Collage artist and creative director of London agency Big Active Mat Maitland, has edited, art directed and designed the tenth anniversary issue of Parisian fashion magazine Please! as a one-off project. The magazine wanted to do something special for its birthday, with a new format and completely new look, and Olivia de Costa (the publisher) approached Mat, who had created collages for the mag in the past.
“I was intrigued to take it on and for Big Active Design to have a fashion project away from the music work we’re best known for,” says Mat. It was a big challenge for the artist having never “designed a magazine before, let alone edited or art directed one” but this was the main draw for Mat. “I guess I had always wanted to art direct a fashion magazine having spent quite a few years creating images for various fashion magazines and clients,” he explains. “A challenge is a great thing when you’re passionate about the results.”
This issue of Please! features a cover and story by Mat, as well as interviews and portfolios from Sorayama, Serge Lutens and Peter Shire; new imagery from Allen Jones, Gary Card, Alison Goldfrapp, Olympia Le-Tan, Langley Fox among others, as well as a series of fashion stories, including a Gucci special.
“From very early on we discussed that this issue shouldn’t be retrospectively self-referencing in any way. With this in mind, the theme of “Let’s Dream” suggested something you’re imagining for the life ahead, a goal or a fantasy, so this became a nice way of celebrating things to come,” say Mat. “This theme also dove-tailed nicely into my own visual world as an artist.”
The entire aesthetics of the 200-page, hardback mag have been reimagined by Mat, apart from the logo which has been kept the same, but it was important to the artist not to ignore the personality of Please!. “[The magazine] always exudes a positive spirit and pop aesthetic, but as my work has an affinity with this then if was a good fit for me,” explains Mat.
“As a starting point I had been playing with stacked typography on my Instagram Story posts and always loved the look of it so this was something I carried over to the magazine, although developed further adding outlines, various colour combinations and different ways of piling up letters and words. The playfulness and functional feel of it became a central part of the design system throughout – mainly through the use of two typefaces.” Bright, bolshy colour is also a heavy feature of the magazine, being lavishy applied to block pages or frame images conveying poppy elements.
The most challenging part of the project for Mat was finding the time to create his own images for the issue. Yet the process as a whole has been a great experience for the artist: “I enjoyed the dialogue with all the various contributors and seeing how people reacted to the theme. It was also a great opportunity to approach some of my favourite artists to contribute.”
Please! will be available at Colette, Paris from 25 March 2017.
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