Each edition of Lodestars Anthology encapsulates a region unlike any other publication out there, doing so with its collective personal touch. Artists – writers, illustrators and photographers- attracted to that particular region’s charm and hue, fill up each page with content that is equivalent to love letters written to the place itself. While each bi-annual publication is beautifully designed and penned, Lodestars also comes across as unpretentious, timeless and experiential. We were pleased that Lodestar’s editor and creative director, Liz Schaffer, agreed to share a bit behind the scenes of making the magazine and the kind of energy that’s poured into it and then shared around our travelling globe.
NHP: Lodestars Anthology magazine is a literary print journal, a mix of travel, creativity and exploration. Launched in 2014, each issue has focused on a single region. Can you tell us what exactly your role is and how Lodestar came to be conceived?
Liz Schaffer: I am the editorial and creative director of Lodestars Anthology, a magazine-meets-journal I started in 2014 because, quite simply, I just felt I’d kick myself if I didn’t. One part of my role is making sure all the behind the scenes magazine work (stockist hunting, bill paying, printer sourcing etc) runs smoothly. The other part, the part I shall forever adore, is finding features, meeting contributors (this is the real highlight), annoying my designer, editing and traveling the globe in search of fascinating stories and destinations. This part of the role is a joy. You get to create, to meet these wonderful contributors, see the most breathtaking places and just embrace the utter thrill of travel, writing, photography and illustration.
NHP: Would you say that each edition is a travel guide of sorts, or would that be an unfair assessment?
Liz Schaffer: I think that’s a very fair assessment! We aim to be a travel guide with a difference. A publication made for curious travellers who long to be inspired, see the world and meet interesting characters and creatives along the road. By focusing on one country per issue we compile a scrapbook of each place, getting to the heart of a location and discovering its quirks, charm and splendour. We want to be the magazine you go to for an in depth and thoroughly uplifting view of the world; a publication that introduces readers to artists, makers, explorers, natural beauty, off the beaten track locations and destinations they thought they knew, and makes them want to pack a suitcase in the process.
Having said that, I also wanted Lodestars Anthology to be for those with no immediate travel plans but with a hankering for beautiful photographs, illustrations and powerful writing. These are meant to be publications you collect, savour and share. I’d view wanderlust as a welcome side effect
NHP: How do you decide to which region you will focus on next?
Liz Schaffer: County selection always makes sense at the time … a few months down the track the exact reason can seem a little hazy. Part of it (probably a large part of it) comes down to where in the world I want to travel. I mean, who wouldn’t want to dedicate 156 pages to Italy, Sweden, Canada or Japan.
NHP: How do you gather the contributors and materials for each issue?
Liz Schaffer: We’ve been very lucky and had some amazing contributors reach out to us after picking the magazine up in the store or hearing about the publication through interviews or friends or social media for that matter. It’s such a joy to meet new creatives who share the love of travel and print. It’s one of the main things that keeps me and the magazine going – the chance to meet these inspiring, talented individuals driven by love and a need to create. It’s incurably humbling.
NHP: The photographs are outstanding. Are you a photographer as well, and are you the one who curates and edits the journal?
Liz Schaffer: I am a photographer and I also make the photo selections with our designer Thomas Harrison, who has been with the magazine since the very first issue and really has helped to make all this possible. We have a network of around 20 photographs and receiving their work is always so exciting – to see the world they’ve captured and get a little lost in the images. Photo selection can be a nightmare though. You’re given such amazing work but might only be able to publish six or so images. I’ve got to find a way to publish every image I’m sent – seriously, the work is amazing. There are some talented people out there!
NHP: What types of contributors do you seek out?
Liz Schaffer: Anyone with a passion for travel and a knack for writing, photography or illustration. Our network has grown massively over the past year and it’s always lovely to hear from new creatives. As we focus on one county per issue we also look for contributors who know a destination intimately – who live in or have travelled to the country we’re exploring.
NHP: I am sure that you love each of the editions that is put out, but is there one that you have a particular fondness for?
Liz Schaffer: I feel like I’m being asked to pick a favourite child. For me each issue is so different. The country itself seems to dictate the magazine’s tone and shape the design. It makes it impossible to choose a favourite because each is so different when it comes to content. I love the Canada magazine for its wildness, the Swedish magazine for its dreaminess, the Italian magazine for its colour.
You also have to put your heart and soul into the issue you’re working on. So, for the four months we’re putting together a particular magazine, it becomes our entire world. We don’t measure it against past issues, we treat it like its own entity, something that claims all our time and thought. And when it’s done we have to move on because there is a whole lot of world still to explore.
NHP: Can you tell us a little bit about where Lodestars Anthology is made – where you have shop set up at and how the location influences the publication? (If you agree that it does:)
Liz Schaffer: About half the issues come together in London – the business, editing and commissioning half. The other half takes place on the road, primarily in the country that stars in our next issue, doing research, meeting contributors and stockists, getting a real feel for the place. We try to write as much as possible from experience and this does mean roaming the world. So location is incredibly important, it shapes the issues – our tone and our content – and makes the entire process feel very alive. It definitely keeps you on your toes.
NHP: It is a tremendous amount of work to publish such a journal. Do you have any secrets for pulling it all together that you find work well?
Liz Schaffer: When you’re doing what you love the work load always seems more manageable. So I guess that’s the best advice I can give. Find what you love and go for it. Be aware that it can be incredibly tough, that weekends will be claimed and switching off can be a challenge, but remember that it’s the love and adventure that drives you. That said, take time off, recharge, do something fun and feel inspired. It makes everything easier.
NHP: You have quite a few stockists around the world. What are the types of places you choose to sell the anthology?
Liz Schaffer: We work with some wonderful distributors around the world and it’s always exciting to spot an issue on the stands (either by walking into a store or seeing something pop up on Instagram). I did always want the magazine to appear in boutique stores and galleries. Places people come to ponder, peruse and be inspired. I’ve been lucky enough to meet many of our stockists in the UK and it’s wonderful how supportive some independent retailers are. There is a genuine love of print, an understanding of all the work and sacrifice involved, and being stocked in such venues – Ideas on Paper, Magazine Brighton, Magalleria (to name just a few) – you really do feel that you’re part of a greater network, and that is a wonderful feeling.
NHP: What is in store for the future of Lodestars?
Liz Schaffer: More travel, contributor meeting, artist interviewing and general creating. We are preparing to sell some of our photographs and artworks through our website so watch this space.
NHP: Your most recent issue covers Canada- can you give us a hint where it might be headed after that? Also- is there anything you’d like to share with readers before we wrap it up?
Liz Schaffer: Our next few issues are now locked in – Japan, New Zealand and France – so if you’d like to get involved, or suggest a destination, please get in touch!
Check out the following links to further explore the Lodestars universe, buy the current (and even one or two still available past) editions and stay current with where the path is taking them. Somewhere beautiful and utterly intriguing is where we’d place our bet!
Banner photo @Tom Bunning
Instagram & Facebook @lodestarsanthology