Good Reads: Roam is a visual celebration of the modern folk movement

Brought to life by an archaeologist and an illustrator, the new magazine explores what the folk renaissance looks like in a modern, capitalist, multicultural, gender non-conforming society

London-based archaeologist and writer Henry Rayment-Pickard and designer and illustrator Tom Stockwell first found common ground over their shared love of folklore, history, zines, and music.

Having talked about these topics at length over the course of their friendship, earlier this year they decided to turn their discussions into action. The result is Roam, a collaborative anthology exploring the modern ways that people are engaging with the past.

From the outset, the project was intended to offer a more inclusive and cross-disciplinary look at the modern folk movement – particularly in light of the overused ‘folk revival’ moniker that the duo feel is unreflective of the cultural regeneration currently happening across the UK.

“Initially, we were just going to make a short zine with a few interviews and posters that would help to create a platform for underrepresented and underappreciated creatives in the folk artistic world,” Stockwell tells CR. “However, in the process, we were introduced to so many incredible pockets of cultural regeneration, exploration, and celebration that our small zine ended up becoming a collection of 58 creatives over 150 pages.”

The first issue features a unique editorial structure, with stories clustered together thematically, and featuring a diverse range of artists and creatives spanning sculpture, tattoo, film festivals, foraging, fashion, scavenger hunts, map-making, ceramics, and more. “Henry spent a great deal of time researching creatives and, importantly, taking their recommendations for the next people to approach. In this way, the research was spread orally, like a folk story,” says Stockwell.

“Each creative was chosen for a distinctive approach to the past. So much of history is fractured and stitched back together, so we made a conscious effort to not make the magazine look pristine and include the notes and doodles taken from our sketchbooks to show the evolution of ideas.”

When it came to Roam’s art direction, Stockwell felt more comfortable tackling it as an illustration brief rather than a graphic design one, moving away from the photography and text that is typically used to communicate many of the themes it explores. This approach led to the creation of Romeo, the magazine’s beloved, leaf-covered mascot who proudly sits on the front cover.

“Romeo came about as a way of representing as many of these communities as we could, and to also create our very own cryptid that we create a mythology around. We would love to flesh him out more as we continue Roam, and bring him to life through animation as well,” he adds.

The designer also created a bespoke typeface that is used throughout the issue to create a more cohesive reading experience. “We visited the marshes around Tollesbury Wick where Henry grew up, and I knew I needed to capture the landscape somehow,” he explains.

“This led to the creation of what we call Bog Neue, a weird and wonderful typeface that pays homage to the lands that (both literally and metaphorically) swallow up and safeguard our collective heritage.”

Roam Issue One is out now;