In 1987 Helmut Newton, often dubbed as the porno-chic photographer, embarked upon what he considered to be his ultimate folly. I’m unsure that June, his wife, would agree, but that’s not what this article is about.
No, Newton’s self-confessed folly was in creating his own magazine. He called it Helmut Newton’s Illustrated. The first edition was themed: ‘Sex and Power’.
No longer printed, Helmut Newton’s Illustrated was a business disaster!
He should have known better. He really should. For years he had hung out on the edges of magazine publication. He was a photographer under contract for Vogue Magazine. He worked for Jocelyn Stevens‘ ‘Queen‘. After this he was an in-demand freelance. He even had a heart attack working on an assignment for American Vogue, but that was later.
You see, to start a high quality magazine is the ultimate worship of one’s own ego.
There are exceptions. Many smaller publications were set up years ago, when desk top publishing became available, simply to meet local need.
Where Hulton’s ‘Picture Post‘ had been Britain’s eye on the world, much like ‘Time‘ was for years its equivalent in America, so ‘The Blackmore Vale Magazine, founded by Alan Chalcraft did much the same for parts of Somerset and North Dorset.
A jewel of a publication Chalcraft started it in his kitchen, and although long ago sold to Northcliffe Media, it’s still published today.
Three of the publications with which I’ve been associated have, like Newton’s illustrated, come and gone. The first died when it’s lost its founder and publisher, the noted Tai Chi Master Linda Chase Broda. She was a driving force who could take the vaguest ‘hippy’ and slap them into focus, so making them take action.
Then there was Ieke Van Stokkum, a Gauloises smoking member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists who taught me more about publishing than I can ever repay her for. Her publication withered as her health left her.
Not all magazines are doomed, although everything has a life. Conde Naste‘s publication Vanity Fair was founded in 1913, (as Dress and Vanity Fair), but became a victim of the 1930s’ depression. In February 1983 it was revived under the editorship of Richard Locke, and currently it’s under the stewardship of the fourth editor since it was restored Graydon Carter.
Carter made a very curious statement recently in a film made to promote the Adobe Creative Suite. He said: ‘If I was starting a magazine today I wouldn’t even produce a printed edition.’
This article was first published on ‘Blokes on the Blog’ as ‘Publication Today, Is It Unlike: ‘Helmut Newton’s Illustrated?’, Jan 4, 2012. Ieke Van Stokkum, journalist and owner of The Forum Publishing Co. died in March, 2015.