Richard Turley has a long and illustrious relationship with print. Having started his career at the Guardian, the graphic designer moved to New York to lead the visual reinvention of Bloomberg Businessweek. More recently, he co-founded newspaper Civilization and became the editorial and design director of Interview.
Turley’s latest editorial endeavour is born out Food, the creative studio he co-founded with Iain Tait and Nick Farnhill in 2021. Nuts is both a fashion magazine made without fashion industry figures, and borrows its name from the notorious lad mag that became synonymous with British noughties culture.
“Everything I do starts with a little bit of theft,” he tells CR. “I think Nuts back then was the personification of those times, just as I think that our Nuts is a really good articulation of these times. And seeing the distance between those two points, this sort of collapse and rebuild, the similar obsessions (bodies, sexuality, power, titillation, humour) expressed very, very differently. Also, Nuts is the word I use most. The world is Nuts. I’m nuts. You’re nuts.”
When bringing Nuts to life, Turley’s approach to its art direction was to think about it less as a magazine or a book, and more as an object. “I wanted it to be really big but light in your hands. It was always going to be black and white; it was a quarter of the price to produce, and the single colour would erase the difference between stories, so they could flow into each other – a picture from Iran existing next to a picture from New Mexico or Yangzhou without a bump,” he says.
The magazine’s choice of typeface came almost immediately, thanks to a previous project with Commercial Type that had gone in a different direction, but deciding on photography was a more challenging feat. “I spoke to a hypey photographer quite early on who started asking me questions about which other photographers would be in it and I had this chill run down me,” says Turley.
“The only way to make something slightly different was to change the way it was made, so I resolved to make it without that elite class, without the agents, the apparatus. To get stylists and models to take the photos. It didn’t pan out that all photographers were removed, but it set a tone.”
Turley also plans to subvert the business model of traditional glossy mags by sharing any profits with Nuts’ contributors. “We’ll tot up everything in a couple of months and see what we have to share around. If we can,” he explains.
“Launching new businesses are expensive processes. The point about profit sharing isn’t just in the sharing of money. It’s sharing the whole process – definitely being open with them about how the money moves, but also the process of making it, the choices we made, the effect of those.”
It’s an approach that feeds into the work they are doing more broadly at Food, where changing the ownership model of projects they take on is something they’ve discussed at length. “In some ways Nuts is the first articulation of those conversations,” says Turley.
“But again, for me, it’s not even so much about the financial benefits that might offer, its more about the transparency, the sharing of knowledge. For those who want it, we will walk through every single step of how we made Nuts, the things we learned, the mistakes we made, the way we’re now thinking.”
While the debut issue of any magazine is more akin to a first draft than the finished product, Turley hopes that the spirit of Nuts will continue to challenge the conventions of mainstream fashion titles. “Style magazines have often told the story about how new clothes can renew us, give us new identities, liberate us. I think Nuts might be about how the clothes change but we stay the same,” he says.
“How what clothes look like, who made them, what label they are, has receded in favour of the memory and stories contained inside the clothes we wrap ourselves in. I think that’s maybe a more truthful way of how we think about our clothes, how they chose us, how we buy them – different from the way big brands sell new, new, new.”