Why Ligature Journal was created
There are three elements to the origin of the Journal, though I would have to say that the real beginning of the Ligature Journal story is entirely personal. I have had a desire to create and produce a magazine for many years. Maybe it was just vanity, to get something over which I had a lot of control – something not subject to the needs of an external client – into the world.
An object that allowed me to present my view of the world of design that others may find interesting. In addition to this there was perhaps an almost Luddite reaction to the ever increasing penetration of the digital world into my practice, more and more of what I was doing never left the realms of the digital world and dammit I liked to hold things, touch the work I made, interact with it in ways that the generic keyboard/screen did not allow. So, this was the first element, an underlying feeling/foundation that was present when the opportunity to put together a magazine arose.
Element number two was the cancellation of another magazine. I began teaching at Billy Blue College of Design in 2008 and at that time, once a year, a magazine called BBetween was being produced. The brainchild of the then Head of School, Andrew Barnum, it was produced outside of the teaching curriculum by a group carefully selected final year students. From about 2011 I had become interested in working with the students on the publication and was angling for a spot on the teaching team. Then suddenly during a time of upheaval during which the college was sold to an overseas private education provider, BBetween was cancelled. The cancellation was sudden enough that the design of the last issue (number seven) had been completed and was about to go to the printers. So, while it was designed it was never released and except for a low-res version that only a few people still have.
The thing about this magazine was that there a very few commercially released publications that young designers get to work on, to design, to learn from, certainly of that length. Even now very few if any tertiary communication design teaching programmes have editorial design projects of this size and complexity. However, industry still needs graduates with experience in this kind of design, print publishers still exist and online publications also have a use for editorial publishing skills. This is the third element of the origin story, that I realised that there was a need for a teaching publication that gave students and recent graduates an opportunity to gain skills in an area needed by the design industry.
In 2014 I began talking with Billy Blue about the possibility of reviving a magazine for students to work on, run and funded as an external client project. Then in early 2015 I set up a publishing company, Tiliqua Press, and registered the business name Ligature Journal. After some 18 months of negotiation we began work on the first issue, number issue zero because it was a trial issue, as part of the teaching programme of the college. This issue was eventually released into the market in December of that year. The next two issues (nos. one and two) were also created wholly within the college programme. The issues were produced over two terms with up two 23 students working on an issue.
Due to changes within the college communication degree structure, the publication moved to a full internship format run from the studio of Tiliqua Press. As a result of this we have up to six interns per issue. These interns can be students or recent graduates and applications are open to young designers from any of the communication design programmes run in Sydney—aside from Billy Blue we have now had interns who have studied at UTS, WSU, Enmore TAFE and Shillington College. The value of this is that not only do interns gain editorial design experience but they also some experience of working within the design studio environment. They get to meet, work with and establish industry relevant connections with people from design programmes other than their own. In this world where community is perhaps more important than ever this is no bad thing.