independent magazine series | The Plant Journal by YC Chen

Interview with The Plant Journal

Q: What was the situation when you and your partners started The Plant Journal?

Isa and I went to college together and later ended up working in the same graphic studio in Barcelona. By that time we were hanging out with Cris, who was also passionate about publications and magazines. Cris was working as a journalist so we three were a good team to start working on this project. We all like plants and noticed that there wasn't any magazine that talked about plants the way we liked and wanted.


Q: On the cover of issue 2 Monstera Deliciosa, there is a sentence written on the bottom “A mid-century modern classic”. It is a very interesting statement. What does it reflect to the concept ofThe Plant Journal?

The statement you mention is related to Monstera Deliciosa and is not reflective of The Plant Journal's overall concept. The Monstera was very popular in the fifties; you could find it in every modern house, in every glossy advertisement, next to a Eames chair in the sunny California. It is still a plant you can find everywhere. It is a classic but still cool.


Q: For me, The Plant Journal looks a very handy magazine, which contains lots of information/knowledge about plants, greenery, nature and people. However, it also gives a lot of reading pleasure when going through the pages. Would you agree if I say it is a lifestyle magazine for a specific group of people? What does the lifestyle or ideology that links to this magazine?

I'm happy to hear that you find it an interesting and easy read. We want people to enjoy reading it and not just open it, look at the photos and leave it on a shelve. It is definitely a lifestyle magazine. I see the same group of people that buy our magazine are also people who are interested in culture and are curious about what new stuff is going on, while never forgetting about old style habits and lifestyle.


Q: I am interested in the creative process behind The Plant Journal. There is a nice mix of many different people’s ideas about plants. How did you arrive at putting arts and plants together and create a magazine to carry them?

We had always a clear idea of the magazine's approach to plants but never imagined how many creative people from different professions were interested and open to collaborating. It really surprised and excited us. The more we talked to people the more the concept revealed itself.


Q: Every issue there is a featured plant. The first one is Staghorn Fern and the second one is Monstera Deliciosa. How do you make the choice?

Choosing a plant is always fun. We talk about the plants we like at that moment and discuss which ones would be interesting for the reader. They are usually plants that people have in their houses or gardens. The time of the year is also something that influences us on our decision.


Q: In the issue 2 readers can find a DIY feature of how to do a Macramé Plant Hangers as well as a feature of the garden Villa Arpel that relates to the director Jacques Tati’s idea of paradise lost. The editorial direction makes a very much independent feeling of it. What is your idea of doing an independent magazine? What is your definition of independent publishing?

As I was saying before, plants are everywhere. Our goal with the magazine has always been to go step further. I am not really sure if independent magazine is all about the content you put together but it is true that we wanted to make from plants something special and different to read about.


Q: Who are the contributors? How do you find and work with them?

Contributors are different in every issue but we have met a few people that share common ideas and attitudes so we have ended up working with them again and again.

At the very beginning of the project we did our own research on creative people that was working on cool projects about plants. We would email them and start a work relation with them. Now, as more people are familiar with the magazine we get submissions from incredibly talented people who want to contribute for next issues. So now there are some articles we arrange and look for some people we want but if we get proposals we like we also feature that.


Q: What is your favorite piece in the current issue?

Piet Oudolf's interview is a stand out piece for us. He is a big name and we love his work but it was also a challenge. It was not that easy arrange the interview, find the photographer, etc so you are happy when you see it all work out. We are also very proud of the Plant Hangers article in the Do It Yourself section. It was difficult to figure out how to teach people on Macrame technique through simple photos and instructions.


Q: So far you have published two issues of The Plant Journal and they have reached readers by getting on the bookshelves and participating exhibitions in different countries. Are you satisfied with the achievement?

Definitely. We never imaged we would get such a positive reaction and can't believe all the amazing places the magazine has ended up. From friend's small bookshop in Barcelona to independent bookshops in Melbourne and Vancouver and seeing it in the Millennium Magazine exhibition in MOMA library in New York has been unbelievable.


Q: Did you go to any place that you had never been before because of doing The Plant Journal? What are your future plans for it?

Well, we now take advantage of our trips to meet photographers, contributors or people we know through The Plant Journal. Isa and Cris so far are going to Madrid in two weeks to collaborate on a workshop about Cutttings; that's exciting. We hope to travel more in the future and are looking at throwing launch parties in different cities for every new issue.


植物與藝術的火花 The Plant Journal by Cristina Merino, Isabel Merino, Carol Montpart

2009年,三位西班牙女生創立了The Plant Journal,她們花費了兩年的時間進行準備和研究,在去年六月發行了第一期雜誌,並於今年初發行第二期。成員之一Carol Montpart現正住在倫敦,也因此,第二期的雜誌發表會從巴塞隆納移到了倫敦東區的藝術書店Artwords Bookshop。The Plant Journal以藝文雜誌的方式來經營「植物」這個主題,透過許多意想不到的切入點來講述人們和植物、大自然或是園藝之間的關係,調性鮮明,是一本閱讀時讓人感到愉悅,讓人可把玩翻看的出版品。

Q:請問你們是在什麼樣的情況下,開始了出版The Plant Journal的計畫?

A:Isa和我念同一所大學,畢業後在巴塞隆納一家平面設計工作室裡一起工作了一陣子,在那個時候我們總是和Cris聚在一起消磨時間。 Cris她也跟我們一樣對各種出版品和雜誌充滿了熱情,她曾經是一名記者,我們三人組成了創辦這本雜誌的絕佳團隊。


Q:第二期的雜誌以龜背芋(Monstera Deliciosa )做為當期植物,封面的底端寫了一行字「一個中世紀的現代經典(A mid-century modern classic)」,這句話很有意思,這與The Plant Journal本身的概念有什麼相關連嗎?


Q:對我來說,The Plant Journal是一本非常實用的雜誌,裡頭可以找到許多和植物、園藝、自然和人物相關的知識和資訊,但同時,光是翻閱這本雜誌也帶來很大的愉悅感,你是否同意我稱它為一本屬於特定群眾的生活風格雜誌?這本雜誌所主張的,是什麼樣的生活風格和思想?

A:我很開心聽到有人說它有意思和喜歡它帶來的閱讀愉悅,我們希望人們帶著享受在讀這本雜誌,而不只是看著這些照片,然後把它擺回架子上。The Plant Journal無疑是一本生活風格雜誌,買我們的雜誌的人,對文化和現正發生的新事物感到興趣,但同時也從不忘記舊時代的習慣和生活型態。

Q:我對The Plant Journal背後的產出製程感到很有興趣,這本雜誌有許多對植物的想法和觀點,分別來自不同領域的人們的創作或思想,形成了一個非常新鮮的組合。你們是如何決定將藝文和植物這兩者結合在一起,並創造了這麼一本雜誌來做為承載的界面?


Q:每期你們都會選擇一種植物,並為它製作一個專輯,第一期是鹿角蕨(Staghorn Fern),第二期則是龜背芋,請問挑選的依據是什麼?


Q:在第二期裡,讀者可以發現一個DIY手作篇章,圖示教導讀者如何自行手工編織植物吊籃,也可以發現一篇關於阿貝爾別墅裡頭花園(Villa Arpel Garden)的引介,帶出了法國導演Jacques Tati對花園即「失落的天堂」的想法。這樣綜合的內容交錯擺放在一起,獨立雜誌的風格或氣息油然而生。我想請問,你對於出版一本獨立雜誌的想法是什麼?獨立出版又意謂著什麼?


Q:請問The Plant Journal的投稿人來自哪裡?你如何與他們一起工作?




A:與Piet Oudolf的訪問絕對是最出色的一篇文章,他在景觀設計界享有盛名,我們愛極了他的作品,製作過程也充滿挑戰,他並不是那麼容易聯絡、我們花了許多時間找合適的攝影師,最後順利完成,我們都非常開心。我們也很得意於手工編織植物吊籃的DIY製作教學,我們費了好一番心思實驗如何透過簡單的照片和解釋來教導讀者理解編織的手法和技巧。

Q:目前你們已經完成了兩期雜誌的出版,The Plant Journal也在許多不同國家的書店裡或展覽中出現,接觸到為數不少的讀者,你們對於現階段的成就感到滿意嗎?

A:這是當然。我們其實從來沒有預料到會接到如此眾多正面的評價,也不敢置信這本雜誌現在正擺在許多很棒的店家架上,像是巴塞隆納朋友開的小書店,還有墨爾本、溫哥華的獨立書店,在紐約現代美術館的Millennium Magazines展覽裡出現等等,都讓我們興奮、難以置信。

Q:你是否因為製作The Plant Journal,而開始拜訪了一些從未去過的地方?未來的雜誌走向是什麼?



[1]編註 :The Plant Journal每期選擇一種植物做為當期的主打,並搭配一條合適的立論。創刊號選擇的植物是鹿角蕨(Staghorn Fern),寫於封面的那句話則是Aglimpse of the tropics。




本文首發於今藝術雜誌第236期  May/2012