So I get this magazine, and I immediately pour over it. I mean POUR over it. Mug of tea in one hand and my eyes roving over each article, photo, advertisement, and yes, I read each and every bio of contributing writers and artists. I even memorize the editor’s note. (Maybe a bit of hyperbole on that last comment. Just a smidge.) Want to guess what magazine has earned such feverish obsession? Real Simple? Nope–that comes in at second place. Runner’s World? No–that’s third. Lucky? Not quite–that’s vying for third place. Give up? The magazine to which I devote my First Place attention is…(drumroll)…(Little Friend’s drumroll sounds a bit like a cat gagging on food)…(she’s working on it)…(should I just get to the point?)…Small Magazine.
Never heard of it? You’ll be glad you have now. Small Magazine is a quarterly web magazine, which means when I notice a change of seasons (crunchy leaves underfoot, scraggly tomato plants exerting their last breaths of mushy fruit, swimming pool gone green), I start to get excited. I know that any day, Small Magazine will pop into my inbox and for the next hour, thirty minutes, or twelve seconds, depending on how long Little Friend cares to entertain herself, I will be over the moon with a masterpiece of modern journalism.
Not that Small Magazine aims to jostle for position with giants the likes of The New Yorker or Atlantic Monthly. No, what makes Small Magazine so incredibly noteworthy is that they achieve greatness in a small and unexpected area: children. Small devotes itself to “independent and small scale design for kids.” In a sense, the magazine takes small endeavors in clothing, textile, art, furniture, travel, and writing, and elevates them to big deals. At least, everything featured on the pages of Small Magazine becomes a big deal for me. I want to take it home, squeeze it, love it, adopt it, and then rush back to my computer to wait on pins and needles for the next edition of ideas to arrive.
Out of all the things I love about Small Magazine (which is everything, even those writer’s bios), I’m going to summarize why you should love Small too using just a few examples that I know will have you hooked and entering your email address so you too can wait with bated breath for upcoming editions. Here goes.
Each edition of Small comes with at least two inspired collages of independent design. The collages consist of creative, useful, remarkable, and unique products that have caught the editors’ interest and are then arranged in a Where’s Waldo-esque tableau that tells a story as much as it promotes the goods. (Catch the Edgar Allan Poe theme in the collage featured above?) Small’s collages also showcase the magazine’s dedication to promoting independent designers, especially those artists who have composed their art at their kitchen tables and then displayed the wares on Etsy. The teeny, tiny print in the collage above credits nine Etsy shops. What a great promotion for unique, independent craft.
It’s not just the goods on display at Small Magazine. The magazine takes a personal interest in the artists themselves. Each edition features artists, photographers, and musicians who are all making real, meaningful contributions within their genre. The fact that each artist also happens to have a kids-related focus simply makes that artist much more special in Small’s eyes. (And mine. Cause I’m like a little sister imitating a big sister. Anything Small likes, I like.) Autumn’s edition promotes a custom iTunes playlist of clever kid’s autumnal ditties.
I’m a fan of mixed-media done well. Small does it well. In a creative, retro twist, the magazine replaces some photo spreads with illustration spreads, taking the opportunity to showcase artists and clothing lines in one imaginative, catchy feature. In this particular illustration, the clothing isn’t the artist’s imagination–a real kid’s clothing line modeled the spread. This concept is, in a word, brilliant. And eminently frameable.
And let’s not get me started on the clothes. I love adorable kid’s clothes. Yes, this means venturing away from most things with a Carter’s tag, but it’s an enjoyable journey away from the norm. Especially when Small Magazine is available as a guide. With photo shoots to rival anything you might see in Vogue, Small manages to make children’s clothing designers look runway worthy. Small is careful to highlight the artistry in both designer and photographer, making “shopping” from the magazine pages much more intimate and artistic than a trip to the mall.
If shopping for amazing clothes, finding Etsy treasures, and introducing compelling artists hasn’t piqued your interest, you should perk up at this feature in Small Magazine. Kids’ projects. Things you can do at home, on a rainy day, or as the highlight of a week. Of course, since Small thought of it and featured it, the project is guaranteed to be artsy, unique, and fun. Autumn’s edition of the magazine introduces Kimmel Kid’s Crafting Community, a Palm Springs family getaway weekend of craft, creativity, and community. Too far away to attend? The magazine also shares project ideas from the camp, including potato stamps and a stencil workshop.
Illustrations. Clothing. Photography. Music. Furniture. Travel. Recipes. The collaboration and creativity found in the virtual pages of Small Magazine leave me speechless. So I’ll just stop talking. It’s time I read the magazine cover to cover for the third time today anyway.
Visit Small Magazine and see for yourself what I mean–this is one web magazine that is breaking boundaries and outshining Fisher Price and Disney by a loooong mile. For more frequent doses of Small inspiration, follow their informative blog.