UK’s alternative travel magazine, Renegade, will take you back to the time when travel stories where lengthy literary tales about exotic foreign lands. Interview with Freddie Reynolds, coeditor.
Baron: What’s the story behind Renegade?
Freddie Reynolds: Amy and I started to discuss Renegade sometime in 2011. We run a contract publishing company, and much of the work we do for our clients is focused on travel. We know the travel publishing market well, and we also know how many great travel stories go unpublished because of commercial considerations and the influence of advertisers.
So we talked at length about the possibility of taking these stories and publishing them ourselves, creating an alternative magazine that would provide an outlet for the wonderful stories we were seeing left unpublished. And we eventually published our first issue in January 2014, and we’re pleased to say that the feedback has been good so far. People are pleased to be reading stories that are about something unexpected, whether a destination or an experience whilst abroad. It took a long time to put together, for all sorts of reasons, but we’re pleased we stuck with it.
B.: How does that translate to an editorial policy?
F. R.: Our motto is to ’celebrate the best of travel writing and not to sell destinations, but to show the world as it is, the dark and the light together’. We are always on the lookout for interesting stories that tell us something about the world that we didn’t already know. We are particularly interested in looking behind the scenes, taking a popular holiday destination and telling a different story, showing a different side. In our first issue, we ran a photo story about young people on the island of Male, in the Maldives, by an Italian photographer, Jacob Balzani Loov.
It’s a far cry from the pictures of the Maldives that people are used to seeing – beaches at sunset, cocktails by the pool, underwater nightclubs. We think it’s important that people see both sides of the coin, because surely that’s what traveling should be all about.
B.: Why choose print? What kind of paper do you use and why?
F. R.: Renegade was never going to be published online. Although we do run a website, renegademagazine.co.uk, which features bespoke content, Q&As, reviews, etc., all content from the magazine stays in print only. And print is central to the whole concept. Print is reliable, tangible and can be beautiful, too. It allows the reader to engage with the content in a different, hopefully deeper way. We love digital and appreciate what it can do, but digital can’t do print, in the same way that print can’t do digital. Print is enjoying an exciting resurgence – just look at the indie magazine market, it’s gone mad.
Renegade is a literary travel magazine, so selecting the perfect fonts was very important to us. After a lot of research, we fell in love with Lyon and decided to use it for our masthead as well as body copy. It's very legible, has a contemporary feel to it and is very elegant looking, which was perfect for us.
It allows us to be alternately bold or subtle throughout the magazine and is complemented by Meta. We would also introduce other typefaces for headers in specific articles if we need to make any statements or differentiations.
B.: What has been the readers’ response?
F. R.: We’ve had some excellent feedback, both about the content and the format. I think our readers can see what we’re trying to do – creating a travel magazine that refuses to compromise – and they’re a readership that appreciates good quality, thoughtful travel writing and reportage, which has taken a hit on the newsstands in the last few years. A lot of people loved the essay by Barnaby Rogerson of Eland Publishing about where travel writing is at, and the story by graphic novelist Isabel Greenberg. We were so thrilled to run Isabel’s work, and a bespoke story, too. She’s an amazing talent.
B.: Good print mags get a lot of love, but this isn’t always reflected in sales or advertising. How are your sales doing? What is your advertising philosophy?
F. R.: We knew from the start that we weren’t going to turn a profit with the first issue, or maybe first few. We kept costs as low as we could, and have done all the distribution, sales admin and publicity ourselves.
For the time being, we haven’t got adverts in the magazine. This was a conscious decision – we wanted to get the brand completely right before muddling it with ads. As the format changes, we may try to introduce ads, but we’ll be incredibly selective about how this is done, perhaps only picking one advertiser throughout, as the new Pitchfork review did with Converse. We don’t want adverts to get in the way of the readers’ experience, nor do we want them to influence content or direction in any way. Otherwise, for us, it wouldn’t be Renegade.
B.: Any upcoming projects?
F. R.: We’re currently working on issue two, which is exciting. Though we now have a blueprint for content, it doesn’t get any easier picking what goes in. We also want to start organizing talks with some of our contributors, and exhibitions and film nights. We’re also open to changing the format at some point – possibly after issue four. Way in the future, we’d like to publish books, too. But one step at a time…