For me The Dilettante was one of those mags that feels like it was made just for me. There are three things I love about it:
1. It's got a splash of silliness. I particularly enjoyed 'Bulletin,' the satirical news page, and being a bit of language geek, the page of outdated colloquialisms, 'Vernacular Spectacular.'
2. It's got some fascinating cultural history. There's a fantastic piece on Marlene Dietrich in issue 1 that's brilliantly written to boot and in issue 2, a wonderful exploration of glam rock, its dandy origins and lasting legacy.
3. There's a spirit of curiosity and creativity on every page. I especially enjoyed their ideas to create your own absurd alter ego, 'Collect some props...have make believe conversations on the telephone.'
We asked editor and general 'Person in Charge' Sophie Gargett a few questions to introduce you to this fab new mag...
First up congrats on a fantastic magazine. It’s a real delight to read. Very entertaining and you find out about some very interesting things too. What makes a person or story worthy of the pages ofThe Dilettante?
Thank you very much! I think foremost The Dilettante hopes to provide an escape from the quick-pace of the internet and banality of lots of modern media. So we tend to mine the past to find stories about remarkable, rebellious and creative people. That could be a vintage movie star such as Marlene Dietrich, who was also a bisexual, cross-dressing anti-fascist, or an intrepid globetrotting travel writer such as Patrick Leigh Fermor.
We also like to pick apart the creative process by considering how inspiration works, looking at how people ended up in their field and interviewing contemporary artists.
The Dilettante has quite an interesting origin story. Can you tell us aboutThe Dilettante zine? How did it begin, where did you sell it and how did you decide to take the plunge and make it into a magazine?
The Dilettante Gazette began in 2014. A friend and I were both feeling quite lost creatively - we both enjoyed trying new mediums and hobbies but had never quite found a specific 'thing' to get ‘good at’.
We sat in the pub one day and decided to make a zine about creativity and Nottingham history, with a bit of satire thrown in. Dilettante, meaning a dabbler or an amateur of the arts, felt like a good title. We were quite playful with it; our motto was that we would make it up as we went along, but it led to putting on creative events, talks and workshops, and just exploring print and publishing.
The Gazette is just a single A3 sheet, so the articles are short and snappy, and we knocked it together with free word processing software and a photocopier. We distributed it for free each month in bars and cafes, intended as a little 'pick me up'; something for people to stumble across and hopefully add some joy or intrigue to their day.
When that came to a natural end I went to study magazine journalism, but gradually realised I didn't want to work in mainstream media. I graduated during the depths of 2020, so with a bit of time on my hands I decided to have a crack at a proper magazine. The gazette is still alive though. It’s published a couple of times a year and given away as a freebie with the magazine.
I love thatThe Dilettante style runs through every page. How would you describe your design style?
It’s quite a playful mashup of lots of eras and aesthetics really, but it’s nice to hear there is a concurrent style. I have always enjoyed flicking through old print - Victorian broadsides, vintage adverts, and mid-century magazines, so there's definitely a leaning towards vintage design, with a lot of Art deco and Art Nouveau influence.
You’ve got a dash of satire reminiscent of Private Eye, the kind of historical stories that make Eaten one of my favourite magazines and a whole lot of your very own thing going on. What mags have inspiredThe Dilettante or what mags do you admire?
I really like The Idler, Oh, Boshemia, and I do enjoy the ridiculousness of things like Viz and The Onion, etc. I am also a big fan of The Chap magazine, which has always had dashes of humour thrown in with its history, style and air of grandeur.
I like a magazine that tries to teach me new things and inspire me rather than mainly sell me things. My mind always turns to zines for inspiration though. They are a brilliant space for creativity and getting used to making things, because they are more about passion than skill. Zines are often strange and imperfect, and always made with affection.
When can we expect issue 3 and are we allowed to know the theme…?
Issue three is in the works and will be available early next year. There’s always a mix of historic and contemporary, but this time we’re going back to the late 19th century and La Belle Époque to meet some fantastically odd bohemians.
Oh, sounds marvellous. Can’t wait. Oh, and one last thing. I hear you sell artwork too…?
We sell a variety of art prints, some classic paintings and other pieces by contemporary artists, plus a few of our own designs. You can go peruse our website at www.thedilettantesociety.co.uk to take a look!