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Wrap Magazine: An Interview with Co-Founder Polly Glass

With 5 pull-out pages of wrapping paper included inside, Wrap is a magazine with a difference. We talk to co-founder Polly Glass about this unique illustration publication.

Written by Jessica Cook

Polly & Chris by Gemma Cotterell
Christopher Harrison and Polly Glass by Gemma Cotterell

When I open Issue Seven of Wrap, I’m thinking of Princess Clara, Wooldoor Jebediah Sockbat, Foxxy Love, Toot Braunstein and the whole gang. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this wondrous cast of visual mockery, these are characters from animation parody Drawn Together, a TV show which pokes fun at our favourite 2D cartoonies, and also, the name of Wrap’s most recent issue. Wrap‘s Drawn Together puts a beady eye onto collectives, and the highlights of this issue include: Anthony Burrill, Peepshow Collective, Nous Vous, Pictoplasm, Studio Tipi, Print Club London, Hvass&Hannibal and Edition Biografiktion.

Wrap Magazine

‘Are four hands better than two?’ is the question at the nib of the latest installation of this illustration celebration. This “people power” issue not only explores the relationships between happily ever after collectives, but also plays matchmaker to a few of its own new ink-birds. There are some familiar faces here, making me think that the illustration world is pretty incestuous, but the overall effect is inspiring. This isn’t the first time I’ve had my mitts on a copy of the mag, and around Santa-time the Nordic Lights issue was like a security blanket for me; I carried it everywhere. There’s something very tactile and natural about yanking out the pages of a mag and the concept of this little magazine has me completely infatuated.

Wrap Magazine

Ripping a magazine is usually a painful, accidental and clumsy affair, caused by careless turning, or perusing in the tub. Wrap is meant to be ripped. With 5 pull out, reversible pages of double-sided illustration goodness, you can artwork-coat your gifts with this lovely ‘zine. Wrap seems to be everywhere I look these days, having stumbled across it via STACK, I’ve also found it hidden in a nook of the Ohh Deer online webshop. What could be better than dressing up your gifts in beautiful outfits before handing them over to your loved one? Undressing presents is half the fun of getting them after all. That and the ‘gift shake’; the little dance move you do when you first grab hold of a present to assess its potential insides.

Wrap is more than just an illustration magazine, it celebrates design and creative culture as a whole. Created by Christopher Harrison and Polly Glass it’s on the way to proving that print hasn’t passed its use-by date. I spoke to co-creator Polly Glass about how the pair got the mag off the ground and what they’re looking for in new contributors.

Wrap Magazine

What did you get up to before Wrap?
Before, and also during the early stages of Wrap, Chris and I both worked as jewellery designers in London for a fashion jewellery company – that’s how we met actually. We worked with a whole host of British brands including Mathew Williamson, Agent Provocateur, Ted Baker and Cath Kidston which was a great experience, and really helped us to see how bigger designs brands like that function.

Wrap Magazine

Wrapping paper is something many people overlook, has it always been a passion of yours?
I wouldn’t say it quite like that, no – although I do take pleasure in a beautiful wrapped present! For us, the wrapping paper element to Wrap is about it being the best way to show off the fantastic and hugely impressive work of our contributing illustrators, because the sheets are so nice and big. Also, as one of the main purposes of Wrap is to share illustrators work with other people, if our readers can pull out a sheet that has one of their favourite designs on, and use it to wrap up a present for their best friend, then they are carrying on that sharing process.

Wrap Magazine

How did you get the funds to publish the first issue of Wrap?
We funded issue one ourselves through savings – our print run was quite small, and we created a much simpler version of what Wrap is today, which made it relatively affordable to test out as an idea, and see how people would react. Luckily, people seemed to really like the concept of the magazine, and so from there, sales of the magazine have funded all future issues.

How does the financial model of the mag work now? Do you both work on it full-time?
Yes, we both work full time on the magazine, and we also have a team of brilliant freelancers who we couldn’t do without! Wrap is now 80 pages (compared to 24 in issue one!), so it takes a great deal of energy from all involved to make it what it is. Financially, magazine publishing is a hard industry to crack, but essentially the model is to make and sell lots of magazines! At the moment we have very minimal advertising in Wrap, so revenue comes mainly from sales, and we run nearly all the distribution ourselves in order to maximize profit and insure that Wrap is sold to the best shops possible, and ones that really understand what we’re all about. We also work firm sale (meaning they buy the magazines out-right) with our stockists, as this means every magazine that goes out the door has been paid for, which helps to reduce wastage and over-printing.

Chris from Wrap, by Karina Jarv
Christopher Harrison by Karina Jarv

Wrap uses vegetable based inks and 100% recycled paper, was making the mag environmentally friendly always a priority for you, despite cost?
Whether it’s the magazine, or our range of wrapping papers and prints, we always try to produce things in a considerate and environmentally friendly way – there’s no reason not to really. Printing can be a hugely wasteful industry, so we are very careful to only make things that we really believe in, and we only work with UK printers – a manufacturing industry we’re keen to support and promote.

Wrap Magazine

Issue Six focussed on Nordic lights, and Issue Seven on collaborations, how do you go about picking a theme?
There’s no particular method to our theme selection – really, it’s about delving into a subject or area that we think is interesting and relevant to the field of illustration at the time. We do also of course consider the time of year, so with the Nordic Lights Issue (our Winter 2012 edition) – we thought the idea of ten illustrators from across Scandinavia sharing with our readers their impression of a snowy, Nordic winter would be wonderful! And our new, seventh issue celebrates creative ‘collectives’ and collaborations – a way of working that seems to be growing in popularity and that we wanted to find out more about.

Polly by Alys Jones
Polly by Alys Jones

You mentioned that you visited Berlin for research, what’s been your best research trip so far?
Ooooh – we’ve been very lucky to go on a few research trips now. I loved Berlin, and our trip to Helsinki for the last issue was brilliant, if not a bit chilly, but for me, going to spend the day with graphic designer Anthony Burrill in sunny Rye was the best! He gave Harry (our editor) and I a super tour of the coastal town, including visiting ‘Simon the Pieman’ - his favourite cafe, and Adams of Rye – the traditional letterpress printers who he collaborates with to produce his famous posters, including the special one he’s made just for Wrap 7!

Wrap Magazine

I found a beautiful illustrated postcard inside my copy, is this something you’ll be doing in future?
Oh yes, we always try to include something a little special with each issue, like the postcards. Our subscribers all received a set of exclusive patterned stickers by illustrator Ed J Brown (who drew our title typeface in issue 7), with their delivery of issue 7 – we hope they liked them!

Who do you imagine as your typical reader?
From what we’ve seen, our readers can be pretty wide ranging, but typically, they are practicing creative people, and around 70% are women.

Wrap Magazine

Anthony Burrill produced a poster based on the latest issue, is it important for you to make Wrap more than just a magazine?
Wrap is about celebrating some of the best and most vibrant artists of the moment, and the more we grow, the more we find exciting ways to do that through the magazine and the Wrap brand! Last year we worked with four of our favourite illustrators to develop our first range of commercial wrapping papers, and so far this year we’ve worked with Anthony to produce his fantastic poster for Wrap, and the six illustrators in our ‘Make a Good Thing Happen’ project to produce a range of 3 limited-edition notebooks. We’ve had lots of fun, and have lots more ideas to work on!

Wrap Magazine

Your latest issue featured a whole host of illustrators, including Nous Vous and Peepshow Collective, how do you go about finding illustrators to work with?
We’re always on the lookout for new illustrators and designers to work with, whether it be through exhibitions, events or twitter and social media channels, but we’re also very lucky to get a lot of people contact us through our submissions email which is great. I suppose the more and more you’re immersed in an industry like illustration, the more you hear about, and know what’s going on. However we also love to go to the summer student shows by universities like Brighton and Kingston – they’re a great place to spot potential new stars.

Wrap Magazine
Do you think that “print is dead”?
This is a question we are often asked! No, I don’t think print is dead – but the industry is obviously changing and evolving, like lots of areas at the moment. I like that it’s actually making people more considerate and careful about what they print, which can only be a good thing.

Wrap Magazine

Photographs were provided by Wrap Magazine


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