Quite Frankly: Fait Accompli

Large scale design and print projects always involve an opportunity to learn something new, and this has been especially so with the production of the Quite Frankly issue.


However you might wish to describe publications such as this – adult, erotic, top shelf – it’s probably true to say that adult themed magazines are more consistently disappointing than is the case with any other magazine publishing sector. Whilst niche, boutique or otherwise beautiful publications exist for every type of magazine you might imagine, the top shelf continues to singularly fail to respond to customer’s ever more refined tastes.

The ambition of The Quite Delightful Project has always been to design a publication that could be proudly displayed on one’s coffee table, rather than being hidden under the mattress as is, I’m sure, the case with so many of the existing magazines in this space.

Our goal was to create a truly beautiful publication that could showcase industry defining levels of design layout and print production.

Whilst this level of ambition has perhaps slowed down the release of Issue One of the magazine, this delay will manifest itself in something really quite exceptional. There can be no other independent publishing venture, and certainly no mainstream publication, that has approached print in the way that Quite Delightful now delivers.

The 360 page first issue of the magazine is oversize, a large format 325mm x 245mm, and because we wanted to display photography large (as double page spreads) and not have important parts of the images disappearing into the centre fold of the publication, we have printed it with an exposed thread-sewn spine to enable images to lay flat. To ensure the strength of the binding of so many pages, we have – by hand – glued the spine with two layers of a flexible transparent glue.

This ‘by hand’ aspect of the project features throughout the production of the magazine and it’s accompanying publications.

The magazine’s masthead (on the cover) is foil-blocked, twice, by hand. Likewise, the covers of both the Stoya and Nettie Harris monographs are embossed and foil-blocked, again by hand, and also have a fabric binding strip added to the spine for additional effect.

We have decided, at the last minute, to enclose the magazine within a slipcase. This has a debossed area for us to add a printed image, by hand of course, and also has hand debossed text.

The ‘I Confess’ booklet documenting the team’s own erotic adventures also has an image (of the magazine’s designer Alice, who also appears on the cover of the first issue) slotted in to its cover, and this publication is hand-sewn on an old school Singer sewing machine.

Madness! Perhaps? But, with regards to lessons learned, it’s simply a case of if a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well…

We are now well advanced with Issue Two, and much of what has been such hard work with Issue One will directly benefit from this investment towards mastering new print production techniques. That said though, the magazine will continue to evolve. It’s much harder for example to print photography on textural uncoated papers (than glossy coated papers that most magazines are typically printed on). But, we like the tactile aspects of uncoated papers and are going to print much more of Issue Two onto this type of material.

The printers will love us for that decision…

Which brings me to the most important part of this piece. There’s no way that we could have realised the print quality of our launch issue if it were not for the unflagging support of our printers, Opal Print. There commitment has been nothing less than incredible and I’d like to take this opportunity to express the thanks of the whole team for what Opal have brought to this project.

We couldn’t have done it without you.

4th October 2014 | Katherine Jane

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Each cover is foil-blocked by hand... twice!

Ally at Opal Print glueing the spines of the magazines after they have returned from the binders.

As the thread-sewn spine is left exposed, the books need to be glued by hand, six at a time.

Sheets of Dutch grey board being die-cut to create the slipcase for Issue One.

Front covers of the 'I Confess' booklet being die-cut.

Front covers of the 'I Confess' booklet being die-cut by one of Opal Print's very handsome printers.

The thread-sewn spine of Issue One, and debossing on slipcase.

A brass foil-blocking plate for the front cover.

The cover photo is laminated and 'tipped in' to the slipcase by hand.

Opal Print's Jamie putting plates on the litho press for the printing of the Katherine Jane Wood postcards.

Mikey McMichaels' monograph of photographs of Nettie Harris being litho printed.

The Stoya monograph - of photography by Splice - being printed to accompany Issue One: Quite Frankly magazine.