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These are Stack’s best independent magazines of 2015

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ast week London was partying, not hard, yet very inspiring. As the great and the good of independent magazine publishing gathered to celebrate the inaugural Stack Awards the creative community of all those who believe in printing looked back at one remarkable year. A year full of pages that speak their mind though good typography and images that accompany it. Are we having a new era in indie magazines? Many people think so and Steve Watson, creator of Stack and the Stack Awards is one of them. “I set myself the challenge of stealing the best bits from the big awards schemes (expert judges, paid submissions, and a wide variety of magazines) and the best bits from the small awards (accessibility, passion, and an emphasis on excitement and innovation),” he wrote recently on one of his posts on Medium.

From over 170 entries, to 76 amazing shortlisted magazines, and finally to the best of the best these are the winners of The Stack Awards 2015.

Subscribers’ choice winner: The Outpost
This award was decided by Stack subscribers – hundreds of votes were cast, and three magazines rose above the rest. Smart and thought-provoking, The Outpost paints an honest and optimistic picture of life in the Arab world. Can a magazine change the way we live? Founder Ibrahim Nehme who is based in Beirut thinks so.

Best original non-fiction winner: The Lifted Brow
The judges, Shazna Nessa and Lynn Barber, were looking for original storytelling that informs and engages the reader with a distinctive editorial voice. A self-titled ‘quarterly attack journal’, The Lifted Brow is an Australian literary magazine winning fans around the world with its high quality, exciting writing.

Best original fiction: American Chordata
Judges Evie Wyld and Alex Clark were looking for fresh, distinctive fiction that stands out for its inventive ideas and memorable writing. A Brooklyn-based newcomer that has fast made a name for itself, literary magazine American Chordata publishes fantastic new writers alongside sophisticated design and intriguing visuals.

Best use of illustration winner: Weapons of Reason
In this category, the judges, Thomas James and Annabelle Fernandez, were looking for the best, most characterful, most distinctive illustrations published in independent magazines this year. A magazine that uses illustration to explain and elucidate, Weapons of Reason aims to provoke action by making complex issues more accessible for the reader.

Best use of photography winner: Victory
This category is for the most outstanding photography published in independent magazines this year – images that make readers stop and stare. The judges were Clare Grafik and Ben Hillwood-Harris. Large-format sports magazine Victory brings a welcome alternative to mainstream news coverage of sports, dedicating full spreads to their photography to show the brutality and beauty of sport.

Cover of the year winner: Guts
The judges, Steven Heller and Jaap Biemans, went in search of the year’s best, most inventive, most enticing magazine covers. A truly iconic cover, the first issue of Guts featured a photograph of a J-cloth heart and received instant praise before being adopted by readers to express support for marriage equality in Ireland.

Launch of the year winner: Weapons of Reason
This category was for magazines that made a bright start in 2015. Stack’s judges, Steven Gregor, Malte Brenneisen and Urs Spindler, were looking for the most exciting new editorial concepts and high quality content. Securing their second award of the evening, Weapons of Reason showed the power of their concept to turn knowledge into action through accessible, thought-provoking writing and beautiful illustration.

Magazine of the year winner: The Gourmand
For the most prestigious award of the evening, MagCulture’s Jeremy Leslie and Ruth Jamieson, went looking for remarkable magazines that have excelled in 2015, producing the highest quality content to deliver on a strong and clear editorial concept. Mixing food, culture and art, The Gourmand represents a new generation of food magazines looking far beyond recipes and how-to guides. “Officially a food magazine, The Gourmand transcends its category by excelling in every area, including art direction, design, writing, image making, commissioning, and production” commended Jamieson. “Every time you turn the page there’s a surprise. You’re left excited for the next issue and wondering what creative twists and turns they can possibly take next. This is a magazine to read from cover to cover and keep forever; a desert island title. It raises the bar not only for indies, but for magazines as a whole, leading the charge for a new tier of super independents”.