frankie editor Sophie Kalagas on how the magazine got to 100 issues

frankie magazine 100

• “I love that we can bring stories to our readers that make them laugh, cry and recognise themselves all at once”

Since sending its first issue to print 17 years ago, frankie magazine has worked to shine a light on Australian and New Zealand creatives. Last week, the publication celebrated the release of its 100th issue.

Mediaweek spoke to frankie editor, Sophie Kalagas, about what it took to bring the issue together, and what the future holds for frankie.

With so many publications run entirely online these days, what do you think it is that keeps readers coming back to the physical copies of frankie?

People still enjoy the experience of flipping through a magazine, as long as it is thoughtfully and carefully curated. Readers are looking for relatable, engaging content they can sit back and sink their teeth into, all bound up with beautiful design – it becomes a real physical experience where they make a cup of tea or pour some wine, pick up a frankie and enjoy some time out. We also have extra features tucked inside our print copies: tear-out posters, art cards, wall planners, and in our bumper issues, special one-off items like bookmarks, collage sets and other DIY activities. While our digital offerings are always growing and expanding, our print magazine remains a consistent treat for frankie readers.

How much planning goes into creating a milestone issue like the 100th?

It definitely started quite early! The cover especially required a lot of consideration – we really wanted it to feel celebratory and do the past 17 years of the brand justice. We came up with concepts for special print features a few months out from going on sale, giving us plenty of time to get them right. Plus, there were special one-off executions to add to the party vibe: we created a video featuring messages from frankie friends and contributors past and present, which is accessible via a QR code in the magazine, and a big raffle with prizes up for grabs from a whole host of local makers.

frankie has really unique cover art compared to a lot of other publications. How do you find artists for your cover images?

We know frankie’s covers are a large part of the magazine’s appeal, so a lot of thought is put into their selection each issue. Some covers are commissioned or even created in-house (like the graphic designs for issues 96 and 97), while others feature artworks we’ve discovered in our online travels. We’ve always got our eyes peeled for fresh talents and interesting new styles, which is how we came across April’s Baker, the cake-maker behind our 100th cover. As a ‘birthday’ issue, we knew we wanted to create a design with icing, so when we stumbled across her playful but precise work, we were excited to collaborate. The artist, Roxy Mankoo, had never produced a flat ‘icing artwork’ before, so our designers worked closely with her to bring the design to life. We’re thrilled with the outcome!

frankie magazine

frankie has seen a lot in its 17 years, but a global pandemic was not something anybody saw coming. How much has COVID-19 impacted your content over the past year?

There were the obvious hurdles we had to jump – not being able to do in-person shoots during lockdowns, especially. We had to come up with creative ways to get around this, like producing a fully illustrated fashion feature in the style of vintage paper dolls, and getting subjects to take self-portraits with polaroid cameras. It was actually an interesting challenge – it forced us to think outside the box, and produce some content I’m very proud of. As for the editorial, we tried not to focus too much on the pandemic, as people were getting enough of that elsewhere. On the whole, we kept stories uplifting and a pleasant distraction, while also touching on mental health-related topics and providing some solidarity and support.

Do you have any articles or interviews that you’re particularly proud of that have been published during your time as editor?

There are so many! We’ve created some incredible visual features, like out-of-the-box fashion shoots and wonderful illustrated guides to life skills. I’ve loved bringing in our vox pop-style articles where readers and frankie friends share their insights into a particular topic or issue – one that stands out was titled “What I Wish You Knew About My Chronic Illness”. There have been plenty of memorable interviews that broaden our minds and understanding of the world, like the Indigenous history-focused archaeologist in issue 100, and the Dutch physician who created a safe space for women to receive medical abortions – 20 kilometres out to sea. Of course, there’s lots of lighter content that I’m super-proud of, too. A sassy sense of humour is a big part of frankie’s identity, and I love that we can bring stories to our readers that make them laugh, cry and recognise themselves all at once.

100 issues is a huge milestone, what’s next for frankie?

Hopefully another 100! We’ll continue to grow and develop both our print and digital offerings, and surprise and delight our readers along the way. We’re aiming to branch out even more into different online platforms, with a particular focus on podcasting.

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