Let’s face it— the digital magazine, whether it be on the web browser or the tablet, has not quite caught on yet. Although print sales are supposedly plummeting at ever-increasing speeds, I can tell you the number of friends I have that have turned towards digital publications as an alternative: zero. As a self-proclaimed tech junkie and early adapter, I fervently converted all of my print magazine subscriptions to iPad editions as soon as I was able. I personally love the format, but its seems to confound the technophobic and otherwise print-complacent amongst my acquaintances. I suppose I can see where they’re coming from, though. Switching your subscriptions to digital involves an iTunes or Amazon account, a whole slew of steps, and then a desire to read things on screen rather than on the printed page. And that’s just for tablet publications—don’t even get me started on the complications that arise when trying to “swipe” through pages on browser-based magazines. I am all for digital publications — they allow for inexpensive reproduction, they are (ostensibly) less taxing on the environment, and they don’t take up nearly as much space on the shelf. However, I feel like the entire method of distribution and consumption for these publications could be a heck of a lot simpler. And this is why I am so, so, so excited about artist Carrie Strine’s new Hand and Hand Magazine.
Dubbed a digital ‘zine, Hand and Hand is a celebration of the makers and appreciators of all things handmade. Its newly released inaugural issue is centered around the concept of knots, both literally and metaphorically, and features a carefully curated line-up of creative contributors (Lisa Congdon, Jessica Marquez, Shabd Simon-Alexander, to name a few). With long-form writing, how-to’s, beautiful photography, and nary an advertisement in sight, Hand and Hand is a beautifully simple antithesis to all of the flashy, bells-n-whistles options currently on the digital market. The magazine’s website states,
Hand and Hand is a new zine celebrating the maker’s hand and mind. We believe that making is not simply about learning new skills or sourcing great materials, but about discovery, exchange and an intimate relationship with materials and practice developed over time that have connected humans for generations.
Each issue connects love of object, material, tradition, practice and skill with a single theme. Inside you’ll find thoughtful essays, art, stories, interviews, and how-tos. Meant to be appreciated and inspiring for makers and lovers of handmade alike, the writings and projects are carefully selected to appeal to lovers of any medium or makers of any skill level.
Technologically speaking, Hand and Hand is a bit of a throwback. Rather than relying on Apple’s Newsstand or the Kindle marketplace for distribution, Hand and Hand is sold (for $10 a piece) as a good ol’ PDF—which is, rather counter-intuitively, kind of revolutionary for a digital magazine. The fabulous thing about this format, something that seems to have eluded other publishers, is that it is inherently universal (something that is particularly fitting for this small study of handicraft). You can read it on your desktop, laptop, browser, phone, or tablet—no problem. I personally love reading it on my Kindle iPad app, where I can swipe through it like a book, its beautiful photos and graphics taking up the full screen. The concept of small, independently produced digital publications is beyond thrilling to me—it opens up a world of possibilities that I don’t think have really been explored up to this point. Here’s hoping that this whole digital ‘zine thing will catch on! In the meantime, I’m eagerly anticipating the next installment of Hand and Hand! —Max