Fshnunlimited

In November last year, designer and typographer Paul Sych launched a bi-annual magazine showcasing work by Canadian fashion creatives. The second issue of fshnunlimited has just been published, and includes some beautiful custom typography, photography and illustration…

Cover image by Evaan Kheraj. Image from fshnunlimited’s Instagram

In November last year, designer and typographer Paul Sych launched a bi-annual magazine showcasing work by Canadian fashion creatives. The second issue of fshnunlimited has just been published, and includes some beautiful custom typography, photography and illustration…

Each issue of fshnunlimited combines articles on emerging talent with imagery from Canadian photographers, artists and illustrators. It is put together by a team of creatives and writers, with Sych acting as art director.

Photography by Luis Mora. Image from fshnunlimited’s Instagram

An associate professor at York University’s Department of Design, Sych launched the magazine as part of a sabbatical research project. “The idea came about simply as a way to elevate the way in which we perceive fashion magazines in Canada,” he explains.

“As I see it, the majority of Canadian fashion magazines deliver an overall commonality in terms of font selection, physical dimensions, content and, in turn, voice. I’ve always perceived them visually as one big magazine with different covers and logos…[so] I felt that there was ample latitude to create something new that embraces change,” he adds.

Fshnunlimited isn’t the only magazine which showcases Canadian creativity, but Sych says few exist on the newsstands. In mainstream magazines, he feels coverage of Canadian talent is limited.

“Larger mainstream fashion magazines highlight Canadian talent on occasion or when Fashion Week is approaching but they do not exclusively promote and showcase Canadian fashion creatives on an ongoing basis. The magazine was born to help discover emerging talent that would otherwise be forgotten,” he explains.

Photography by John Lee. Image from fshnunlimited’s Instagram

Kabuki Garden by photographers Jane+Jane. Image from fshnunlimited’s Instagram

As well as providing a platform for new talent, the magazine contains a striking collection of experimental typography. Each image-led feature is introduced by a headline custom drawn by Sych to match the aesthetic of the piece, and lettering ranges from geometric to hand painted. On some pages, characters are overlaid, rotated and flipped upside down, forcing viewers to stop and engage with each letter to decipher the headline.

Image from fshnunlimited’s Instagram

“The typographic headlines are meant to heighten the engagement between reader and designer,” explains Sych. “I feel they are my personal contribution to the magazine’s visual voice, beyond my art direction and design, and they act as artistic punctuations throughout,” he adds.

Image from fshnunlimited’s Instagram

All of the lettering in fshnunlimited is bespoke aside from body fonts, but even these have been adapted and developed by Sych.

“The serif font is a remix of Tiffany, designed in 1974 by Ed Benguiat,” he explains. “I created an ultra light version for the heads and decks, and when the font is presented at a larger scale, I scale the thins to almost a hairline to accentuate the contrast. I also remixed the font OCR and created two weights, an ultra light and light weight,” he adds.

Image from fshnunlimited’s Instagram

Aside from the experimental use of type, stylistic embellishments are kept to a minimum and Sych says there are no clearly defined principles when it comes to its design.

“The aim is to design something out of my comfort zone and enjoy the process while creating,” he says. “It’s a true collaborative piece of work, [and] working alongside such incredible talent makes my job look easy.”

One recurring motif, however, is the cross symbol which is featured inside the magazine (detail shown, below) and on its cover (see top of post) – a homage to Sych’s design studio, Faith, which he founded in 1990.

Art by Yangyang Pan. Image from fshnunlimited’s Instagram

“I started the company in a recession and after meeting my first client, who was a little unsure about what I was going to produce, I mentioned to him “just have faith” and it stuck. At times, I utilise the cross icon in my work as a reminder of the past and to help define my future,” he says.

In June this year, Sych received a gold award for his art direction of the inaugural issue of fshnunlimited at Canada’s National Magazine Awards.His playful approach to type in the magazine is reflective of much of his work, which often blurs the boundaries between word and image.

Image from fshnunlimited’s Instagram

“My approach has always been to be curious and brave,” he says. “I’ve come to the point where typefaces are not even typefaces, they are just some random shapes – lines that merge, contoured planes, etc. I enjoy deconstructing them, rebuilding them, disassembling them, again and again until they take on a new appearance, then they breath new life as a more original form.”

Fshnunlimited is available on newsstands at Chapters/Indigo and Canadian independent magazine retailers. It is published by Flash Reproductions, Toronto and priced at $13.99 CDN.


Back cover, featuring ‘U’ by Inkyung Choi. Image from fshnunlimited’s Instagram

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