Swan Song

As Gym Class magazine goes out with a banger of a final issue, founder and editor Steven Gregor gives us a whistle-stop tour of his highlights from the last 15 issues... 

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"Mag lovers ahoy!" the familiar refrain of Gym Class magazine's Steven Gregor has always signalled something interesting to look at and read about. So we were sad to learn that the new issue of Gym Class will be the last. To mark the occasion and celebrate the high points from the last fifteen issues, we asked Steven to pick his top five favourite moments from the magazine. He's pulled out some real treats and as well as telling the stories behind the articles and images, he drops in some extremely useful advice for aspiring magazine-makers.

We're sure that Steven's next project will be fantastic (we've heard hints but for now Steven is keeping it under his hat) — watch this space, mag lovers.

Knitted Minions, Gym Class 01

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A magazine about magazines was never my intention when I started Gym Class. Back then, it had the strapline "A zine for the guy chosen last". I intended Gym Class to be a counterpoint to the PR-driven nonsense mainstream men’s magazines were peddling. I couldn’t relate to magazines like GQ or Esquire, so I wanted to make a magazine that I’d be interested reading – a bit geeky, a bit cheeky, and funny. The first issue was 32 pages and A5 in size. Just twenty-four copies were digitally printed. It had four different covers. Each featured one of Hannah Simpson’s knitted minion characters.

My advice to newbie magazine makers is to start small (but maybe not that small... haha). Indie publishers put a lot of pressure on themselves to launch big (lots of pages, different papers, special inks and varnishes). It means indie magazines are expensive to make and expensive for potential readers to buy. It’s a real barrier to entry we need to get past.

George Lois, Gym Class 07

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Gym Class has regularly hit above its weight, featuring the very best (and most influential) magazine makers from around the world. Andrew Losowsky’s interview with legendary ad man (and 60s Esquire cover art director) George Lois for issue seven was a defining moment. George loves to talk; hyperbole is in his DNA. Andrew’s chat with him was informative, inspirational, and funny. Exactly what I wanted Gym Class to be. The issue’s cover is probably my favourite Gym Class cover. It pays homage to George’s 1966 ‘Oh my God—we hit a little girl’ Esquire cover and is immediately recognisable to mag fans. Confession: it was Andrew’s idea.

Elle Collections illustration, Gym Class 08

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Artist John Paul Thurlow is probably best known to mag fans for his book of 100 illustrated (and subverted) magazine covers. JPT contributed to Gym Class a few times. He created the cover of issue three, and he illustrated Winona Ryder and Julianne Moore for issues five and six. But my favourite contribution is (without doubt) this Elle Collections/Kate Moss artwork. It appeared as a double page spread in issue eight. The page size of that issue was A3. So JPT’s artwork was printed A2 in size. EPIC!

Nobody Cares, Gym Class 12

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Sleazenation’s November 2001 ‘I’m With Stupid’ cover is one of my all-time favourites. I was channeling art director Scott King with the ‘Nobody Cares’ Gym Class cover. It tapped into a moment and resonated among many indie magazine makers. It was the fastest selling issue of Gym Class and caused a few social media ripples. I was happy with that. Ah… also… a funny anecdote: I received my first (and only) hate mail after this cover appeared on social media. A disgruntled mag fan told me I lacked taste and that Gym Class readers lacked class. Made my day.

Christopher Anderson, Gym Class 15

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I’m super proud of the calibre of magazine maker I’ve featured in Gym Class. And I’m so happy with the final Gym Class cover story. It’s proper! Rebecca Mcclelland spoke with award-winning Magnum photographer Christopher Anderson about his editorial career so far. She also spoke with the photo directors of The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine, and the editor of Tank magazine, about their collaborations with Christopher (and the role of photo directors, generally). It’s a super interesting read, and there are plenty of big, colour, and glossy examples of Christopher’s work to ogle over and feel inspired by. Rebecca aced it.

Issue 15 of Gym Class is available to by in selected shops and online at magCulture.

Follow Steven on Tumblr and @GymClassMag