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Yuca magazine: delicious roots

Yuca magazine: delicious roots

Published by Leonardo Calcagno


Yuca is a biannual magazine expressing a variety of points of view through literature, photography, and art. But other than that, it’s what allows us to dream, it’s what gives us an excuse to approach people we admire bringing their work together in one place. It’s also an excuse to carry out projects that we didn’t know were possible, to share our questions and explore our curiosity with others. We’re a team of three, the two editors, currently based in Bogota, and our designer, based in Barcelona. We’ve been working on Yuca for the past two years and have learned along the way about what it means to publish an independent magazine, all that it entails. Making every issue is an experience filled with new challenges and we’re constantly aware that, although we’re getting closer to achieving the results we want, we still have a lot to learn. Making this magazine brought the three of us together after years of individually looking for ways to bring to life an editorial project in which we could express ourselves and explore the answers other people give to the questions we have about life. 


We’d say our editorial line is more of a curve. Each issue visits two themes that intermingle with each other. We really liked a recent description of our editorial approach made by Stack’s Steven Watson. He said the two chosen themes for each issue are sort of an x and y coordinates and that on that graph you can track every single story in the magazine. This expresses the fact that we do have a frame but a frame that we can reshape in order to give more value to our contributors’ creations instead of trying to fit them into a predetermined, rigid form. Also, and this has become very important for us, we want the subjectivity of each contributor to transpire through what they do for us, whether it is text or visuals. We’re not really interested in informing on the facts, but rather show all the different ways in which the world can be seen depending on the chosen perspective. This is why we commission works from people we admire and find interesting, and who have extremely rich inner worlds, people from all disciplines, countries and cultural backgrounds. We look for the unexpected, for the other angle. 

Tell us about yourself

Lina has a Fashion Design, History and Cultural Studies background and Juliana has a Social Psychology one but works as a photographer and filmmaker. When we’re hanging out or working together we often jump from one subject to another although sometimes we get hung up on discussing all sorts of themes ranging from seasonal looks to the notion of extended time in Einstein’s theory of relativity. Sometimes we’re tough and sometimes very sensitive –for example, we get really, really excited about every Instagram post in which Yuca is tagged. Financially we often behave a bit like kamikazes, we look for excuses not to get bored and end up creating expensive projects in the process… I guess we’re also naive in the sense that we sometimes actually think we can make a difference, somehow. We have infinite questions and are curious about so many things…and Yuca allows us to explore all these interests, which is probably a big part of why we love this project so much.

Print: Why choose print? What kind of paper you use and why? Typography? 

The Print was the only option for us since the beginning. We didn’t want to create content meant to be consumed on a rush and that would lose relevance within a few minutes, hours or days. We wanted Yuca to be a physical object with a particular feel, color, smell, weight… and we wanted to face the challenge of creating something with enough layers to make the experience of consuming it last for a little longer. Working with paper makes you want to do meaningful content, and it makes you concerned with achieving balance in terms of aesthetics, forms of expression… and also regarding the experience in general terms. 

We chose the paper stock carefully because we believe it is a big part of the final results, for our first issue we wanted something with enough thickness and pore so that it would be soft and feel like a book when in your hands. The second time around we made a few changes looking to make the experience of reading the magazine more fluent and the print result of certain images better. We’re still looking for the exact thing we want although getting really close after our second issue. 

Regarding typography, our designer chose two different typefaces that we think complement each other really well and that come together and apart in all sorts of ways along the entire magazine. Wanting to keep Yuca somewhere along the line that separates a book from a magazine, and achieving a balance between strength and refinement. So, on the one hand, he uses Champion, a Sans Serif font based on 19th Wood Types created for headlines, and often used in magazines precisely because of its strength and ability to adapt to different proportions. To complement it, he uses Century Old Style, a serifed typeface brought from the neo-renaissance period –elegant, classic, and very easy to read in bodies of text. 

How’s the public response?

The public response has probably been the greatest reward to making Yuca. We receive all sorts of comments, invitations, submissions in which readers from everywhere tell us how much they enjoy the magazine. And we think a very special relationship has grown between us and our readership. A sort of very tiny community has started to be formed with people who connect and who are moved by the same sorts of things that move us. And that makes us happy, it makes us smile every day. 

Business: Good print mags get a lot of love, but is not always translated to sales or advertising. How’re the sales? Advertising-wise, is it a normal approach of selling an ad page or more a brand ad approach? 

Sales are good in Europe, still, a bit slow back home. We’re still getting a hold of the distribution process and of transportation and shipping and logistic expenses, considering we live in Colombia, print in Barcelona, and sell mostly from London. At the beginning, we explored the possibility of funding the magazine through an advertising model that was similar to the classic one but in which we intervened by co-creating the ads in order to make them speak the same visual language of the entire magazine. However, at this point, we’ve found this to be a hard way to go because our print run is not huge and the printed copies are sold and distributed around so many different countries it makes it hard to convince a potential advertiser that their investments will traduce into return sales. Also, we didn’t want to bring the magazine pieces produced elsewhere and that might interrupt the harmony we work so hard to achieve. We’re currently looking for other forms of funding like approaching larger sponsors (cultural, artistic, government organizations) or co-creating content with brands that is more meaningful, long and elaborate than a regular piece of advertising. 

Upcoming projects 

We started working on the third issue of Yuca that is to come out in September this year. We’ve also created a parallel magazine written entirely in Spanish for the local audience and that is always inspired by a section of Yuca but it repositions it among other content we create around it. This magazine is part of a larger creative platform called Made by Alibi that we’re currently putting in place.