An interview with Per-Anders and Lotta Jorgenson, Editors of FOOL Magazine

From nowhere, FOOL Magazine appeared and raced ahead of all the competition as the must-read food and drink magazine, winning the Gourmand Book Award for Best Food Magazine of 2012. Created by husband and wife team, art director and editor Lotta Jorgensen and photographer and co-editor Per-Anders Jorgenson, FOOL is published four times a year in Sweden with a global writer and photographer contributor list.

Eschewing the lookalike style of pasteurised lifestyle photo-album publications that are so prevalent in print media, this is a very thoughtful and original work, blazing its own individual trail with skill and authenticity. It is not difficult to become hooked and envious. Like the really cool kids at school, you will want to be in this gang.

FOOL focuses on topics ranging from famous chefs to top restaurants, sustainability, growing food, travel, artisanal craft, food history and produce. The presentation is bold, colourful and unique, brave in its originality and ambitious in its scope. Yet it is the writing which will draw you in: this is the thinking foodie’s magazine. Despite the fact that for many of the writers English is not the mother tongue, the quality of the journalism is very high.

To find out more about how the magazine was conceived and created, I wrote to Lotta and Per-Anders, and this is what I found out about the work and vision behind FOOL.

The Foodie Bugle:  Per-Anders and Lotta, tell us how you conceived the idea for the magazine in the first place – where, when and why was the concept born?

Per-Anders and Lotta:  FOOL Magazine is a project we have carried with us for a long time, actually almost since we met ten years ago! We simply felt there was a gap in the market for a gastronomic magazine that expressed and examined the foodie world the way we see it.

TFB: On the front cover you state the byline “food, insanity, brilliance & love”. It’s quite brave to be so different and original, in a market where all other food and lifestyle magazines look the same.

P-A and L: We make FOOL the only way we can, having both previously worked with big publishing houses where publicists have certain ideas on how to make a magazine. FOOL is our own publishing statement within the area of gastronomy, a quirky mix to excite and inspire others to look, think and taste sideways.

TFB: Where did you find the writers and photographers who contributed – did you know them already from your previous work?

P-A and L: We have a great network of contacts going back a long time but we do welcome new contacts too, people that can extend our vision. Hopefully we can all push our horizons further, together.

TFB: How do you manage to commission-create-edit-distribute and manage the finances of the whole venture just between the two of you? Do you have any editorial help?

P-A and L: It is a bit mad but we view the first three issues as an investment, as something we felt just had to be done and we hope that we are able to break even for issue number three! It is hard work divided between the two of us. There is little glamour but loads of fun. Our project should really be supported by the EU, as we are working with contributors from Spain, Italy, France, Sweden and Denmark, translating the work into English and distributing the magazine all over the world.

TFB: How do you decide the content and structure of each issue? Do the contributors pitch whatever feature they would like to show you, or do you tell everyone what you are looking for very specifically?

P-A and L: We do not really work with pitches. We have strong ideas about our magazine and we work hard to find the contributor who we feel is best suited for each story in each issue.

TFB: You are both Swedish and for many of the writers that contribute English is not their first language. In addition, they are interviewing people who most probably speak little English, yet the standard of writing is excellent. Tell us how this high standard is achieved.

P-A and L: Despite us being the art director and the photographer for the magazine, the quality of the writing is very important to us. We did not want to look like fools, publishing a magazine in “Swenglish” and we are lucky to be working with skilled translators, professional sub-editors and proof readers.

TFB: Tell us about the art direction of the magazine. The layout is bold, colourful, contemporary, quirky and clean all at the same time. Was this your vision for each issue all along, or will future editions be tweaked here and there?

P-A and L: The design is tweaked slightly from issue to issue and hopefully the changes are not too obvious. We like to be visual, but there is no point making a magazine without text or with text that is not readable. Then we probably would have chosen to make art instead!

TFB: At the moment there is very little advertising in FOOL {and what is there is both relevant and attractive}. Do you think that economically you will need to increase the advertising or because you are selling so well that may not be necessary?

P-A and L: We are definitely looking for advertisers and partners that share our views. Our goal is not to become rich but to make a statement and create a platform for quality food journalism with high quality images, illustrations and writing that stretch the readers’ minds.

TFB: The question you probably get asked all the time: what is it like working together as a husband and wife team? Do you share the same ideas, goals and vision? Are there arguments? Spill the beans.

P-A and L: Actually not many people ask us that! We share common values and love working together. We are both strong advocates for our individual ideas, which is something that can sometimes lead to heated discussions, but that would have happened despite being married or not.

TFB: What can all your readers expect next? Tell us what far-flung travel and dining plans you are hatching.

P-A and L: Each issue is made with a theme in mind: “Naturals” for issue #1 and “Below the surface” for issue #2. For issue #3 we can’t disclose much at this point but people following our tweets @fool_magazine will eventually learn about our plans and travels.

Further Reading

FOOL Magazine:

Facebook: /foolmag

Follow on Twitter: @fool_magazine

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