Good Place Issue 1 has just arrived on the Pics & Ink shelves, and we're pretty excited about it here. Along with great design and stunning photography, each story told gets right to the magic of that place and leaves you with the very pleasant feeling that the world is rather wonderful.
We chatted to creator and editor, Amanda Canning to find out more about the magazine.
Hello, Amanda! So, first up, how did Good Place come into being?
I was deputy editor of Lonely Planet magazine for many years until the pandemic shut it down, so I’ve always loved the process of making magazines – collaborating with writers, photographers and designers to create something original is pretty much my ideal way to spend time. I missed it too much to stop altogether so I started pondering how I could make a magazine myself – it started as a bit of a daydream but, thankfully, a lot of the talented people I used to work with were up for trying something with me, and it grew from there. The lovely thing I found making the first issue is there’s more scope to be creative and experimental on an independent magazine, and that can be a lot of fun.
What makes Good Place unique?
I hope it’s the variety and quality of the storytelling throughout. There’s a real range of approach, pace, experience and destination in the magazine – from one page on a London cocktail bar to 14pp on the Namibian desert. The aim is that the reader will come away having learnt something from and been entertained by each and every page. All the stories, from the shortest to the longest, are tightly angled and provide a good old-fashioned armchair read as well as travel inspiration. It was important that the longer stories were original commissioned pieces, created by writer-and-photographer teams following the most interesting leads they could find. I was keen to imbue a sense of joy in the first issue, too – travelling is the source of some of the most joyous moments in our lives, and I want the magazine to reflect that. And I also want readers to feel part of what we do – I well remember the thrill of seeing my first piece in print, so there’s a space (called Good Place Club) in the magazine and our Instagram feed (@goodplacemag) for people to share their own unique experiences.
My approach to deciding what goes into the magazine is really simple – it’s all about the story rather than the destination per se. If there’s a fascinating and unusual tale to be told, as there was in the examples you mention, I’m going to consider putting it in. My approach to what makes a ‘Good Place’ is a little trickier to sum up! Coming out of a terrible time for all of us, I wanted to convey a sense of positivity in the title of the magazine, and also permanence – there’s a lot of pressure to cover what’s hot and what’s new in travel media, and I wanted to take a step back from that and concentrate on what’s enduringly meaningful to all of us when we’re away. Every trip is made up of so many events and encounters that we didn’t plan or expect and they’re the ones we tend to remember most. It might be the time on a city break you went out ‘for just one drink’ and ended up staying up all night having all sorts of random adventures, or the morning you grumpily woke up far too early on a camping trip, poked your head out of the tent and got to witness the most spectacular sun rise. So, for me, a ‘Good Place’ is that serendipitous meeting of time and place that leads to an experience that really captures the imagination, and evokes some slightly wistful sighing when we think about it years after the event.
The cover image is so arresting. I love it. What’s the story behind it?
I love it too! The image was shot by Philip Lee Harvey, a photographer I’ve known from working on Lonely Planet magazine since its earliest days. It was taken in Cameroon – the dancer in the carved elephant mask was on his way to a performance when Phil stopped him and, using a series of elaborate hand gestures, asked to take his portrait. Masks have been used to tell stories in Cameroon for centuries, so it seemed like a fitting subject for our first cover. From a purely visual point of view, I’ve always just loved the image, from the first moment I saw it in the edit Phil sent in after the trip. It’s instantly intriguing – you can’t look at it and not stop and look again. I’ve got a print of it hanging in my flat, I love it so much.
One last question, in a world where everything is going online, why make print magazines?
I know I’m not alone in feeling a little overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff online, particularly when it comes to travel. So much of it is noise, designed to make you click on a link before moving on to the next thing, and the next, and the next. There’s a place for that, of course, but print offers a step back, and can be a more sustaining counterpoint. Buy a magazine and you get to hold a beautiful, lovingly curated object in your hands – you can’t say that about the internet. Also, print smells good! There are an awful lot of people (myself included) who, the first thing they do when they get hold of a new magazine, is give it a good sniff.
Haha. We are all print sniffers and page strokers here! Thank you so much, Amanda.
Good Place Issue 1 is in the shop now. £10. You can read more and have a flick through here.