'Art always helps us to see the new': INQUE editor Dan Crowe on the magazine that will define a decade
This month sees the launch of INQUE, a groundbreaking limited-edition design and literary magazine edited by Pentagram partner Matt Willey and Port magazine publisher Dan Crowe. Set to be released once a year over the next decade, the advert-free publication aims to chronicle a pivotal time for the planet.
Available to buy on 16 November, INQUE will boast dynamic layouts that are unencumbered by the stifling demands of advertorials, plus feature contributions from a roster of extraordinary international talent, including Tom Waits, Ben Okri, Joyce Carol Oates and many more. And with a strict policy of no online editions, INQUE will strive to be a rare thing in the world of digital publishing: something to be kept and cherished.
For editor Dan Crowe, the opportunity to create an ad-free hybrid magazine free from the usual demands of monthly publishing was a welcome one. "After years of making magazines (whilst amazing fun), the constant, random distraction of advertising and all the din that comes with it wore us down, and so we wanted to see what our ideal magazine would look like, without the ads," he tells Creative Boom.
"With ads, you have slots which are filled with images of clothes or perfume or cars. With all that gone, you can play with the form: where does the index/contents page go? Perhaps on the inside front flap? Why not? If there are no ads on the outside back cover, perhaps that's a great place to shout about your contributors."
While magazines that experiment with format and design are nothing new – just ask anyone who remembers leafing through Ray Gun - INQUE's grand ambitions to sum up the next decade set it apart from the pack.
Taking the likes of legendary West German youth magazine Twen as a visual jumping-off point, INQUE moulds itself on The New Yorker when it comes to wanting to have "the best possible writing, and being able to run 10,000-word features."
Readers can expect issue one to kick off with cutting-edge art commentary, including insight from the master potter, artist and author Edmund de Waal who will write about an extraordinary ceramic work in all ten issues. Art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon also spearheads the issue with a lead feature on 'How looking at art has changed since 1500, and again now post-Covid'.
When it came to selecting writers, the editorial freedom allowed Dan to choose whoever he liked. "It's a delight to commission this magazine," he reveals. "Writers would suggest other writers and other ideas, which would make me realise I have to write to more authors… and then I have too much."
INQUE won't just deliver unique features either. Acclaimed author Jonathan Lethem will write an entire novel throughout the publication's ten issues. There's also the Dead Interview series to look forward to, in which Handmaid's Tale author Margaret Atwood interviews George Orwell.
As for INQUE's task of defining the next decade, Dan reckons the 2020s will be pivotal because society will either get the response to the climate crisis right or fail to. "If we fail, we will all see it and feel it.
"It's more a problem for life on earth rather than a problem for art, but in extreme situations, art always helps us understand things, to see the new. Whatever happens, there will be some phenomenal writing coming through this decade."