Behind the scenes: Gym Class magazine
A sort of magazine of magazines, Gym Class is the creative plaything of Steven Gregor, a London-based designer and art director whose love for print knows no bounds. Gym Class has taken many shapes and sizes over the last few years, but with the current issue it returns to its roots, with a zine-like A5 package of magazine love.
Featuring interviews with top magazine makers, as well as short diversions into film, music and erotic bum bags, it’s a record of Steven’s own obsessions and interests, and a brilliant piece of personality-led publishing. I caught up with him to find out where his motivation comes from, and what the future holds for this small but perfectly formed project.
Gym Class reads like one man’s obsessions turned into printed pages. How close is that to the truth?
Erm, yeah. Obviously there are a lot of people who contribute, but it is me by myself putting it together and selecting the content, so yeah, I can relate to that.
You’ve brought this issue back to the more zine-like format, which feels like it suits that sort of personal expression.
A few issues ago I was thinking I wanted to make it more magazine-y, but it just didn’t feel right. I guess it was important to me that I kept it fun.
And there’s tons of fun! I think that’s what I love most about Gym Class – you can just feel the enthusiasm bouncing off every page. Reading it feels like I’ve got you sitting in the room with me.
Well I’m very pleased to hear that. When you’re making an independent magazine and risking a lot, especially financially, it’s very easy to start taking it all seriously. It’s important to me that Gym Class doesn’t lose that tone of voice and light-hearted humour, and that it never takes itself too seriously.
There’s also a sense that you’re featuring your heroes here too.
Yeah. I don’t think Gym Class is the type of publication that would openly criticise something. If a magazine or a person is featured in Gym Class it’s a sign that I love what they’re doing. If I’m not feeling something then I just don’t feature it, rather than put it in there in a way that’s negative.
So how do you actually choose the magazine makers that go in there?
I guess it’s people who have been newsworthy, for lack of a better word, since the last issue. So Wyatt Mitchell, for example, has redesigned The New Yorker – that’s something people were interested in talking about and it became something I was interested in, and that’s why Bob Newman and I approached him to be in the issue. So the magazine-based content isn’t totally random, but the other content – the stuff that’s not magazine-related… That’s completely random.
Ha! I know you’ve said you’re going to keep the format the same for the next few issues now – will the content stay the same too?
There will still be plenty of magazine content in every issue because it’s such a passion of mine, but I would like to beef up the non-magazine content as well. I think there’s probably room in 128 pages to include more non-magazine stuff without feeling that something has dropped off. For example in the current issue there’s a 25-page feature about a magazine and, you know, it doesn’t need to be 25 pages!
Does that reflect a desire to attract people who aren’t magazine geeks? Are you aiming to broaden the magazine out?
Definitely broaden it out, but I think the content will still be the type of content that’s of interest to people who make magazines, because I’m one of those people. I’d like to get more stuff in there about photography, more about illustration, as well as some more about music and film and that sort of stuff.
You put out two issues this year – will that change next year?
For next year it would be great if we came out three times. We did two issues this year and before that it had been one a year for a couple of years, but I love doing it so much that I’ve made a conscious effort to devote more time to it. So the aim is three issues next year in this size and format, and then maybe we’ll mix it up again.
Like what you see? Pick up your limited edition copy of Gym Class from the magCulture shop.