3 April 2015

Künstler turns one: magazine mania

Words: Saskia Edwards
Images: Jonathan Rae

In German ‘Künstler’ is a surname meaning artist. And of course that’s a totally fitting name for the small wooden store in Winn lane stuffed with carefully curated books and magazines.

Künstler is keeping that smell of freshly printed pages alive, where shoppers stand with necks craned absorbed in the world of fine publishing. It’s the kind of store where you don’t feel out of place noting the interesting typography of a layout.

The mother of this glossy paged mecca is Lizzie Stafford.

She opened the store in 2014 after spending time in, no surprise, Germany.

“I started it because I was in Berlin and I saw that there was a real revolution in independent publishing.

“So it’s all about people who put a lot of effort and time and money into creating very beautiful products about other people doing amazing things.”

Walking through Künstler is like a roller coaster ride with carefully considered kerning. You’re taken into niches about everything from chairs to travel to gay lifestyle.

“I really like stuff like ‘Strange Plants’, which is just a woman who does a little art book,” says Lizzie.

“This is her second volume that we have now and it’s just basically a summary of artists who take photos of plants or draw or make paintings of plants.”

Of course, publishing is no stranger to digital disruption. But Lizzie is confident that in this era of screen supremacy print still has a chance.
“I think that in many ways independent publishing is thriving... because it’s a way that people showcase their brand.

“And so they’ve got a really amazing web presence and they’ve got a creative agency that all funds a very small publication. And it’s basically the essence of their brand.

“So in that way I think print is actually growing. I think people that refuse to change aren’t going to survive very long.”

In the last year of seeing her baby grow from a room with several spaced out magazines to crammed with everything from ‘Kinfolk’ to ‘Dirty Furniture’, Lizzie says a visit from graphic designer Fraser Muggeridge was a highlight.

“He does a lot of publishing himself, he’s from the UK, and his wife owns a little book store in London that is a massive inspiration to me.

“He emailed and said, ‘I’m going to be in Australia, can I do a talk in your shop?’

 “That was a very big moment for us.”

In the future, Lizzie wants to hold exhibitions at the store and stock more zines. All I can say is brush up on your typeface jargon and get ready for a leisurely browse. 

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