Immediately following college graduation I applied for a job to be the designer for a magazine called The Oxford American. I had known this magazine since it had been in the early stages of production out of Oxford, MS and respected it so much; so it was nothing for me to want to move to Conway, Arkansas to work with it. The only problem was, as I mentioned before, I had just graduated from college. I had no clue how to design a magazine from front to back, and I got the impression that there were no other designers working there. A few years later I DID actually design a magazine front to back. A fashion magazine for Nashville. That lasted one issue only because the owner squandered all of the money and apparently took off to Toronto! Through that experience though, I realized a few things: (a) I would have been totally screwed if I had somehow talked my way into the OA job because I would have not been able to design on that level at that time (b) what a difference a few years can make because I actually put an entire magazine together in less than a month, and (c) as I had always thought, I really want to work for a magazine one day. Well, I recently came across one that made me remember this. It is called Garden & Gun; and don't let the name fool you!!
It is, and I quote from their website, "A Southern lifestyle magazine that's all about the magic of the new South—sporting culture, food, music, art, literature, people, and ideas". It is sleek, well written, well designed, cool, and unpretentious. All things most folks don't usually associate with the South, except for maybe unpretentious. I can only speak for the more recent issues, as they are the only ones I have seen, but here is a recap of what those have contained: articles on Sea Turtle rescue after the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, urban farming, duck hunting in Mississippi, Justin Townes Earle, longtime friends who now distill their own whiskey, and some photographs by this artist titled "Lost Boys". There are articles on food and products that are created in the South. The first issue of 2011 is a Music Issue and not only do they feature The Avett Brothers, but they also focus on Steve Martin and his bluegrass music. There are beautiful films on their website to accompany many of the articles, as well as a few of blogs to follow.
I appreciate what this magazine is doing for the South. It is highlighting what I think a lot of us know is happening down here. And it is doing it with beautifully written articles, inspiring photography, and an honest approach to what it features. I love the South, and am proud to be from here. I get how some of the stereotypes are absolutely true and I wish that weren't the case. But, I don't feel the need to think that what is happening here is less than desirable, that there are all of these other places that are so much better. Of course, I love to travel, and see new places, and experience other cultures; but it is good to come home. The voice this magazine has is absolutely the "new South". It is hip, and educated, and real, and interesting.