Art on Less Paper

I have been wondering how the recession would hit art magazines.  Would there be a noticeable change or would some magazines just disappear?

art on less paper

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:

Triple Canopy

e-flux journal

Shifter Magazine

Art Fag City


Club Internet

The Highlights

I Heart Photograph



Private Circulation



Why + Wherefore

Spring Break

*many of these links borrowed from the exhibit Let’s Meet in In Real Life at Capricious Space this past spring.

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4 thoughts on “Art on Less Paper

  1. An artist friend of mine sent me a link to your site. As a fine art niche publisher I understand personally and professionally your perspective.

    Unfortunately, I have a few corrections. The current issue of Esopus is full of inserts and ephemora! I found a transparency/negative of particle tracks, insert portfolio of doll house sketches, schematic pull-outs, and a CD attached in the inside back cover. Sorry my friend, you are sadly mistaken or have a pirated copy.

    And funny that you should mention to your readers to subscribe to print publications and encourage them to check out free online mags in the same paragraph–contrast or contradiction?

    Not to brag, but I have been publishing a free arts magazine for over 5 years and we are expanding our pages and adding color this issue–in this economy! We have a mediocre online presence and a rich following of loyal readers with increasing subscriptions and advertising. Hmmm. I can’t figure it out either but what I can say is that smaller niche magazines are making their way onto the newstands. And new magazines like Diffusion ( are an inspiration to the declining art print publication scene.

    Look for my note to the readers in the fall issue of Arts Perspective in September. I will be talking about this current state of affairs and why we are in a growth phase.

    Good luck to you in your creative endeavors,
    Heather Leavitt, Publisher, Artist, Art Coach

    • rae022 says:

      As Heather Leavitt mentions above, Esopus Magazine does indeed have a variety of pull-outs and other ephemera: Michael Iskowitz’s Doll House Society Portfolio, pull-outs accompanying Bern Porter’s Where To Go/What To Do/When in New York/Week of June 17, 1972, a CD, etc. The point I was trying to make, and I should not have relied on my memory, was that the magazine is significantly pared down in comparison to previous issues. But, with the use of black ink, less glossy paper and more newsprint, etc. Esopus no.12 was without a doubt less costly to produce.

      In my final paragraph I encourage readers to keep their subscriptions to art publications and I provide links to free online resources. In no way am I trying to be contradictory. For some people, keeping a subscription to an art magazine or two isn’t going to break the bank. For other people just trying to get by in this economy, it may not be something they can afford to do. Either way I would like for people to support art publications in all their various forms, whether they cost money or not. My intention with this blog is to support those in the art magazine publishing industry, artists, writers, independent bookstores etc., and to pose questions. I hope that if you are reading this you will contribute to this dialogue and add your own thoughts. I am curious to hear what you may think.

      I also look forward to reading Ms. Leavitt’s note in the fall issue of Arts Perspective, and I congratulate her for being able to expand her publication during this economy.

  2. Great site, keep up the great work and thank you for the clarification!

  3. […] in August I posted an entry about the new small format of Art on Paper magazine. I was sad to see it had diminished to a size […]

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