How to create a print version of magazine IKONA

Aug 17, 2016 · 6 min read


It is the first post about IKONA on Medium, so we want to tell about ourselves and our print magazine a little.

Why do we write about it?

We want to share our knowledge, capture the process and get feedback! At the end of our post there is a nice surprise for everyone.

What is IKONA?

IKONA mag is a non-commercial online-magazine about contemporary visual art outside of Pop Culture.

Editors-in-Chief, Maria and Nastya, discover authors’ works through interviews. 144 dialogues with photographers and graphic artists from former Soviet republics have already been published. 16 volunteer-editors have joined our project during this time.

And today we have a dream. We want IKONA to become a tangible and accessible history that remains in memory for a long time. We want it to become a valuable collector’s edition magazine with limited circulation.

We’re producing the first issue of print magazine

How are we doing it?


We agreed to store and share project information on Google Drive. We have several spreadsheets for authors, their contacts and links to their interviews — list of 144 artists ranged as our editors preferred.

Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to use works of all 144 authors on 167 pages of our magazine. We selected carefully and ended up having 50 creators, three of whom are currently approving their participation in project.

Only two authors wanted a financial compensation, but we refused to use their works as our project is completely non-commercial.

Only two authors wanted a financial compensation, but we refused to use their works as our project is completely non-commercial.


It is our first printed product, to be honest. Before it, our team worked on web-UI and our editors were interior designers. That’s why we started to make the printed edition of magazine with creating a prototype as we usually do it with web applications.

At first we were working with pages in design apps and then went into InDesign, but that all seemed wrong. We had some important criteria: we wanted to collect compositions of every layout, choose color combinations, use real photographs and illustrations, leave comments, place texts and titles and be able to correct and replace it quickly. We also wanted it to be universal and easy to use for everyone in our team.

It is amazing how you always try to find the right tool and Google helps you every time — this time it was Google Slides.

Our designers got the opportunity to make approximate layouts, structure content and leave comments

Advices, expert opinions, inspiration

We were looking for expert opinions in everything we were doing. Our designers, Nikita and Ivan, surrounded themselves with examples of extraordinary and, sometimes, even vulgar layouts of different magazines. We created a powerful collection of things we like and get inspiration from.

Generally, sources of inspiration were Behance, KINFOLK and several other magazines that were in our collection then: you can see every detail only when you hold it in your hands. Some publications from tutdesign and finest magazines from Magazine Design community.

We already had a subscription to the digital publications about typography by Artyom Gorbunov publishing house and it helped us to organize our knowledge. We visited Behance Review in Izhevsk and got some recommendations about graphic design.

Austin Kleon’s principle «Steal like an artist» had been applied by us during entire process. ;)

Make up for lost time

After first mockups…

We realized that something went wrong. We made it beautiful, but there was no story behind those pictures.
We destroyed everything and built it again.

On some pages we placed everything very carefully and in proper order, and on the others everything was placed at random, chaotically. Some photographs were placed on entire spread of magazine for maximum immersion. We also needed some WOW-pages: «Crysis», «For Brotherhood in Russia», «Troyka».

- Ivan, IKONA designer

Nikita Litvinenko

Default style was very flat: format and fonts in final version of magazine differs for every authors’ series and it makes each layout unique.

Some spreads from the final version of magazine


Each author’s page starts with massive heading: series name, location and name of author. Next pages have a small author’s sign and series ends with laconic triangle from logo
Minimalistic content


It is not a secret that the most important part of every magazine is its cover. We had several options.

We wanted to be relieved from responsibility for choosing the cover and made a voting in our community. Our readers made their choice.

Nevertheless, we didn’t stop with that variation, and decided to make a two-page cover with a «transparent» logo, as it was on our website.

The second page has a stylish collage on it and describes the variety of works and authors inside.

Stylish black matt cover on 300 gsm paper with carved logo

Collage of vibrant works

Collage of authors’ works on the second page of cover


We not only have to deliver a magazine in perfect condition, knowing our delivery services. Every magazine will be delivered inside an individual package which was created «from scratch».

Now we’re working on translation of our articles in English, our corrector checks content and we’re making the finishing touches. We’re printing a color proof and starting to collect pre-orders in august.
Until then…

Get your free 22 pages of IKONA magazine!

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The IKONA mag — Visual Art Outside of Pop Culture


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International magazine about contemporary art and visual culture



The IKONA mag — Visual Art Outside of Pop Culture

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