Each city has a soul, flavour, colour, beauty, sadness and memory. The surroundings that make each city are documented by Deriva Paper in a fascinating way to guide you in a path of discovery. Interview with the editor, Helena Öhman
Can you tell about us, about your magazine
I think we can all recognize growing all too accustomed to our own surroundings. When living in the same city for years, we tend to forget to see the details as we rush through it: a door painted in bright colors, the shadows of a tree reflecting on a brick wall, or an unexplored back street. Somewhere along the road towards the habits we all form, we get blind to new changes and subtleties in our environments. Details that would usually stand out to us if we were to see them in a new city or country.
The short introduction to Deriva is about rewiring that notion in order to become more open to our own environments. In a society that tells us to consume, own, and travel, we want people to look both inwards and outwards to become curious about the places where they spend most of their time. Think of the magazine as a guide to urban wandering that can be applied to any setting.
Deriva was first thought up in my magazine partner and founder Marta Vargas' mind some years before our paths first crossed. She realized that she would just wander the same paths through Barcelona without excitement, while tourists around her would ooh and aah. This insight created a blueprint of Deriva. Written in Spanish and printed in only a few copies, it was a student project that was waiting to be explored anew.
When I was introduced to Marta and the early stage product in a coffee shop in Stockholm last year, the concept rang so true to me that I just knew that we had to team up. I had been photographing shadows, people and city details for years, and had long been curious about the analog publishing sphere. Luckily, Marta thought the same and soon we decided to rework the entire content and design together – translating texts, omitting and adding new articles, rework the format and the entire layout. Together with our third team member and Managing Director, Arno Selvini, we brought the version of Deriva you see today to life.
It has been an intense but rewarding experience. We all come from digital backgrounds as designers, producers, and project managers, and retracing our interest for print through Deriva felt just right.
And editorial wise?
Needless to say, beautiful writing makes my heart flutter. I'm striving to source out well written pieces that not only ring true to the concept of Deriva, but ones that challenge us to expand on it.
Lately, I have been interested in city features that can be renamed and placed in a new context. An example of this is seen in a neighborhood walk with Andrés Requena that was published in Issue One. Andrés views house corners as vertical horizons and shows this vision through a series of disposable camera snaps and illustrations captured during a city stroll. I am always delighted to receive these types of article pitches from our readers, because they really help us expand on the concept in ways we could never have thought of ourselves. Apart from the nitty gritty editorial tasks, my mission is of course to make pitched ideas work in resonance with both design and the issue's theme together with the team.
Why choose print? What kind of paper do you use and why? And what about the typography?
The whole team loves print. Thinking of it, it makes sense that we chose print only: Deriva talks about physical surroundings and there is something about holding an analog product that connects us to our senses – in a way digital sometimes can not. However, we still see Deriva's online channels as a great way to connect with our readers and get inspired in between issues as we are still on an annual scheme.
We use a variety of paper in the magazine depending on the content. The majority of the magazine is printed on half matte paper that shows off photography in a nice way and feels slightly thicker to the touch. The other paper type is natural white with a subtle structure. These pages are dedicated to a section we call "flaneurs" – persons equipped with a camera and notebook on a quest to document their favorite neighborhood walks.
How's the public response?
When launching something new, there is always a worry that the public will not relate to the subject matter as much as one self does. Our experience definitely contradicted these worries.
Before printing, we arranged a pre-launch offer aimed to help us understand the general interest in Deriva – and, frankly, being able to go to print at all as we had no ad funding. The launch resulted in enough orders to go to print just two months later. Now, stockists in some of our favorite countries feature the magazine on their shelves and orders from people across the globe come in through our web shop.
Apart from the interest in supporting the magazine, I just love hearing stories of how readers have gone out to so "Deriva walks" on their own in their city. It is great to hear about how they relate to their own surroundings. We really could not have asked for more positive feedback.
Good print mags get a lot of love, but this doesn't always translate to sales or advertising. How are the sales? Advertising wise, do you have a traditional approach of selling an ad page or more of a brand ad approach?
We decided early on to go with the flow and let Deriva grow into market in its own pace. We have chosen a content centric approach to marketing rather than ad heavy: we want to connect with our readers online and in real life and give them good content to look at even after they are done reading the magazine.
Collaborations is a big part of our efforts to connect with our readers. We work with individuals from all over the world to create neighborhood walks (so called "Deriva walks") on our Instagram. They allow people to take a look into someone else's world and details of a city far away from home. We also hope to do more activities locally, such as arranging a guided Deriva walk in a set of cities, work with local art and creativity groups and venues. As of now, we are taking a brand related approach rather than traditional advertising, even though we might consider both by the time Issue Two launches.
What are your upcoming projects?
We will continue our series of Deriva walks on Instagram, and hope to be doing more local collaborations offline too. And, of course, Issue Two is in the content planning stages. We are looking forward to adding new types of content to the magazine and make it even more resonant with our readers. There are so many opportunities, really, and we are trying to enjoy the road as we explore them all.
portrait image : Simon Hellsten