I have been wondering how the recession would hit art magazines. Would there be a noticeable change or would some magazines just disappear?
When I received the January/February 2009 issue of Art on Paper I was disappointed to see that it had shrunk down to half its former size. It seemed ironic; art on less paper. In the publishers note at the beginning of the issue, Shelly Bancroft and Peter Nesbett brush off financial troubles, claiming their reasoning for the change in size was because of environmental concerns and the physical weight of the magazine. They promise that content, quality, and the “publications spirit” have not been reduced. I have mixed feelings about it. I am sad to see the small version of Art on Paper, but I also agree with their reasons for reducing the size. It seems not only representative of the current economic climate, but also of the shift from print to digital, and increasing eco-awareness.
Other art magazines have made changes in layout, design, size, and paper too. Bomb, for example, has shed it’s glossy paper for a heavy matte, Capricious printed it’s last two issues on newsprint (although it doubled in size), and The New York Times Sunday Magazine is smaller, thinner, and has been redesigned to cram as much information onto the page as possible.
I also recently received a letter informing me that Artweek has gone out of business after 40 years of publication. This is the first major art periodical to go bust.
The only successful story to report on is the choice editor Tod Lippy made with the most recent issue (no.12) of Esopus Magazine. When faced with financial trouble he made a truly creative choice. The theme of the magazine is black and white, which saved him the high cost of printing in color. Read The Editor’s Note here. With the exception of a simple black and white poster, no fancy papers have been used, there are no inserts, or other ephemera which adorned previous issues. The content, however, is just as rich and colorful as ever, and I was most excited to see an article about Bern Porter with a reproduction of his artist book: Where to Go/What to do/When in New York/Week of June 17, 1972.
This is a reminder to support the arts! Don’t let your subscriptions lapse. Art Magazines are wonderful venues for emerging and established artists to exhibit, write, and speak about art. But, if you are feeling truly strapped for cash, here are some *free* online art magazines, blogs, and websites: