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Migrant Journal

Migrant Journal

Published by Leonardo Calcagno

Who are you and what is your background?

We’re a team of five individuals based in London, Zurich, and Basel — coming from Paris, Santiago de Compostela, Vienna, Berlin, Magdeburg. The team is composed of Justinien Tribillon (London), Michaela Büsse (Basel), Damaso Randulfe (London), Isabel Seiffert (Zurich) and Christoph Miler (Zurich). Isabel and Christoph are the art directors, they form the studio Offshore.

 In what city?

We’re based mainly in London and the art directors in Zurich.

Can you tell about us, about your magazine

In order to break from the prejudices and clichés of migrants and migration, Migrant Journal asks artists, journalists, academics, designers, architects, philosophers, activists and citizens to rethink our approach to migration and critically explore the new spaces it creates.


Our endeavor with Migrant Journal has been from the start to look at the world through the lens of its migratory processes — dealing with questions of belonging, national identity, cultural shifts, financial systems, but also landscape transformation, the weather, movement of animals, global food networks. We wanted to provide a platform for multiple disciplines to talk about an interconnected world, looking at it not from migration as a starting point but from the nature of the world today as a starting point.

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

Print because it ages better than digital. We often show, when we introduce the magazine, screenshots of the websites designed for Jurassic Park or Space Jam in the 1990s. The websites are still there but they haven’t aged well — at all. Migrant Journal has the ambition to keep maturing, like a good wine or… a good book. There’s nothing better than paper for this. The typography is designed by Offshore Studio specifically for this project. And the paper is ProfiBulk for the inside and Colorplan for the cover — with textures changing for each issue.

How’s the public response? 

Public response has been quite overwhelming at first. We’ve printed 800 copies following our Kickstarter campaign in April 2016, and sold out in just five weeks. We quickly understood it was not the norm — but what’s the norm? We keep reprinting our back issues because as soon as they sell out we get emails asking “when are you going to reprint?!” This small project started with crowdfunding in 2016 has now sold more than 15,000 copies.

Can you give us a tour of your local media scene?

I’m not sure you can grasp London’s media scene in one sentence — but it is, with New York I’d say? — the Mecca of independent magazines, that’s for sure.

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? 

The sales are good, and since Issue 3 we’re in a position to pay all contributors (writers, printer, illustrators, etc.) a fair price for their work. But the core team (three editors and two art directors) is not paid — so not the healthiest business model that’s for sure. There’s also a trick with us as we’re a time-limited six-issue publication, so it’s difficult to build a long-term “business” plan. We have nothing against advertising but have barely accepted any — with exceptions of a few universities. Frankly, it takes so much time to find then negotiate with advertisers… And their ads are often so ugly!

What is your online strategy?

Absolutely none. We have zero time for an online strategy. We have a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. Sometimes we remember they exist. 

About design, what does your brand represent/reflect?

There’s no such thing as a Migrant Journal “brand”. It’s a project that has, I hope, gained respect for its approach to intellectual research and design. That’s the “brand”. And I hate that word anyway.

What inspires you and motivates you to go to work every day?

The ambition to deliver an outstanding and original publication. That’s it really.

What were your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur?

Again — tricky to call ourselves entrepreneur. It’s not our spirit. We don’t make a living doing Migrant Journal.

What advice would you give someone who wants to start a magazine?

See what’s out there. Why are you doing a magazine? How is your voice different? Think about your intellectual and artistic ambition — money will follow.

Upcoming projects (explain)

The team has lots of different ongoing projects — from academic research, I count two Ph.D. students — to publications, and exhibitions. It’s difficult to narrow them down. As a team, though, the project will stop with the release of our sixth issue ‘Foreign Agents’ in June 2019.