Online publication Four&Sons has released a beautifully designed print magazine, bringing together an inspired mix of dog-centric creative content.
“The initial thinking was: ‘let’s see what happens when we look at all aspects of the life we live and love – art, design, fashion, music, travel, lifestyle – from a ‘dog-centric’ point of view’,” says editor Marta Roca. “We then started to dig deeper into the creative relationship between humans and dogs. The light bulb moment came when we started to look at dogs as the ‘muse’, as the inspiration.”
The website was first launched in 2011, and last year they published an initial print version, the free, newspaper-style Four&Sons Journal. The project was originally created through a collaboration between Studio Matador graphic designer Roca, and product designer Christina Teresinski of luxury dog brand Best in Park, with editor and publisher Roca now working alongside Samatha Gurrie as editorial director.
Although based in different time zones (Roca in Melbourne and Gurrie in Brooklyn), the team worked closely to create the first issue, planning content and approaching artists, photographers and writers together, with Gurrie then working closely with the contributors with Roca designing the magazine.
The team finds much of their content via the artists and bands that they love, with contributors from across the world, along with taking submissions via their website, resulting in a mix of subjects and angles. “It’s a fun subject but we have been careful not to fall into ‘doggy’ clichés. Our only no-no’s is presenting dogs like little clowns or any unfair treatment of animals,” Roca says. “It’s very important to us that our content is culturally relevant and is also of interest to people who don’t necessarily consider themselves ‘dog-people’.”
Issue one of this twice-yearly magazine includes features on iconic American photographer Elliott Erwitt who alongside his well-known candid images of famous figures also captured man’s best friend; plus portraits and commentary on Guggenheim Fellow Mark Ruwedel’s photographs of abandoned doghouses in the desert, Sony Photography Award winner Sophie Gamand’s portraits of soapy pooches, and haunting shots of shelter dogs from Martin Usborne (whose dogs in cars won Best in Book in the CR Photography Annual 2012).
There are profiles on creatives and their canine muses, including artists Chris Johanson and Johanna Jackson; curator Kathy Grayson; and Alexis Krauss, front-woman of noise pop band Sleigh Bells. Plus a showcase of illustration from Nathaniel Russell; dog-related cultural chat with Strokes’ guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. and visual humourist David Shrigley; an essay on HMV’s Nipper; and lifestyle pieces on Soho’s dog-friendly bookstore The Society Club and beautifully crafted homewares for dogs…
…plus a whole lot more (144 pages to be exact). As the tagline suggests, this is where “dogs and culture collide”, but it’s more than just another doggy mag, thanks to a combination of rich editorial content, with sleek design and layout, printed on different textured paper stock for each section, and just a few carefully selected advertisements.
“We want Four&Sons to be taken seriously, and given the subject matter we were mindful of presenting the content respectfully. We’d love it to cross over into the book realm, so the layout and typography are considerate and measured to allow the visual material to shine,” she says. “A printed magazine was always part of the plan, especially after the success of our first year anniversary newspaper. We feel our content deserves to be on a medium that becomes an object, a gift, a collector’s item. We are not a ‘pet magazine’ and we don’t rely on news-based content, it’s a publication to enjoy slowly.”