Slanted on their incredible publications and the evolution of the creative industry
The independent German publishing house Slanted focuses on publications on contemporary art, illustration, design, photography and typography. With their own Slanted magazine, they aim to cover a broad spectrum of the creative industry and its designers and artists. Get to know Slanted, its publications, (maybe upcoming) projects and thoughts about the creative industry and its constant change and development.
We talked to Julia Kahl a Partner, Editor and Graphic Designer at Slanted Publishers.
How many books have you published since you started?
About 50 books.
What was your favorite collaboration on a book?
Phew, it’s hard to pick one book. Every collaboration with an author has something very unique. We see ourselves as sparring partners at eye level, sometimes there’s still a lot to do before a publication can be produced—that can be a content-related discussion, but of course also a question of design. It’s especially nice when you work with young authors and they then become very successful, like Cihan Tamti or Jannis Maroscheck, for example. But it’s also great to bring to light treasures, such as the photographs of Volker Derlath, who photographed the action at the Munich Oktoberfest for 35 years and was always right in the middle of it.
How are things going “after” Covid-19, has anything changed in terms of work ethic?
No, I wouldn’t say that. It’s more the way you perhaps react to change. The pandemic hit us full force: There were no more ways to distribute our publications internationally, advertisers stopped all money, it was a difficult time. But we didn’t give up and found a way to deal with the situation. It was even an opportunity for us as a publishing house, because many creatives had more time to take care of their own projects and so we were offered many interesting projects.
We asked you back in 2020, “Have you ever thought about offering or switching to e-books due to increasing digital demand?” Has anything changed for you?
Haha, yes that’s right 🙂 And yes, we actually want to offer all out-of-print issues of Slanted magazine digitally in the near future, because they could only be reproduced at a very high cost due to their high-quality production. Let’s see how this is accepted, then maybe in the future there could be ebooks of still available magazines and books to simplify availability in far away countries if necessary. I am convinced that an ebook does not replace a printed book as an object, but it can be useful to make information more accessible.
What is your personal favorite book from your publications?
Probably the Yearbook of Type, which just came out this fall in its sixth edition. It is a typeface compendium and presents a selection of contemporary typefaces from major type publishers as well as smaller, independent typographers and foundries in the form of a clear, comprehensive compendium. Each individual typeface in the Yearbook of Type is presented on one page. The left page shows a visual with a detailed view of the typeface and a first visual impression. We always design this page around a specific theme to create a consistent look. This year we have focused on music. On the right side there is detailed background information about the font, the designer and OpenType features. All of this is complemented by essays, an extensive index, and a microsite online where readers can directly access, test, and purchase fonts online. The current edition presents more than 200 fonts from all over the world on 504 pages and thus offers clarity in a world of constant streaming, scrolling, and aimless browsing. Maybe that’s what I like most about it …
Can you tell us about your latest publication? A little teaser for anyone who wants to buy it. And why did you publish it, what attracted you to the content?
One of our latest releases is The Nest, conceived and designed by American designer and author Scott Massey. This book is about process—the process of designing, and how it changes both what we make and who we are. The Nest is also a book about memory—how memory builds up in layers and influences our experiences, as well as the things we make. The focus of The Nest is a series of posters created in celebration of the exhibition “Inside Out & Upside Down: Posters from CalArts 1970–2019.”
The Nest documents Massey’s use of appropriation, collage, layering and re-working to generate 200 unique and vibrant compositions that each tell a different story about creative discovery. Using elements that represent the history and range of the storied CalArts poster archive, this project is an exploration of aesthetic strategies brought to life by blending both digital and analog processes. Layer by layer, step by step, The Nest closely examines each phase of designing those 200 posters. It is a celebration of process and a deep dive into the ever-evolving design values that guide one along the creative process.
We helped Scott cross-fund the book as part of a program we initiated with Kickstarter and set it up in the first place so it could be made real. That was already in 2020. He had 2(!) babies during that time, but finally we could publish it.
By the way, it is the most expensive and also one of the most beautiful products we have ever had—no wonder, because we printed with gold, silver, fluorescent inks on black paper, kraft paper and different white papers. A masterpiece of printing art.
Among all the different creative topics, what would you say is the most buzzing right now?
I find artificial intelligence in design very exciting and what possibilities it opens up. In 2021 we already presented some interesting aspects and projects in Slanted Magazine #37—A.I., and we are working on something right now—hopefully I can say more about it soon 😉
What is the best selling book/magazine in your stock right now?
Slanted Magazine #40—Experimental Type. It’s nearly sold out although it has just been published some weeks ago. We expected it to sell well, but this rush blew us away positively. That’s because of the fantastic work of the designers we get to showcase. We are very grateful for that. And maybe also because of the incredible cover with hologram hot foil embossing on black cardboard. I love it 🙂
With everything you publish (books, magazines, interviews, online content, etc.) is there something you want to add?
We have seen so much change in the last two years that we are still in the process of continuing to improve operations and processes. It is important not to rush and to proceed thoughtfully. Therefore, there is nothing to add (for now). But never say never …
Are you looking forward to 2023? Do you already have a taste of new projects for 2023 for us?
Of course I’m looking forward to the new year, new publications, events, book fairs and so on. Last year, we launched an open call for submissions for a book project that raised funds for two charities. 700 posters were submitted by the community, which will now be published in the book Posters Can Help in February 2023. Before that, we’ll be taking a look at creative life in Seoul with the publication What Should I Say, and at the end of April, Slanted Magazine #41 will be published about Amsterdam’s design scene. And there are a few other exciting publications I’m still keeping quiet about—let me surprise you 🙂