburgh in September each year. It’s usually attended by a pretty equal mix of those already in the biz and students and freelancers looking to get into it or crack it a little wider open.

It’s a series of talks and workshops, which might sound a little dry to anyone not in our line of work, but for me it always reminds me what I love about the world of magazines.

MagFest Speakers 2018

This year, speakers included Mark Frith – he used to be the Editor of “Heat”, before moving on the prestigious top job for the “Radio Times”. Part of his talk addressed why they could never change the name of the RT – you’d never dare, would you?

An Art Director from Hello! Fashion Monthly told us about her job, too. For a person that works with words, it’s easy to be unaware of the dozens (if not hundreds) of subtle touches that go into a layout to make it great to look at and pleasant to read.

Mark Millar at MagFest

Last speaker of the day was a Scottish legend called Mark Millar, who has written comics and films including Kingsman, Captain America and Logan. Mark wrote stories obsessively, because it was what he loved and was everything he wanted to do.

It’s inspiring simply to hear people who love their work so much that they’ve achieved amazing things. And that’s what’s great about magazines – that you have to love the principle of them to do it well. You can’t come in all cynical and turn a profit just by mimicking what’s already working – the best ideas (almost) always win out, as does creative innovation – and enthusiasm makes you infinitely better at what you do!

Curating a magazine

In magazines, we’re curators. We pass on specially selected ideas to readers. It’s rare that we have actually done the thing we’re writing about or are commissioning a story on, but we know it’s a great idea and we’re excited to share that with you. As do our designers – they package and share those ideas in a way that makes your brain and eyeballs happy.

Sharing stories is one of the oldest human characteristics, and we’re still doing that here in the “Friend” today. I reckon we’ll continue doing it for a while yet. And that’s definitely something to get excited about!

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Alex Corlett

Alex is the "Friend's" Features Editor, working with the talented Features Team to bring you everything from cryptic crosswords to financial advice, knitting patterns to international travel and inspirational real life stories. Always on the hunt for a new feature idea, Alex also enjoys cycling and loves a good tea room.

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