• 8 min read

Mirror, mirror on the wall
What's the FAIREst mag of them all?

Well, there's a few, but this beautifully crafted mag about unique and incredible artistry and craftsmanship is definitely up there. FAIRE  was created by Ruth Ribeaucourt in 2020. It's now 3 years old and on its 8th issue. We get so excited when a new issue arrives and we were thrilled to bits to share issue 8 with our Free Range Mags subscribers. In fact, this was just the type of mag we had in mind when we were planning our 'Creative Spark' themed subscription. 
When we were writing our tasting notes for Free Range, we met Ruth on Zoom and it was just like stepping into a page from the magazine, with 17th and 18th  century French textiles piled onto the dresser behind her. Ruth's passion for craftspeople, indie mags and print is infectious and she kindly took some time out from sourcing antique textiles, commissioning features and school holidays to tell us all about the mag and how it came to be. 
Hope you enjoy!

Issue one was published on 4 April 2021 - the idea for FAIREwas first launched publicly via a Kickstarter campaign. I made the decision to crowdfund issue one - mostly because I had lost all of my creative businesses in 2020 due to COVID19 and I did not want to take on this huge financial risk...I also wasn't quite sure if this was the right time to launch a new print publication - with a global pandemic raging and so many normal outlets for specialist magazines closed or in lockdown. So I told myself that I would only do it if I got the Kickstarter goal. 
We surpassed our goal on day four which was incredible and allowed me to concentrate on the never-ending list of things one has to do to create and sell an indie magazine.  
I've been a photographer and writer for magazines in the craft, handmade and artisanal world for a few years and in 2019, I was invited to create and guest-edit a special issue of What Women Create. I took this opportunity to create an issue which explored the theme of healing through creativity and stories of creatives who had learned to slow down, move away from big cities and step off the productivity hamster-wheel. I had never thought about making my own magazine before that moment and bringing these stories together was incredibly fun and felt absolutely natural to me.  
I spent the first decade of my career as an international marketing director, publicist and talent handler for Walt Disney Studios in Dublin, Ireland, but in 2010, after the birth of my first son I was diagnosed with an auto-immune condition and we made the decision to step off the career ladder for a while, slow down, figure out the next steps for my health situation and moved to Provence, France.  
In the last 13 years, I have dipped my fingers into many different creative mediums including launching my jewellery line in 2010, creating pieces using antique textiles and found objects,  which I sold in boutiques in Europe, Japan and North America. I also (still to this day) work as an antique textile sourcer and work with private clients and big brand clients across the world (e.g. Bode, Isabel Marant, Alexander McQueen, Zimmerman, Rodarte, Love Shack Fancy).
About 8 years ago I picked up my camera and started shooting for personal pleasure - as my network of contacts grew, I was commissioned to photograph and write stories of creatives all across Europe for magazine publications like Where Women Create, What Women Create, My French Country Home, and Quilt Mania and book publishers, Hardie Grant UK (2023), Editions de La Martinière (2023), Éditions Eyrolles (2022) and Simon & Schuster (2021). My first book ‘A Year in the French Style’ will be published in October 2023.

From the beginning I only wanted FAIRE to be a printed publication. I feel that we spend so much time already scrolling and ping ponging from apps and devices - it’s just too easy to not be fully present.  I really want FAIRE to be something physical, where we put all our silly devices down for 30 minutes, we pour ourselves a cup of coffee and just let ourselves pause.  FAIRE is not just disposable, instantly forgettable ‘content’ - our stories are thoughtful and compelling.
I was just saying to our art director Maggy Villaroel that no-one imagines the energy and time and work it takes to create just one issue. It is colossal, mind-bending frankly but when you can hold something in your hands, it is a tangible manifestation of so much immense creativity from the artists and craftspeople featured, their photographers, our small female-led team of editors and designers… Print is magical and endures.
Also, when we talk about print, we have to talk about the quality of the print and paper. Exceptional visual storytelling is one of the key elements of FAIRE, our photographers are world-class, and they have submitted truly beautiful photography so it was really important to us to create a publication that looks great and feels significant - the antithesis of a throwaway weekly.  For this reason we were thrilled to find PurePrint in the UK which is 100% carbon neutral and ensures FAIRE is printed on FSC certified paper, using non toxic vegetable inks and their entire facility is powered off green energy.


The Faire ethos

I have always been a big magazine fan, for Christmas I ask family to gift me subscriptions to World of Interiors. I also regularly buy other crazy-good indie magazines such as Galah, Cherry Bombe and Blumenhaus.  
I do feel that what sets all of our projects apart no matter what the medium or the tool to communicate and share them is our very personal intention. I want to tell these stories in FAIRE with intention, respect, inquisitiveness, and generosity. 
My friend and FAIRE columnist, Ruth Steadman told me a lovely story about the traditional English troubadours whose only focus was 5km. We have become so obsessed with followers and likes and we only allow ourselves to celebrate our success when it is measured in the 1000’s with worldwide presence and notoriety. The troubadours were happy as long as they could tell their stories and make an impact, a real impact, within 5km of where they were sharing and weaving their tales.  I love this idea. We don't have to be everything to everyone - we can be niche and have a loyal small following who adore what we are doing - this is enough.
I have seen a wave of discontent in my creative community with how we are being manipulated on instagram and social media. How the algorithm is training us to limit our creativity to a tried and tested colour scheme and to churn out world-class ‘free’ content - every day.  So many seriously talented creatives are scared of trying and sharing new work, or even experimenting. Many have said that when they do try something new and they don’t get any response, it can really make them second guess themselves.  So we are starting to limit ourselves and censor our creative scope and how we share our stories.
This manipulation is also extending to certain big brand ‘creative’ magazines who provide their photographers with filters to ensure the photography they submit is homogenous and fits with the look and feel of the magazines ‘brand’. Stories of a creative life, years of learning and practice are summed up in 500 words or less and it just feels wrong.   
We are all doing completely different things and I genuinely believe that. I have not in any way invented the magazine concept of featuring creative stories but what I hope to do differently is to really give space for each story to breathe. I also see FAIRE as a more organic way of connecting photographers and creatives - a genuine exchange and collaboration. 
The other big difference is that we are not advertising driven - we have only 3 full page ads in our issue and these are ads that have been chosen carefully, the majority are female-led small businesses and we have designed and created the ads to fit and align seamlessly with the magazine.  
The Makers in Faire Magazine

Every story in FAIRE has been uniquely commissioned for that issue - I am strictly against buying in generic photography and interviews from content libraries. I reach out to every single artist, craftsperson and creative personally to talk to them about FAIRE and what I hope to share about them in a forthcoming issue. I then very carefully choose a photographer who I believe will connect with their work and their story. Building connection, trust and a relationship is absolutely at the heart of our storytelling. So many magazines buy in generics and essentially never speak or connect to the subjects they’re creating stories for and about - and while the photography is always technically fantastic - I genuinely feel the heart is missing and this translates onto the page.
I am very fortunate to have built up a really great creative community over the years as I am a creative myself and I am genuinely passionate about others who dedicate their life to creating. I receive quite a lot of spontaneous submissions from artists themselves or people who want to share the work of someone they admire. Additionally, my growing team of contributors and photographers around the world will also reach out to me when they have a special portrait they would like to shoot. Not every submission is going to be absolutely the right fit but there have some wonderful submissions which we are publishing and that is the biggest reward of all this - widening our circle.
I try to create each issue as a delicate balance of craft mediums which are connecting and complimenting each other. 
The future of Faire magazine
We are signing the lease on a building in Menerbes, a small village in Provence - close to my home. One part will become the FAIRE HQ and it will nice to move the making of FAIRE from the kitchen table to a proper dedicated office after 8 issues. Attached to the FAIRE office will be a special gallery space Mira (@mira.menerbes) which I’ll run with two collaborators (Aurore Pelisson and Gabrielle Karnycheff - both artisans). This is somewhere that I hope to bring artists and craftspeople from the pages of FAIRE into a physical space - both in a workshop and exhibition capacity.
Then mid June 2023 we will open the Faire residency which is a beautiful one bedroom apartment in the heart of Menerbes, Provence. It’s a really special space inside a 12th century building and has been the home to two very important artists in recent decades; American painter Joe Downing and British artist Philip Hughes. It will be available to rent throughout the year and when we don’t have residents we will host workshops within the space - everything from natural dying, leather-working, photography, life drawing, floral creation and art restoration.
Thank you Ruth! You can browse our collection of FAIRE here and look out for Ruth's first book, 'A Year in the French Style’ which will be published in October 2023. 
For more info on Free Range Magazines, head to, send us an email or call us for a chat on 02039501835.

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