When it comes to the South African media industry, self-publishing is no easy task. Whether it’s online, in print, or rides that grey area of digital magazines, the DIY route is a rocky one.
I help run one of these online magazines so I know the perpetual stress, the regular late nights, and the stretched wallets all too well. Despite it all, there’s a special kind of fulfillment, albeit a short lived one, that comes with putting out a new edition of a passion project or launching a website for the first time. It’s an unrivaled feeling of accomplishment that you can really only ge t when you see a project, that against all financial odds, has made it out into the world.
Perhaps this is why South Africa is home to so many self-published websites, magazines, and online publications as of late. From Durban with it’s quiet, but resolute creative scene, to Cape Town with its glossy beauty and Jo’burg with its wellspring of creators and culture makers, self-published, DIY projects are popping up all over the country.
We took the time to page, scroll, and flip through a few of these projects and show them some love.
Disparate is a magazine for emerging Durban creatives that exists exclusively online. Since their debut issue hit the internet in 2012, Disparate have showcased an impressive amount of Durban-based artists, musicians, designers, writers and more, creating a much-needed online archive of Heat City’s creative industry. The way they go about presenting their content is worth noting too. While Disparate may take a page out of traditional magazine formats, they’ve been known to be quiet innovative when it comes to merging print-style media with the online realm resulting in videos works living on turnable pages and entire interviews consisting of screen grabbed Whatsapp conversations. Check them out on their website and peep their e-mag’s here.
Championing black, queer narratives from Africa and the diaspora, NON quarterly is a side-project of the creative label simply known as NON. Non quarterly finds a home in the pages of an online PDF that merges online aesthetics with stream of consciousness-style write ups, poetry, and digital collage. Check out their spring edition here and find them online.
For a website that’s expanded across the continent and covered a plethora of pertinent, engaging, insightful and entertaining stories, you’d never guess that TRUE Africa only just celebrated their one-year anniversary. If you haven’t come across them yet, TRUE Africa follows its namesake, pioneering real African stories from a contributor network situated all across the continent. Head over to their website for music, culture, fashion and more.
Also young in years for an online publication, Platform has become an important online archive for South African music, especially the electronic music scene. Their writers comprise fans, music journalists and musicians themselves, allowing for a nuanced and far-reaching look into the local music scene. Platform also finds a niche in providing concise and informative round ups of local music events, shining a necessary light on the live music industry. Find them here.
Up until recently, Future Now functioned as an online showcase of South African art, music and culture. In August this year, they expanded into a sizeable online magazine ready to be flipped through from the screen of your cellphone or PC. Their content is simple and straightforward: A few profile pieces and narratives pepper the pages here and there but mostly, Future Now features short write ups by artists themselves, accompanied with an image that links through to their work. If you’re looking for some of the best in the South African arts scene, you’d do well to start between the covers of Future Now.
Having launched earlier this year, Bubblegumclub has become known for their way of presenting authentic content on the local arts scene in a way that both platforms individual artists and ties their work to larger, South African narratives. Their content, all housed online, ranges from smaller features and Q&As, to profile pieces with original photography, all spotlighting the work of practitioners doing important work within the country. Bubblegumclub also host the occasional exhibition, creating a necessary offline space for the artists they feature. Find them online.
Twenty is the new print venture by Landa Willie. With its second edition currently in progress, Twenty’s garnered a lot of attention for a brand new start-up publication. Their team of writers aim to showcase and celebrate the work of South African-based artists and creative individuals, all packaged in a visually striking print magazine. Find them here.
The FUSS is an online publication founded by Thozi the Creator. Through shining a light on the country’s ever-expanding music scene, The FUSS looks at the musical trends of a young South Africa and how the country engages with and consumes the music being made. It’s worth checking out their sound galleries too. Head over to their site for reviews, interviews, opinion pieces and more.
‘We are foolishly ambitious’ reads the tagline for Cape Town’s The Lake, and thank god for that. Only a few years old now, The Lake has become one of the most looked forward to print publications in the independent scene. Their focus is largely that of the South African creative industry and their pages – vast, colourful and beautifully designed – play host to countless new creative individuals and organisations every issue. Their site is worth bookmarking too, but be sure to keep an eye out for their hardcopy issues, they really are a visual treat.
Founded by Amanda Sibiya and Charmaine Ngobeni and falling under the Conte Creatives Agency, Conté Magazine is another new print publication that aims to showcase the works of locally-based artists, musicians, illustrators and more. Each issue anchors its content in a theme and to date, the Conté team have brought out issues framed around revolution, Africa, and even candy. Find them online and take a peek at their print issues here.
Yes, yes there probably are a few we left out, but it wasn’t to be mean. If you’ve got a local publication you think should be featured here, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to check it out.