This week we got a very exciting delivery... the latest issue of Lodestars Anthology (Greece!) along with a big ol' restock of back issues. Thus began much paper stroking, page turning and marvelling at the beautiful covers. 'How do they create such an inviting mag every single time?'
Well, we thought we'd ask editor, Liz Schaffer, and to our DELIGHT, she gave us a peek behind the Lodestars curtain.
How on earth do you go about choosing a cover?
LIZ: The simple answer is that I'm not entirely sure! There are so many stunning shots that could become our cover photo, each with their own magic. In the early days of the magazine, I'd pick a few options and our designer, Tommy, would play around with them - which meant I'd often make my decision at the very last minute. Now, it's more common that I'll see an image from one of our contributors and it will just feel perfectly 'right'. It'll be the sort of photo I want to hang on my wall, but it also captures the spirit of our chosen county. It's often light-bathed, calming and a little unexpected.
We want to dive straight into the light-bathed cover of the Greece issue. Can you tell us a bit about this one?
LIZ: The cover image - of the gorgeous island of Symi - is by Thomas Gravanis, a freelance photographer living in Athens. We met the good old-fashioned way ... through Instagram (I know it's far from perfect, but when it comes to bringing people together, growing creative communities and showcasing work, Instagram is pretty excellent). He reached out to say hi after seeing that I was in Athens (a city he so clearly adores) and shared some of his stunning work, which of course I snapped up.
I loved this photo immediately - it's a crop of the original but the hills, water, pastels and light all struck me as being wonderfully 'Greek'. At the same time though, the scene wasn't a typical Greek islands snap - divine as they are, there isn't a donkey or blue dome in sight. I enjoy that, being able to share something real, surprising and so full of life.
If you had to pick one cover as your favourite, which would it be?
LIZ: Oh my gosh that's impossible! I adore different covers for different reasons. I loved how abstract our first Australia cover was (an aerial shot from Tania Malkin that captured the Kimberley's waterways and sun-baked earth). The Wales cover from Holly Farrier was a joy. She had the shortest amount of time on Mt. Snowdon and, amazingly, the weather gods smiled upon her. In the midst of the pandemic, for her to be able to capture something so alive, expansive and green, it just felt perfect. Mexico was fab too. I was besotted with its colours, the beauty, the fact that the image (a pastel, flower-adorned cross) came with so much meaning. This was especially lovely as it led into Jimena Peck's images of Día de Muertos, which opened the magazine. I genuinely love all our covers; they capture the essence of each issue, what I felt while on the ground, and what I hope others feel when they delve into our pages.
Ok, last question, just because we've always wondered...How do you pick the countries for Lodestars?
LIZ: I feel like we've picked every country for very different reasons. In the beginning, it was because I wanted to know more about my adopted country (England), it's neighbour (Scotland) and because I wanted to explore home (Australia). Others have been chosen because I simply can't get a destination out of my mind (New Zealand and Portugal) or a contributor has offered up a story I'm desperate to publish (Canada and Japan). We may think about a destination for years (this was the case with Greece - I've wanted to wax lyrical about this country for years) or a decision will be picked in the moment - a passing conversation convincing me that it's the ONLY place we could possibly explore next (Mexico was one of the quickest decisions I ever made).
Decisions always make sense at the time - but looking back, I can't always remember how I got there! You're almost too busy plotting what comes next (or, during a pandemic, coming up with countless back-up plans) to really reminisce too much about how things came to be. With magazine-making, you have to trust your gut, make the leap (which can be challenging for an over-thinker like myself), trust your contributors and aim to create something that you're proud of - and something that can be a canvas for the fabulous work of others.
Liz Schaffer is the editor and creative director of Lodestars Anthology. Issue 15: Greece is in the shop now and you can browse all available issues here.
What's your favourite Lodestars cover? (We still can't decide).
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